Wednesday, Jan 15 at 7PM we will be hosting Brad Taylor to discuss and sign his latest, The Polaris Protocal, a thriller dealing with a plot to shut down the GPS system. We talked to Brad about the premise of his latest book and about the popular series in general.
MYSTERYPEOPLE: The main threat from the bad guys in this book concerns the GPS system. How likely is it that something like that could happen?
BRAD TAYLOR: Having had the honor of being allowed on the floor of the control center for the GPS constellation at Schriever Air Force Base, my initial answer is “very little chance.” Access to the GPS constellation is one of the most secure areas I have ever seen, and I’ve accessed some pretty secure areas. Having said that, I’ve also done business inside the NSA – which is locked up pretty tight – and yet that traitor Edward Snowden managed to walk off with our entire playbook. At the end of the day, trust is the cornerstone of any organization, and it scares me that we have people like Snowden within our intelligence architecture who believe more in their own innate sense of right and wrong and are willing to ignore the damage to national security for their own personal vendetta. Long-winded answer, but no, given what I saw, the GPS architecture is very secure. On the other hand, that’s exactly what the NSA said a year ago. All it would take is one jerk like my character, Arthur Booth, to cause chaos.
MP: What’s the key to writing a good action sequence?
BT: For me, it’s the reader’s ability to visualize what is happening seamlessly. That’s it. Am I conveying the words in such a way that the scene is flowing across the reader’s brain, to include the emotional impact that it deserves, without bogging the reader down with needless details that cause a blip in the enjoyment? That would seem to be easy. But in truth, when you’ve got five bad guys and five good guys, it’s hard to do. Everyone needs to be actively engaged, and everyone needs to act in a manner that is commensurate with what that character would do in a particular situation. All too often I write a scene and really like the emotional impact. Then, upon reading it a week later, I think, “Why on earth would he do that? No way would I do that. I’d grab weapon X and start shooting target Y.” I then enter into the re-write trying to get it right.
MP: You use a lot of movie references in your books. Are you influenced by filmmakers as much as novelists?
BT: Okay. Hidden secret: I am influenced by movies, though not as much as I am by books. Reading is my first pleasure. But the fact remains that we live in a visual world. Not a day goes by where I’m talking about my books when someone asks, “When’s it going to be a movie?”, as if that were my goal. I don’t write anything because I want to see it on film. I do use movies as reference because I’m more certain the reader will relate to it. But it’s not an absolute.
I just used a reference to Gollum from The Hobbit in my forthcoming book (available in July), Days of Rage; and I’m sure someone will think I’m talking about the movie, but I haven’t even seen it. At the end of the day, though, I love a good movie as much as a good book, and there are certain scenes that just stick with me. In fact, The Princess Bride has become a reoccurring reference in my books precisely because I’ve always loved that movie. I have an Easter egg from it in every single manuscript since All Necessary Force, including The Polaris Protocol. In the past, it was obvious. Now it’s a little harder to discern, but it’s there. Beyond that, though, some movie scenes are just really, really good. Clint Eastwood as Josey Wales, “Dying ain’t much of a living,” or William Munny, “We all got it coming kid.” They evoke the same emotion as the written word, and have influenced me the same way.
MP: As a writer, what makes Pike and the rest of the team worth returning to?
BT: For me, it’s the characters. The action scenes are fun to write, but it’s the impact and affect on the world I’ve created that matters. Coming back to watch Pike and Jennifer grow, along with how the bureaucracy evolves around the Taskforce—which provides it’s own challenges in keeping current—are what bring me back. Life marches on in my real world, with my family and my previous military career, so it’s fun figuring out where my characters’ lives will go. I’m sure it’ll get harder and harder, but that’s why I like coming back.
MysteryPeople Presents Brad Taylor here on Wednesday, Jan 15 at 7PM. If you can’t make it to the event, we’re currently taking orders for signed copies of The Polaris Protocol via our website. We ship worldwide.