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Bill Clinton turns novelist with new book

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In this Monday, May 21, 2018, photo, former President Bill Clinton, left, listens as author James Patterson speaks during an interview about their new novel, "The President is Missing," in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The book is officially fiction: the story of a president who disappears as he tries to prevent an apocalyptic cyber-attack.

The authors, Bill Clinton and James Patterson, swear it could happen.

"You're asking the Secret Service, in effect, to walk away from their duty," the former US president said, as he and Patterson discussed The President Is Missing, the thriller they worked on together that comes out this week.

"A big piece of it (the novel) was getting him out of the White House," Patterson said. "It would be irresponsible, but under the circumstances it was the responsible thing to do."

Prodded to collaborate by Washington attorney Robert Barnett, who handles book deals for both of them, Clinton and Patterson drew on their respective backgrounds in completing a 500-page novel that topped Amazon's best-seller list before publication.

Patterson is among the world's most popular and prolific fiction writers, and the novel is a characteristically fast-paced narrative, with brief chapters and dramatic plot turns.

Clinton, a newcomer to novel writing whose previous books include the million-selling autobiography "My Life," didn't need a lot of research to tell readers what it's like to sit inside the White House Situation Room or to be briefed on a possible terrorist attack, or to imagine slipping away entirely.

"Jim wanted it to be authentic," Clinton said.

"Which means: A, the physical setting has to be authentic. B, the procedures had to be authentic, and the interplay between the president and the staff and all the world leaders and everything had to have the feel of reality, and even how the Secret Service works."

The novel has received blurbs from Mary Higgins Clark, Walter Mosley and even "Hamilton" author Ron Chernow. The historian told The Associated Press in a recent email that he was initially "dubious" about the project, but was impressed by the "stylistic blend" of the two authors.

Both writers say they want the book to be a page-turner and thought provoking.

© AP 2018