How long have you been a fan of Vince Flynn?
Since the beginning. Vince and I started writing books around the same time and I picked up his first one just to keep my eye on the competition. After that I read them for fun.
Do you have a favorite Vince Flynn book?
I think Consent to Kill. I loved it as a reader, but also admired it as a writer. It’s really hard to keep that pace going for so many pages. My dark horse is Kill Shot. It was a terrific take on the spy-out-in-the-cold theme.
This is not the first time you have written a book based on a character created by another author. What was it like writing Robert Ludlum created characters? How will taking over Mitch Rapp compare?
The characters I did for Robert Ludlum’s Covert-One series weren’t as well defined as Mitch Rapp, probably because a number of authors had been involved over the years. That gave me leeway to sneak in a bit of my own style.
This is a very different challenge. Because Mitch is such an iconic and beloved character, my goal is to make the transition as seamless as possible. If I do my job right, it will be hard to pick out any stylistic difference between The Survivor and prior books.
How are you preparing for taking over the Mitch Rapp character?
The first big hurdle was re-reading all the books and taking detailed notes. I think I wrote about a hundred and forty pages on everything from Mitch’s personality and history to the locks on Irene Kennedy’s front door. Now I have it compiled into an encyclopedia of sorts.
How do you think you are similar/different to Vince in writing style?
In many ways our process is different. I write huge outlines while Vince hated them. My books tend to be a bit morally ambiguous whereas Vince’s have a strong sense of good and evil. His characters are usually disciplined and accomplished while mine are more flawed.
I think the differences between our styles are a good thing in the end. It keeps me on my toes and makes it obvious when I’m getting lazy and slipping into old habits. The prelude I initially wrote is a perfect example. When I reread it, I realized it was a solid Kyle Mills scene but not such a great Vince Flynn scene. So I went back and reworked it.
Do you have full autonomy as to the direction of the Mitch Rapp character or did Vince map out future storylines?
With The Survivor, I have a pretty good map. While Vince didn’t leave anything more than the first chapter, The Last Man had a lot of clues as to where the story should go.
After that, it’s going to be up to me. Fortunately, with everything going on in the world, there’s a lot for Mitch to deal with!
Will any of your Mitch Rapp books be part of the American Assassin prequel sub series?
A number of fans have mentioned to me that Vince wanted to do one more prequel—a follow up to Kill Shot. I hadn’t been aware of that but it might be fun at some point. I’d like to know, for instance, what happened with Greta.