by | May 10, 2019 | Chris Goff, The Real Book Spy | 14 comments

by The Real Book Spy 

What a month!  There’s all kinds of exciting things happening. First and foremost, I am beyond excited to be partnering with the very talented ladies who make up the Rogue Women Writers. An all-star lineup of premier thriller authors, I’m a huge fan of their work and couldn’t say yes fast enough when they approached me to start a monthly blog post on their site. And with so many great books set to hit stores in the coming weeks, this was a great time to kick things off. 
For my first pick, I wanted to make sure the title and story featured a character who goes rogue for all the right reasons. In that regard, one book stood above the rest—making my job easy this time around. 
Last year, Nicholas “The Reaper” Irving and General Anthony Tata teamed up to introduce the world to Vick Harwood, an elite sniper who finds himself in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy. Now, Irving and Tata are set to continue their series with Reaper: Threat Zero, a hard-hitting, action-packed thriller that starts fast and never lets up. When a motorcade carrying the president’s cabinet members is ambushed on their way to a secret weekend retreat at Camp David, Harwood is brought in to help figure out what went down. But when he starts receiving questionable orders from the top, Vick begins questioning what he’s asked to do, and ends up—you guessed it—going rogue in an effort to uncover the truth. 
Trust me, once you start this book, there’s no stopping. 


(Congrats to the Irving/Tata team for being the first Rogue Recommendation! We Rogues are super excited to be partnering with The Real Book Spy and seeing what other Rogue Recommendation he brings us each month. So stay tuned for his upcoming RRs. In the meantime, A.J. Tata dropped by Rogue Writers to share his favorite pastime. Enjoy!)

By A. J. Tata
Write about something rogue, the kick ass Rogue Women Writers told me. I thought of the rogue things I’ve done like being a paratrooper or finding that same adrenaline rush in surfing waves around the world.

The Real Book Spy’s first Rogue Recommendation

Surfing is my pastime and is definitely a rogue activity. Having surfed in North and Central America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, I’ve had my share of crazy experiences. I’ve surfed Oahu’s Sunset beach at double overhead. Definitely a questionable decision, but surfing is one of those things that I’ve pursued as part of my writing process. Sitting on my board in the ocean centers me and helps me focus, think about life, characters, and plots. Deadlines loom less large two hundred yards from the beach. In fact, everything seems smaller and simpler. The singular task is to find the incoming swell, paddle to the apex, stand up, and stay on the blue face of the wave. It’s an all-encompassing activity that clears the mind of debris, except the rare moment when you see a large shadow pass beneath you.

Regardless of moving shadows and what they portend, surfing is a true remove for me. It’s physically demanding, requiring balance, upper body and core strength, timing, and, like everything, luck. But there’s little that can be done when encountering the rare phenomena of a “rogue wave.” That’s what happened to me at Sunset Beach. The waves were in the 5-7’ range, barely manageable for an average practitioner like me. As I stood on the beach studying the flow of water, as I always do before paddling out, a long-haired surfer walked past me, stopped, and said, “If you have to think about it, don’t do it.”

He was probably right, but one can do rogue things and one can also be a rogue, defy convention and take risks others might not. So, I disregarded the unsolicited advice and paddled two hundred yards to the line-up. Less than a minute or two upon my arrival I heard hooting and splashing from my fellow surfers.

A rogue set was approaching from outside of the bay, frothy white tips spraying rabid foam as the swell built to twice the size of the day’s consistent waves and closed out any avenue of escape. There’s exactly one option when a rogue wave comes your way…paddle out. Get beyond the break. Get out of the impact zone. With a rogue set of waves, that was going to be a challenge, but twenty other surfers and I dug for our lives as the freight train approached.

As the first swell arrived, I naively thought, “I’ve got this,” turned, paddled hard, caught the momentum of the barreling mass of water, and stood up. It felt like I was 100’ high when in fact I was probably 12-15’ above the trough. I blissfully sliced down the face of the wave just like you’re supposed to until half way down I found myself flying like superman into the wall of the curling beast. I belly flopped into the wave, which sucked me to the top in its lifting curl as it poised above the reef, deciding what to do with me. Then, ten buildings fell on top of me as the wave crested and slammed into the ocean floor. I fortunately missed the reef and was so deep I didn’t know which way was up. The turbulence was unbelievable. I was a rag doll in a washing machine on spin cycle. Jerked every way possible, it dawned on me after a minute or so that I was no closer to knowing up from down than I was to being able to breathe.

