How did you become a writer?
By accident, really. I was working for a bank in Jackson Hole, spending my days making business loans and my afternoons and weekends rock climbing. For some reason, it occurred to me that I never did anything creative. Why not give it a shot?
My first bright idea was to learn to build furniture. That plan had some drawbacks, the most obvious of which is that I’m not very handy. It was my wife who suggested I write a novel. It seemed like a dumb idea, though, since I majored in finance and had spent my entire college career avoiding English courses like the plague. Having said that, I couldn’t completely shake off the idea. Eventually, it nagged at me long enough that I felt compelled to put pen to paper. Eight months later, I finished Rising Phoenix and about a year after that I managed to get it published.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).
George Orwell was my favorite writer as a kid and was the first person to show me the dark side of the world—the side that makes for interesting thriller novels.
To me, Tom Clancy has always been at the pinnacle of my genre. The natural writing style, the impeccable research, the realism, the edge-of-your-seat plots. He’s the standard that I always try to live up to.
I devoured all things Stephen King when I was young and he still inspires me every time he releases a book. I read The Stand when I was thirteen years old and I can still feel the tunnel scene almost 40 years later.
When and where do you write?
I’m a nine to fiver, five days a week. Sometimes I play hooky if the weather is particularly good, but then I tend to make the time up on the next rainy weekend.
What are you working on now?
I’m finishing the last-minute details on The Survivor—the next book in Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Not on a grand scale. I sometimes struggle with devising an overall concept for a novel but, after that, things plod generally forward. I tend to build ideas in very small increments, which makes it easier for me to keep things flowing. One brick at a time…
What’s your advice to new writers?
With the increasing popularity of the indie book market, I’m finding that new authors are becoming less self-critical.
Don’t let yourself say “good enough” and neglect to expend the energy necessary to polish your manuscript. No one’s first draft is any good. And sometimes second and third drafts aren’t either. I’ve gone through as many as five before submitting.
Bio: I’ve published eleven thriller novels under my own banner, as well as two for Robert Ludlum’s Covert-One series. My next book, The Survivor, will be released in October.