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Brad Thor Remembers Vince Flynn

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

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GB: It’s tough to stay happy today, because we learned some very sad news. Early this morning, bestselling author, Vince Flynn, a friend of this program, died at the age of 47. Here is how the Associated Press reports on Flynn’s death. “Bestselling author Vince Flynn, who wrote the Mitch Rapp counterterrorism thriller series, and sold more than 15 million books in the U.S. alone, died Wednesday in Minnesota after a more than two year battle with prostate cancer, according to friends and his publisher. He was 47. Flynn was supporting himself by bartending when he first self-published a novel, Term Limits, in 1997, after getting more than 60 rejection letters. After it became a local bestseller, Pocket Books, a Simon and Schuster imprint, signed him to a two year book deal, and Term Limits became a New York Times bestseller in paperback. The St. Paul-based author also sold millions of books in the international market, and averaged about a book a year, most of them focused on Rapp, a CIA counterterrorism operative. His 14th novel, The Last Man, was published last year. Flynn died at a hospital in St. Paul surrounded by about 35 relatives and friends who prayed the Rosary, said longtime family friend, Kathy Schneeman. She said his deep Catholic faith was an important part of his character. Flynn was diagnosed with stage 3 prostate cancer in November, 2010. The fatigue from his radiation treatments eventually made it difficult to focus on writing for more than an hour or two. In October, 2011, he reluctantly postponed publication for several months of his 13th book, Kill Shot. Flynn is survived by his wife, Lysa Flynn and three children.” Just so sad, 47.

MKH: Too young.

GB: Very, very young. And we’re joined now by a colleague of Vince Flynn, a fellow bestselling thriller author, a friend of mine and this program as well, Brad Thor. Brad, it is great to talk to you, although not so much under these circumstances.

BT: Yeah, it’s very, very sad. I mean, a wonderful guy, probably one of the best writers I’ve ever read, and he was exceeded in that by what a great person he was, what a great American, and an unbelievably dedicated and truly successful father and husband.

GB: Brad, talk about your relationship with Vince. How did you get to know him? And how did you two interact as sort of friendly rivals?

BT: Well, Vince was fantastic. When I wrote my first book, Vince was the first blurb that I got. I mean, not only that, but when I was looking for my agent, I had been introduced to Vince through a friend in the publishing industry, and Vince said you know what? Why don’t you talk to my agent? I mean, people are so protective of their turf, and yet here’s a guy who said yeah, we’ll throw the doors wide open. You know, you’re starting out. I remember what it was like when I was starting, and if I can help you, let me do it. So I mean, just generous to a fault, this guy. But you never saw a frown on his face, always very, very happy, very funny guy. You know, the last time I can remember seeing him on TV is he was doing press for The Last Man, his last book. And I remember seeing him on Imus. And Imus said you look fantastic, and he says well, I’m not going through chemo, I’m going through radiation. You know, people expect you to look terrible, and he looked great. And he was so positive that he was going to beat this. And it’s just, it’s stunning to hear this.

MKH: Yeah, such a sad loss, and really, I’m learning a few things I didn’t know before. I had known his name and of his books, but learning about a pretty amazing way to start in the fiction writing business, which is just to say I’m going to give this a shot, and when I get rejected a bunch of times, I’m going to self-publish. That’s a pretty cool way to go about doing things, sort of an inspiring story of breaking into the business.

BT: And May Katharine, that’s before you had all the self-publishing people that you do now.

MKH: Right.

BT: I mean, this guy…

MKH: ‘97

BT: Yes, it’s like the Grisham story of going from bookstore to bookstore to bookstore in his own hometown saying will you take this book? Will you stock it? But that’s the kind of guy he was. I mean, this is a true American success story, because he’d wanted to be a Marine, and he couldn’t do it because he got medically DQ’d, and so here’s this fantastic guy that says I’m going to go after my dream, and I’m going to get it, and he did. God bless him. If this is what was in the cards, and if this was God’s plan for Vince, how fortunate is he to have captured his dream and to have gone after it as opposed to being 47 years old in a job he hated saying boy, I wish I’d only tried to write a book? How much better are we, the people who love his writing, and the people he touched because of his successful career, that he went after his dream?

