By Andrew Zack
Years ago, while working for Donald I. Fine, a small house run by a maniac with an ability to spot diamonds in the rough that had been proven again and again, I learned perhaps the most important lesson about writing thrillers: You must have verisimilitude. As an editor and an agent, I have lectured authors on this point repeatedly. So I was pleasantly surprised when I was asked to write about Brad Taylor’s latest, ALL NECESSARY FORCE, as if there’s one thing everyone seems to agree on, it’s that LTC Brad Taylor (USA, Ret.), knows how to “make it real.”
In his new novel, Taylor again introduces the reader to “the Taskforce,”—first seen in Taylor’s NEW YORK TIMES best-selling debut, ONE ROUGH MAN—a top-secret team that exists outside the bounds of U.S. law and is charged with finding and destroying threats to our country.
A shadowy trail leads the Taskforce to Egypt, where an attack forces Pike Logan and his partner, Jennifer Cahill, to take on an increasingly convoluted and dangerous mission. Sifting their way through the opposing plots of two terrorist organizations turns out to be the least of their problems when a weapon of unthinkable power touches American soil . . . the only country in which Taskforce members are forbidden to operate, and the only country they may be unable to save. . . .
A voracious reader, this former Delta operator admits that life outside the military left him with a ton of time. So he decided to write a novel. But when he started, he felt he didn’t really know how to structure a story. He finished his first draft in six months and then sought editorial help, working with freelance editor Caroline Upcher, who helped shape his book and adjust the pacing and characterization. Based on her notes, he wrote an entirely new beginning to the novel—about one-hundred pages—to give readers a better understanding of what made his protagonist tick. But Upcher’s feedback didn’t end there. She made him work to become a better writer, giving him exercises like writing a biographical outline from the perspective of his main character. She declared the result, written from the first-person point-of-view “the best stuff” he’d written and encouraged him to rewrite his novel from third-person to first-person. The end-result found a fan in Dutton editor Ben Sevier. “Who is absolutely fabulous,” says Taylor. “My experience with Dutton has been nothing but pleasurable from the get-go, says Taylor.”
Asked whom he likes to read, he admits to preferring crime novels over his own genre, including those by authors such as John Sanford, John Lescroart, and Joseph Finder.
Still a security consultant, he continues to be on the cutting edge of military technology and has had to take things out of his manuscripts that he thought were fiction, but then found out that they were true. And to ensure that he doesn’t inadvertently let something slip, he always asks contacts still active in the service to review his books and advise on whether or not anything needs to be deleted. Even if something is mentioned as rumors on the web and seems common knowledge, if Taylor says it, it gains credibility. Thus, to protect the secrecy of current technology, he revises.
When I asked Taylor what his one piece of advice to authors would be, he says, “My biggest thing is research. You can never do enough research. For ALL NECESSARY FORCE, I went to Egypt and then the Arab Spring came and everything changed. The thing thriller writers have to keep in mind is that if you are writing about current events, they’re exactly that—current. Things change. So, you have to be prepared to step back and rewrite, and you have to have a plot where the fuse hasn’t been lit yet in the real world.”
Sometimes verisimilitude is a bitch. But Taylor knows “keeping it real” is what makes readers turning the pages.
Brad served for more than 21 years in the U.S. Army, 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. 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. His first novel in the Pike Logan series, One Rough Man, was a national bestseller.
To learn more about Brad, please visit his website.