I can't go into how the Publications Review Board does its work too much, but the PRB was actually very easy to work with. I submitted the manuscript and they plowed through it in a month. In cases where there is a question about whether something is classified, they will contact the actual office in the Agency referred to in the book and consult with them to make sure that I wouldn't be revealing sources or methods. They requested a few changes and in most cases I was able to convince them the information had been previously cleared or otherwise wasn't classified. It was a surprisingly fast and pleasant experience.
How different was the finished product from what you wanted published before the censors insisted on things being changed or removed?
Very little was taken out. In fact, my editor at Simon & Schuster suggested more changes than the PRB and she was just trying to streamline the story.
Were you surprised the book was quickly optioned by Johnny Depp's production company?
Yes, but not for the reasons you might think. China has become a very important market for Hollywood, so filmmakers have to be sensitive to anything in their movies that might offend the Chinese. The events of Tiananmen Square are integral to one of my character's motivations, so I wondered how much that would give any production company pause. But for every hundred books optioned by Hollywood, maybe one gets made into a movie, so perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised. Production companies often have the resources to option literary properties en masse and then sort out later which ones they'll turn into films. We'll see what happens.
Are you working on a followup book? Would it be a standalone or was Red Cell the start of a series?
I am working on a second novel and it will be part of the Red Cell series. If my writing career lasts long enough, I'm sure that I'll write a standalone book with different characters; but for now I'm having fun with Jonathan and Kyra. As long as they've got room to grow, I'll be content to follow them around.
Was there anything I missed that you wanted to share?
I would just like to thank you for the chance to communicate with the readers and to thank everyone who reads a copy of the book. I hope you enjoy it.