GB: Millions and millions of copies sold here, domestically and internationally, Brad. You then began your career shortly after his. As you say, he was almost a mentor, he was so kind to you. How did Vince Flynn’s writing, and how did Mitch Rapp, his character, his protagonist, influence you, Brad Thor the author, and Scot Harvath, your protagonist, respectively?

BT: Well, this is always that fine line that you walk reading other people in your genre. But Vince was one of those things I won’t even call a guilty pleasure. When you work as hard as Vince did to get the details right, and you’re a colleague of Vince’s who works equally hard in his own books to get the details right, you appreciate what he put into his craft. He was one of the only writers I could read where I knew I wasn’t going to get upset because he blew some minor detail like putting a safety on a Glock, or something silly like that, that doesn’t exist. But the big area where I think Vince really had the biggest impact was Vince was one of the first guys really, really going after Islamic terrorism, and pointing out what a threat it was, and being absolutely unrepentant in showing these horrific animals that blow themselves up and take other people with them in the name of their religion for the evil, the truly evil people that they are. And that was so hugely…I mean, he invented this genre. I write in the genre that Vince invented. So you know, I’m just honored to have known him.

MKH: Well, and it sounds like from family and friends that his faith was very important to him, he’s living in Minneapolis, not going Hollywood, as they say. Was that an important part of this character?

BT: Absolutely. Well, here, the true test, Mary Katharine, is Hollywood called him out there. He consulted on ‘24’, I think it was season 4 or season 5, those guys, Howard Gordon, Kiefer, they all loved him. And he could have done that.

MKH: Right.

BT: Here’s a successful guy. He could have gone out and basked in that glow, but that wasn’t him. He was in Minnesota, in the Twin Cities, raising his family. This guy is a good, good guy. This is the kind of guy you could be very proud to call your friend. This is somebody you’d be proud to call your co-worker. This is the kind of man that all men in American should aspire to be like.

GB: Yeah, and it’s just, your tribute to him here is moving, Brad. And I think it’s so cool and special to hear you saying that this is a genre that he really invented, and sort of blazing a path for you, and your great success as you became more successful. You had a New York Times number one bestseller. You’ve been a megastar on the literary front now for years. You’re kind of in the firmament. How did your relationship change? Or did it not, because he was so friendly to begin, and then I know sometimes there’s this nervousness, and it’s in human nature. Oh, maybe I’m going to get eclipsed by this person that I helped. It sounds like that never crept into your relationship with Vince Flynn.

BT: Not at all. As a matter of fact, Vince and I were at the same publishing house. We even have the same editor who would sometimes refer to my main character, Scot Harvath as Mitch Rapp, and I know she did the same thing to him, calling Mitch Rapp Scot Harvath. Listen, I am so fortunate to have been able to be that close with him, and this guy was nothing but wonderful. There’s a lot of people that shine it on after someone has passed, and try to make him to be bigger than they are. But everything you hear about Vince Flynn is accurate. He was a giant in his writing, he was a giant in his patriotism, and he was a giant in being a gentleman, absolutely fantastic guy.

MKH: Well, it’s particularly a loss to lose a guy who was patriotic, who was accurate in presenting this kind of community to the American people. And I hate to lose a cultural influence, but I’m so glad his words will remain. What impact do you think they will have had, and will continue to have?

BT: Well Mary Katharine, that’s a great, great point. It’s something I’ve talked with Hugh Hewitt about before. There’s not a lot of us who are limited government, liberty-minded artists trying to move the culture from the art world.

MKH: Right.

BT: There’s just not a lot of us. So when you lose Vince, or you lose somebody else who’s out there like Breitbart, it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt the movement. But for every Breitbart, for every Vince Flynn, there is someone else coming up behind him. So as Vince helped me, it is my duty to help other people, as Breitbart helped people. It is our duty, all of us who care about our republic, we’re all stewards of the republic. We need, as much as we’re great and we look forward, we need to turn around and look behind us to who’s coming up next, and how can we help them, no matter what area they’re in.

GB: Brad Thor, beautifully said. His new book coming out by the way, Hidden Order, thank you for your thoughts on Vince Flynn, dead today at the age of 47.

End of interview.

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