Someone is assassinating CIA field officers and Jake Keller's name is next on the list in the latest thrilling novel from the author Publishers Weekly calls "a fresh voice in the crowded spy thriller field." Jake doesn't know who is trying to kill him and he doesn't know why. Still, it's a threat he can't ignore. When his small plane crashes in the Alps, Jake is the only survivor. A rescue helicopter soon arrives, but the men inside are not there to save anyone. They are determined to complete the murderous job they started. Jake escapes from the mountainside deathtrap, but it won't be the only attempt on his life. If he's to have any chance at surviving, he'll have to find out who's behind the killings. But the circle of people Jake can trust is distressingly small as he suspects that someone inside the Agency is feeding his every move to the very people who are trying to end his life. Jake's quest takes him to the candle-lit cathedrals of Paris and the rain-slicked streets of London. He makes contact with old friends and new enemies along the way—but his true nemesis may be closer than he imagines.
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.
1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.
1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger–and their true enemy–close
Interview with Author Kate Quinn
1. Was The Rose Code inspired by The Huntress, or The Alice Network?
Neither, really. Bletchley Park has been on my radar for a long time…about 4 years ago I saw an article about it and for some reason it sparked the notion of “Hmm, I wonder if I could set a novel there…”
- What inspired you to tell the story of three female code breakers of Bletchley Park?
Most of the books I’d read about BP were about the male codebreakers, yet women were by far the majority of the workforce by the end. I wanted to explore a story about the ladies instead!
- Does Osla, Mab, and Beth undergo a character arc?
They all do. Osla is struggling to prove herself as more than just a pretty debutante, and struggling to find a home and family–a place she belongs. Mab is struggling to find security, not just for herself but for her little sister. Beth is struggling to get out from behind her domineering mother’s shadow. By the end they’ve all found answers to these questions, though of course they’ve found more questions along the way!
- What makes them great codebreakers?
Beth–a cryptanalyst–has the kind of brain that sees and rearranges patterns, which is what makes her so good at wedging a foot in the door of seeming impenetrable code. Osla is fluent in German, which makes her a terrific translator of decoded Axis traffic. Mab has wonderful powers of concentration and attention to detail, which makes her great at operating and running the tricky bombe machines that help break ciphers.
- How much did you have to research codebreaking, or WWII Cryptography?
So much! I must have gone through hundreds of books, articles, Youtube videos, and more in the writing of this book–and I went to Bletchley Park as well. It’s a terrific historic site and visitors center now.
- What are some interesting facts about codebreaking that aren’t in the book?
Ian Fleming–creator of James Bond–was in and out of Bletchley Park, and I’d have loved to include him as a character, but there wasn’t room.
- If you had a choice to be Osla, Mab, or Beth, who would you be and why?
I’d love to have Beth’s brain. I don’t think I’d be a good cryptanalyst myself, so it would be wonderful to see it from her eyes.
- Do you speak German, or did you have to learn it for the book?
I speak opera German, which isn’t very useful for research! This book require much in foreign languages as far as research went, but when it did, I relied on online translation programs and some very helpful multi-lingual friends to aid in translating things.
- Are there any thematic elements of having three female protagonists?
They all experience different sides of what it is to be female in a workplace run by men. Overall Bletchley Park was a much more egalitarian environment–women found they were able to make their voices heard there in a way that didn’t happen as often in outside workplaces–but there were still difficulties.
- Are the three characters based upon real people or completely fictional?
Mab is fictional; Beth is a fictional composite of two real women who worked at Bletchley Park; Osla is a lightly fictionalized version of Osla Benning who was a Hut 4 translator and really did date Prince Philip through much of the war.
- I read that 75% of the codebreakers were women. Why was there such a large percentage of females?
Probably because so many men were joining the military and going off to fight–women were stepping into the shoes they left behind in the workplace.
- Is the title The Rose Code based upon real life events?
No, that’s my invention. Though there were ciphers at Bletchley Park named after birds, colors, animals…and even flowers!
- Author Fiona Davis Dubbed you “The reigning Queen of historical fiction.” What makes you so passionate about history?
My mother was a librarian and a history buff–her degree was in ancient & medieval history–so those were the stories I was hearing from a young age. The past always fascinated me, so that’s where I gravitated when it came time to tell stories of my own.
