Stressed about your job after midterms? Thereís a book for that

July 30, 2018 

WASHINGTON ó As congressional aides with vulnerable bosses wonder if theyíll still have a job come 2019, a former Capitol Hill staffer wrote a novel about just that.

The Library of Congressí Colleen Shogan decided to set the fourth installment of her Washington Whodunit series, "K Street Killing," in the middle of a tense midterm election.

"Itís Ö a matter of fact of what happens here on Capitol Hill ó the uncertainly, particularly in the past 20 years, of the fact that either house usually has a chance of flipping during most election cycles," Shogan said. "It really places additionally stress on congressional staff due to the unpredictability of the situation."

Her protagonist, Kit Marshall, works for fictional vulnerable North Carolina congresswoman Maeve Dixon. At a fundraiser for Dixonís campaign, a powerful K Street tycoon plummets to his death when he tumbles off the roof of lobbyist haunt Charlie Palmer Steak.

"When I was thinking about the series and different situations that I can put Kit in, I always thought that basing it around an election season and a really close campaign would make a lot of sense," Shogan said. "I worked for a senator who was in a very tough re-election race when I worked in Congress, and I just remember that it was a very stressful and tension-filled time in the office."

After her own years racing the Capitol halls, she feels for staffers there now.

"People donít fully appreciate sort of the difficulties that people who work in Washington, the difficult conditions that they work under," she said. "Thereís not a lot of job security, and a lot of times, some of the decisions that are made are decisions that you canít control. You canít control how people vote in a district or a state."

Her readership beyond the Hill could learn a lesson from the novel, Shogan said.

"Iím also trying to provide some information and educate them about what Capitol Hill is actually like Ö to sort of educate them, yeah thereís an election going on but this is how it affects real people, I think is important," she said.

And for current staffers reading it, she thinks the story will seem familiar.

"A lot a staff, I think theyíll self-identify with that sort of feeling that Iím trying to convey in this book," she said. "Itís not supposed to have any great revelations in it, I donít think, except to validate some of those feelings."

While her previous novels focused on murders inside the Senate, the House, and an exclusive D.C. club, the lobbying world was the logical next stop.

"Itís really difficult to tell a whole story about Capitol Hill without talking about interest groups and lobbyists because theyíre such a big part of the business, the transactions here on a daily basis," Shogan said.

Aside from her writing career, she is the deputy director of national and international outreach at the Library of Congress. The D.C. native likes her books to read like a tour of the city, with mentions of iconic local spots like We the Pizza, Sonoma, the Kennedy Center and Barrel Oak Winery.

"K Street Killing" was released July 15.



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