Guest Post: Susan Ouellette – THE WAYWARD TARGET

Good day, my bookish peeps. I’ve attended a host of different author talks over the past decade, some in person and others virtual. The one question that seems to keep coming up is “where did you get your inspiration for…?” One of my favorite romance authors read a small article from a historical newspaper and then crafted an amazing historical trilogy based on one line from that article. Some authors find their inspiration comes from something they read in a newspaper or magazine. Others may see or read something that strikes their fancy while traveling. Inspiration seems to hit differently for each author, and as a reader, I find it absolutely fascinating that creativity works this way. I’m honored to welcome back Susan Ouellette, author of The Wayward Target, part of the “The Wayward Spy” series. Ms. Ouellette will be discussing her inspiration with us today. Thank you, Ms. Ouellette, for taking the time to come back for another visit. I can’t wait to learn more about your inspiration for this series. I’ll now turn the blog over to you.

One Author’s Inspiration
by Susan Ouellette

One of the most common questions readers ask is what inspired me to write espionage thrillers. It all began with Nancy Drew. Nancy, as every fan knows, was an amateur sleuth, not a spy, but she started me down a path that led to The Wayward Spy series. As a child, I devoured every Nancy Drew book on the library shelf. I wanted to be her, to encounter danger and emerge safe (and victorious) on the other side of a solved mystery. The desire to live the sleuth life led me to the only thing I could think to do—watch my quiet suburban neighborhood for crimes and suspicious characters. I went so far as to keep a notebook filled with observations about the neighbors’ comings and goings. Alas, the closest thing to a crime I encountered was the time someone cut the stems of all the flowers in my neighbor’s well-manicured yard. (The crime remains unsolved to this day.)

After burning through the Nancy Drew series, I moved on to Agatha Christie books. With their international flair, her novels introduced me to a broader world of intrigue. My sophomore year of high school, I read George Orwell’s 1984, an allegory for life in the Soviet Union. And just like that, my passion for books full of intrigue, mystery, and danger coalesced around something new—Cold War spy thrillers. I started with Tom Clancy’s classic, The Hunt for Red October, and never looked back. Forsythe, Follett, Le Carre, Ludlum—you name it, I read it. But as much as I loved these books, I wanted more. I wanted in. I wanted to be part of the spy world depicted in my favorite novels. But I wasn’t sure how to go about getting there.

In college, I took every Russia- and Soviet Union-related class that I could. Hidden away in the dusty, hushed stacks of the campus library, I spent my spare time researching the KGB and the CIA. One day, I happened upon an ad in the employment section of the newspaper (back when there was such a thing). A federal government job fair? Would the CIA be there? Several weeks later, I had my answer and an application for the Agency’s college internship program in hand. The whole process took nine months and included a thorough background investigation, an even more thorough polygraph examination that stretched over two days, and a chat with a CIA “shrink” who told me the polygraph was tripping me up because of my “Catholic guilt.” At last, one June morning, I received a phone call informing me I was to report to CIA headquarters in two weeks.

I was a bundle of nerves that first day on the job. After a lengthy (and somewhat tedious) orientation session, I found myself in an office staring at a file labeled “Top Secret.” I’d finally made it—I was Nancy Drew! Well, not exactly Nancy, but I couldn’t have been more excited if I were. I spent three years at the CIA as a college intern and a graduate fellow learning more about the former Soviet Union than I could have in any classroom. As much as I loved my time at the Agency, I leapt at the chance to work as a professional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

I thought working for the CIA was cool (and it was) but working for the committee that oversees the entire intelligence community was beyond cool. Our office was tucked in a windowless space in the U.S. Capitol building’s attic. The atmosphere was a mélange of intrigue, secrecy, political power, and American history. I traveled, met CIA station chiefs, attended briefings from top government officials, and led an investigation into an intelligence matter I probably shouldn’t discuss. It wasn’t all excitement, of course. The most mundane part of the job was wading through stacks of intelligence agencies’ budget requests so I could recommend funding cuts or increases to congressional leadership. It was during those moments, with massive dollar amounts blurring on the pages before my eyes, that my mind wandered. I imagined the life of a fictional character with a background like mine who found herself embroiled in a dangerous political scandal. And that is how Maggie Jenkins, the protagonist in The Wayward Target, was born—in a windowless, soundproof, vaulted office in the Capitol building’s attic. It was a long journey from Nancy Drew to Maggie Jenkins, but I wouldn’t change a single step along the way. ♦

The Wayward Target

by Susan Ouellette

April 17 – May 12, 2023 Virtual Book Tour


The Wayward Target by Susan Ouellette

When a price is placed on her head, Maggie must face the terroristic mastermind to save her lover’s life without betraying her most loyal friend.

