Meet Retired FBI Special Agent George Zell Heuston
George’s Bio – For George’s complete bio, see his website here.
During the time the Vietnam war was gaining momentum, and following graduation from the University of Puget Sound with a B.A. in history, George served four years as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, targeting airstrikes in Vietnam. Following his Air Force tour, George obtained a Juris Doctor degree from Seattle University. Thereafter, George was sworn in as a Special Agent of the FBI. He spent 22 years as an investigator in the Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Portland FBI field offices. He retired in 2002 to work as a Project Manager for the Hillsboro Police Department, Oregon.
At an age when most children’s lives revolved around toys and TV, George was becoming a full-fledged mountaineer—a passion that stuck with him throughout his young adulthood.
Now, decades after growing up among the majestic mountain peaks of the Pacific Northwest, he shares his most memorable recollections from the sport that changed his life, including working for the Mount Rainier Guide Service during the very different era of the mid-1960s.
Armed with wooden axes, wool clothing, and old-fashioned gear, George gives readers a fascinating front-row view of all the wonder, excitement, laughter, and fear of his many journeys, as well as the lessons learned and perspectives gained that would last a lifetime.
The first novel in the Bradford Lehman thriller series!
In a shimmering world of snow and ice, a young climbing guide finds himself immersed in a desperate Cold War Struggle involving nuclear weapons, the FBI, CIA, and Soviet Military Intelligence (GRU). This story is a fictional thriller set high on the slopes of Mount Rainier in the mid-1960s, in the midst of a global Cold War, and an unpopular hot war in Vietnam. It is the story of young Bradford Lehman’s first love, and first kill on a desperate mission, against implacable professional assassins. It seems impossible that he can survive these odds. But Lehman holds a trump card — his thorough and intimate knowledge of Mount Rainier.
How did the FBI and CA come to rely on young Lehman? How was he trained and equipped to fight his way through his mission? How did the experience shape him? What tools did the FBI and CIA bring into the mission that made the difference between all-out nuclear war and maintaining the ugly, uneasy status quo that was the hallmark of the Cold War era?
Grab your wooden Ice axe, step into your climbing boots, rope in with young Bradford Lehman, and discover. The answers are there — high on the big mountain — they are there.
For all who have an interest in the history of that era, who love suspense and the thrill of the world of spies and spy catchers, this is your trip to that world. Embark.
An Interview with George
- How long did it take you to start writing in earnest once you knew that was what you wanted to do?
No time at all. I launched full-bore into my first book, Avoiding the Sudden Stop, and essentially had it drafted, polished, and published in eight months. My second book, A Cold Paradise, is taking longer – about 10 months. The second book is the first in a fictional thriller/adventure series chronicling the life and career progressions of a young guide-turned-agent in the 1960s. The first was about my childhood and growing up in the mountains. It was thus easier to write. As I thought back, floodgates of memories opened. It was amazing how that happened.
- Are you self-published?
Did you launch into self-publishing or did you try the traditional route first?
I never tried the traditional route. Self-publishing provides more flexibility, I own all the rights, but it is expensive. Someday I may try the ‘standard’ route though.
- What was the most difficult part of the journey?
The technical side: finding editors and proofers who don’t cost an arm and a leg; and the marketing side of the business – which is at least as expensive as the publishing process. Social network marketing takes a LOT of effort, and the jury’s out with me as to whether such effort truly pays off. I suspect it doesn’t, at least with respect to its cost/time v. benefit.
- Do you want to do a stand alone or series?
- Do you jump right in to write once you get an idea, or do you plan and outline?
I’m not one to outline. I just write. It is a slow process though, since I think through aspects as much as possible as I type. Plus, I’m a slow typist! I make lists of characters and devices. By devices, I mean the things that move through the narrative as well. Such things, for instance, as climbing gear and types of weapons that appear – or even the transportation they utilize. In A Cold Paradise I spend time, for instance, on the HH-43 Kaman Huskie Helicopter that was used extensively in the operation. I try to give these objects scrutiny and depth for the reader. I want the devices to come alive in the hands of the characters. This enriches. And such devices are an important aspect of the history surrounding the setting and times. They focus the reader, bring them close to the characters, and provide historical context. So I tend to treat devices like characters, and thus list them, to help flesh out the story.
- Where do you write? In my “Home Office” of course! That was my obligatory IRS answer. I have a MacBook Air, and I use it to give me flexibility and mobility on where I choose to write. I like to grab a cup of coffee in the morning, sit at the kitchen table, with the bird feeders next to the window, and write.
Do you have any rituals or necessities when you write?
I like a cup of coffee at hand, with the TV off, and the house quiet. When I go out to write, I go to coffee shops. I like the rhythm, sounds, and smells of those places. The noise of the machines is steampunk, and though loud at times, I find it happy and calming.
- Do you write more than one piece at a time? Yes.
What’s in the works now? Book two in the Bradford Lehman series, set this time in the Himalayas, and again pitting him against the Russians in a Cold War fight.
- What encourages you to write? The calm of the morning. Discourages? Incursions of daily life as the world wakes up. The expense. What do you do to motive yourself through the rough times? I take long breaks from the manuscript. But in the interim I am always thinking through next steps. It is a process that suits retirement!
- I’m sure your experiences must compel you to write! Readers want to hear whatever you have to say about that! I believe I have something to say and contribute. I have been most fortunate to have lived through exciting experiences and times, and to have worked with fun and fascinating people. These are the rough but wonderful threads of life as I’ve known it. I want these threads woven into other lives. I want to entertain and relate. I want to convey the arc of what it has been like to live as a proud American. Writing enables that. The fiction series I have embarked upon aims to trace the transformation of a young man from innocence (in love), through the senseless reckonings and realizations of the Vietnam War, to the seasoned FBI agent and investigator who must continue the fight of the Cold War. What will happen to young Bradford Lehman? How will he cope? Will he lose his humanity and moral compass? Likely not. But stay tuned. I don’t know yet myself!
Find George Here