If you read “The Spy Who Walked Into the Cold” you’ll understand why I say I wish it wasn’t appearing in the Fiction River: Spies anthology.
Kris Rusch, the editor, introduced the piece by saying it “examines a part of the United States that most people don’t know about,” which is something I could well have said about myself at one point. I don’t know when I first came across the existence of Fred Hampton, but I can say for certain that it was far too late, that it wasn’t in school, and it wasn’t through any of my friends. Our educational system isn’t set up to teach people like me about the Fred Hamptons of the world.
All I can say for sure is that I knew about him by the time Kris put guidelines together for her Spies anthology, and that, as soon as I read those guidelines, I knew I wanted to write about him. Or, really, about what happened to him. I can also say that it was a very difficult story for me to write, as indicated by the fact that my first draft essentially left out the most important scene in the whole story. Luckily, Kris knows what she’s doing, and basically shook her finger at me and said I had to go back and do it right. In other words, I found the right editor at the right time. Looking back, I think I shied away from that section specifically because it was the most important part of the story. It’s hard, after all, to face invisible truths that are, in reality, out in the open.
Hampton would be 70 years old now. Which is something to think about.
Anyway, I’m happy with my work on this one. Proud of it. I hope you’ll read it.