- Have you seen any good movies about the codebreakers?
The Imitation Game (Benedict Cumberbatch), Enigma (Kate Winslet, Dougray Scott, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and the Bletchley Circle TV series!
Jack Ryan, Jr., will do anything for a friend, but this favor will be paid for in blood in the latest electric entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.
Jack Ryan Jr would do anything for Ding Chavez. That’s why Jack is currently sitting in an open air market in Israel helping a CIA team with a simple job. The man running the mission, Peter Beltz, is an old friend from Ding’s army days. Ding hadn’t seen his friend since Peter’s transfer to the CIA eighteen months prior and intended to use the assignment to reconnect. Unfortunately, Ding had to cancel at the last minute and asked Jack to take his place. It’s a cushy assignment–an all expense paid trip to Israel in exchange for a couple hours of easy work, but Jack could use the downtime after his last operation.
Jack is here merely as an observer, but when he hastens to help a woman and her young son, he finds himself the target of trained killers. Alone and outgunned Jack will have to use all his skills to protect the life of the child.
A few quick questions with author Don Bentley
1. Did you name the book Target Acquired after you wrote it, or did you already have it in mind based off an idea beforehand?
Since it’s a Tom Clancy book and not my series, the publisher gave me a list of names they’d already preselected. I voted for Target Acquired and that’s what they went with.
2. I’ve heard you speak about the difference in writing the point of view for Jack Ryan Jr. vs. the Matt Drake series. How was it getting to know Jack Ryan Jr. as a character?
Getting to know Jack Jr. was a ton of fun. I tried to peel back his a character in a way that was new and maybe hadn’t been done quite the same way before. You’ll have to let me know how I did!
3. What do you love most about the Tom Clancy books?
I love how Tom introduced you to military tech in a way that made you feel as if you were strapped into the F-14 right beside the pilot. He truly was one of the greats, and I would have loved to have had the opportunity to meet him.
Luci de Foix is an archeologist and artifact expert who travels extensively to country’s attempt to save their priceless treasures. On a trip to Greece, she discovers a clay shard with writings from an ancient society that disappeared during an earthquake on their island of Helike. When her best friend and adopted sister, Sarah, is kidnapped by a ruthless Russian oligarch determined to find the legendary treasure of Helike, they struggle to survive against terrifying odds, only to discover a secret that governments will kill for…even her own.
Linda L. Kane
What was your path to becoming a writer?
As a kid, I grew up in Inglewood, California, my mom worked as a waitress, my dad had left and we were very poor, so poor that the leftovers from others at the restaurant were given to us for food. It was a nice restaurant so we really did get pretty terrific food. This left me with my mom gone, hours to write. I was left alone most nights and for me, writing became an escape. I could be anyone, a wealthy person, an artist, or an actress. It was all in my imagination and I had big dreams.
Who has informed your writing the most over the years?
As a child, I read everything that my school library had in biographies. Women that were courageous, women of science, women who made a difference in other’s lives.
Can you tell us a little about archeologist Luci De Foix?
Luci de Foix was placed in an orphanage after her parent’s death. Little did she know that there was a group of men, The Order, that had been watching her family for hundreds of years, waiting for the opportunity to acquire a very important codex.
What is the relationship like between Luci and Sarah?
Luci met Sarah at the orphanage, two lonely little girls who found one another, helped each other, protected one another. Luci’s grandparents who lived in France, finally found Luci and came to take her home. They saw the friendship between Luci and Sarah and didn’t want to tear them away from each other, after many months, Sarah was adopted and came to live with Luci and her grandparents
What are they up against in Death Is an Illusion?
Sarah became an expert in computer science and was on a scientific expedition in Greece where the group came across evidence of an island that had long been forgotten, Helike. Some of the people survived and made they’re way across oceans to South America carrying with them a very special plant that could heal the sick forever. Many people that were on that expedition told others, namely the Russians who were out to acquire that plant. Sarah flew home to have Luci come with her to Greece and read shards of pottery pinpointing the location of the lost tribe of the Helike’s.
What are some interesting facts you discovered in your research?
Something I discovered in a BBC magazine was that there was an island, Helike that was destroyed by a volcano and a tsunami. Aristotle believed that this was Atlantis. Something that all of us know is that there are many plants in S America with healing properties, the land is being destroyed by loggers and others. Soon there will be no plants to help us as a people.
Have you ever been to Greece?
I’ve never been to Greece, had a missed opportunity on a sailboat. Maybe one day, I’d like to see what they’ve found of Helike.
What’s next for you?
A continuation of the adventures of Luci de Foix. I wrote her first book, The Black Madonna: A Popes Deadly Obsession, and I would like her and her friends to find the book John Dees was writing about Angels. His delving into alchemy and gold. That should be a fun mix.
About L Lee Kane
An exquisitely written and nuanced biography of an exceptional individual and writer who has created the # 1 international bestselling hero Jack Reacher, revered by dedicated and loyal readers worldwide.
Lee Child has a great public persona: he is gracious and generous with readers and fans. But Jim Grant is a reticent and very private man.
This rags-to-riches literary and social biography is based principally on disarmingly frank personal conversations and correspondence with the author since 2016 and privileged access to archival materials. It consists almost entirely of original material, and is the nearest thing the world is likely to get to the autobiography he does not intend to write.
There are a handful of great Lee Child/Reacher stories that have been recycled over and over again. They are so good that no one has bothered to look beyond them. This book revisits (and sometimes revises) those irresistible stories, but goes back further and digs deeper. The emphasis on chronology, accuracy and specificity is unprecedented.
The Lee Child origin myth is much loved. But mostly it sees him springing fully formed from the brow of Granada Television. There are glancing references to Aston Villa and the schoolyard, but no one has examined the social and historical detail or looked closely at where Lee really came from: the people, places and period.
This is the first time someone has described the Lee Child arc: from peaceful obscurity in the Yorkshire Dales and Upstate New York to cult figure, no. 1 in America, rock star, celebrity and publishing institution through to backlash, the changing zeitgeist, and intimations of retirement. The analysis of the emotional power and significance of Lee’s work in the final chapters—the themes of happiness, addiction, dependency, loneliness, and existential absurdity—and the first-hand retrospective accounts of his life and second-act career are all exclusive to this definitive biography.
Mystery Thriller Week – Benjamin Thomas
Heather Martin – The Reacher Guy
- How did you develop a love for reading?
Family. I was lucky. I clearly remember my father reading aloud to me at bedtime: The Wind in the Willows, The Magic Pudding, The Way of the Whirlwind, the highly coloured bush poetry of Henry Lawson. He sang a lot of songs to me, too, which are little stories in themselves. His parents had a houseful of books, including all the popular series of the day: the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, My Naughty Little Sister, What Katy Did, Anne of Green Gables. I would sit on the floor with our dog, reading, or take a book and disappear up the mulberry tree. This was in West Australia, not England where I live now!
- What was your first impression of Lee Child after reading his books for the first time?
I had no impression of Lee Child after reading his books for the first time. I gave the writer no thought at all. It was Reacher who filled my mind. When I finished one Reacher book, all I thought about was where I was going to find the next one. Which Lee would entirely approve of. I only really started to think about the writer after I met the man. It was only then that my attention was drawn explicitly to the skill of his writing. But I suspect my willingness to submit to the power of the story without stopping to think where it came from (this despite my professional background in literary criticism) is itself testament to that skill. Very quickly, however, the writer became even more interesting to me than his creation – as the origin of Reacher, because he contained Reacher within him, but also in many ways exceeded him.
- What fascinates you about why people love telling and hearing stories?
I notice you’ve adopted Lee’s preferred terminology, of ‘telling’ and ‘hearing’, which emphasises the aural, which reminds us that in one form or other storytelling goes right back to the beginning of human history, back before the invention of writing. I find his view compelling: that stories were, and remain, important because they encourage, embolden and empower us, by allowing us to see the world in new ways and glimpse new possibilities – different plot lines and alternative endings, if you like. An effective story takes us out of ourselves for the duration of our reading – like a song does, but for longer – while also inviting an intense connection, through empathy or identification, with the characters, and beyond them, even if we don’t realise it, the writer. For better or worse, we escape our own lives and live instead in the world of the book.
