By Jeff Ayers
When a person thinks about Brad Meltzer’s career, it’s hard to remember that he has only been publishing books since 1997, when he burst onto the thriller scene with The Tenth Justice.
He started writing after a job fell through. He finished that first novel and started looking to find a home for it.
“I got twenty-four rejection letters on my first novel,” Brad said. “It’s still sitting on my shelf, published by Kinko’s. I had twenty-four people tell me to give it up–that I couldn’t write. But the day I got my twenty-third and twenty-fourth rejection, I said to myself, ‘If they don’t like this novel, I’ll write another, and if they don’t like that one, I’ll write another.’ Why? Because I fell in love with writing. A week later, I started the book that became The Tenth Justice. And then, I got lucky.”
That book was an immediate smash, and since then he has written six more novels, delved into non-fiction, dipped his hand in the cold world of television, and engaged his geek-boy fantasy by writing comic books.
The TV show, “Jack and Bobby,” aired on the WB network between 2004 and 2005 and lasted 22 episodes before it was cancelled. In the harsh world of television, lasting a full season is a miracle. Brad remarked about the show he conceived with Steve Cohen, “We created it, came up with the idea, pitched it, sold and co-write the pilot. And then only my family watched, so it got cancelled.”
In the world of comic books and graphic novels, Brad is considered to be one of the best writers out there. In fact, Brad paved the way for other authors like David Morrell and Jodi Picoult to test-drive the different medium. Brad has tackled the DC Universe, the Justice League, and now Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. When asked about his life in the geek-boy paradise, he said, “They asked. I jumped. Was my nerd dream come true.” When asked about Buffy, he quickly added, “Joss Whedon asked. I jumped. Was my nerd dream come true.”
His nerd persona kicked into high gear with his last novel, The Book of Lies. The story follows the Superman myth and its origins. Some of the reviews it received were terrible and Brad took full advantage to make fun of the bad reviews and poke fun at himself. Check out this You Tube video. [Editor’s note: I about wet my pants laughing watching this. It is hilarious, and completely in keeping with Brad’s humble nature]:
While researching The Book of Lies, Brad learned the home of Jerry Siegel, the creator of Superman, was about to be demolished. “I went to the house and saw the condition it was in. And that was it. I mean, I believe ordinary people change the world and I believed that enough of us could join together to keep Jerry Siegel’s house from destruction. I’m just a guy who went to Cleveland, Ohio and saw that the house where Superman was created was falling apart and a total wreck. So we set out to save it. We didn’t need grants, or political favors, or skeevy politicians. All of those entities let it languish. We saved it. How could I not believe in that?”
Brad’s latest book, his first in non-fiction, is called Heroes For My Son. He described it this way. “Since the day my son was born, I’ve been writing a book for him. It’s a collection of heroes throughout history. Some are famous (Jim Henson, Rosa Parks, Mr. Rogers, etc). Some are totally unknown. But the result is this book–my first ever non-fiction one–a gift to my son. It came out May 11 from HarperCollins. Obviously, the book is from me to my son. But what makes the book special is that it’s not essays. It’s 50 one-page vignettes–about the single moment that makes each person great. Gandhi. John Lennon. Thomas Jefferson. Amelia Earhart. We found moments that are just magic. Go see: www.HeroesForMySon.com.”
The first in a new series comes out in January, and will be called either The Inner Circle or Inner Circle.
International Thriller Writers gave Brad a Silver Bullet Award at last year’s Thrillerfest. When asked about the prize, he remarked about it and ITW. “First, what ITW has built since we were all at that first ThrillerFest just amazes me. It does. It’s something to marvel at. As for the award, it’s a Stanley Cup. Was the best thing I ever carried on a plane. I was high-fiving strangers.”
Another reason Brad has to celebrate is the History Channel just ordered ten episodes of a series called “Brad Meltzer Decoded.” The press release says, “Our lives are steeped in hidden codes and symbols. We encounter them daily, but they’re so familiar to us that we no longer notice. What are their origins? Do these ordinary objects and fixtures contain a mysterious meaning? ‘Brad Meltzer Decoded’ will reveal that the many of the things we see daily contain secret messages. These thrilling ideas and theories come directly from the mind of bestselling author Brad Meltzer who uncovered them during his research. Now History has given Brad the ability to pose these questions to a group of elite researchers, who will travel far and wide to examine the clues and decode the hidden meaning behind these seemingly innocuous origins.”
Brad’s books are a joy to read and extremely well written. Always unexpected in their storylines, its clear Brad doesn’t stick to a particular style of book or medium. When asked about it, he said, “I’d get bored. That’s it. If I had to just churn out the same thing every year, it does eventually get . . . churned out. And there’s nothing more interesting to me than trying what I’ve never tried before.”
His novels awe and inspire and should be required reading for any thriller fan. Make sure to say hello to Brad if you attending this year’s Thrillerfest. He’ll be happy to sign a book and is one of the nicest people you’ll meet.
Brad Meltzer’s website: www.bradmeltzer.com
A BRAD MELTZER BIBLIOGRAPHY
The Inner Circle (2011)
Heroes for my Son (2010) Non-Fiction
The Book of Lies (2008)
The Book of Fate (2006)
The Zero Game (2005)
The Millionaires (2002)
The First Counsel (2001)
Dead Even (1999)
The Tenth Justice (1998)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Ayers is the author of Voyages of Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion. (Pocket Books, 2006). He reviews books for Library Journal and Booklist, and his in-depth interviews with bestselling authors like Dan Brown, Nelson DeMille, Lee Child, Janet Evanovich, and Clive Cussler, have appeared in such notable publications as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Library Journal, Writer Magazine and The Big Thrill. He has recently finished a thriller that is currently making the publishing rounds. More about Jeff at: