Ross King: Bill Clinton’s novel idea realised in exciting thriller

Ross, centre, with Bill Clinton and The President Is Missing co-author James Patterson
Ross, centre, with Bill Clinton and The President Is Missing co-author James Patterson

WHEN I was told by my producer I had a Bill to take care of, I thought my round-dodging at the ITV Christmas party had finally caught up with me.

But I was instead being sent for a chat with a little known new author.

For a first-time writer I think his novel, The President Is Missing, is going to be a bit of a hit.

And not just because he’s teamed up with veteran thriller writer James Patterson.

The man in question is none other than the former Commander In Chief, President Bill Clinton.

I got to sit down with the man who used to be in control of the red button. Although these days I use the red button myself, but mainly to check the snooker results on digital telly.

Bill was looking good – can you believe the man they considered a young president is 71 now?

It’s never too late to branch out into new territory, which is what he’s doing with The President Is Missing.

You can probably guess from the title it’s not a serious meditation on politics in the 21st century.

Instead it’s a cracking thriller which I read in one sitting, and interestingly it touches on some of the recent election hacking stories from the US.

I wondered if Bill was worried about giving away some of the secrets of White House security.

“I was careful about it but I’ve been out of office long enough that I don’t have any classified information,” he told me. “But I do have a lot of contacts with people who do this work.

“What I wanted people to see it that firstly it’s a serious issue and secondly that there are serious consequences that go beyond the election hacking, that affects every single person.

“And I wanted to say, ‘What are you going to do about this?’”

As well as tackling real issues, I wanted to know if Bill’s wife Hillary had been interested in the book.

“She was very interested in what we were doing,” said Bill, “because she was a senator for New York during 9/11, and she was the Secretary of State.

“One of the arguments we make here is we haven’t done enough on cyber security. Twenty-one years ago I issued the first executive order on cyber security because you could just see it was going to happen.

“So we try to deal here with a genuine challenge for America. But people need to understand this is the tip of the iceberg.”