Brad Taylor’s latest Taskforce novel, No Fortunate Son, has the leads Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill kicked out of the secret military team, but called into action when several family members of government power players are kidnapped by a group with a mysterious agenda. Brad will be joining us again on January 7th at 7 pm and will be speaking and signing his new book. He was kind enough to answer a few questions ahead of time.
MysteryPeople: What made you decide to fire Pike and Cahill at the beginning of the story?
Brad Taylor: While the books are each stand-alone, they live in a universe I’ve created. Pike went a little nuts in Days of Rage, basically telling the Taskforce to screw off while he executed his own agenda. That agenda ended up saving a lot of lives, but in the real world, it would have repercussions. It would have been disingenuous of me to completely forget the actions in the previous book when starting this one. While the Taskforce and the Oversight Council are both fictitious, I’ve worked real world operations in this arena, and that activity would not go unchallenged. It seemed to be the natural evolution of what would happen.
MP: What kind of challenges did it present you as a writer?
BT: Honestly, not a whole lot. I just took what the “reality” was and worked it from there. It made writing a little difficult in places because I would have really liked to use some Taskforce assets, but I (Pike and Jennifer) didn’t have them, so I had to do a little extra research to figure out what they COULD use. It’s really nothing more than what happens in the real world. People see Hollywood movies and think Operators have this giant canvas of capability – and they do – but sometimes you work with nothing, wondering why someone didn’t think ahead.
MP: I really loved the banter between Cahill and Pike. Other than extra fire power, what does she provide for Pike in the books?
BT: Originally, she was Pike’s moral compass, because his was a little broken, but she (and he) are starting to grow beyond that now. I continually strive to show the evolution of the characters, and she’s definitely the one who changes in No Fortunate Son. It’s a little chauvinistic to say “what does she bring Pike in the books”, because – if anything – half the time she’s solving the problem all on her own. I sometimes get comments about how I’d created her for “the female reader”, and I always chuckle. Far from writing for a specific demographic, I had no idea I’d even be published. I just wrote what I thought I’d like to read, and Jennifer was in it from the start. My publisher calls the series “Pike Logan Thrillers”, but in my mind, it has always been Pike and Jennifer. Pike brings as much to her as she does to him.
MP: These are some of your best villains. How did they come about?
BT: The nugget for the manuscript actually came about because of the disappearance of Bowe Bergdahl. We’d been trying to recover him since 2009, putting in significant effort, and he was basically a nobody – with a serious cloud over his head as to why he’d gone missing. I’d wondered what would happen if someone connected to the political establishment had been taken. After all, a host of political elites have or had family in the military including our own vice president’s son, Senator John McCain’s son and Governor Nikki Haley’s husband. As a starting point, I wanted to move away from Islamic terrorism. I’ve studied the phenomena of terrorism for most of my adult life, and before the rise of al Qaida, ISIS, and others, there was the IRA. I decided to go that route for a change of venue. It took some work figuring out what they were doing in the modern landscape, but I think it was worth it.
MP: This book is probably my favorite of the series because the situation creates a grittier street level story reminiscent of a private eye novel. I know you’re a fan of crime novelists like Robert Crais. Would you like to try your hand at writing something more along those lines?
BT: You really hit the nail on the head. I love a good crime story, and I think that infuses my writing more than I care to admit. It’s just fun to read – and I’m a reader before I’m a writer. As for trying my hand more along those lines, I think that’s what I’m doing. Why can’t a counter-terrorism force do the same thing? They aren’t chasing a bank robber, but they ARE chasing a serial killer in the form of a terrorist. Truthfully, that’s exactly what they do anyway. A roadside bomb goes off, and four soldiers are killed. The pieces of the bomb are evacuated, and a signature is found from a specific bomb-maker. The explosives used have a signature that identifies where it came from. Special operations command uses all of this to target the bomb maker. It’s not a crime story with CSI from Miami, but it IS a crime story, and I enjoy writing it as such.
MP: As someone who spent much of his life in the military and now writes about it, what do you want your readers to take away about those in the service?
BT: I guess the biggest thing would be that they’re human, and have human emotions. Too often Special Forces guys are portrayed as robots, making decisions that are either always correct, or have no impact on the soldier. Combat is not a clean-cut thing, and the enemy gets a vote. Soldiers make decisions with the ultimate stake on the line – someone’s life – and they have to decide in the span of time it takes a rifle to cycle a round. Sometimes that decision is based on their own men’s survival, and sometimes it’s based on a perceived threat that may or may not be real, with a civilian’s life potentially in the balance. The decision is made, and there is an outcome. Unfortunately, it isn’t Hollywood. It’s real life, and sometimes that decision is wrong. The men and women in the arena have to live with that decision for the rest of their lives. It’s not a video game with a do-over, and I try to show that in my writing. Pike’s not perfect, and neither are the men he serves with, but they damn sure try to be. And that’s all we can ask of them.
Copies of No Fortunate Son are available on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Brad Taylor joins us Wednesday, January 7, at 7 pm, on BookPeople’s 2nd floor. If you can’t make it to the event, you can pre-order a signed copy of his latest – just go to the event page and we’ll tell you all about it.