#142 Brad Thor- #1 Bestselling Thriller Author
They got we got Sean. Delaney Sean Delaney Brad Thor is the Number One New York Times bestselling author of nineteen nineteen thrillers including spy master which according to The Washington Times is one of the all time best thriller novels Brad Has Been One of Shawn's favourite authors for over a decade and is so excited for you all to get to hear more about Brad at in his journey Brad has been called the master of thrillers and America's favorite author. His bestselling novels have been published in over Thirty Countries Brad discusses going from an award-winning Creator producer writer and host of the TV show traveling light to conquering his fear and becoming a best selling writer. Hey guys I want to tell you about the brand. I'm obsessed with right now and you guys know. I'm pretty obsessive about the brands I work with especially when it comes comes to athletic apparel. You guys need to check out ten thousand. You need to head to ten thousand dot C._C.. 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I know you've been busy on the book tour with three quick questions if you were a professional wrestler what would your entrance song be coming into the ring. Wow you got to fire fire up now. This is what you're gonNA learn about me Sean. I am incredibly thoughtful. In the details matter. I had to do my favorite five for don imus his show so used to have guests pick five songs in it took me like an entire day to pick the songs because I needed songs that even if they began them from the first bar people were not watching the TV. WE'RE GONNA turn on and look and say who the hell's coming on this show so I put on the spot right now. <hes> it's gotta the A._C._c. back in black because we get the crowd completely fired up right away even better we get a little better idea. New Your framework how you view things so next up sitting down with one cocktail or beverage of choice. What are you going with? Wow all right one cocktail Taylor beverage of choice <hes> Bourbon specific brand <hes> big fan of the Colonel Taylor in a like a lot because my liquor store in Nashville doesn't always have it so when it comes in it's a surprise and it's a treat in the people my neighborhood hate me because I buy every single bottle in the store so let's do next year when the new book comes out will be sitting down having a few classes that final one you have one vacation left where you going. I know you love travel. It's no question I go back to my beautiful little island of Paros Nonpartisan Carlson Greece very nice. I know you live there for a little while right. I did a couple of summers very good very good alright so I know you don't do your writing in the morning and you just mentioned it's morning there. You've got your big Carafe of coffee but how'd how'd you typically start your day so I start my day but taking care of myself so I get up no matter how rough I may feel from a late night the night before and I go when I work out so that's number one. I've got a gym at my house so I'll go on a workout workout. That's number one. <hes> it's important for me that the kids see me up and doing I mean I'm an entrepreneur. I own my own business. I could sleep in and I am not a morning person but it's important that my kids see me getting up early. They're getting up early. Go to school so yeah so I'll get up and I'll go work out first. GonNa come back and do breakfast with them very nice. What do you typically do for workout depends on the day so I mean I don't know I'm I'm lifting weights at least three to four days a week in throwing in Cardio two to three times a week and I'm trying on have one full day off but I get some sort of physical exercise on that date? It's it's normally walking. It's normally walking or hiking <hes> getting outside and making sure I'm getting away from all the electronics in that kind of stuff at least once a week very nice so we have a little bit better idea about how so you get your day started and something that really intrigued me was actually a former guest. They brought you up so guest of what got you there. Brought Brad Thorpe in the interview and this is what he said he said this guy is a force of nature. I don't know what he's going to do but whatever he's going to do he'll be successful at it and this was the first time he met you. Have you always had that. Get after it attitude ever since ever since I can remember it's part of my d._N._A.. My Gad's an entrepreneur. My Mom was an entrepreneur and you only got what you went after so I I've always been a high energy. <hes> really really hit it hard kind of guy so <hes> I'm not listen. That's very compliment lamented lovely compliment that somebody play paid me and I it resonates with me though because I am very high energy in varying gauged in again as you and I were joking around about what Song I have is my walkout songs a wrestler very detail focus because I think that's where success happens is in the details yet no I didn't. I didn't want to put you on the spot with that. Make you feel uncomfortable. I think it's just an attribute to you and the energy that you had so. I'm interested about that you mentioned Your Dad was an entrepreneur. What did you think you'd be as a kid? You know what I always wanted to be a writer but I spent a good amount of my young adult life running away from it <hes> I I went to the University of Southern California. That's where my dad had been doing a lot of work. He's a real estate developer. He he was a marine got out of the south side of Chicago by joining the Marine Corps. My mom was a flight attendant for T._W._A.. They both saw the world in those respective. Their Respective Professions and my dad went to school on the G._I.. Bill off and <hes> when I excuse me when I went to U._S._C. I went in as a business administration major because my dad wanted me to take over his business and I didn't like it was boring. It wasn't engaging me and I switched reached over creative writing and film and television production and when I left U._S._C. I went overseas to Paris. I had a friend who had an extra room and I started working on my first novel but I got three chapters into it and I quit because I had that voice in the back of my head that I think we all have <hes> that says you don't take the risk. Don't risk the embarrassment what if you fail better to have not tried than to have tried and failed and get into that voice in I shipped my laptop back home and I took all the money I had saved working college and I traveled throughout Europe and I had this idea. I'm going to do a T._v.. Show <hes> thought traveling made me a better American and I wanted to encourage young Americans to see the world. Don't wait till you retired dig overseas so I came back and I did it. It was an incredible lift lift in that it was very difficult. It was difficult to launch a T._v.. Show with no experience in in getting on stations from coast to coast but I did it but that was the size of my fear. I was willing to go through all I love love the T._v.. Show but I was willing to go through all that stress in hassle to avoid doing what was my true calling in life and that was to write novels and I really really believe Shawn that that which were destined most to do in life we are most afraid of that is is incredibly thoughtful and deep. I'm just thinking about your last few words there and thinking about that in my own life but I want to jump back to the show for a second and it was traveling light correct. I was the title of the show correct what I love about. This is you're an award-winning in creator producer writer and host of the show how to someone who has no television experience control and grasp all of that so I had the basic mechanics. I learned the basic mechanics at U._S._C. in college doing a show. But it was my dad he was brilliant in he said listen if you're going to do this. Nobody is born with a beard <hes> B. E. A. R. D. Nobody's born with a beard and I thought okay. This is interesting. was that mean he said Hollywood in television the film business it's full of freelancers so you don't have any experience but what you need to do is take the focus off of your inexperience in put it onto the experience of other people <hes> to what I ended up doing was researching and finding people I wanted to work with were freelancers getting their resumes and then putting together the team air quotes around teams when I pitch public television and they were asking about experience and everything I said well let me tell you about my team and then here's this award winning director this cameraman and all this kind of stuff so that would fell to me was getting public television to sign off on this concept and then raising the money because they don't <hes> in my case. They didn't just say here's money go do it. I had to go out and find sponsors but that worked to say oh well you know I graduated commodity from the University of Southern California studied film creative writing television production <hes> but again showing the team of professionals who are going to be working with me on this. That's what really helped <hes> take that my inexperience. Let's say a off the table. The word that comes to mind here is belief and you mentioned putting together a team raising money getting the television network to believe in you. What did you do so well to have all these people? Take a chance on you well. The my money came before the sponsors money. It turned out so what I did was I got public television. Put me in touch. They always put somebody on your production and make sure your abiding by the the extensive rules in public television so they team me up with a group called South Carolina e t the which was the <hes> the ownership group. Let's say of all the public television stations in the State of South Carolina and they were looking to bring new new product to market particularly. They wanted to appeal to a younger demographic so I found someone who had a need in had way to fulfil that need I admire needs to which was I got to get production off the ground so we were able to complement each other. I had a great show idea and they had people on staff crews and they offered me a crew. So what I ended up doing was bringing this director who is very well thought of and he had allowed me to use his real to show public television listen. This is the stuff that directors done before and he had a sizzle reel. It was really cool how we'd put it together and he had filmed around the world so it was perfect to use for travel show but I went over to Paris to shoot a pilot and I did it. They get South Carolina gave me e._T._v.. GimMe the crew but this was at a time Sean where credit cards like if you sneezed like a pilot credit cards would show up on your desk. If you blinked there your bathtub. It'd be full of them so I decided that I would finance myself. I figured you know what if I'm not willing to take a risk on myself. Why should I ask anybody else too so I paid for that pilot tens of thousands of dollars on credit cards at something like eighteen nineteen twenty one percent interest it was crazy but I got a pilot done in with that pilot I was able able to then take it to other public television stations to ask them if they would air it and then once I got the commitment of all these major stations then I was able to go to sponsor <hes> different sponsors and say hey first of all here's five minutes what the show would look like and if you Wanna I've got the full half hour? I can show it to you in. Here's the list of stations that have agreed to run it in. That's how that all came together Brad. You're getting me even more fired up over here. Just thinking about the confidence you had in yourself. Why did you believe leave that you could leverage all these credit cards and net failure wasn't going to be an option for you? Tell you what when I did this. I was a huge I still huge Tony Robbins Fan and I had gone to study in Paris gone to school rule over there in my mom had choose an executive recruiter at the time and she was working for a client called Nightingale Coconut Publishing Group and I had taken over a couple of books on tape <hes> in one was a book on negotiating and another one was a Tony Robbins series and it was the only thing I had that I could listen to besides music because there was no T._v.. In my room I was sleeping in this little attic bedroom thing and so I listened to the Tony Robbins stuff over and over and over and over again <hes> success leaves clues lose. If you show the same siege reap the same rewards that you have to have the acuity to fine tune your approach your pitch I mean I just I became like this monk in a cell only had one book to read over and over again for me. It was Tony Roberts in that stuff was very very powerful particularly at that time in my life and I realized that no matter how many knows I got every single know that somebody gave me on my project meant. I was one step closer to the yes. I never lost faith that the yes was out there and it's just it's going to be as many noses. It takes to get to that yes but there was no way I was going to give up carving your own path. What I love to is that you put in as much work as possible control what you can control and now I wanNA loop in your writing career? You mentioned you move to Paris begin novel. You got three chapters. In what was the book you were writing. Was it your first book. You ended up releasing lines of Lucerne. No it's funny it was not an I thought that I had lost those chapters for good. I was cleaning out my garage before I went a bookstore and I found this old file box and I'm like what's this stuff and I pulled it out and it was the inside the box with a lot of other pieces of writing. I didn't college at U._C.. I actually found the first three chapters and I think at at some point. I'm going to write that book going to complete it. I like it to be like the very last thing I write kind of a thing so I don't WanNa touch it for you know years and years and years and years decades Oh that is so interesting so talk to me about that moment where you decide to to end writing at that moment three chapters in was it something in the back of your mind you just couldn't escape or was it. One day just came to you that hey this is too much. I need to let this go right now. Well I say this with with every ounce of respect <hes> possible for the United Negro College Fund they had commercials when I was growing up one of the best commercials ever at best tag lines ever because it stuck with me which is a mind is a terrible thing to waste. That was their slogan but I began to take that slogan. I've I've never forgotten it. I began to take that slogan shorten it to suit what I was going. Through and I- short to a mind is a terrible thing period because of that voice that kept nagging me saying don't do this don't do this. Don't do this. <hes> I convinced myself that it writing was the most solitary act a person could engage in as a profession and I said you know it's no wonder so many writers become alcoholics in so many of them have committed suicide in this kind of thing and I just taught myself out of doing the book because it was hard hard and even more than being hard Sean <unk> demands a tremendous amount of honesty in introspection if you can't be honest with yourself if you can't fearlessly look inside yourself. You'll never even be a halfway decent writer so I yeah I talked myself doing it and I filled. I filled that hole that void in me with travel and I traveled traveled traveled Ben. I filled it with all of the highs and lows that come. I'm with beginning your own business and trying to get that first customer in the door with my production company but that voice that that told me you know you you shouldn't do this above above Abbad. It's not gonNA work out. There was something deeper and stronger in more resonate inside me and that was the need to write that had ever since I was a little boy in on my honeymoon my wife turned to me and said what would you regret on your deathbed never having done and before I could grab the words out of the air and shove him back in my mouth. I should writing a book and getting a published and she said fine when we get home. You're going to start spending two hours a day. No phone no Internet and you'RE GONNA start making that dream. Come true and so how am I gonNA tell my brand new bride that I'm a chicken <hes> that I don't have the courage instinctiveness to to see this lifelong goal through so it was out of Pri- <hes> that I got <hes> got that fuse lit again in got back into it and I did it two hours became three became four became five and she brings dinner to my desk and we just keep everything at bay so I could do this. When I finished writing that first book Sean Who's the greatest feeling in world it must be what it feels like for people to run their first marathon climb their first mountain? I knew I could do do it again. And again and again and again and just as incredible was the feeling of knowing that when I go to my deathbed I will not look back and say what if I'd only tried to go after that dream fried can be a motivating factor that is for sure I I love that she brought that <music> out of you and got you back to writing and I know all the listeners and readers of your worker thankful for that but let's talk about those two hours each day. You're about to get back into writing. What is that even look like planning out a new book sitting down to write anything those first first few weeks that you remember well? I can tell you a little bit about how it all came together which is kind of interesting and just shows you the way the universe lines up when you make the right decisions so for my travel show we had gone to Lucerne. Switzerland and in Lucerne is a <music> a raw a monument carved into a cliff face. It's a dying lion that was carved to commemorate the seven hundred plus Swiss guard that died defending King Louis Marie Antoinette in the initial throws of the French Revolution Mark Twain called it the most moving piece of rock in world. This beautiful lines got a spear broken off in its side and I always liked the alliteration of the line of Lucerne and even back when I was doing my t._v.. Show before I met my wife and had said I'm going to write a book. I would like to write a book. I said if I ever do a book I'm going to the title is going to be the lines of Lucerne. I don't know what it's going to have to do with Switzerland whatever lines of Lucerne Anyway <hes> my sponsor for my T._v.. Show in our second season was real Europe group in as a wedding present <hes> they gave us rail passes and as many overnight train. Train compartment rides as we want it which is a great way to save money and <hes> on our final leg of the <hes> of our honeymoon in Europe. We shared a compartment. We didn't have a private one with a lovely brother and sister. I've been dreading getting on the train because I didn't know who these strangers were going to be and I just thought to sleep with one eye open you know it's going to be we're going to be in there like Gypsies or bank robbers. I didn't know what it was going to be and <hes> they turned out to be lovely from Atlanta. Georgia in the sister. Cindy Jackson was a a big Fan of my t._v.. Show they traveled all the time and turn out cindy and I had a shared love of books and we talked about books all night long from Munich to Amsterdam and she said are you going to make more T._v.. Shows and I I had already on honeymoon told my wife was gonNA write a book and I figured if I kept talking about about it. It would make it more real so I said to Cindy. I said I'm GonNa Make More T._v.. Shows but what I'm going to do I someone to write a book interesting okay. I've told the second person now we get off the train in Amsterdam and <hes> we go to exchange contact information in Lo and behold. She's he's a sales rep for Simon Schuster and she told me she said if you write that book I'd like to read it and if I can help you at Simon and Schuster to be my honor so on my honeymoon I had already had an idea for a book told my wife I was going to write a book a meet a sales rep from Simon and Schuster shuster. There's just one element missing which is what's my story going to be in. Believe it or not my wife and I went from the train station to the hotel in Amsterdam. A room wasn't ready and the desk clerk centers around the corner to get a cup of coffee and a sandwich at this little cafe and I sit down. My wife has a paperback with her. She starts reading. There's an English language newspaper on the next table that somebody's left behind and I opened it up and I'm flipping through and I find this little intelligence brief little column about three quarters of an inch wide and two inches tall in it was about a Swiss intelligence officer who had embezzled all this money from the Swiss army in was training zone shadow militia high in the Alps with high-tech weapons from his own private arsenal. I said there's my story so all of that team together on that trip and then when I got home I started doing those two hours a day but I knew what I was gonNA write about. We were living in Park City Utah. At the time and Bill Clinton President Bill Clinton had been to visit ski he twice for his daughter Chelsea's birthday and so I knew some secret service guys and I said what's it like. How do you secure the entire mountain for a president and they said well? It's a lot of work and we like to keep it open so other people can ski and so all that bubble together with this idea of Swiss wish mercenaries. Why would you hire Swiss mercenaries well? Maybe they're snow kidnapping president while he's on ski vacation in Park City and that's how that all just kind of mashed up and came together. Well talk about the stars lying. There are so many different directions. I would love to go right now. We're going to get back to how you go from idea to to writing it down on paper but something you said that really hit me is when you put it out in public to a second person and you let them know your plans. How important was that for you again? It was pride right so I had the pride factor in there because I told my wife. This was my my one thing that I regret never having done it. My Wife's okay you're going to do it now. I had some professional pride on the line with Cindy Jackson because Cindy knew me as is Brad thor the host of travelling light so there is my professionalism. If you will is now at stake so kind of the way my wife viewed me a my that that large personal stake was on the table now. I had a professional steak on the table table with a big Fan of my t._v.. Show so it started bringing together. It's almost like the universe was conspiring to to hit me from all sides so that there was no way I couldn't do this and so yeah it was important that I do that. I