by L.J. Sellers
At 17, David Hagberg ran away from a future in the steel mills of Minnesota to join the Air Force—a decision that shaped his life for years to come and gave him the foundation for a long and successful career as a thriller writer. As a cryptographer who coded and decoded communications, he became immersed in the geopolitical military world and met CIA agents who are still his friends—and sources—fifty years later.
With that kind of background, it’s no wonder his new thriller Abyss is drawing rave reviews from writers and political experts alike. Bestselling author Douglas Preston says, “In Abyss, David Hagberg deftly blends action and cutting-edge technology into a well-crafted, intelligent thriller that scores a knock out, reminiscent of classic Clive Cussler, while delivering a vital message. I love this guy, and Abyss is one of his best.”
U.S. Senator Bryon Dorgon, a long-time energy expert, says, “Abyss is a wake-up call about our energy addiction. Inventive, dramatic, with jaw-dropping new energy ideas, you won’t be able to put it down.”
In the story, series character ex-CIA Director Kirk McGarvey, who—having kept the world safe before—struggles to make clean, alternative energy available and to decrease U.S. dependence on oil and the dangerous alliances it keeps to sustain it. “It’s the toughest thing McGarvey has ever done,” Hagberg says. The character faces a fierce antagonist, Brian DeCamp, a freelance saboteur, who is like “a James Bond in reverse.” Like in all good thrillers, the villain drives the story and Hagberg says that over the years he’s learned to “love his antagonists” and make them more human.
The idea for the novel originated with Hagberg’s publisher who asked him to write an environmental thriller. The author’s first response was to think the story would be “boring as spit.” But he “kicked the idea around for year and half” and eventually learned of a scientist working on a water impeller technology to create energy. Captivated by the concept, Hagberg did extensive research and conceptualized the plot for Abyss, which highlights the development of huge underwater turbines that can generate enough energy to sustain the globe.
Although it’s fiction, he says the science is sound and none of his early-reader experts have expressed any doubts. Hagberg is a voracious reader who takes in 1500 words a minute and consumes anything he can get his hands on. Much of his reading material is science-based books and articles. He follows up by talking to experts in the field, whether they’re engineers, CIA agents, or NASA personnel.
Consequently, Hagberg’s thrillers are often ahead of the curve, predicting events that become true. In Joshua’s Hammer, he foresaw the 9/11 attack on the United States by bin Laden; in Desert Fire, he foretold Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions; and in High Flight, he predicted the downing of airliners as a method of terrorism on a massive scale.
“David Hagberg writes the most realistic, prophetic thrillers I have ever read. His books should be required reading in Washington,” says mega-selling author Stephen Coonts.
After writing 70-plus novels, as well as novellas and a nonfiction book, Hagberg says he’s still learning the craft of storytelling. In recent years, in addition to humanizing his villains, he’s also become aware that women buy nearly 80% of the fiction sold. At the urging of his wife and daughter, he started including strong female characters in his stories. As a result, his readership has increased and he’s earning the loyalty of female readers too.
Considering his tough-guy protagonist and the military world he’s immersed in, you might be surprised to learn that Hagberg’s favorite author is J.K. Rowling. “I’ve read the Harry Potter series over and over,” he says. And although he loved his work both as a cryptographer and a journalist, he says being a novelist is the best job in the world, adding, “I’m having so much fun!”
To learn more about David Hagberg, please visit his website.