Comments he made last summer about removing Donald Trump, then a candidate, from the presidency if he won the election were interpreted in some corners as advocating harm. He prefaced the remarks as “a hypothetical I am going to ask as a thriller writer,” and denies he meant any form of violence.
He pals around with former Navy SEALs and intelligence operatives, even dedicating “Use of Force” to the former C.I.A. operations officer Duane R. Clarridge, who died last year. Mr. Clarridge ran secret wars for the C.I.A. in Central America, was indicted on charges of lying to Congress in the Iran-contra scandal and later pardoned.
Yet Mr. Thor’s impish sense of humor comes through over social media, as when he worked with a designer to photoshop the cover of “Use of Force” into Gov. Chris Christie’s hands (along with some suggestive pixelation between his legs) in the now-infamous aerial beach photograph. Mr. Thor’s Twitter message declaring he might be “the only one in American not mad at” Mr. Christie, was retweeted close to 12,000 times and liked more than 65,000, to the point where more than a few people believe the governor was in fact reading the book.
He may not have moved that copy, but according to his publisher Mr. Thor has sold nearly 15 million copies of his books worldwide. That would be an absolutely extraordinary number in literary circles. In the world of mysteries, suspense novels and thrillers it means he still has a bit of work ahead of him to make that leap to the level of ubiquity and universal name recognition (and yes, Thor is his real name) of a Dan Brown or John Grisham.
“Use of Force” debuted at No. 2 on the combined print and e-book New York Times best-seller list, behind Mr. Grisham’s “Camino Island” but above the latest James Patterson. The French director Louis Leterrier, whose action films like “The Incredible Hulk” and “Clash of the Titans” have grossed nearly $1.3 billion at the global box office, will take the helm of the film adaptation of Mr. Thor’s debut novel, “The Lions of Lucerne.”
Ryan Steck, who runs the website The Real Book Spy, said that Mr. Thor’s fans are particularly passionate. “Earlier in the year people were writing in, wanting to know when the release date for his next book was so that they could plan their vacation around when the book came out,” Mr. Steck said. “Not only have I never gotten emails like that for any other author, but I’ve gotten about a dozen like that for Brad this year alone.”
The thriller genre is a crowded field and breaking through is all the more difficult because the most successful series continue even after authors like Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum have died. Mr. Thor’s ability to crank out books on the grueling annual schedule was, his editor, Emily Bestler said, an important part of developing a loyal fan base. “For a certain kind of book it’s hugely important but also hugely difficult to pull off,” Ms. Bestler said. “Not many can.”
The new Scot Harvath book opens with a refugee boat sinking in the Mediterranean before moving from Libya to Langley, from Malta to Paris, and includes a stop for Harvath in true terra incognita: the Burning Man festival. Mr. Thor did not travel to the Nevada desert, dad-joking that his wife let him go to Afghanistan “but Burning Man might be a bridge too far.”
He does like to bring up that time he shadowed a black-ops team in Afghanistan for research, a mission he described as “on the intel-gathering side, low visibility, thin-skinned vehicles.” Mr. Thor declined to share additional details except to say it was not a direct-action mission, “not grabbing someone, putting a bag over their head.”
His acknowledgments include the names of former Navy SEALs in addition to the dedication to Mr. Clarridge, with whom he was friendly and who, after leaving the C.I.A., went on to run a network of spies from his home near San Diego. His organization was a kind of private spy agency similar to one that appears in the novel, led by “a legendary spymaster with more than thirty years in the business,” who had “gotten fed up with all of the bureaucratic red tape at Langley and had left to start his own company.”
“I’m always talking to friends of mine who are active in the military, law enforcement and intelligence communities,” Mr. Thor said. “What keeps you up at night? What are you seeing that you’re concerned about?”
A self-described conservative libertarian Mr. Thor has lectured at the Heritage Foundation about missile defense and used his creative imagination to advise the Department of Homeland Security in what is known as a red cell, gaming out ideas for unconventional attacks from the terrorist’s perspective.
“What I do is faction, where you don’t know where the facts end and the fiction begins,” Mr. Thor said. “One of the coolest compliments I get is people say, ‘I love to read your books with my laptop open,’” to see which parts are true.
Indeed, in a genre ignored by the mandarins of literature but vacuumed up by the masses, Mr. Thor has the kind of fans more turned off by mistakes in firearm caliber than workmanlike similes including “like a coiled snake, ready to strike” or legs that felt “as if they were made of lead.”
“I had a lot of lovely gun owners come out of the woodwork and say, ‘O.K. listen, you called this thing a clip. It’s not a clip. It’s called a magazine. You don’t squeeze the trigger, you press the trigger,’” he recalled. Before his book tour he posted photos on Twitter of three different handguns on his book cover, asking which he should bring with him.
As a Chicago native, friends would ask him when he would be on the Oprah Winfrey show. “I think I’ve got one too many car chases and my body count’s too high for an Oprah club pick,” Mr. Thor would tell them.
Despite those body counts and the dire sheep-and-wolves worldview expressed in his latest book, Mr. Thor is relentlessly sunny and a natural, even compulsive storyteller in person. Order shrimp and grits, as I did at Oceana, and he will regale you with the tale of the first time he ever ate that meal at “a little restaurant down by the water in St. Marys, Ga.,” while traveling for the wedding of the thriller writer Steve Berry, author of the Cotton Malone series.
In his Ray-Bans, blue blazer and immaculate white pants, which match the face of his Rolex Explorer II, Mr. Thor looks like the former television personality he is. After college he had his own show on public television about budget travel, “Traveling Lite,” that took him to countries all over Europe, many of which pop up in “Use of Force.”
Growing up, he read Frederick Forsyth and Tom Clancy. In college his favorite writer was David Morrell, who first created the character of Vietnam veteran John Rambo. He studied creative writing under T. C. Boyle at the University of Southern California, graduating in 1992, and then moved to Paris to try to write a novel. After three chapters he gave up and instead of pursuing fiction went on to make his travel show.
It was not until he went on his honeymoon in 1999 that his wife asked him what he wanted to do more than anything else and he said, “Publish a novel.” Shortly thereafter, on a night train to Amsterdam, he stayed up all night talking to a sales rep for Simon & Schuster who said if he ever wrote a book to send it her way.
In Amsterdam he read an article about a Swiss intelligence officer embezzling money to set up a militia, inspiring “The Lions of Lucerne.” “Call it kismet,” he said. “The universe was telling me, ‘Get to work on that book, Thor.’”
He’s hardly stopped since and is already working out his next idea on a white board. Mr. Thor is not ready to start giving out plot points yet though.
“Every time you talk about the plot,” he said, “you’re giving away a little bit of that rocket fuel that’s supposed to propel you through the year.”Continue reading the main story
Brad Thor Books In Order
Publication Order of Scot Harvath Books
Note: In The Athena Project, Harvath makes only a few cameo appearances.
Brad Thor Biography:
Raised in Chicago, Illinois Brad Thor was born to be an author. As a child, Thor spent hours writing down story ideas and engrossed in novels. After graduating high school in Chicago, Thor studied at the University of Southern California where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelors of Arts degree in creative writing and film production. While at USC, Thor was mentored by award winning novelist T.C. Boyle. After graduating from USC, Thor became the award winning creator, writer, television producer, and host of Traveling Lite. In this public television series, Thor travels to locations around the world providing historical information, travel tips, and more.
Thor gained practical insight for many of his books when he worked the Department of Homeland Security as a member of their Red Cell Analytic Department. The Red Cell unit calls upon individuals in a variety of different fields from academia to computer science to envision possible terrorist attacks and plan how to stop them. Currently, Thor has written twelve novels with a thirteenth due to be released on July 9th, 2013. His books have achieved international acclaim and his writing has been compared to Robert Ludlum who is arguable the most famous spy novelist of all time. Brad Thor has steadily become one of the most popular authors in the United States.
