Mike Stotter and Ali Karim ventured to New York last summer
attend the 2nd Thrillerfest conference organised by ITW [International
Writers]. One of the many highlights was meeting and drinking with
author - Vince Flynn, writer of the Mitch Rapp political thrillers.
Ali Karim, Vince Flynn & Mike Stotter
The 3 part report of the Shots visit to
Thrillerfest 2007 was posted over
at The Rap Sheet :
Part One – Click
Part Two – Click
Part Three – Click
over to the UK to talk to
about his action thrillers as his latest Mitch Rapp thriller PROTECT
hit our bookstands hard. Flynn is as ever
topical as he sets up Mitch Rapp to investigate an attack on
nuclear facility which then triggers a global seek and destroy mission
who is sent to Iran to investigate. Like all Vince Flynn thrillers,
as it seems and soon Rapp is despatched to the Middle East to diffuse
situation and extract vengeance because CIA Director Irene Kennedy has
Read Ali Karim’s full review here.
met up with Vince and underwent some combat training
learning the tricks of the trade from the man who created Mitch Rapp.
what Mike reports:
The Spy Game
Day was organised by his UK publishers,
& Schuster, as a meet and greet to the trade but I managed to
pull off a
last minute invite, as we missed out on Vince’s previous UK visit.
remembered me from ThrillerFest (a testament to his memory) and we
about how the convention went. Then off we all went to the specified
the idea behind the day was to train us up to learn some spying
techniques. For us,
who sit behind a keyboard, it was all
new to us but someone like Vince, well, he had the advantage.
we were split into teams and the challenges began.
I was on an opposing team to Vince (sporting
a natty buzz cut as he had been holed up in his cabin writing to meet a
deadline), and soon found out he was a very competitive guy. The first challenge was to
clear an urban
area. Kitted out with safety gear and our “machine
guns” we were first shown
how to do this, followed by a timed version.
Vince and his partner, Matt won by mere scant seconds.
event was the weapons training session. At
the rifle range t was hard to concentrate;
it was a windy day, resting on a wobbly table and the other team making
racket at their turn on the urban range.
I think I hit the target a couple of times but not the
centre. The axe
throwing was a hoot. Image
a bunch of
grown ups, wielding axes (Indian tomahawk style) and trying to hit a
target whilst giving it some painful war cries! Not a pretty sight.
You can see
from the picture that we didn’t take the unarmed combat
technique session that seriously.
Kate Lyle-Grant (editor) managed to twist my arm up my back without too
effort, or damage.
In the VIP protection
scenario we learned how to use a pistol and the "quick draw"
technique. Thank God they didn’t have to rely on us rookies
– we must have shot
the VIP and other team members quite a few times before we got it right. I’ll mention no
names but someone manage to
“kill” a car but re-enacting a Starksy and Hutch
bonnet roll. Well, we all
survived as you can see:
Mike Stotter, Julian King, Emma Harrow S&S, Vince Flynn, Matt Bridge (Woolworths buyer), Kate Lyall-Grant S&S and Grainne Reidy S&S
buffet lunch it was the time to test our mental aptitude. Keeping in our teams we
had to break codes,
crack safes, defuse bombs and guess as many celebrities in the ID
for some reason I was pretty good at this and Vince nicknamed me Iron
don’t ask me the reason why, I haven’t got a clue
(needless to say we won that
section by a landslide).
part of the day was the
evasive driver training which covered handbrake turns on a dirt track
anti-ambush drills. And just to add to the pressure we had some time
the slalom course. The
winner in our group
was the very quiet and unassuming Grainne, I think Matt took the record
smashing up the most amount of cones.
But the best was left to last:
the J turns and anti-ambush drills.
You’ve seen it in the movies: the baddies are
after the good guys and
try to block off their route; the goodies slam the car into reverse and
off down the street backwards, then WHAM! They throw the car into a J
Watch any of the Bourne films for great examples.
And that’s what we had to do. Although he
wasn’t as good as Jason Bourne, Vince turned out to be a
had at least three or four attempts
at it, and not one person crashed or rolled the car. It was
Here’s the whole gang, who look like they are singing a
chorus of Chimchiminee!
Rory Scarf S&S, Helen Masterson S&S, Mike Stotter, Nick Hayward S&S, Jeff Jameson S&S, Emma Harrow S&S, Kate Lyall-Grant S&S, Grainne Reidy S&S, Julian King (Alpha buyer), Julie Wright S&S, Matt Bridge (Woolworths buyer), Amanda Shipp S&S and Vince Flynn
I must say a
big thanks to Simon & Schuster publishers, especially
to Kate and Emma for inviting me and to Vince for his great company;
and not a
drop of Knob Creek in sight! Now
Ali and his grilling…er….interview with Vince:
Vince we heard that as a child you
suffered from dyslexia – so what made you embrace the written
Vince Not being able to read and
write above the
level of an eight grader was very embarrassing.
I was decent athlete and that kept me out of trouble. My junior year in college
I decided to
confront the problem and forced myself to begin reading for the first
time. I started
with Trinity by Leon
Uris, and then dug into Ludlum, Follett, Higgins, Clancy and many
though I was a slow reader I realized early on that my dyslexic mind
predict what was going to happen with each story.
Almost overnight I became passionate about
the thing I feared most as a child.
You took a big risk leaving successfully
careers to enter the precarious world of writing commercial fiction.
tell us what drove you to take such a huge risk?
Vince After working on a few
ideas in my spare time
I decided if Tom Clancy can do it why can’t I.
I know that sounds a little flippant, but my parents
raised all seven of
their kids with a very egalitarian outlook on life.
I thought I had this hidden talent to write a
real page turner and I didn’t want to look back twenty years
later and kick
myself for never writing that damn novel that I’d been
kicking around in my
don’t like living life with
Can you tell us the evolution of Mitch
Rapp as a character and what research you undertook to make him such an
Vince Rapp is an amalgamation of
people I’ve met
over the years. Mostly
special forces guys. So
far he hasn’t
evolved a great deal. That’s
with most of these silent warriors.
are not fickle people. They
stand by their beliefs and are disgusted by those who practice
What is it about power politics and
espionage that interest you?
Vince I’ve always felt
the most compelling stories
are ones that mirror reality.
I hear that your work is popular with
many in the Oval Office and at Langley, can you
a little about your relationship with those at the top of the political
Vince I take it as a huge
validation that these
people not only read my books, but want to talk to me about world
What’s with your fascination with Middle
Eastern politics and why are you not frightened to confront the issues
face the world today?
Vince This battle between
Fundamentalism and the rest of the world is the most important fight of
time. The fanatics
want to spread their
form of intolerant Islam to the rest of the world and drag us all back
time where church and state are one in the same.
Where religious men run the courts and censor
everything that is said and written.
thought of going back to a world like that is truly frightening.
There is much talk about 9/11 and Al Qaeda in
Did you feel apprehensive using these themes when the world seems
Vince No, because I think
political correctness is a
well intended movement that has run amok.
Intellectually honest people are color blind and recognize
Al Qaeda for the biggoted, sexist thugs that they are.
And your readership considering your
best-seller status must come from all quarters?
Vince Every time I go on tour
I’m amazed by the
array of people who show up at my events: Liberal, conservative, old,
male, female; it’s all across the board.
I enjoyed meeting you at Thrillerfest
2007 in New York this
you tell us a little about your highlights of the event?
Vince Meeting you of course, and
then to prove how
small the world is, I flew over to Dublin this past September, and
meeting your brother-in-law by accident.
Ali Karim acting as Vince Flynn's Bodyguard
And what do you think about ITW?
Vince It’s a great
organization, run by some very
talented people who have helped raise the profile of the thriller novel.
I loved Consent to Kill [which
was shortlisted for the ITW Best Novel in 2006]. It felt to me to be
personal and in some ways most moving and mature work. And at its core
a conspiracy. Can you tell us a little about this pivotal work?
Vince Without giving away too
much of the plot, it
was a book that had to be written.
his core, Rapp is an assassin. Since
beginning of his creation I’ve struggled with a simple
question. How does
a man that has seen and done what
Rapp has done, expect to have a normal domestic life?
How does a taker of life expect to create
life, and not have his job come home to haunt him?
of Treason [out in
you detail a high level political conspiracy involving the hand of
is it about conspiracy theories that interest many of us, yourself
considering the plots of your thrillers?
Vince Thanks to history, it is
easy to be cynical
when it comes to those who wish to rise to the throne.
Many feel that the events on 9/11 may be
part of either failings in the security community or at worst part of a
conspiracy – what’s your take on these dreadful
Vince If you believe there was a
conspiracy, which I
do not, you have to buy into the idea that Osama bin Laden is either a
or American agent. That
is where pretty
much every conspiracy theory falls apart.
The intelligence and law enforcement communities failed,
but I put the
blame on the politicians who over a period of three decades gutted
like the CIA all in the name of political correctness.
It was all very naïve and self serving.
I enjoyed Syrianna, a
film which plots events related to geo-politics – have
you seen the film and what’s you take on the need for oil and
the darker side
of human nature?
was a fascianting film. I
agree that oil
companies do not act on the principle of humanitarianism, so I think it
very fair for the director, writer and producers to show the oil
that light. I
thought it was very
unfair, though, that they made a lack of economic oportunity the
the terrorists. There
are poor people
all over the world and you don’t see them attacking civilians
bombers. At some
point Hollywood needs to take
look at Islam’s cult of suicide.
Some describe your work as right-wing
and jingoistic, but I do tend to feel that over-simplifies your work,
as I find
a level of humanity under the smell of cordite. What’s your
take on critics
that would dismiss your work as purely gung-ho right-wing action tales?
Vince My books make certain
wear that as a badge of
Mitch Rapp is a huge success
internationally so what do you put down to his mass appeal to readers
in the US and overseas?
Vince He speaks truth to power
and people find that
I read that you will not grant film
rights to your work featuring Mitch Rapp? Is this true?
Vince I will sell them if the
right person is behind
And what about your TV work, any updates
on what we expect to see?
Vince I have put the TV stuff on
the back burner for
the next four months so I can focus on finishing the next book.
And what has passed your reading table
recently that you enjoyed?
Potter and the Deathly Hollows.
loved it. J.K.
Rowling is amazing.
Vince, thank you for taking time from
your schedule to talk to us.
Vince My pleasure Ali.
the world of Vince Flynn?
of Power (1999)
Third Option (2000)
of Power (2001)
to Kill (2005)
of Treason (2006)
and Defend (2007)
Note Vince’s debut Term
Limits is his only non-Mitch Rapp Thriller.
thank Kate Lyall-Grant of Simon and Schuster [UK] for