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Native Utahn William Nixon saw plenty of the uncommon and intriguing in his travels as a football player, a Reagan administration speech writer and a top aide to Sen. William Roth, R-Del., that would make for a good novel.

So he wrote one."Strategic Compromise," which appeared in bookstores this past week, is an adventure about how secret work on the Strategic Defense Initiative - the program to use satellites to destroy nuclear missiles - could bring the nuclear war it is designed to prevent.

And pieces of Nixon's past appear throughout it. For example:

-A climactic shootout between terrorists and spies (including an evil aide to a senator) occurs in the subway between the U.S. Capitol and the Hart Senate Office Building, literally steps from Nixon's office.

-A chase involving the book's hero journalist and foreign agents occurs in the streets, gypsy caves and a castle in Almeria, Spain - where Nixon was once an LDS Church missionary and branch president.

-Action begins in Rome at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the parliamentary arm of NATO. Nixon often attends such meetings for Roth, who is the council's vice chairman. Nixon's work has made him an expert on global politics affecting SDI.

-A scene in the book where a movie star runs into the hero journalist at an ambassador's reception in Rome is based on an identical reception Nixon attended and where he bumped into actress Lauren Hutton. "She was wearing the same red jumpsuit and the hairstyle I describe in the book," he said.

Nixon also weaves much technical detail about how SDI would work, how it could be completed within the decade and how it might even be deployed secretly - which might accidentally cause a nuclear war.

"I don't have access to nor did I use any secret documents about SDI," Nixon said. "But I have three good friends who are experts on the technical aspects of SDI. They reviewed my manuscript to ensure it is not far off."

The premise is that because of technical advances, only 36 satellites are needed for an SDI shield over the United States - and that their launch was not noticed by the Soviets because they were sneaked out with stepped-up space shuttle launches after the Challenger disaster.

The book's SDI system is not quite complete, but intelligence leaks threaten to warn the Soviets of its existence. U.S. officials in the book fear the Soviets would then make a first strike with nuclear weapons before it is completed, after which they would be defenseless against U.S. missiles.

"An SDI system could be completed within the decade if we committed the resources to it. But it wouldn't be foolproof - much like the one in the book," Nixon said.

"I wanted to write a book like the ones that I like to read. That is a book where I learn something - not a book that after I've spent a week reading it seems only like I've spent the time watching a movie of the week," Nixon said.

He said he has always wanted to be a writer. He was a journalist once - like the hero in his book. He was editor of the campus newspaper at the University of Las Vegas and edited two magazines in Las Vegas before he came to Washington.

He was also a football player at UNLV, where he attended school after being part of a state championship football team at Utah's Skyline High School in 1977. At UNLV, he was the center who snapped the football to quarterback Randall Cunningham, who is now a Philadelphia Eagles star.

He said he also patterned one of the evil spies in his book after some of his old teammates at UNLV.

He worries that some rough language he uses in the book might offend some of his friends in Utah.

"I tried to make it realistic. And when a terrorist gets shot in the shoulder, he doesn't say, `Darn, I hate it when that happens,"' Nixon said.

Still, he added that he didn't allow the standard sex scenes found in virtually all popular literature. Ironically, he said, he has had some complaints from readers already about that.

Nixon - who writes each morning from 4 to 8 before going to work at Congress - is finishing a second book due to be released next summer. It is about how government genetic engineering research can target germ weapons to kill specific ethnic groups.