When it comes to beating headlines, there is nobody better than Brad Thor, whose books have such a habit of coming true that I’ve taken to referring to them as “prophetic fiction.”
The master of the modern thriller, Thor has now reached unchartered waters with the release of his latest Scot Harvath series, Near Dark, bringing the series total to nineteen books and counting. Not only is Thor not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon, the craziest thing—at least in my opinion—is that he’s actually finding ways to get better each time out.
Of course, that changes just as soon as waves of assassins begin trying to kill him, sucking him back into a world he wants nothing to do with.
Not to give anything away, but we’re nineteen books in, and the bad guys still haven’t learned not to mess with Scot Harvath. Maybe they’ll think twice in next year’s book because I can’t imagine anyone would want to cross him after this.
To bring a little extra something special to this month’s Rogue column, I’m including an excerpt from an interview I just did with Brad Thor that will run on The Real Book Spy at a later date. Specifically, I asked him about beating headlines and what his secret it, and then I followed up by asking if he would be writing COVID-19 into his next book, given the impact the virus has had on the entire world. I think you’ll find both of his answers (below) interesting. I sure did!
Near Dark comes out on July 21 and is the must-read adventure of the summer. Trust me, you do not want to miss it.
One of the first questions I wanted to ask Thor, who is known for predicting events and wiring them in his books long before they happen, is how he does that. I mean, this is a guy who, at one point, was recruited by the government to wargame out-of-the-box attack scenarios. So, what’s his secret?
“Part of it is just that I’m a voracious consumer of news,” Thor told me, before dropping a great quote from one of the most famous authors on the planet. “I’m always looking for patterns. Stephen King once said, ‘a writer is someone who’s trained their mind to misbehave,’ and that’s very true with me.
“So, after 9/11, when I got recruited into the analytical Red Cell program in D.C., that’s part of what they were having me do for them. It was like, okay, think about your books—what’s the next thing, what’s the next attack, what’s the target, all that kind of stuff. It’s just a product of how I do think and connecting dots—and there are other people connecting the dots too, I’m not the only one—but if you’re paying as close of attention as I am . . . that’s the trouble. Politics, domestic and international, global politics are my baseball. I’m not going to sit here and talk to you about the Twins and the Cubs or that sort of thing, but I’ll talk all day long about whether or not it’s a good idea to pull troops out of Germany and put them into Poland. Or about what Putin’s really doing and that sort of thing, all that kind of stuff. That is what fuels the novel. It’s just a passion of mine. So, yeah, do I get some stuff in the books that end up being correct? Yes.
“The funniest thing was when we did the prisoner swap for Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban members, and that was on page one of one of my books. Some of it’s getting lucky, you know, I’m not going to say I have a crystal ball and can see it all. And then, sometimes, it’s knowing what not to put in the book that’s even more important than what you do put in.”
Indeed, First Commandment, which came out in 2007, literally opened with a prisoner exchange where the U.S. swapped five men who were jailed for various acts of terrorism, and actually showed them being ushered onto a plane so they could be traded. Not four men. Not six men. Five men—the exact same number of prisoners who would be swapped for Bergdahl nearly seven years later.
Maybe it does come down to luck sometimes, but Thor has been “lucky” more than just about anyone else.
While on the subject of headlines, the conversation naturally turned to COVID-19, and I asked Thor if he would be writing the virus into his next book.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever do it, to be honest with you,” Thor said. “I think people want an escape, and I’m in the escape business. I’ve had other people ask me if I’ll put COVID in the next book, and I just don’t think so. I did a virus in Code of Conduct and I did a bioweapon in Blow Back. I think if you read one of my books, you want to get away from everything. I don’t want to have to deal with Harvath in a mask or worrying about if the café tables in Paris are six feet apart from each other. I don’t want to live in that world, and I don’t want to write in that world, so therefore I won’t.”
Honesty, can you blame him? I think right about now, we’re all sick and tired of COVID and could use a little bit of an escape. Having already read Near Dark twice, I can promise you—that’s exactly what you’ll get with Thor’s new book. And right now, we need it more than ever.