The Athena Project Brad Thor

By Andrew Peterson

Brad Thor’s newest title, THE ATHENA PROJECT, is certain to be a huge hit with thriller fans around the world.  There’s no one better at creating such high levels of action and suspense.  Brad grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go.  And he reaches across cultural boundaries—his books have been translated into 20 different languages and sold on every continent.

THE ATHENA PROJECT promises to be his best work yet.  It’s a seamless, fast paced thrill ride into uncharted territory.  Here’s a snapshot:

The world’s most elite counterterrorism unit has just taken its game to an entirely new level.  And not a moment too soon.  From behind the rows of razor wire, a new breed of counterterrorism operator has emerged.

Just as skilled, just as fearsome, and just as deadly as their colleagues, Delta Force’s newest members have only one thing setting them apart—their gender.  Part of a top-secret, all-female program codenamed The Athena Project, four of Delta’s best and brightest women are about to undertake one of the nation’s deadliest assignments.

After a terrorist attack in Rome kills more than twenty Americans, Athena Team members Gretchen Casey, Julie Ericsson, Megan Rhodes, and Alex Cooper are tasked with hunting down the Venetian arms dealer responsible for providing the explosives.  But there is more to the story than anyone knows.

In the jungles of South America, a young U.S. intelligence officer has made a grisly discovery.  Surrounded by monoliths covered with Runic symbols, one of America’s greatest fears appears to have come true. Simultaneously in Colorado, a foreign spy is close to penetrating the mysterious secret the U.S. government has hidden beneath Denver International Airport.

As the women close in on their target, they will soon learn that another attack—one of unimaginable proportions—has already been set in motion, and the greatest threat they face may be the secrets kept by their own government.

Brad is crazy busy working on his next book and preparing for a whirlwind tour, so The Big Thrill appreciates him taking the time to do this interview.

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In FOREIGN INFLUENCE you introduced the Athena team into Scot Harvath’s world.  Will we see Scot in THE ATHENA PROJECT?

You bet, Scot Harvath makes a really cool appearance in The Athena Project.

Without giving away any spoilers, do each of the Athena team members have specific special forces skills integral to the team?

Each of the women is indeed highly skilled, but their skill sets come more from their personalities.  Two of the women in the book are exceptional long range shooters while another two are incredibly detail minded, which opens up a whole host of things that they can do.  While these women are very, very well trained, it’s how smart they are and how they interact with each other that makes them so enjoyable to read.

James Rollins was kind enough to give me a blurb for the book.  He said, “Thor nails it.  THE ATHENA PROJECT is a thriller both men and women will love.”  I believe women are going to enjoy the characters because they can relate to them, who they are, and what they’re doing.  I believe it will be the same for the men.

I gave advance copies to both men and women and they’ve all come back to me and raved about it.

Your personal maxim is: “Never give up.  Never give in.”  Conversely, it’s wise to not sweat the small stuff.  Do you have an instinctive feel about what battles to fight, both personally and professionally?

I do and I don’t.  I believe that success comes from paying attention to the details.  I do sweat the small stuff because my readers are so important to me.  I want them to have the best experience possible when they read a Brad Thor thriller.  You can never take your readers for granted.  If you ever try to “phone it in,” they’ll notice and you’ll be put on notice.

Being able to pick your battles professionally is important.  There are times to dig your heels in and draw that line in the sand and others when you need to ask yourself, “Is this a hill I’m prepared to die on.”

I’m very serious about the look of my books, the advertising, the marketing, etc. – all of that inside baseball stuff.  At the end of the day, this is both my passion and my business.  I want it to be the very best it can be.

What do you think defines a successful writing career?

I have made my vocation my vacation.  Writing is hard, but I love to do it.  It is what I have wanted to do ever since I was a little boy.  I am living my dream and that is the true measure of success for me.

You’ve got a big Internet following, both on Facebook and your web site forum.  What’s that like?

I think it’s terrific.  I get to converse with my readers daily, especially at the discussion forum at my web site.  Everyone there is so friendly and so funny.  It has become like an extended family.  I really enjoy spending time there.  I invite all ITW’s readers to stop by for a visit.  It’s a lot of fun.

Have you ever walked up to someone reading one of your books and asked them what they thought of it?

This is a great question.  I have done it a couple of times.  Each time the people took me seriously and started telling me what they really liked about the book and then all of a sudden this look of recognition would come over their face and they’d flip the book over.  They’d look at the author photo and then say, “Hey!  It’s you.”

And some lighthearted questions!  What’s your favorite firearm?

My favorite battle rifle is my LaRue Tactical OBR and my favorite pistol is my Taurus 24/7 OSS .45.

Have you ever lost one of your magnificent cufflinks?

