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Booklist has it right when with this quote, “Readers of novels set in the world of Special Forces have many choices, but Taylor is one of the best."
The Taylor is Brad and his latest release is ENEMY OF MINE, the third novel in the New York Times bestselling Pike Logan series. With an unrivaled ability to blend military knowledge and create three-dimensional characters, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Taylor is quickly rising up the ranks in his genre.
In this Pike Logan thriller, a tentative peace between Israel and Palestine has been brokered by the United States. But the Taskforce—a clandestine team operating outside of US law to protect the country from terrorism—gets wind of an assassination attempt on the American envoy sent to solidify the treaty. The Taskforce must devote every resource to saving his life—and preventing another bloody outbreak of violence. Task force operator Pike Logan and his partner, Jennifer Cahill, are charged with following the assassin’s flimsy trail through the Middle East, a trail that becomes more muddled at every turn. They must contend with terrorist organizations, independent killers, and shaky allies to uncover the biggest threat of all: an American citizen hiding a secret that just may destroy everything, including the Task force.
Brad joins us today to talk about his book and has graciously answered several questions.
Mason - Looking back on your writing process for Enemy of Mine, what was the biggest surprise that occurred?
Brad - It’s embarrassing to say, but the biggest surprise was learning I had the ability to tell a compelling story for a third time. The thought of creating a third book was daunting, but halfway through writing the first draft of ENEMY OF MINE, I stopped and went back through for edits. When I was done, I told my wife, “Believe it or not, this might be the best stuff I’ve ever put on the page.” It was definitely a pleasant surprise. I write a series, which has its pros and cons. The reader, if he or she comes back, did so for a reason, so they connected to something on the page of a previous book. They want something familiar, but not the same. I want to capture the reader, immerse him or her in the story, and was afraid ENEMY OF MINE would be nothing more than ALL NECESSARY FORCE in a different setting. Surprisingly (to me) that fear ended up being hollow. Mason - Being the third in a series, what were some of the challenges you faced writing ENEMY OF MINE? Brad - Probably the biggest challenge was the continued development of Pike and Jennifer’s relationship, along with creating new, distinct characters. As I stated above, in no way did I want a re-hash of any of my other books. I write an action-oriented series, but getting the reader to associate with the characters – both on the “good-guy” side and the “bad-guy” side – is what really matters to me. It’s the heart of why I write. Bullets flying around and bombs going off are great, but they mean nothing unless someone is viscerally affected by the action. That’s what brings the story to life, and is the hardest thing I struggle with. I know – and use – a lot of current counter-terrorism methods in my writing, but at the end of the day, it’s the impact of those events on the characters that makes a reader want to continue.
Other than that, the Arab Spring continues to plague me. Initially, Syria factored as a major setting in ENEMY OF MINE, and I had a planned research trip to Damascus in conjunction with a friend of mine that worked in the U.S. embassy there. Then, Syria went up in smoke and my friend ended up dealing with car bombs and closing down the embassy. It was a significant challenge attempting to predict what would occur next in the Arab Spring while writing ENEMY OF MINE.
Mason - What do you hope readers will take away from this book, if anything?
Brad - As always, my primary hope is that the reader has trouble putting the book down, wanting to get to the next scene. That’s truly why I write, and not for any overarching political or moral message. If the reader is forced to choose between some task and reading my book, and decides on the book, I’ve succeeded. Other than enjoying the narrative, in ENEMY OF MINE I left behind the global nature of fanatical Islamic groups such as al Qaida, focusing instead on terrorist organizations with finite political goals, in this case Hamas and Hezbollah. There’s a history involved that’s entrenched in the Levant, but not too well known in the United States. Hopefully, some of the issues seep through the fiction and illuminate the parameters of a story the next time the reader is watching the evening news. Mason - When you write, do you jump right into a story or do you plan and outline?
Brad - I definitely plan in advance, but I don’t develop a detailed outline. I have to know the problem to be solved or the crisis to be averted before even beginning to start to write, and that requires a tremendous amount of research. For instance, I wanted to understand the dynamics of the entire Palestinian diaspora, Hezbolla and Israel for ENEMY OF MINE. I had a very solid basic foundation, but I needed to know more, so before even beginning an outline of EOM I read five or six books on the problem, from all sides of the debate. And I do that for every manuscript. Once that’s done I sketch what I call a “framework”, which thematically carries large brushstrokes, but doesn’t do anything finite. I want the ability to shift mid-type, as it were, and if I tie myself down with a finite outline, I lose that flexibility. From there, I begin to type, connecting the large dots with the granular plot.
Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you? Brad - As I said above, I’m done trying to predict the Arab Spring – at least for a couple of books. I just finished the initial draft for THE WIDOW’S STRIKE and I’ve moved to South-East Asia as a setting. I served there in Special Forces, and it was fun doing the research on some old stomping grounds. TWS deals with the horrific potential of a pandemic of the H5N1 virus, more commonly known as the avian flu – something that’s very real, and very deadly. And yes, I surprised myself again. The characters resonate more than ever, and the plot races. THE WIDOW’S STRIKE will be available in July of 2013.
Brad, thanks for joining us and giving us a look at the detail research you do for your books. BTW, you have succeeded in making your books hard to put down.
To understand that Brad knows what he’s talking about in his books, you have to know a bit of background about him. He was born on Okinawa, Japan, but grew up on 40-acres in rural Texas. Graduating from the University of Texas, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry.
Brad served for more than 21 years, retiring as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel. During that time he held numerous Infantry and Special Forces positions, including eight years in 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment – Delta where he commanded multiple troops and a squadron. He has conducted operations in support of US national interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other classified locations. His final assignment was as the Assistant Professor of Military Science at The Citadel in Charleston, SC.
He holds a Master’s of Science in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School, with a concentration in Irregular Warfare. When not writing, he serves as a security consultant on asymmetric threats for various agencies. He lives in Charleston, SC, with his wife and two daughters. For more on Brad, his books and his writing, visit his website at http://bradtaylorbooks.com/
Here’s some additional comments about ENEMY OF MINE: Booklist raved, “His obvious insider knowledge, combined with a well-constructed narrative, make all his work—and this novel, in particular—a delight for fans of the subgenre,” and Publishers Weekly agreed, “Those who prize authentic military action will be rewarded.” In a starred review, Kirkus said Taylor’s new novel “satisfies from start to finish,” and Vince Flynn, unprompted, blurbed, “When it comes to tactics and hardware he is spot-on.”
Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Do you enjoy books that deal with current affairs and have a military theme?
Hi, I'm Mason Canyon and I love reading and that is why I do reviews. I post them here, as well as several other sites such as Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you are an author who would like for me to review your book or you would like to guest blog here, please contact me at email@example.com These reviews are done for the love of a good book, not for monetary rewards. I'm also a freelance editor. For more on my services, drop by Freelance Editing By Mason