Evil Triumphs Only if Good Women Do Nothing

A year after hunting down the terrorist who killed her fiancé, CIA analyst Maggie Jenkins finds herself with a price on her head. In retaliation for chasing and killing an elite member of a terrorist cell, Maggie now is on the hitlist of the mastermind behind numerous terrorist attacks.

With Maggie’s movements severely restricted by the presence of a round-the-clock security detail, it’s up to her boss, Warner Thompson, and CIA officer Roger Patterson to find and eliminate the terrorist who stalks her. But when a shadowy Russian operative surfaces and presents Maggie with intel that might lead her to the man who orchestrated her fiancé’s death, she can no longer watch from the sidelines. Is she willing to risk her growing relationship with Roger, Warner’s career, and her own life to finally get justice and bring down a major terrorist cell?

Book Details:

Genre: Espionage Thriller
Published by: CamCat Publishing
Publication Date: April 2023
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN13: 9780744308723 (Hardcover)
ISBN10: 0744308720
ISBN: 9780744308761 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780744308778 (Digital Audiobook)
ASIN: B0BW2KVJMT (Audible Audiobook)
ASIN: B09XY44NWK (Kindle edition)
Series: The Wayward Series, Book 3 | Each is a Stand-Alone
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible Audiobook | Barnes & Noble | B&N eBook | B&N Audiobook | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Susan Ouellette

Susan Ouellette was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, where she studied international relations and Russian language and culture at both Harvard University and Boston University. As the Soviet Union teetered on the edge of collapse, she worked as an intelligence analyst at the CIA, where she earned a commendation for her work done during the failed 1991 Soviet coup. Subsequently, Susan worked on Capitol Hill as a professional staff member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).

It was there in the Capitol Building, during quiet moments, that Susan conceived of Maggie Jenkins, an intrepid female character thrust into a dangerous situation borne of tragedy. Next came the threads of a plot, and from that blossomed her first espionage thriller, The Wayward Spy.

Susan lives on a farm outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband, three boys, cats, chickens, turkeys, and too many honeybees to count. In her spare time, she loves to read, root for Boston sports teams, and spend time staring out at the ocean on the North Carolina coast.

Catch Up With Susan:
BookBub – @susanobooks1
Instagram – @susanobooks
Twitter – @smobooks
Facebook – @SusanOuelletteAuthor
YouTube – @susanouellette-author6477

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaway entries!


This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Susan Ouellette and CamCat Books. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours 

Guest Post: Susan Ouellette – THE WAYWARD ASSASSIN

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Good day, my bookish peeps. I’ve got to admit, I hate admitting I’m getting old, if not old-er! Remembering events that took place in the 1960s and 1970s is daunting (and aging). Then I hear my nieces and nephews refer to events that took place 20-30 years ago as a long time ago just feels wrong on so many levels. But then I remember that they’re between the ages of 14 and 27 so it is a long time ago for them. Susan Ouellette, author of The Wayward Assassin, stops by today to discuss just that, passing time and writing about world after a significant event. Thank you, Ms. Ouellette for taking the time to join us today and sharing with us. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say. I hope everyone will enjoy your words of wisdom, follow the blog tour, and add The Wayward Assassin to their TBR lists. The blog is now all yours.

Writing about the Post-9/11 World
by Susan Ouellette

Since the publication of my first book, The Wayward Spy, which takes place in 2003, I’m often asked why my stories take place “so long ago.” The same holds true for the sequel, The Wayward Assassin, which takes place in 2004. Hey, wait a minute, I think. It wasn’t that long ago. Then I do the math . . . oh, right.

So why do my stories take place when they do? Well, I started writing this series in early 2001. At the time, the books took place in the future, albeit by only a few years. The villain in my books was a terrorist named Osama bin Laden. Of course, everyone over the age of thirty knows who he is. But when I first began thinking about writing spy thrillers back in the late 1990s, few Americans had ever heard of bin Laden. The only reason I was familiar with him was that it was my job to understand the threats facing the United States. At the time, I was working on Capitol Hill for the House Intelligence Committee, where we received numerous briefings about bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network. Fast forward to September 11, 2001. When the second plane hit the second tower in New York City, I knew immediately that bin Laden and al-Qaeda had to be responsible.

In the dark days after September 11th, I decided to cut bin Laden from my stories. I didn’t want to give him any more publicity than he’d garnered as the mastermind of the most deadly attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. So, I changed the story’s villain to a female terrorist named Zara, who, if I do say so myself, is a far more interesting character than bin Laden would’ve been. And having my protagonist, Maggie Jenkins, square off against another woman? It added so many layers to these stories that I knew right away I’d struck fictional gold.

When I decided to take another shot at getting published a few years ago, I considered updating the first book (The Wayward Spy) so that it would take place around 2018. But I soon realized that doing so would present a problem for the second book (The Wayward Assassin). ASSASSIN’s plot is anchored by an actual event that took place in 2004 (no spoilers!). If I catapulted The Wayward Spy setting ahead by fifteen years, then I would’ve had to remove the 2004 event and rewrite The Wayward Assassin entirely. I decided I couldn’t do that because that particular real-life event made such an impression on me that I simply had to write about it. I had to try to make sense out of a senseless act. I had to insert Maggie into that world and have her fight the evil she encountered. And whether it’s 2004 or 2022, Maggie Jenkins is the everyday hero that thriller fans crave. She’s bold, clever, unpredictable, vulnerable, and stronger than she knows. ♦

The Wayward Assassin

by Susan Ouellette

March 1-31, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


Revenge knows no deadline.

Although told to stand down now that the Chechen rebel who killed her fiancé is dead, CIA analyst Maggie Jenkins believes otherwise and goes rogue to track down the assassin. Soon it becomes clear that failure to find Zara will have repercussions far beyond the personal, as Maggie uncovers plans for a horrific attack on innocent Americans. Zara is the new face of terrorism–someone who doesn’t fit the profile, who can slip undetected from attack to attack, and who’s intent on pursuing a personal vendetta at any cost.

Chasing Zara from Russia to the war-torn streets of Chechnya, to London, and finally, to the suburbs of Washington, D. C., Maggie risks her life to stop a deadly plot.

Praise for The Wayward Assassin:

“Ouellette, herself a former intelligence analyst for the CIA, imbues the exciting action with authenticity. Readers will want to see more of the wily Maggie . . .”
Publishers Weekly

“Every once in a decade you read a book like The Wayward Spy, which is thrilling, addictive, and sends you reading more thrillers, but you’ll go back to this stunning book by Susan Ouellette and reread this tour de force.”
The Strand Magazine, a Top 12 Book of the Year

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: March 15, 2022
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN: 0744304784 (ISBN13: 9780744304787)
Series: The Wayward Series, Book 2 || Each is a Stand Alone Book
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound.Org | CamCat Books

Author Bio:

Susan Ouellette

Susan Ouellette is the author of The Wayward Spy, a thriller that Publishers Weekly calls a “gripping debut and series launch.” She was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, where she studied international relations and Russian as both an undergraduate and graduate student. As the Soviet Union teetered on the edge of collapse, she worked as a CIA intelligence analyst. Subsequently, Susan worked on Capitol Hill as a professional staff member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). Since her stint on Capitol Hill, she has worked for several federal consulting firms. Susan lives on a farm outside of Washington, D.C. with her family.

Catch Up With Susan Ouellette:
BookBub – @susanobooks1
Instagram – @susanobooks
Twitter – @smobooks
Facebook – @SusanOuelletteAuthor

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Susan Ouellette and CamCat Books. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours