Former CIA operative offers real world spy advice to writers


After a 30-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency, T.L. Williams decided to pursue his passion for writing. As the author of three spy thrillers, he will share some of his tradecraft knowledge at the FWA Ponte Vedra Writers meeting Saturday, Aug. 26 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ponte Vedra Library.

Williams will present “So You Want to Write a Spy Thriller. How’s Your Tradecraft?” through which writers will learn about the CIA from its inception to today, and how that knowledge can help them infuse more realism into their spy novels. Williams will compare a few of the more common tradecraft tools that real operations officers use versus those portrayed in popular television programs and films. He will also examine some novels in the genre that have hit the mark.

Williams retired from the CIA in 2009, and subsequently moved to Ponte Vedra Beach. His latest thriller, “ZERO DAY: China’s Cyber Wars,” is a conceivable story involving China’s attempt to undermine the U.S. economy. Concerned about Williams’ extensive knowledge about sensitive national security, the CIA prevented the book’s publication for months while vetting the manuscript for any classified information. 

The Ponte Vedra Writers chapter is one of more than 50 writers’ groups affiliated with the Florida Writers Association, a nonprofit membership organization with nearly 1,500 members. For more information about the organization, visit The meeting is free and open to the public.