Heard on the Hill

The Lightbulb Moment That Led to 'Gridlock'

Solon-turned-author Byron Dorgan told HOH he got the idea for his forthcoming novel “Gridlock” — a geopolitical thriller focused on the sabotaging of the American electrical grid — while perusing a Wall Street Journal “What If?” piece regarding U.S. vulnerabilities.

“There’s a lot of discussion of cyber-terror. What it might mean. What form it may take,” the retired North Dakota Democratic senator said of the book, which hits stores July 9.

The second in a series of energy-disaster-related yarns, "Gridlock" pits returning protagonists Nate Osborne (lawman) and Ashley Borden (journalist) against foreign governments (Iran, Venezuela), cyber-threats (a Russian computer virus) and our own bravado.

“We’ve distorted some elements of the complex system so as not to make this story a blueprint for a terrorist attack. Unfortunately, though, such a thing is well within the realm of possibility. And if it happens, the United States will be in serious trouble ...  a thousand, ten thousand times worse than 9/11,” the duo warn in an ominous sounding author’s note.

Dorgan said he shared an early, uncorrected proof with fellow Senate retiree Kent Conrad, D-N.D. — “I think I cost him a lot of sleep,” Dorgan said — and noted that Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin has been hounding him about getting his hands on a copy.

“So Tom is waiting for his beach read,” Dorgan quipped.