Describe your latest project.
[From the publisher:] From two men who know better than anyone how espionage really works, an unprecedented history, heavily illustrated with never-before-seen images of the CIA's most secretive operations and the gadgets that made them possible.
It is a world where the intrigue of reality exceeds that of fiction. What is an invisible photo used for? What does it take to build a quiet helicopter? How does one embed a listening device in a cat? If these sound like challenges for Q, James Bond's fictional gadget-master, think again. They're all real-life devices created by the CIA's Office of Technical Service: an ultra-secretive department that combines the marvels of state-of-the-art technology with the time-proven traditions of classic espionage. And now, in Spycraft, the first book ever written about this office, the former director of OTS teams up with an internationally renowned intelligence historian to take readers into the laboratory of espionage.
What inspires you to sit down and write?
Describe your favorite childhood teacher and how that teacher influenced you.
My aunt Hazel taught in rural Kansas schools for more than 30 years. She presided over our 7th and 8th grade combined classroom at Barnard elementary school. Every day — several of us were teenagers then — she would read aloud a chapter from some always interesting adventure book. Usually the heroes were of our generation, not old 21-year-old adults. The harshest discipline that could be applied for misbehavior was being sent to the principal's office during the reading time. Aunt's Hazel's reading opened lands, people, and cultures worlds beyond our farming town, with feeling and emotion far unlike silent reading. My first granddaughter, born in 2008, is named Hazel.
Have you ever taken the Geek Test? How did you rate?
I scored 6.5 — and if I had known I would score that high, I would have changed some of my answers.
Chess or video games?
What do you do for relaxation?
Fill out questionnaires.
What new technology do you think may actually have the potential for making people's lives better?
Noise cancellation headphones that mask the sound of you talking on your cell phone within my hearing distance.
If you could be reincarnated for one day to live the life of any scientist or writer, who would you choose and why?
A scientist, because hanging around with other scientists is a lot more interesting than hanging around with other writers.
What are some of the things you'd like your computer to do that it cannot now do?
My computer does far too many things rather than just doing the basic stuff well. Mostly I would like it to connect me to a living person who speaks fluent English when I have a technical problem or need some application advice. I would like to be provided the GPS coordinates of the originator of every spam message.
By the end of your life, where do you think humankind will be in terms of new science and technological advancement?
Beyond where it is in 2009, assuming I live through the year. I suggest eliminating the sexism of this question in future editions. The correct term may be huwo&mankind. I don't know how it's pronounced.
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Robert Wallace is the former director of the CIA's Office of Technical Service. The recipient of the Intelligence Medal of Merit, he is the founder of the Artemus Consulting Group, a private national security firm, and a contributor to the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence.
Books mentioned in this post
Robert Wallace is the author of Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda