The CIA’s creative writing group

A report from inside Langley, Virginia.

Writing in The Paris Review, author Johannes Lichtman describes how the deep state agency recruits a wide range of creative writers to its writers circle.

“I kept wondering why I’d been invited. I don’t write about CIA-adjacent topics, nor am I successful enough a novelist that people outside a small circle—one that I doubt includes U.S. intelligence agencies—know my name. So the invite was a bit of a mystery. This was the second-most common question that came up when I told writer friends about it. . .”

“I began by asking what people were writing. Surprisingly, none of the CIA writers were writing spy novels. They were working on short stories. Self-published dystopian sci-fi. A presidential biography. Upmarket fiction. A personal blog, which I was told to check out if I ever wanted a really good muffin recipe. The writing group was organized around what sounded like a listserv announcing periodic meetings to whatever members were available that day. Only about half the people in the room seemed to know one another.”