- What do you appreciate about the way Lee Child tells a story?
Another big question! Presumably the fact that it feels like someone’s ‘telling’ me the story! What is commonly referred to as narrative ‘voice’. His voice has an effortless quality to it, which is down to his acute sense of rhythm and timing. But the appearance of effortlessness tends to be an effect of great artistry – the accomplishment of someone who is master of his craft. And mixed in with those musical qualities you have the sweeping historical vision, the unique mix of humour and pathos, and plenty of painterly and poetic touches too, especially in the depiction of weather and the evocation of landscape. I’m always surprised by the range and rhetoric of Lee’s discourse, and his idiosyncratic turn of phrase in both speech and writing. Contrary to popular opinion, I think his voice, while very distinctive, is almost impossible to imitate without lapsing into parody.
- What was your initial reaction when Lee Child asked you to write his biography?
It wasn’t really like that. He never outright asked me. It was more an agreement we reached over the course of a long conversation. Whenever we met, which at first was a purely social thing, he would tell me stories about his life growing up in the Midlands, which was very different to mine growing up on the west coast of Australia. It was the same when we corresponded. I loved those stories in miniature, that teased and tantalised and left me wanting more. I guess I was always asking questions, with one question leading inexorably to the next, a form of research that was entirely organic, but when the idea of a biography took hold it proved impossible to shake off. It felt to me like the book I was meant to write, and I think Lee, in his empathetic way, sensed that too. But to be given formal permission to go ahead? That was a thrilling moment, and that’s for damn sure!
- What was it like working with him?
Pure unalloyed pleasure. Because of the situation I’ve just described – the ongoing conversation. And we got to meet up in all sorts of places, many of them new to me. I’d try to catch him on the wing in the UK whenever I could, and then I had the great good fortune of spending a year in New York, which made it easier to fit in with his crazy schedule. It was there I did most of the writing, and had the chance to look through family photos, which was so illuminating. He was very generous with his time, and remarkably non-interventionist. Maybe I was just good at self-censorship, but despite this being an authorised biography there were very few things he asked me not to write. He never tried to tell me how to do things, but simply encouraged me to follow my own storytelling instinct. So yes, emboldening and empowering, without a doubt!
- What were some of the challenges of writing?
The biggest challenge was structure. I wanted to tell the story in a broadly chronological way (and I did), but there was no escaping Reacher from page one. It was immediately obvious that anyone reading the book would already know that Lee Child was the author of a bestselling series, so to wait until his thirty-ninth year before introducing Reacher would be absurd. Instead I found myself telling the stories of Lee Child, Jack Reacher and Jim Grant (who created them both) all at once. But I tried not to overthink it. I just let Reacher pop up where the narrative journey took him, as is the case in the novels. And I conceived of each chapter as a self-contained story, governed by a single moment or idea or image, which I think helps the reader too. It’s a big book, but that approach makes it easy to dip in and out. If you were to ask Lee the same question, he would say the biggest problem was that of memory – how individual it is, and how different people often have differing recollections of the same event.
- After writing his biography, how has your view of storytelling, the works of Lee Child, and his craft changed?
Though all the words remain exactly the same, his books resonate with me now on a more personal level. And even as he has so spectacularly escaped his origins, as was always his wish, I see that his loyalty to the Midlands remains as fierce as ever. We’ve had some fascinating conversations since The Reacher Guy was published at the end of September, mostly in the context of all the brilliant digital festivals we’ve done in lieu of our planned live events (postponed, circumstances permitting, to next year). Reading the story of his own life has given even Lee new perspective on it, and brought certain moments and experiences more sharply into focus. At the same time, we’ve both become more conscious of the overlap between fiction and creative non-fiction – two variations on the storytelling theme.
About Heather Martin
An insomnia pandemic is sweeping the globe, leaving people unable to function and society on the brink of collapse…
Dr. Cooper Delaney believes he has the answer: Noctural, a new sleep-aid—one with absolutely no side-effects—which in early testing shows 100% effectiveness.
The only problem is, it doesn’t work. With no warning. No explanation.
Unable to accept the drug’s inexplicable failure and unwilling to concede to the competition, lines are crossed, ethical boundaries are pushed to the breaking point, and disturbing realizations come to light that could completely unravel civilization as we know it… and throw into question humanity’s place in the universe.
A jetset medical thriller meets sci-fi adventure with an unforgettable cast of characters, Percivious Insomnia presents an alternate history so compelling that it could possibly be true. The first book in the Percivious Trilogy from husband-wife author duo JJ Cook & AJ Cook, MD, Percivious Insomnia sets a unique and original course for fiction of the future, and paints a timely, prescient portrait of today’s globalized society… and what may exist beyond the realm of our current understanding.
J.J. Cook & A.J. Cook
Behind the plot of Percivious Insomnia was a singular idea or more specifically a question. What would happen if someone or something could exploit your sleep hours for their own benefit? This question blossomed in a separate direction for each of us, likely from the beginning. For AJ Cook, the story was based in science fiction and for JJ Cook it involved exploring an idea never considered before and how it would impact people individually and society as a whole. In the first chapter the reader meets Dr. Cooper Delaney, a talented star at a leading pharmaceutical company. His place at the beginning of the novel is critical and his role is what fostered our first discussions about the storyline. What was at first a collection of ideas captured on paper, eventually became sentences, which were then fashioned into paragraphs, chapters and finally the novel itself.
Medical research is at the heart of the novel. AJ Cook’s expertise brought plausible medical science to life in what would otherwise be a story of strictly fiction. Both of us are life-long learners, always curious about the why behind the what, and the depth of the characters echoes this sentiment throughout this first book in the trilogy. Elements of science were added specifically to provide believable explanations for key elements such as the description of our ancient humanoid cousins as well as the plateau of our own evolution referred to as human pinnacle theory in the novel. As the story unfolded, the science gathered through our research continually lead and supported the story to the point where it became eerie as we found ourselves launching a novel about a pandemic in the midst of a real one.
Writing with a spouse, quite literally, is a double-edged sword; pushing for the very best from each other and simultaneously disagreeing about major facets of the plot certainly make for an interesting dialogue on many nights. What keeps us balanced is a genuine love for this story, the anticipation of where it will lead next and the exhilaration we both experience when making breakthroughs with the plot, the characters and the marriage of science and fiction. Nothing is more rewarding than creating paragraphs that scream to be believed despite not being true. Authoring something that could be possible is second only to writing those few sentences that refuse to be forgotten. The ones that stay in your head long after you have finished reading them, or writing them in our case. It is important to us both that we keep up the momentum in this next novel, the second in the trilogy, Percivious Origins. We want the reader to fall in love with a new cast of characters, a new setting and quite literally a new world that will be required to reach the depths of this story. The base line of the first novel was that question we mentioned – what if someone or something could exploit our sleep hours? In the second novel, the entire premise revolves around the exploitation of a prehistoric plant and how it changed the course history and the destiny of our ancient humanoid cousins. Percivious Origins will amplify our place within the environment and the importance of respect and stability between Homosapiens and nature.
The overarching theme of the trilogy remains intact, the definition of Percivious – the ultimate in altruism. Self-sacrifice in order to benefit others with no regard to reward or reciprocity. This is the soul of all three novels and is the true reason we as a couple are so dedicated and passionate about this adventure – about writing together. We quite literally could not have penned this novel without one another. Finishing each other’s thoughts and sentences have quite literally become, in our case – not only possible…but a dream come true.
Get ready for an event unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
All your favorite authors, one night, five-plus hours of LIVE streaming . . . and it’s all free!
Join us on November 3 for Night of a Thousand Authors, an evening of endless interviews and appearances from some of the biggest names on the thriller and mystery scene today. Co-hosting will be author K.J. Howe (ITW Executive Director) and The Real Book Spy’s Ryan Steck, with special help from The Crew Reviews‘ Michael Houtz, Sean Cameron, and Christopher Albanese.
David Brown, Deputy Director of Publicity at Atria Books and “driver” of the @AtriaMysteryBus twitter feed, has teamed up with the Executive Director of ITW and ThrillerFest, Kimberley Howe and influential book blogger Ryan “The Real Book Spy” Steck to create NIGHT OF A THOUSAND AUTHORS,election day counterprogramming for mystery, thriller and suspense fans to escape from the stress and anxiety of that day.
BEGINNING AT 3 PM ET ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3 — STREAMING LIVE BELOW
NIGHT OF A THOUSAND AUTHORS is being described as The Jerry Lewis Telethon meets Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with the biggest names in crime fiction and NO TALK OF POLITICS.
NIGHT OF A THOUSAND AUTHORS is a marathon of 10 minutes interviews hosted by Howe and Steck—the “special sauce” is that each author will share the first two minutes of their interview on the screen with the previous guest and the last two minutes of their interview with the next guest.
“How often do you get to see this many big name authors in one place over a short period of time?” Howe asked, “The magnitude of star power makes this program unique.”
“This is going to be wild!” Steck said, “Wall to wall and back to back, rapid fire interviews complete with potential odd pairings overlapping and doing it live? It can only go right!”
Bookstores, libraries and review websites will be contacted and encouraged to stream the program from their websites.
Jesse and Jonathan Kellerman
Rachel Howzell Hall
William Kent Krueger
Joel C. Rosenberg
Andrews & Wilson
Lisa Scottoline/Francesca Serritella
The star-studded event—which will live stream across a number of platforms—will serve as the show launch for THRILLER TALK, a brand new podcast from Howe and Steck, who’ve teamed up to bring fans of the genre a fresh, innovative new show that’ll cover the thriller genre in a way that’s unlike anything else available on the web.
Night of a Thousand Authors, produced by Jeff Ayers, will feature a pre and post-game show hosted by Mr. Atria Mystery Bus himself, David Brown. The full lineup of writers who’ll appear can be viewed below, though fans will have to tune in live on November 3 to find out more about author pairings and who will appear when.
While additional details (including more participating authors) will be made in the coming days, fans excited to tune in can now go “subscribe” to the THRILLER TALK YouTube channel here.
Interview with Paco Chierici author of Lions of the Sky
What motivated you to write a novel?
I have always aspired to write a novel, ever since I was a child. As a first timer I had a sense of how difficult it would be, and still I underestimated by a lot. Lions of the Sky was motivated by my desire to share the inherent drama of naval aviation while telling a thrilling story. It’s such a fantastic world, filled with wildly interesting people and daily craziness. And when you add the peril of actual military action to the mix, it elevates the stakes even further.
In learning how to write fiction what helped you the most?
I love reading fiction. I’m a voracious consumer of books. I took note of how my favorite authors crafted their stories and did my best to write with purpose. I love characters, so I took great care to create fully developed, real people who would react in a natural manner to the circumstances I threw them into. I also love the details of flying jets from aircraft carriers and wanted to share the intricacies with the reader in a manner that pulled them into the cockpit as a participant without overwhelming them with minutia. Lastly, I have always enjoyed explaining how the high level global maneuvering of governments affect the individuals at the pointy end of the spear. When you read the news about “The Chinese” aggressively building up their military presence in the South China Sea, and “The Americans” sending ships to sail through the islands asserting freedom of navigation, there are actual humans representing those nations who are put at risk. I tell stories where the global tensions build on a macro scale, but the reader gets to focus on how those tensions affect the individuals at the points of contact.
How did you come up with the title Lions of the Sky?
I must say that coming up with a good title was almost as challenging as writing the book itself. I was in the Blacklions squadron myself, so I am partial to that squadron name. My characters end up in the Blacklions as well, once the trials of their training are complete, and are then sent to face the threat in the South China Sea. I liked the simplicity and allusion of Lions of the Sky.
How competitive are fighter pilots?
The short answer is, massively competitive. Every aspect of being a fighter pilot is a competition. From the moment we decide we aspire to be fighter pilots we are put into a pool of applicants that far exceeds the number required. I don’t know the exact numbers, but say thousands per year for just a couple hundred slots at the far end of the funnel. Every academic test, every flight, every physical fitness test, every medical exam, is an opportunity to fail and be removed. Over the course of our 18 months of flight training we fly hundreds of flights, each graded. If one fails too many flights, you are washed out. Once we finish flight school and get to the Fleet the competition changes gears. Each aircraft carrier landing is graded and all the grades are posted in each squadron’s Ready Room for all to see.
