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A C-130 Hercules transport plane lies shattered in the heart of America’s top secret military airbase—Groom Lake in the Nevada Test and Training Range.

China’s newest stealth J-31 jet fighter goes missing.

A supersonic drone flies Black Ops missions from the most secure hangar in the nation.

The CIA, the military, and the National Reconnaissance Office are all locked in a power struggle.

One woman is trapped in the middle. Miranda Chase, lead crash investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, becomes a pawn in a very dangerous game.

Burdened with a new team, she must connect the pieces to stay alive. And she must do it before the wreckage of her past crashes down upon her.

The Big Thrill caught up to globetrotting author M. L. Buchman to get some insight into his latest Miranda Chase NTSB thriller, DRONE:

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?

Every title I’ve ever written has had some form of a love story. Military romance, thriller, SF. With DRONE I sought to write a pure military techno-thriller without any romantic arc at all. Even Dirk Pitt, Alex Cross, and Jack Reacher have these arcs. I strove to investigate a thriller that had none of these. An utterly fascinating challenge as a writer.

Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?

I was fascinated by the depths of technological advance that are happening around us. Military technology is developed on a multi-decade scale and the innovations we are just hearing about in public forums are often already decades old. When we speculate on what is possible, much of it has already been done, and I found that to be utterly fascinating.

Without spoilers, are there any genre conventions you wanted to upend or challenge with this book?

Thriller teams are by and large led by men. Adventure, especially military adventure, remains the male purview. All of my titles to date challenge this with role reversal. A female-led team. But rather than some alpha heroine, I wanted her to be a real woman, fighting her own inner demons, who must triumph against impossible odds. That is the story that I’ve always loved to write.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

I look at what authors I have read their complete works. Arthur C. Clarke fed my love of the “What if?” question. Ayn Rand: the role of society and of women. Herman Hesse: the inner person. Heinlein, Asimov, Ludlum, Cussler, and so many others: the sheer fun of adventure.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

DRONE intends to combine adventure with a view into the very possible near future of machine-human interface. Who will fight to protect it and what will the human cost become.


M. L. Buchman started the first of over 60 novels, 100 short stories, and a fast-growing pile of “read by author” audiobooks while flying from South Korea to ride his bicycle across the Australian Outback. Part of a solo around the world trip that ultimately launched his writing career in thrillers, SF/F, and romance.

His titles have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the Year” and three-time Booklist “Top 10 of the Year” as well as being a “Top 20 Modern Masterpiece” in romantic suspense. As a 30-year project manager with a geophysics degree who has designed and built houses, flown and jumped out of planes, and solo-sailed a 50’ ketch, he is awed by what’s possible.

To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.