The men-turned-mercenaries from the now-defunct Integral Solutions Consulting are short on options. As Morgan Tyron and Alex Foaly continue to lick the wounds sustained in Wetwork, their quest to clear their names comes to a screeching halt thanks to a single text message. Their friend and former teammate, Vinny Jensen, has been taken hostage. With little information to work with an an all-but-nonexistent timetable, the gloves come off as Alex and Morgan set out to rescue their friend, and take the fight to those who tore their lives away from them.
Zach James recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, ALL IN.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
Unfortunately I can’t pinpoint an exact moment of inspiration for All In. Hazards of working on a project for almost a decade before finally putting it out there. I just remember needing to wrap up the story arc set up with Deception and Wetwork (which had a different title at the time, as did All In)
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
The obvious answer to this is that it’s the sequel to Deception and Wetwork, and it’s the conclusion to the first Modern Mercenary Thrillers trilogy. It was an easy choice to make once I had Deception out there and Wetwork polished up and ready for release, doubly so since All In has been in the making since late summer/early fall of 2013 when I was a college freshman.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
Even though I read it well after I’d finished several early drafts of All In, Tom Clancy’s ‘Without Remorse’ ended up being a huge presence in my head as I worked on later drafts of the book. Movie-wise, there was Black Hawk Down, Blood Diamond, and the first season of ‘The Punisher’. And song-wise, also from the first season of ‘Punisher’, was Marilyn Mason’s ‘Fated, Faithful, Fatal’ which I used as the background music while writing a scene that’s an homage to Season 1. Bonus points to those who pick it out without going back and watching the show first.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
So cards on the table; when the characters were first created they were little more than self-inserts for myself and my buddies at the time, Morgan and Vinny. But as I got older and my understanding of writing, storytelling, character building, etc. grew, I went back and molded the characters into more unique personalities. It wasn’t so much that I saw an empty space that needed to be filled, but that I wanted to create characters that bucked the norm and would (hopefully) stand out in the reader’s mind as unique, interesting, and compelling.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
There are a few lessons sprinkled into the story, but nothing too heavy-handed, and nothing I’ll speak on now because I’m curious to see what the readers pick up on and take away from the story and the events that unfold for Alex, Morgan, and Vinny.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
Oh there’s a whole lot on the table for this one! So the next one in the pipe is my first foray into science fiction and horror, with my novel ‘Occupant’ coming out on Halloween this year. That one is fun because it’s a totally different genre and it’s written in the old-school, slow-burn style of science fiction horror, akin to 1979’s ‘Alien’ and 1982’s ‘The Thing’. Additionally, I’m working on the fourth book in the Modern Mercenary series, which will open up the Modern Mercenary Shared World. It’s the same universe and timeline, but it follows different people and organizations as they may, or may not, end up going against some of the antagonists introduced in Deception, Wetwork, and All In.
Zach James is a veteran of the United States Army and a graduate from Valley Forge Military College and Norwich University. His twelve years of experience in the Intelligence Community both in and out of uniform has given him firsthand experience working all over the globe. From the Horn of Africa to Southeast Afghanistan, Southern Cuba, and throughout Northern Virginia supporting both the Departments of Defense and Justice. This professional expertise, along with academic experience, a love of reading, and an overactive imagination, has spurned his love for crafting stories and creating characters that pull the reader in and don’t let go until the very last pages, and then some.