Trust No One. Assume Nothing.

In the fall of 2015, my family visited the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

The experience begins when they lock you in a room and you choose your cover identity. You have minutes to prepare. Memorize your name, your age, your hometown, where you’re going and why.

And then the doors open, pouring you into a wealth of exhibits. My youngest was fascinated by the carrier pigeon exhibit, my eldest by all things Bond, James Bond. Me? I found the lock picks captivating (why, yes, a plot bunny for The Silver Skull sat up straight and demanded attention).

Lock pick set, circa 1970:


At first, there are exhibits challenging your cover story. Until such exhibits fade away, replaced by fascinating bits of international espionage. I won’t spoil anything, but you really ought to hold on to your new identity. The challenge comes when you’re least expecting it. Two of us passed.

Our time there was too short and before I’d exited the building, I was making plans to return. But we had a schedule to adhere to, and so we left.

Seconds later, my eldest regretted not using the restroom. The rest of our group headed onward; the two of us turned back.

“May I see your tickets?” asked a suspicious guard.

Alas, they were half a block away in my husband’s pocket.

“We were just here.” I shoved my oldest forward. “Ask him who he is.”

The guard grinned and the questions came in rapid fire. “What’s your name? How old are you? Where were you born? Where are you going? Why?”

My son answered them all, maintaining his cover identity with no hesitations and a straight face. I was never so proud.

The guard waved him through.

So keep an eye on those guards, they’re not just protecting the exhibits…

About Anne

Though USA TODAY bestselling author Anne Renwick holds a Ph.D. in biology and greatly enjoyed tormenting the overburdened undergraduates who were her students, fiction has always been her first love. Today, she writes steampunk romance, placing a new kind of biotech in the hands of mad scientists, proper young ladies and determined villains.

Anne brings an unusual perspective to steampunk. A number of years spent locked inside the bowels of a biological research facility left her permanently altered. In her steampunk world, the Victorian fascination with all things anatomical led to a number of alarming biotechnological advances. Ones that the enemies of Britain would dearly love to possess.

To chat with Anne, stop by on Facebook or join the Department of Cryptobiology Facebook group. You can also join her newsletter list to have cover reveals, sneak peaks, sales and giveaways delivered straight to your inbox.

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