Watch CBS News

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny on their new political thriller, "State of Terror"

In what might seem like an unusual partnership, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and bestselling novelist Louise Penny have collaborated on a new political thriller called "State of Terror." Their friendship emerged from grief and led them to work together on the novel, they told correspondent Martha Teichner, in an interview for "CBS Sunday Morning," to be broadcast October 10 on CBS and streamed on Paramount+.  

"This whole experience and this book arose out of our friendship," Clinton said, "and our friendship arose out of someone who was a very good friend to both of us. That was my best friend from the sixth grade, a woman named Betsy, Betsy Johnson Ebeling."

"Our friendship came out of grief," Penny said, "and when we met – you had just lost the election, I just lost my husband – we were two women of a similar age who knew what that felt like."

St. Martin's Press/Simon & Schuster

The book, published by St. Martin's Press and Simon & Schuster (a division of ViacomCBS), is set in Washington, where the "near criminal incompetence" of the fictional former presidential administration leads to a global crisis. It's a thriller in which the heroes are two middle-aged women.
"This book started really out of a conversation that Louise and I had," Clinton told Teichner.
"I asked, 'What's your nightmare?'" Penny recalled.
They decided on nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists as the premise. They wrote the book together from their respective homes – Penny in Quebec and Clinton in Chappaqua, N.Y. The authors want people to read the book for what it is, a dead-serious cautionary tale and a tribute to a friendship.
"This is a wake-up call for anybody who cares about America, the world," Clinton said.
Said Penny, "I feel very proud of this book for doing that and for being entertaining at the same time, and having a heart and having a soul."

The Emmy Award-winning "Sunday Morning" is broadcast on CBS Sundays beginning at 9 a.m. ET. "Sunday Morning" also streams on CBSN [beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET] and Paramount+, and is available on and

Be sure to follow us at, and on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and TikTok.

For more info:

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.