Thor’s books have become staples on the New York Times bestsellers list. Thor’s books are not just popular in the United States as they have been published in China, Denmark, Australia, Turkey, Vietnam and many other countries around the world. When not writing books, Brad Thor can be found on popular television and radio programs discussing terrorism. Thor has hosted the Glenn Beck television and radio program, in addition to numerous appearances on FOX News, CNN, ABC, NBC, and PBS programs.
Many of Thor’s books parallel important world issues or security concerns in the United States. The books read like news headlines from around the world. Thor is often called on to lecture at colleges and at a variety of law enforcement organizations to speak on how to forecast and plan for future threats. In preparation for writing The Apostle, Thor had the unique privilege of shadowing a Black Ops Special Forces unit in Afghanistan. Currently, Brad resides with his wife in Chicago where he donates much of his free time to charitable causes like the Wounded Warrior Project, the Yellow Ribbon Fund, and the Salvation Army.
Brad Thor’s first novel, The Lions of Lucerne, opens in the snowy mountains of Utah where a tragedy of unthinkable proportions has just occurred: the President of the United States is kidnapped and thirty Secret Service agents have been brutally massacred. The person behind the attacks is the ruthless leader of the most dangerous and violent terrorist organization in the Middle East: Fatah.
In this first novel, we meet the star of Brad Thor’s novels: Scot Harvath. A former Navy Seal and at this point a Secret Service agent Scot is the only hope for the President alive. With James Bonds’ charm and Jack Bauer’s brawn, Scot Harvath is the ultimate warrior. In this book, Scot sets out on a mission that takes him around the world to avenge the death of his fellow agents and rescue the President. Like in every subsequent novel, Scot must bend the rules and risk his life to save the day. Reading the novel is like watching a Hollywood action movie in the theater. Scot’s efforts to find the President are hampered by a dangerous coalition of top government officials who are attempting to frame him for the terrorist attack. Soon Scot is a wanted man in the United States and with nowhere left to go, Scot follows the trail of the terrorists to Switzerland.As we are introduced to Scot the reader instantly falls in love with him and eagerly awaits each new installment of his life.
After saving the President from his kidnappers, Harvath picks up where he left off in Thor’s second novel The Path of the Assassin. With the President safe and secure in Washington, Harvath sets out find, capture, and ultimately kill all those responsible for the deaths of his friends and fellow Secret Service agents. As he hunts for the mastermind, Hashim Nidal, Harvath becomes entangled in a world of espionage, violence, and action. With plans to destroy both Israel and the United States, Nidal becomes the most wanted man in the world. Unfortunately, no one knows what he looks and Harvath is forced to do what he does best: track down and kill anyone in his path. The only question that remains is will Harvath be in time to save the world?
As each novel is written, the mystery behind Scot Harvath emerges. A man without a family and with no ties is the ultimate machine. As the books progress we see Harvath mature, go through heartbreak when he loses the woman he loves, and grow into the ultimate fighting machine. For many, Scot Harvath is the hero we always to be as children. Harvath combines personality, fitness, looks, and humor in one package.
Brad Thor is the ultimate thriller writer in America today. Thor separates himself from other authors int he same genre with his excellent prose and compelling storylines. With his trusty protagonist, Scot Harvath, each of Thor’s novels set out to make the world a safer place. However, Thor has become more than just an author as his books have become beacons for change and concern. With each book, Thor writes about future security threats and how they could impact our lives. Consequently, Brad Thor has been able to use his books to advocate for policy change and review. Each one of Thor’s books is guaranteed to keep you on your toes and wanting to read more. With suspense on every page, Brad Thor’s books are the ultimate in reading pleasure. Therefore, the next time you are at a bookstore and looking for a page turning thriller pick up the latest best seller from Brad Thor. I’m willing to bet that his writing won’t disappoint you.Book Series In Order » Authors »