Finally, my surfboard leash looped around my wrist. I tugged on the rubbery rope that was thankfully still connected to my board, realized I was completely inverted and disoriented, and climbed my way, hand over hand, to the ocean’s surface. Piercing the foaming, roiling water, I saw sunlight, palm trees on the distant beach, and…the second massive wave about to slam down on my head as if it was GPS guided. Taking a healthy gulp of oxygen, I repeated the process, tumbling another fifty yards under water and then popped up near the beach.

My first thought when I realized I was out of danger was the same as after every military parachute jump I made: “I survived, now get on with it.” In the frothy water closer to the shore, I managed to sit on my board, give the “shaka” thumb and pinky sign to the many on-lookers on the beach, who, unaware of my underwater tunneling acumen, were probably wondering how I got there. I looked back and saw the waves continuing to steamroll the line-up of surfers and dissipate 30 yards off the beach where I sat, resting and reflecting.

Basically, I had nearly drowned. I was thankful I hadn’t. I used the time on the board to think about my love of the ocean and respect for nature. As I begin each new book, I think back to this day on Oahu’s infamous north shore and lessons learned. Challenge yourself. Improve. Know your limits. Don’t take counsel of your fears. How many of us would have written that first book if we knew what lay beyond us in the ocean of publishing? The hard work. The struggle for survival. The sunlight overshadowed by the next wave. The bliss of doing what you love. Creating, surviving, and finally thriving.

From the safety of the shallows that day, I spotted the long-haired guy on the beach. “If you have to think about it, don’t do it,” he had said. He nodded. I nodded back.

Then I turned around and paddled back toward the reassembling line-up.


Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata (U.S. Army, Retired) is the bestselling author of twelve novels, including Reaper: Threat Zero which releases May 21, 2019, and Reaper: Ghost Target and Double Crossfire.

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  1. Lisa Black

    I like being a Rogue woman but I don't ever want to meet a Rogue wave!! Thanks for stopping by, Tony, and it was great to see you at the Reading Festival this past March!!!

  2. Jamie Freveletti

    Loved this surf story! I've just returned from California where I ran on a surfer's beach each morning and have resolved to learn how to surf for next year. Been thinking about that surfer's advice–and yours. "Know your limits" is smart, because it gives you a framework to train and expand on them. And Reaper, Threat Zero sounds amazing and timely. I will read anything with Camp David and a rogue conspiracy. Love these types of thrillers. Thanks for being here!

  3. Rogue Women Writers

    Great to see you here with us, Tony – and can't wait to read your new book out in just two weeks! Your surfing story reminded me of an experience I had years ago on, yes, Oahu, when I (so stupidly) ignored a "no surfing sign" and decided to simply try to body-surf a nice wave. Like you (but in a MUCH smaller situation) I was tossed asunder, couldn't figure out up from down – and finally emerged with part of my bathing suit missing….and three "beach boys" were laughing. Thanks for a great post!….Karna Bodman

  4. Robin Burcell

    And this is why I love to read. Surfing vicariously! I'm not sure my battered body (broken from no less than two on-duty crashes, one at 105 mph) will ever allow me to participate in such a sport, unless in a calm, protected bay with gently lapping waves! Thanks for stopping by! Looking forward to the book!

  5. Lisa Black

    105 mph?? I have to hear that story!!!!

  6. KJ Howe

    Love that you are as fearless on the waves as you are as an author. Congrats on being the first Real Rogue pick!!!

  7. Gayle Lynds

    Rogue waves sound so, er, "exciting." Very glad you survived & thrived, Tony!

  8. Gayle Lynds

    Oh, my goodness, Jamie … you're making me think of my years in Santa Barbara. Loved running on the beach. That hard-packed sand is a wonderful experience like none other.

  9. Gayle Lynds

    Karna, your adventures continue to enthrall me! Thank you for that wonderful story. How about a blog about it?????

  10. Gayle Lynds

    But Robin, I'll bet you still look fabulous in a bikini! There are compensations. 🙂

  11. Gayle Lynds

    Amen to that, KJ. Honored that you guys are not only here but our #1!

  12. Lisa Black

    Okay, if I ever try body-surfing (which is unlikely) I am going to wear a one-piece!

  13. john

    A surfing general? I envy his experience at various beaches; the most exotic place I ever surfed was Waikiki. And although I did a few military parachute jumps, I never caught a wave as exciting as jumping out of a C-130. If his book is equally exciting, I can't wait to read it.