Bringing It Home: 'PW' Talks with A.J. Tata
Why did you decide to use the notion of terrorists entering the U.S. by pretending to be innocent Syrian refugees as the plot for Direct Fire?
I spent a lifetime as a military leader asking, “What is the worst thing the enemy can do to my soldiers?” and then developing solutions to prevent that from happening. Now, as an author, I use that thought process as a catalyst for plot development.
The terrorists in your novel kill a significant number of the Army’s top command. How realistic is this?
Sun Tzu had a maxim that if you defend everywhere, you defend nowhere. It’s nearly impossible to defend dozens of senior leaders 24/7 with perfection and still allow them to feel they’re leading normal lives. The opening scenes in Direct Fire speak to some of the vulnerabilities of senior military and civilian personnel. That said, security around our senior military leadership is strong.
Do you wonder if terrorists or other enemies of the United States get ideas about how to stage attacks by reading thrillers?
Our enemies are always thinking of ways to do harm to our nation and people. I believe if I can think of it, they probably already have thought of it. That said, our law enforcement personnel are also reading the thriller genre, and I believe that the creativity of the plots spark ideas for countering the threats our genre develops. So it cuts both ways. While the bad guys may be reading the books, the good guys are thinking through the plots as well.
How does a general become a thriller novelist?
I have always wanted to write fiction since I was a child. I was one of those kids who came back from book fair day in elementary school with an armload of mysteries. I became fascinated by the authors’ abilities to create interesting characters and develop intriguing plots. I began to study the mechanics of writing and then followed Tom Clancy’s and Stephen King’s advice, which, paraphrased, is, “If you want to be a writer, then write.” I began allocating time weekly to write, and then it became daily, either early in the morning or late in the evening. For me, writing is a release. I love the creative process, and it is a passion for me.
A.J. Tata appeared at the Barr Library in Ft. Knox, KY in early June. Watch the interview here.
“Tata does a wonderful job balancing the action with the characters… Tata is getting better and better with each new novel.” —Booklist
on Direct Fire
Packed with high-powered action and stunning authenticity, the novels of Brigadier General A.J. Tata have won widespread acclaim from the bestselling masters of suspense. In Direct Fire, he brings the war on terror to America—with his hero, Jake Mahegan, caught in the crossfire. . . .
A powerful banker, gunned down in cold blood. A military family, senselessly slaughtered as they sleep. A four-star general, hacked and framed by virtual assassins. Another key general, kidnapped from his farm near Fort Bragg. Atrocities like these are all too common in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. But this is the United States of America . . .
When Jake Mahegan receives a distress call from General Savage in North Carolina, he rushes to the commander’s home—and walks right into an ambush. When the smoke clears, Mahegan is alive but the implications of the attack are as absolute as death: The terrorists are here . . . and no one is safe. Joining forces with Savage’s combat JAG officer, Alexandra Russell, Mahegan follows the trail to a killer who goes by the name “Jackknife,” a Syrian refugee-turned-terrorist who vows to avenge the bombing of a Syrian wedding—by killing as many Americans as possible.
But time is running out for Mahegan. Terrorist cells are gathering in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hackers are emptying the nation’s banks of millions of dollars. And their final act of vengeance will bring the whole world to its knees. For Mahegan, it’s time to kill. Now.
Praise For Direct Fire
“The high-octane action scenes make this a must-read for military thriller fans.” —Publishers Weekly
A.J. Tata’s BESIEGED—A Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017 Selection
“Anthony Tata ups his game to a whole new level in Three Minutes to Midnight, which just might be the best pure, hardcore thriller of the year so far. The perfect mix of style and substance that’s as ambitiously plotted as it is exquisitely realized.” —Jon Land, The Providence Sunday Journal
“Riveting . . . Mahegan stands out from the crowd of usual thriller heroes . . . Vivid descriptions of close-quarters combat are detailed enough to be instructional and Tata keeps the story twisting to the rousing final pages.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A.J. Tata is in the top tier of thriller writers working today. His books are absolute rollercoaster rides and he brings a pace and scope to his novels that make them especially fun and fascinating reads. “—Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Agent in Place and Tom Clancy Full Force and Effect
“Absolutely fantastic . . . pulse-pounding.” —Brad Thor
“An explosive, seat of your pants thriller!”—W.E.B. Griffin
“Topical, frightening, possible.” —James Rollins
“Powerful and timely. Great stuff!”—John Lescroart
“Written by a man who’s ‘been there,’ this vibrant thriller will take you to places as frightening as the darkest secrets behind tomorrow’s headlines.”—Ralph Peters
“Crackling with action and tension.”—Steve Berry
“Foreign and Domestic is absolutely fantastic . . . pulse pounding . . . a brilliant, cutting edge plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.” —New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor
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