Like everyone else, when I read The Da Vinci Code, I couldn’t put it down. Novels like that the captivate the world are rare gems. Maybe if I’m lucky, one day, one of my books will reach that status. A guy can dream. But one of my favorite things about the novel is that the plot took me on a tour around Europe and forced me took search the locations that the characters visited. The level engagement had me going back and forth between my desktop computer and the book (no iPhones or iPads in those days). As I wrote Surviving the Lion’s Den, I set out to do a little bit of the same thing but I wanted to make it a little easier for you the reader. Below is a companion that you can use to follow Kirk, Farhad, and Delang as they make their way through Iran.
When Kirk flies into Tehran, he has to sell his cover as a tourist so Farhad takes him on a tour of downtown Iran with one of the stops being the Azadi Tower. For word count purposes, I had to remove many of tourism tips for Azadi Tower, but thankfully, this is a forum when I can put them back in. If you walk close enough to the Tower, you can see emerald jewels imbedded in the Tower’s ribs. It also has a gorgeous and very artistic museum in the basement that highlights the country’s jewels and paintings. From the top of the Tower, you can see the honeycomb shaped square that Kirk and Farhad walked. If you go, be careful about crossing the street to get there as Iran has no crosswalks.
The other location that Farhad took Kirk to was Milad Tower, which I think has a more breathtaking view of down Iran and the Alborz Mountains. But, Americans beware, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is constantly on patrol and won’t hesitate to stop you for doing something wrong. I would advise not taking too many pictures. In additional to the revolving restaurants, cafes, and art galleries, the Tower is also home to the state-run television station, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.
OLD US EMBASSY
Since the U.S. still has no official relations with Iran since the 1979 revolution, the embassy was abandoned. Iran’s Department of Tourism converted into a tourist destination. Since the government was convinced is was the mini-CIA headquarters, they renamed it the Den of Espionage Museum. The first draft of Surviving the Lion’s Den was actually about three American friends that take a trip to Iran and inadvertently end up saving Tom Delang. Obviously, I made some changes from that, but the original version of the book provided a walk-through of what is now there. Upon entering the grounds, you will see them flushed with anti-U.S. and anti-Israel artwork. The stairway to the second floor has been painted with a mural depicting the failed Operation Eagle Claw, which attempted to rescue the diplomatic hostages in 1980. Behind the stairwell is the soundproof room that was used for the negotiations. If you look closely, you can see that one of the mannequins is dressed like the U.S. ambassador to Iran at the time the students stormed the gates, William Sullivan. The museum can still be toured today, but the hours vary.
DIZIN SKI RESORT
The resort is still utilized day and the information provided in the novel is true. It’s still a popular stop for anyone visiting during ski season and it’s one of the few places where Iranians are known to criticize the government openly. From what I understand, the parties rival those of college fraternities. Just be on the lookout for the Guidance Patrol who can pop up at any second to discipline you.
OPERATION CHEVROLET- IRAN’S ASSASINATION PLOT OF THE SAUDI AMBASSADOR
This part of the book was real. Netflix has a show called Terrorism Close Calls and one of the episodes was about the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. I took creative liberties as to why the incident occurred, but felt it was necessary to include it in the novel to show the real-life lengths to which Iran is willing to go in its terrorist pursuits.