When I was a starry-eyed 13-year-old, I
confided to my older brother, Michael, that I wanted to write a book
about love, for the entire world to read. Already I was scribbling
quixotic poetry in my journal, philosophizing into my tape recorder, and
feeling the world could use a story that sparked the heart, a tale about
growing up in a particular family named Conlon, about excavating the
important secrets we keep buried undercover.
I began sketching FBI Girl around the
time my father proudly gave me all his correspondence received from
bureau chief J. Edgar Hoover. Dad was a special agent for 27 years in
the Los Angeles area. And that's about all we knew growing up. When I
sat down and read his stash of letters, I found scribbled all over them
his wry observations about being in the FBI, or his reflections about
life in general. This gift was typical of what he and I had shared all
our lives -- communication wrapped in code. It was always my job to read
between the lines and uncover the real meaning. Perhaps my father was
like many of our fathers in that respect.
I've had the good fortune to live in
various parts of the country, including such fine places as southern
California, Iowa City, Berkeley, New York City, Winston-Salem, Syracuse,
and the Pacific Northwest. Given that my father was a family man, he
would have preferred if I'd stayed in the neighborhood. But if I had,
he'd have missed the chance to say, "Hold on. I'll get your mother" when
he spotted me, which he always did, at the front doorstep, suitcase in
hand, home again.
I hope you enjoy
FBI Girl: How I Learned to Crack My Father's Code.