Former U.S. secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently announced that she was teaming up with famed mystery novelist Louise Penny – a Canadian author known for her award-winning books in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series – to release a political thriller.
The novel, State of Terror, will draw on Clinton’s experience in the White House in a harrowing tale about a newly appointed secretary of state who faces political rivalry while trying to combat a series of terrorist attacks. State of Terror will be released by Simon & Schuster and St. Martin’s Press on Oct. 12 (Associated Press).
Clinton is far from the first politician to try her hand at – or, in some cases, make a career out of – fiction writing. Here are several other politicians who have written novels.
Former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives Stacey Abrams has worn many hats: as a voting rights activist and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize nominee; as a Yale-educated attorney; and as the country’s first major-party African-American female nominee for governor in the 2018 race.
Abrams is also a successful romantic suspense author, having started writing during her time at Yale Law School. She published at least eight books using her pen name of Selena Montgomery.
According to her author website, Abrams has sold over 100,000 copies of her romance novels, which include action-packed love stories like Hidden Sins and Rules of Engagement. She is slated to release a legal thriller, When Justice Sleeps, in 2021.
Like the former First Lady, former U.S. president Bill Clinton has also co-authored a political thriller with a big-name author. Clinton and James Patterson teamed up in 2018 to release The President Is Missing, a bestseller that sold millions of copies worldwide.
The novel’s success prompted Clinton and Patterson to write together again. Their second book, The President’s Daughter – a crime novel about the kidnapping of a former president’s adult daughter – is slated for release in June 2021 (The Guardian).
Long before the Clintons made their foray into fiction writing, former U.S. president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter became the first U.S. chief executive to release a novel.
His 2003 book, The Hornet’s Nest: A Novel of the Revolutionary War, follows newlyweds Ethan and Epsey Pratt as they experience the events of the Revolutionary War from their perspective as homesteaders in the Deep South. While Carter wasn’t lauded by all critics for his literary prowess, many praised his deep knowledge of history.
Anne Holt, a former lawyer and journalist, briefly served as the Minister of Justice in Norway before withdrawing due to health issues. The one-time Norwegian politician is better-known for her lengthy career as a bestselling novelist. Her books – like the popular Hanne Wilhelmsen detective series – span the mystery, thriller, and crime genres.
Newt Gingrich, who served as the 50th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1990s, has co-authored a number of political thrillers and alternate history books.
He teamed up with historian and scholar William R. Forstchen to write New York Times bestselling alternate history titles like Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8 and Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War. With Pulitzer Prize finalist Pete Earley, Gingrich co-wrote thrillers like Duplicity and Treason, both part of the Major Brooke Grant series.
Ann Widdecombe, a former Member of Parliament for Maidstone, has also written many popular books in the domestic fiction and historical romance genres. The longtime MP penned titles like An Act of Treachery, a saga about a Parisian girl who falls in love with a married German officer during the Nazi regime, and The Clematis Tree, a novel about the complex aftermath of a family catastrophe.
Before Sir Winston Churchill served as the UK’s prime minister, he wrote the novel Savrola – his only major work of fiction – when he was just 24 years old. The lengthy Ruritanian tome, published in 1900, follows the advent of a violent revolution in the fictional European state of Laurania.
Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb is a prolific writer in both nonfiction and fiction genres. He draws heavily from his past experiences as a Marine Corps officer, Secretary of the Navy, and Naval Academy graduate in his military novels, like Fields of Fire and Lost Soldiers – both set in the Vietnam War era.
Sir John Vincent Cable, more commonly known as Vince Cable, served as the Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2017-2019. The former British MP is a prolific author and has written a wide range of books, including the romantic political thriller Open Arms, in which a British housewife-turned-MP falls for an Indian arms technology tycoon.
A Member of Parliament in India since 2009, Shashi Tharoor is also a critically acclaimed writer. The Commonwealth Writers Prize winner has published over a dozen non-fiction books, as well as several works of fiction. Tharoor’s 1992 postmodern novel Show Business satirizes the Bollywood film industry with an inventive narrative structure.
Longtime California Senator Barbara Boxer authored two well-received political novels with Mary-Rose Hayes. A Time to Run and Blind Trust follow a fictional senator as she weaves in and out of intrigues at the Capitol and gets embroiled in scandals, both personal and professional.
Iain Duncan Smith
British MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith served as the Leader of the Conservative Party before resigning after a no confidence vote in 2003. His brief foray into fiction writing, with the 2003 novel The Devil’s Tune, was almost universally critically panned and is now largely unavailable.
Jeffrey Archer, a British MP who was once a Conservative mayoral candidate in London, weathered a number of scandals during his time as a politician – from a perjury conviction and resignations to widely publicized debts and bankruptcy. His career as a novelist has been far more successful, with mysteries like his Detective William Warwick novels selling hundreds of millions of copies.
A Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives for New York from 1993-2021, Peter T. King is also the author of three novels. In Terrible Beauty, Vale of Tears, and Deliver Us From Evil, he plots out alternate futures that also “flash back” to real events from the past.
Michael John Dobbs has a Ph.D. in nuclear defense studies, in addition to serving as a Conservative member of the House of Lords. But he’s best known as the author of many successful thrillers. In addition to the popular House of Cards trilogy, which was adapted for Netflix in the U.S. and a BBC miniseries, he’s also penned hard-edged suspense novels like the Harry Jones series.
Gary Hart, a U.S. Colorado Senator from 1975-1987, has an impressive list of novels under his belt. He most recently published a contemporary Western about southwestern Colorado in Durango (2012). As “John Blackthorn,” he published the political thrillers I, Che Guevara and Sins of the Fathers.
Steve Israel served as a Democratic U.S. Representative for New York from 2001-2017. The former congressman put his insider info to work with political satire in his novels The Global War on Morris in 2014 and Big Guns in 2018.
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