didn't Intel lots of other people after that. That seemed to be enough for me but it was what I needed. No question interesting. Another thing you mentioned is when you I finished that book. Just the joy the pure elation you had. was that the biggest moment where you feel like you've arrived or you've accomplished one of your big dreams. Yeah there was no question when I wrote and I don't write this anymore but I did on that first manuscript I typed the end and it was the most incredible feeling I've written nineteen thrillers now and it feels really good to finish thriller but it never feels as good as that first one that was special that was reaching the top of my very first mountain in it felt awesome still feels awesome to finish a book but that was the big one that had that was a even if I never did anything again after that that was a major personal accomplishment yeah I have to imagine that has a special place in your heart now want to dive into your idea generation process and how you go from idea to creating a best seller and you mentioned you have to be sitting in that cafe in Switzerland and the idea came to you. Do those ideas typically. Just come out of nowhere for you or is there a methodical process to try to get them out <hes> so there's a million there's a million ways. I can describe this in a lot the anecdotes but people say to me they say Brad. Where do you get your ideas and I say I get him in the shower or after the second glass of Bourbon <hes> it it's because that's when I'm really relaxed in? That's when it flows so oh getting an idea in actually writing a book or two different things because you have to get the idea. The idea can't be forced but the book needs discipline so Jack London was famous for saying you can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club and you throughout history. There have been stories in movies made plays and all this kind of thing of the frustrated writer who sits down to write nothing comes. That's where the discipline going after inspiration with a club has to happen food but for me you can't force the the the the idea that seed that the book is going to grow from. That's gotta come naturally but Stephen King said that a writer is someone who's trained their mind to misbehave in my case. That's very true. I look at everything and say what if what if this had happened watched the news and say well what if that's not really the story what if it was this so I'm constantly flipping things over in turning them on their head turning them inside out just to see if there's anything interesting in there for me so it's just this kind of Mental Ping Pong that I play with facts to see if I can get an interesting story out of something that at first glance doesn't seem that interesting. You're never starving for ideas. Are you know <hes> particularly now I finally understand understand <hes> as crazy as the world is the Chinese curse. May You live in interesting times. I now understand that so then I want to know more about just your overall creative genius and then how someone may be interested in writing how they can help spark that in themselves you just mentioned you never starving for idea so are there things of writer can do is is it experience in life travel anything like that that has helped you along the way well thorough had a great quote which is and I'm going to bomb an absolutely just bastardize it here because I don't have the first part <hes> but it basically the quote was how vein it is to sit down and write when you have never stood up in lived in so <hes> <hes> I I draw a lot from my life experience. I am I have a I have a well in me that is never ending of Energy and passion and excitement and I'm constantly on the move and doing different things and seeing different things and I have this voracious appetite that I want to feed with new experiences and I feed that appetite in different ways. I'll travel. That's one thing <hes> I also a huge reader and I believe that you cannot be he <hes> a even mid level good writer without being an incredible reader. I think that's really really important <hes> in back to Stephen King again. Stephen King in his book on writing had a great piece of advice which which is to write what you love to read because that's where your passion is and I actually take it a step further and I say not only should you write what you love to read because that's where you'll find your passion but you have a mini p._H._d.. In that genre that you probably they don't even know about so if you like fantasy like or sci-fi or political and international thrillers like I right if you've read enough in that genre you know why some of the books succeed in some of the books don't for you personally. I don't mean sales. I mean Oh you know why you like certain books in certain books you don't there may be authors who have written multiple books where there's three of them. You'll love and four you don't in you say oh he did this and change that or she did this and change that I didn't like it as much as I like these other books well that all goes goes into this knowledge base that you can draw on as a writer so I believe part of being successful is having great self-discipline. It really is to be a successful writer. It's eight of pants to seat of chair. <hes> clancy at once said anybody can write the novel. The key is can you write a second novel third novel in a fourth novel. That's that's really where the talent comes into play <hes> but inspiration is something that you do have to go after with the club. There is no secret way to do it but every story's stories been told Sean <hes> that's one of the things they taught us in the creative writing program at U._S._C. so you're not gonNA find a story that hasn't been told but what you bring that unique and special is your way of telling that story. I had one teacher wants. The talked about did a whole thing we did. It was an amazing class. We're talking about Jesus in Rocky Balboa and no matter who argued what in the class he could make the argument that Jesus and Rocky Balboa was the same story in an appeal to people for the same reason <hes> so if fascinating fascinating class that was by Jesus and rocky but it made sense and so we talked about the art of storytelling in the craft and that's where the art and craft come in just how do you tell a story that's been told before but you tell it differently well how Brad Thor those last few minutes. I know we have a lot of writers. Listen to the show. They are going to absolutely love that. I just took a ton out of that. That's what I'm GONNA listen to over and over again you mentioned Stephen King actually just read his book on writing two weeks ago. I loved it. It was unbelievable. What else are you reading? <hes> so I am reading all the time in my genre but between books I like to read a lot about the art of writing the craft of writing because I don't think I'm anywhere near as good as I could be and I should be as a writer I feel there's constant room improvement and that's back to my parents. The entrepreneurs the the good solid mid Westerners that said you treat every day on the job as your first day on the as if it were your first day on the job and when I sit down to do a new book I always ask myself. Is this idea good enough and when I'm done with the Book I say is the book good enough to give me a contract at Simon and Schuster if they didn't know who I was. Is this good enough that if it was my first book I would get a deal for it and so that's really that's it's really important to me so I read a lot of books about character development and plot in story arc