Motivational Quotes from Charles McCarry

I have to tell you, I’m a happy man. I’ve lived the life I wanted to live. I’ve written the books I wanted to write. No publisher has ever even suggested that I change so much as a phrase – commas and periods, yes – and I suspect that I have a lot of serious readers; in fact, I know.

Charles McCarry

I was swimming in my swimming pool when ‘The Secret Lovers’ popped entire into my head. I got out, dried off, went upstairs, and finished the book in about 50 days.

Charles McCarry

I cannot grasp the difference between killing people with drones or rifles and knives. The objective in war is to kill the enemy before he kills you. I can’t fathom the almost religious zeal with which the use of drones is being opposed.

Charles McCarry

Anything that’s secret, clandestine, loaded with such a supercargo of speculation, misinformation, disinformation and, for that matter, accurate revelations, creates an appetite.

Charles McCarry

People are dying to tell you their secrets; it’s just a matter of getting the conversation going in the right direction. If you just let people fill the silence, they will let you the most extraordinary things. I sometimes wonder if afterward they remember what they’ve said.

Charles McCarry

Espionage and counterespionage go together like horse and carriage.

Charles McCarry

I’ve certainly written a lot of things that have more or less come true. But I don’t have a gift for prophecy.

Charles McCarry

China, hidden and mysterious, has always interested me.

Charles McCarry

Writing for me is not a premeditated act. It just happens – characters keep coming out of nowhere and doing things I never expected them to do. The most persistent and most productive of these has been Paul Christopher, whom I didn’t expect to see again after he appeared in ‘The Miernik Dossier.’

Charles McCarry

Writing has taught me a lot – though far from everything – about writing, so as time has passed, it has become more pleasurable if not easier. I’ve done other things in life, but writing is by a factor of 10 the most difficult among them. And, of course, you never achieve what you set out to achieve, so you must keep on trying to do better.

Charles McCarry

Usually after finishing a novel, I have a head full of bad ideas for the next one.

Charles McCarry

I’ve always been baffled by critics of the CIA, who are horrified that it does illegal things. That is the purpose of an intelligence service: to perform illegal acts.

Charles McCarry

I don’t feel when I’m writing that I’m drawing from any other writer, but of course I must be. The writers I’ve admired have been not so very different from myself: Evelyn Waugh, for example, that kind of crystalline prose. And I’ve always admired W. Somerset Maugham more than any other writer.

Charles McCarry

I write in a very peculiar way. I think about a book for 25 or 30 years in a kind of inchoate way, and at one point or another, I realize the book is ready to be written. I usually have a character, a first line, and general idea of what the book is going to be about.

Charles McCarry

Richard M. Helms, the first director of Central Intelligence to rise from the ranks, was fond of saying that the CIA had been founded to make sure that there would never be another Pearl Harbor. Underlying this mission impossible was the wishful supposition that an America that knew everything could prevent anything.

Charles McCarry

When it comes to the assignment of blame, the CIA has by and large been a luckless organization.

Charles McCarry

As an old man who remembers the intellectual exhilaration and the pleasure of having done good work that characterized the CIA when it was young, I wonder if it might not be better to speak and think in terms of restoring its culture.

Charles McCarry

Other writers tell me about these bushel baskets delivered at the front door. If I’ve gotten 50 letters over the last 18 years, I’d be surprised.

Charles McCarry

I’ve consciously tried not to romanticize anything, especially not intelligence work. I’ve always said that I’ve been writing a series of episodic, naturalistic novels. The people just happen to be spies, politicians, civil servants.

Charles McCarry

If I were to give you a list of names of the people, world political figures, who have been assisted by the CIA, and even assisted to office around the world, you’d be astonished and probably wouldn’t believe it. But it’s very long, and the names are very distinguished.

Charles McCarry

There’s nothing new about European anti-Americanism. To go to a dinner party of intellectuals in Paris in 1960 was like walking into a tiger’s den with a piece of raw meat in your hands.

Charles McCarry