LOL.  Nope.  Knock on wood.  Haven’t lost a single one.

What’s Glen Beck like behind the scenes?  Off camera, does he still use a chalkboard to communicate?

Glenn is exactly as he is on television.  He’s funny.  He’s intelligent and he’s very kind.  I am honored to call him my friend.  It’s hard to get a table in a good restaurant with him dragging the chalkboard along, so now we just order in food to his office.  LOL.

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Brad is no stranger to television, he’s been on virtually every prime time show on every major network.  Dealing with the fast paced, often stressful environment of live television comes naturally for him.  Brad also has a strong background in television.  Prior to writing novels, Brad was the award-winning creator, producer, writer, and host of the critically acclaimed Public Television travel series, Traveling Lite.

As authors, we project parts of ourselves into our main characters.  It’s a natural thing to do.  The reason Scot Harvath is such an interesting and honorable man is because his creator is cut from the same cloth.  When I asked Brad if he could go back and change something in his life, he answered with this:  “There’s nothing I’d go back and change.  Every single thing I’ve done – good, bad, or otherwise has brought me to where I am now.  I love where I am and I wouldn’t change anything about my life.”

That’s a gutsy answer.  Accepting and learning from one’s faults and mistakes is an honorable characteristic.  It would be a whole lot easer to have a laundry list of things he’d do differently, but as Brad said, everything he’s done has molded him into the person he is.  I mention this because the same trait is evident in Scot Harvath.  He’s not a perfect character, far from it, but he knows his weaknesses and faults.  Harvath uses them to his advantage, especially when he has to get rough.  And yes, he’s rough at times!  I’m sure we’ll see some “rough” scenes in THE ATHENA PROJECT as well.  After all, thrillers have to be bigger than life!

So how does Brad’s philosophy and view of the world reflect into the Athena team?  Exactly the same way.  If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!  When it comes to soldiers fighting side-by-side on a battlefield, gender doesn’t matter.  People are people.  Female and male flesh will react exactly the same way if struck by a bullet.  There’s a bond between battlefield soldiers that transcends all other bonds.  Many believe it’s stronger than a marital bond.

You might wonder how a man can write from a female point of view?  Brad’s answer is simple:  First and foremost, they’re people!  It’s really not more complicated than that.  Knowing this basic tenet, Brad writes from a female point of view like a seasoned pro.  And no, I don’t mean it literally.  Trust me folks, he has no hidden wardrobe in the closet!

Brad doesn’t like talking about his generosity and the charitable organizations he supports, but there’s one in particular worth mentioning: The Harvath Directive.

In 2007 a former Armed Services member, Carlos S. Jimenez, founded The Harvath Directive. (THD)  It’s named in honor of Brad’s main character.  THD was created to show appreciation and support for our military veterans both at home and abroad.  THD accepts donations of books: hardbacks, paperbacks, and audio books and then ships them to our troops.  To date over 1,500 donated books have been sent to our troops abroad – both on the front lines and in military hospitals – to places like Afghanistan, Germany, and Iraq.  As well as Fort Knox, KY and Walter Reed Medical Center here in the US.

If you’ve got some books lying around and don’t know what to do with them, please consider giving them to The Harvath Directive.  They will be greatly appreciated.  More information can be found here: www.harvathdirective.com

Bottom line?  Brad is an all-around good guy with a genuine love and respect for our Armed Forces.  In his opinion, they don’t hear the words “thank you” enough.  And did I mention he’s a terrific author?

I encourage you to visit his website:  www.bradthor.com.  It’s got to be one of the best websites in the business.

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Brad Thor is the New York Times #1 bestselling author of nine previous thrillers:

THE LIONS OF LUCERNE

PATH OF THE ASSASSIN

STATE OF THE UNION

BLOWBACK

TAKEDOWN

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

THE LAST PATRIOT

THE APOSTLE

FOREIGN INFLUENCE

Brad has served as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Analytic Red Cell Program.  He’s appeared on The Fox News Channel, CNN, CNN Headline News, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, and on PBS as a national security expert to discuss terrorism, and how closely his novels of international intrigue parallel the real threats facing the world today.

When he’s not writing, promoting or touring, Brad enjoys snow skiing, water skiing, and hiking.  He continues to travel the world doing research, but takes time to do some deep sea fishing, fly fishing, hunting, and shooting.

Andrew Peterson

Andrew Peterson is the author of First To Kill, the debut in a series featuring Nathan McBride, a former marine sniper and CIA operations officer.The next McBride novel, Forced To Kill, will be available early next year in exclusive audiobook format from Audible.com.Andrew works as a volunteer firefighter, enjoys scuba diving, target shooting, flying helicopters, hiking and camping, and an occasional sad round of golf.

Visit Andy at: www.andrewpeterson.com.
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