in all of this kind of stuff <hes> in my quote unquote off season which I'm never off but between <hes> publishing a book and being out on the road like I am now promoting a book I I'm trying to learn more about my craft. I think I will do that till the day I die. I will read books about writing and try even if only get one thing out of the book then that means I am. I buy whatever magnitude of that one thing. I'm a better writer you you mentioned you're kind of in the off season right now. I would love for you just to give a map of what a year looks like and then I'd like you to expand upon that that process of becoming a better writer so what's that year looked like for you so it's always different so I've been I've been doing this this almost for two decades now <hes> the books. It's like eight eighteen years my first book seventeen years. I've been doing it so every book is different. <hes> I try to pick a call what I do faction where you don't know where the facts end in the fiction begins. My job is devia the a white knuckle thrill ride you take it to the beach. Take it to the lake. A lot of people like to plan their vacations around the release of my books and <hes> so I do short Chris cinematic chapters because I want to entertain you but I also want to leave real life things into the books so that if you close the book having had that great white knuckle throw ride you're a little bit smarter or you know a little bit more <hes> this part of the world or this thing about spies or whatever something that was not writing a textbook this is you're not supposed to notice. You're picking picking up this cool stuff in. If you notice you're picking it up and I haven't done my job I just WanNa quietly. Weave it into the story so those those things those real life things that I spend time researching can take different amounts of time so I'll I may feel like I need a lot of runway. <hes> to before the the the writing can take off and sometimes the runways a little bit shorter and sometimes. It's an ongoing process where I am. I haven't got all the research done because I don't know which direction the books GonNa go when I'm making calls to experts during the day so the year is interesting. I can't say that my year starts with three months of just solid research in then I write for four months. Then I Polish for five it is always always different in the key for me is is can i. When do I get that idea that I mean that's the big thing I don't have the idea? I can't even start researching. I don't know what the book is going to be about. So every year is different but that's good right so I'm the guy that likes new experiences. That's constantly throwing up that well with cool things meeting. Cool people going to go places reading cool books having cool experiences and that keeps me lit. That is the stuff that really that's the fuel that I put in my in in my rocket to to get me through the year in it's different every year in you would think that having written nineteen books it gets easier but it doesn't because my good midwestern work ethic is I have to be better. <hes> <hes> there was a great every book has to be better. The bar gets raised every time so my job gets harder and harder and harder every single year just by the goals I set for myself so it's it's it's exciting. It's different every a year in it's also it's never boring in. That's what's important for me because if it was boring I wouldn't be able to do it and I've always promised my readers who are my employers. I worked for Simon and Schuster. I worked for the readers that I will never phone it in. They will always skit the absolute best. I'm capable of and I one of the books I read over. The last couple of years was a book called the content trap and the content trap dealt with <hes> the impact of the Internet on all sorts of businesses and it had all these great nuggets of of of knowledge and wisdom in there but one of the coolest ones for entrepreneurs is that <hes> one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make in trying to increase their sales is they focused too heavily on perfecting the product sucked <hes> because that's the one thing they have the most direct control over and eighties a mistake according to the content trap if you've got an awesome product that your customers are raving about if you're spending a good chunk of your year tweaking that product in these are tweaks that yes admittedly make the product better but your customers aren't asking for that improvement in the product you've wasted time. You're chasing your tail. All this kind of stuff. It was great. I thought it was really cool. I'm like that's me. I'm constantly bringing the product <hes> but I can't help it. It's just who I am. It's how I was raised. My readers have not said you need to improve your product. I I feel like a half to that. I I am not honoring the trust. They put me if I'm not stretching myself further and further every year both thank you for that being a longtime <music>. I'm reader of your work. It's great to see the continual improvement. It's so funny a minute ago you mentioned certain readers will plan their vacations. I have a little vacation. My family and I are taking in two weeks so I actually have not read your newest book backlash because I just want to enjoy it purely purely on the beach while relaxing but I want to hear about that internal drive and just expanding upon your own writing skills. So what does that look like you mentioned reading books. Do you have a note taking process when trying to improve your skills. Is there anything like that yeah well yeah so. I absolutely destroy books when I read them so i. I'm only GonNa read a book on writing once okay. I'm not GonNa read it twice so I will highlight out ripped out pages. Go into a file so I actually have like an exacto knife razor blade box cutter. I've got these things all over the office and I'll I'll. I will slice out pages. They'll go into a folder. Let me give you an example of something. I just learned before I wrote backlash in. You're going to see you're going to <unk> seen in the beginning of backlash where the protagonist honors a promise he made to somebody in the the beginning of this book that very intense very dramatic action scene in the beginning of backlash and I'll tell you what inspired me to do it so I decided to look beyond just the regular writing books that here's how you write a novel. I thought you know what I like a lot of the writing. I'm seeing now in Hollywood. Let me look I talked to screenwriter buddy of mine and I said what are what are some of the big. Give me your top five to ten screenwriting books that if you were going to speak to a young up up and coming screenwriter you'd recommend he or she read these five to ten bucks. He gave me a list. I went out and bought all of them and I figured writings writing whether it's for it's it's different. It's like the difference between NASCAR and Formula One <hes> Hollywood in novels like I right but he's still got four wheels. It still goes very fast around a track in it involves a lot of technology. I'm like great all right. I'll read these read these books so there was one book <hes> called Save the cat and <hes> that's a very typical term that gets thrown on with Hollywood writers all read this book but it opens with talking about creating a special moment for the protagonist that that draws readers in two liking the protagonist in the took a scene from a movie that I loved from a longtime time ago with Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin called Sea of love in in it opens with a sting that the N._y._p._d.. Still does to this day from what I understand which is they're looking for people who haven't shown up for court that jumped bail l. all this kind of stuff. They've got an idea where these people may be but they haven't been able to track them down and arrest them so they send letters out saying you've when season tickets to the met so the Yankees whatever come down to the Grand Hyatt Hotel and we're going to have a big big thing. You're going to get your tickets. We get the players are going to be there to autographed baseballs and all this stuff congratulations you know three weeks from now Saturday morning nine o'clock so the movie opens with this sting underway the cops have deposing his like mets or or Yankees manager staff and P._R.. People get all these guys into a ballroom and they closed the doors behind him and you figure watching this that they're going to be that. They're all going to be arrested on. Moss together in the ballroom. Out Pacino is hanging out in the hallway outside inside the ballroom. In this man comes trotting in late Kinda sweating. It doesn't want to miss the opportunity to get the get the tickets and holding his hand is this little six year old boy scout us mets cap on. He's got a ball gloves got a baseball Mitt on his hand and everything we you know and this guy. This father has brought his little boy. You know they obviously love baseball together and everything in the father doesn't know he's going to get arrested. There and Al Pacino sees this in very subtly pulls back the lapel of his leather jacket shows his badge edge to the father and the father stops it just goes completely face goes white. He realizes Oh my God. This is a sting. I'm going to get arrested and the now Pacino looks at the little boy looks back at the father and winks at him and says I'll catch you later such a it's such a great seed and I thought okay that immediately makes me like him. It tells me he's smart. He's tough and that was one of the things that I learned between books last year and that had a big impact on me for how I opened or not how I open backlash but what you'll see with the protagonist in how he handles a particular situation in the beginning so <hes> again nineteenth book Sean this is me constantly trying to get better in to improve my product. We love the I love the content trap but Dan the torpedoes Dan that wisdom and advice about perfecting the product. I went full ahead in this year on tour I have had so many people. Tell me that backlash is the best book I've ever written. It is something I've always had people. Hosea read it one night. I've had more people come up to me and say I read it the day I got. It couldn't put it down already finished it. I did something I haven't done before which was to give in more to that voice inside me and trust it in let it take me in do things I've never done before my books. That took a lot of courage. I had a close my eyes in jump off the cliff. I could've done things and had a great book. No doubt top five New York Times bestseller list. I have no doubt that I've I've learned how to do that now but I really really wanted to do something more and do something different in really give readers something special in so it wasn't only the things I learned in the off year but it was also trying to turn everything inside out. Burn it all down in build it back for book nineteen <hes> because I just don't want it to get stale. I don't want people say oh. It's like the same book just said at a different. I don't ever want to get that kind of feedback from from my customers. Don't ever want that so I prevent that by. Just absolutely you know straining on some days over every word every sentence every paragraph so that I know I left everything on my laptop. There was nothing I held back. It all went into the book. Wow that is that so insightful inciteful and I love how you're constantly raising the bar. You mentioned your nineteenth book and it's great to see you not afraid to take that jump and not wait for book twenty to do that. Leap and jump off that cliff so I love that one thing I have to know about. Is your research process you you mentioned you right faction but you have to be so exact in terms of the weapons. They're using the technology. Could you talk a little bit about your research process yeah so you and I both read. I think it's funny that I would bring up Stephen King on writing and you read it two weeks ago. That's that's the universe two weeks ago when I picked it up. I loved it unbelievable. A great great book for the Writers who are listening lessons learned from a lifetime of writing by David Morale is also fabulous. David is is one of my inspirations. He's a great thriller writer in. He's the guy who wrote Rambo. Just ramble was his very first book and he's written a ton of stuff afterwards not about Rambo but he's just a really really smart guy so Stephen King David morale to great books on writing <hes> so my research prod- process I joke around a joke right. I'm pretty serious about the fact that I have no idea what it's like for Stephen King to write a book and I will never presume to say he's got it easier easier than I do but I do know this. Stephen King gets to make up his own rules because he writes about monsters and demons and all this pet cemetery and all this kind of stuff that just isn't real so he gets largely create his own rules. I have to operate within in a very specific set of rules so if I'm writing about a seal team I have to have the correct seal team. I have to have them in the correct location. All the gear and equipment has to be correct because in my business my publisher there is a B. Two B. and I'm B. C.. So I hear from the customer I hear from that consumer they find me on facebook or find me on twitter and they'll say hey brad you screwed up that gun you wrote about in that caliber doesn't exist and I will politely lately come back and say actually yes Smith and Wesson made a limited edition ten pieces for the Sultan of Brunei who not him. I hate the Sultan of Brunei to retract that. I want to get that guy a monster I hate he is the most anti freedom and liberty person so <hes>. Let's just say <hes> the King Sweden ordered Tennessee's God's being Swedish. Let's give the credit for for smart good gun buying getting something cool to King Sweden so Sweden has tended these things specifically made and then I'll share with the fan. Here's the article I found or here's the here's the thing on Smitten Weston's website about Oh we made ten of these twenty years ago for the king of Sweden and fans really appreciate that and I I've got several buckets of Awesome Fan mail all Arab categories that I put Fan mail into one of the ones that I am really proud of is when I hear from seals or I hear from people at the CIA or wherever in they say wow you got it exactly right when I was in Iraq I carried that exact doc rifle or when I was in Afghanistan I had that knife or whatever is here there you get what we're going through at Langley or when D._O._J.. Did this I was a protective <hes> agent for the Attorney General and we had at these things in our car and you nailed it to. That's a real tremendous source of pride for me so I have to get those details right so I'm constantly spending time with the people I'm writing about in. I get invited to do training things whether it's by the manufacturers of of the gear themselves or to go train and do things with people who are going to go out and do some of this nation's most dangerous business so I'm hands on in anything that you see in my books. I've probably gotten familiar with unless it's like something. That's bolted to an airframe so there's there's certain canons and stuff on a spooky gunship that I just I've never been up firing cannons out of a gun ship. It's not something they offer for even authors to do so I did in there with the details. I like these details in again. We're back to write what you love to read because that's where your passion is in my thing. My addition to that is you've got a mini P._H._d.. So I've read a lot in my genre and I like this stuff sir. I've been reading about <hes> all this gear in what these people do forever so I built up this knowledge base you mentioned being hands on. was there something maybe a weapon of course just a system one of these agencies use that just blew your mind that you can speak of <hes> well. I'll tell you one of the cool things that I did that. I did do it is the A._T._F.. Has Training facilities in Quantico Virginia <hes> where the F. B.. I. Is and I got to train screen with one of their lead firearms instructors in it was really cool. I never knew this and at eighty played into some of the training. I didn't know that the A._T._F.. Has the most gunfights out of any federal agency if the most gunfights because it's all drugs right alcohol tobacco firearms and there's a lot of drugs and stuff like this they do tons of raids and all that stuff in there gunfights happened very close in so there are a lot of techniques in neat things that they do <hes> but on top of that I learned that so when and you see Marine One helicopter that lands on the South Lawn at the White House and picks up a president they the Marine Corps White Tops helicopters. I learned that the A._T._F.. Actually trains there the pilots from those helicopters now those are marine aviators gators and they still go and get this really intense A._t._f.. Training because one of those helicopters goes down like in a bad area overseas or you know or a rough urban area in the United States I think of the movie <hes> <hes> escape from New York with Kurt Russell <hes> were New York was turned into Manhattan was turned in a maximum security prison and it was a free for all inside <hes> that was one of those cool things and I learned a bunch of stuff nothing that I'm comfortable putting out in the public because I certainly don't want to reveal oh techniques in in stuff that <hes> that federal agents us but that was one of those things where I got to do training and I was like Gosh this is cool. This is very very thoughtful. They know what they're doing and they are some amazing. Pistolero is there I can only imagine edging some of the Fun Times and things you've got to see. I WanNa know now bore about your actual writing process. You've done a lot of the research you're sitting down. What does this look like for you well so first and foremost I have no formula and I don't outline line? Every book is organic and <hes> The one thing that I will do because it helps me just kind of keep track of my beats if you will. The heartbeat of the story is in a word document. I'll create a table <hes> with I think it's normally five columns so going left to right. The first column will be a description of what's going on in that Chapter Second Column will be what chapter we in than we have day of the week in that. I have time of day at that location nation because I do a lot of international stuff and I go back and forth from D._C.. To London or D._C. to Cairo that kind of stuff I need to know you know you can't have people having lunch in both places at once right because of the time change so <hes> but what I do with that I left hand column wherever description of what's going on in the Chapter I color coded so is this my protagonist. Is this <hes> some other storyline in the book so that I can tell by glancing back at that table in word I can see okay. Hey it's been x amount of chapters. I haven't seen green which is my protagonist for four or five chapters all right. I know instinctively from the way put my stories together that I need to get back to him that whatever story I've been following a couple of story lines have been following. It's time to get back to him so that's one of the things that I do. When I sit down to write the other thing is is I want each chapter to end with a Cliffhanger Mickey? Spelane was famous for saying the first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book but all that stuff in between is really important. You have to get people from the first chapter to the last chapter in I wanted just keep the tension rod attention. I WANNA give people chance to breathe but not too much. I want you to catch your breath but I don't want your heart rate to go down. If that makes sense makes perfect sense and something I seem to have noticed over the past few books is your writing style almost seems to have changed. You've always been action packed and you capture my attention at all times but it seems like the chapters have become even slightly a shorter to capture my attention even more. Is that methodical. I think it's a process of me trying to get better. I also think we have a lot of things competing for our attention so before the Internet and stuff if you look back at like my early books Sean Chapters were much longer and I had many more storylines subplots and everything that I was weaving through the books so the again I'm creating an entertainment product and it doesn't exist in a vacuum I have there's competition for people's. Attention for their time for their dollars so I have to constantly evolve so I can stay at the top of the food chain where I am in that I remain attractive right so I'm the I'm the husband who doesn't want his wife to lose interest. I'm off and I'm lifting weights every morning and while I'd love to have have like a big huge bacon cheeseburger for lunch and a pitcher of beer. I'm not doing that. I guess I you know I'm going in and I'm having my chicken breast in in that kind of stuff because I'm trying to stay lean mean and attractive in so it's not only my personal personal life that I'm hitting it. That hard eats in my work life to again. My books don't exist in a vacuum. It'd be great <hes> I like. I say it'd be great. It'd be different if they did but I have to remain competitive and I remain competitive by constantly elite evolving. I will not be left behind. I refuse to be left behind. I won't shut down. I'm turning my kids onto music. You know I've got to teens a freshman in a junior in high school like have you heard this. I'm not trying to be too like middle allege guy. That can't let the the youth go not in that sense but it's part of who I am. I gotta feed the beast things have to I can't I can't have things stayed. The same because stagnation is death in any business stagnation is death. You've got auto lean out over the edge. Even if you're balancing razor-blade in your feet hurt you gotta do it. Stagnation is death. Is that somewhere you've you've heard that somewhere else or seen that written no that actually the first time I think I've ever uttered it really yeah so I actually have something in my my Home Office with with that saying on there it was it was the same thing I hate Stan. Yeah that's unbelievable so I don't know if I've heard that somewhere else. It just really hit me when you said that again but but I love how much attention you put into your own process constantly evolving constantly getting better. Who Do you see out there? They don't have to be a writer that has just impressed you with with that internal drive to constantly get better anyone come to mind for you. That's a great question great question so if I'm looking at from looking at brands in people trying to get a you know it's funny because I spent a lot of my time lamenting that exceptional customer service seems to be the exception not the rule <hes> so I can look at big brands in in see things that I'm impressed with you know I mean just crazy brands like Audi. I'm really impressed with with what they do in technology gene things like that and in racing in the things that they put into their cars. I just think the brand is really good and they've got a devotion to customer service. I happen to have a friend who is a builder and <hes>. This guy had everyone in his organization. Even if you're an intern you had to read the biography of Cesar Ritz <hes> who who started the Ritz hotels <hes> in learn about anticipating the customer's needs before they even have them that really blew me away but as far as somebody really famous this who's constantly again. I'm going to tie it back to Nashville where I'm from. I I've been really impressed with Taylor Swift's brand. I know she's had some legal. Battles go on but she's she's constantly cranking out hit. She's tried to keep her keep yourself aww too many cultural and political issues. I think that's a really good brand. I'm not giving you what I wish I had. If I'd known this question was coming. I would have spent time thinking about you know what when you talk to a writer and you ask a question question. They're going to give you words whether they've got an answer hot words instead of me just shutting up and saying nothing jumps to mind Shawn. Don't were you gave me Taylor swift and Cesar Ritz. I have not read that book so I'm GonNa have to check that one out. We've been going on with an hour. I know you've got gotta go. We haven't even talked about your newest book yet backlash. I mentioned I'm going to be picking that one up to read it in a couple of weeks here. What can the listeners know about this and obviously they can pick it up? Everywhere books are sold but just give us a plug here for the book sure well. It's my nineteen thriller and I tell people take the James Bond movies. It doesn't matter if you've seen all the bond movies or none of them you can go check out the latest so if you haven't read a Brad Thor book before you can absolutely start with backlash and essentially this this is this is me showing something I actually haven't even seen anybody do this. In a thriller before there is a top U._S.. Operative that has been the Thorn Been Eighth Thorn in the side of a very very bad foreign government. They risk everything to come to the United States. It's an act of war but they come over here figuring he won't see them coming. They put a bag over his head and drag him back to their country in doing the research for this book. I said I want to know what we teach our guys to escape so I plugged into several different sere instructors doctors in CR stands for survive evade resist escape and the number one thing was that if you are taken you may only get one chance to escape and you have to have already decided before that chance comes that you're gonNA take it no matter what and so the book begins with <hes> my protagonists it is getting his one chance <hes> but his code is we talked about the beginning when I talked about that Al Pacino seen he gets his one chance to escape but before he can escape he has to do one thing and there's one thing may mean he doesn't get this game but it and establish his who he is in in y the bad guys want him so bad and it's just a fun chase. There is <hes> there's a the reviewers have said it's part called the while Jack London as part the gray that Liam Niessen movie it's part the fugitive Harrison Jason Ford it's taken and a little bit of fast and furious in their eighties just a fun exciting toes in the sand book in the hand. <hes> Kinda read that again every single person I've met on the road. I'm exaggerating there but in overwhelming numbers something I have not seen before on the road. I've had so many fans. Come up to me and say you know what this is. Now my favorite book of yours. This is the most incredible thing you've ever written so <hes> we've got our fingers crossed. See what happens with the New York Times list but in the end it's not about where I sit on the Times list. It's about units sold and the greatest thing that can happen for an author. My publisher could have unlimited budget and take out ads in the Wall Street Journal and that kind of stuff but that's not as powerful as word of mouth so if you recommend I get my books because I've done a podcast in the somebody like you sean says Brad. You've gotta read this book or my dad gives me a book or my neighbors has had just finished. This one is great word of mouth. He's the best kind of promotion for an author in based based on what I'm hearing <hes> out on tour. I'm hoping that enthusiasm that readers have been <hes> the enthusiasm the readers have shared with me. They're sharing with their co workers and family and stuff like that great writers are great storytellers. You've even build up my enthusiasm for backlash. Even more. You've continued with Scott Horvath who I love that character so backlash. I cannot wait to dive into it. The listeners know of I have someone on it's because I respect them. I enjoyed their work so guys go out there. Pick it up backlash for sale right now but Brad Thorn has been a true honour someone. I've wanted to feature for a number of years so thanks for making this opportunity happen. It's my pleasure. Thank you for having me Sean have a great day. Hey guys I wouldn't tell you about the brand. I'm obsessed with right now and and you guys know I'm pretty obsessive about the brands I work with especially when it comes to athletic apparel. You guys need to check out ten thousand. You need to head to ten thousand dot C._C.. And you guys can enter code W. G. Y.. T. and you're gonNA receive twenty percent. Yes twenty percents off your entire order. Why do I love ten thousand ten thousand created the only training shorts you'll ever need? They do so by simplifying your options deliver three premium shorts that perfectly shortly cover all the ways you train. 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Y T and you've got twenty percents off your entire order making change transpire. That's the mission behind the most amazing tasting protein bar brand taking the nutrition industry by storm that brand their N._C.. TICO and they make the most delicious Kito friendly all natural Collagen in protein bars. If you're obsessed with quality of food going into your body like I am then head out and pick up these amazing bars jam with ten grams of Collagen protein they only have two to three net carbs no added sugar and loaded with High Quality M._C._A._T.. Oil for the healthy fats from coconuts. Whether you're busy running the kids around from activity to activity a professional athlete or just someone looking for great tasting convenience stack do yourself a favor had debt MC tico dot dot com and use code W._G._N.. I._T. for twenty percents off your order what got today with Sean Delaney what got you there with Sun the Lamey what got there with the lady. Thanks for listening to another episode of what got there. If you enjoyed today's episode please leave us a review on itunes and also share with your friends. Thanks so much looking forward to talking to you next time. If you want to stay up to date on all things I'm working on behind the scenes and everything we've got going on at what got you there head over to. What got you there dot com? You'll also be able to see more on podcast guests and what they're doing. Thanks to Justin great for providing the INTRO.