It is such a competitive environment that when we dogfight against each other, before each flight we recite the Training Rules in an almost religious manner. They are strict guidelines designed to reign in our natural desire to win every fight so that we preserve a measure of safety while practicing aerial combat.
So yes, fighter pilots are extremely competitive.
As the instructor what role does Sam Richardson play in shaping the younger pilots?
Sam’s role is to make sure that the students he greets at their arrival to the F/A-18 training squadron are transformed from excited young bucks eager to play with their new toy into men and women who are prepared to go into combat the day after they graduate nine months later. He sets the tone with his example and experience but he’s also approachable in that he’s only four years older than his students.
What drives Keely Silvers to achieve her lifelong dream?
Keely is driven by the belief that the cockpit of a fighter is absolutely where she belongs. She is surprised at first that there would be any opposition to her becoming a fighter pilot based on her gender, then annoyed, then angry at constantly having to defend herself. Her crisis of confidence is especially powerful because it seems to validate the external beliefs she has been battling. And its resolution is particularly poignant as well, not to give away too much.
Does Lions of the Sky employ any themes?
Lions explores a number of classic themes including love, war, death, survival, prejudice, and in a manner particular to being a fighter pilot, coming of age.
Who are your favorite authors?
My current favorites are Daniel Silva (Gabriel Allon series) and Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch series). They both write character-centric thrillers and are masters at building tension while still writing beautifully. I aspire to their level of craftsmanship.
I have always loved Hemingway, Le Carré, and Elmore Leonard for much the same reason. They have the ability to tell beautiful stories that have a tremendous amount of tension and fantastic, rich characters.
Are you excited about the new Top Gun movie?
I am. The first was such a cultural event that has had amazing staying power. I have some friends still in the Navy that worked on the new film as liaisons and they assure me it’s going to be a good movie. I’m hopeful that the new movie will be just as fun and fix some of the cheesier parts.
What’s next for you?
I’m four chapters into the sequel to Lions, titled The Dragon. We join Slammer Richardson on his next adventure, which is completely different from Lions. It’s Slammer, this time, who is in crisis. Shot down, stuck behind enemy lines, rescued and captured. He’s got to find a way to make it back to the carrier so he can save the woman who helped him and stop an imminent war based on false pretenses.
In the world of fighter pilots, the most alpha of the alpha, competition is everything and the stakes are impossibly high. A Top Gun for the new millennium, LIONS OF THE SKY propels us into a realm in which friendship, loyalty, and skill are tested, battles won and lost in an instant, and lives irrevocably changed in the time it takes to plug in your afterburners.
About the Author
During his active duty career in the U.S. Navy, Francesco “Paco” Chierici flew A-6E Intruders and F-14A Tomcats, deployed to conflict zones from Somalia to Iraq and was stationed aboard carriers including the USS Ranger, Nimitz and Kitty Hawk. Unable to give up dogfighting, he flew the F-5 Tiger II for a further ten years as a Bandit. Throughout his military career, Paco accumulated 3,000 tactical hours, 400 carrier landings, a Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Star and three Strike/Flight Air Medals.
Prior to writing Lions in the Sky, Paco published extensively in Aviation Classics Magazine, AOPA Magazine, and Fighter Sweep, as well as creating and producing the award winning naval aviation documentary Speed and Angels.
Currently a 737 captain, Paco can often be found in the skies above California flying a Yak-50 with a group of likeminded G-hounds to get his dogfighting fix. A graduate of Boston University, Paco lives in Northern California with his wife Hillary, and two children.
Jonathan Quinn is the best at what he does: making bodies disappear. Within the espionage world, his reputation is impeccable.
There was a time, though, when that reputation was still being built under his mentor, Durrie. A time when the very man who had taught Quinn all he knew could have derailed the young cleaner’s future.
Fifteen years ago, Quinn was offered a job. On the surface, a straightforward mission to stop a terrorist. But the client gave Quinn the additional task of taking on Durrie as his number two, as a last chance for the veteran agent to be rehabilitated.
Durrie had been on a downward spiral, going from being a highly respected operative to an unreliable has-been. These changes threatened to destroy everything—not only in Quinn’s life, but Orlando’s, too. She was Durrie’s girlfriend, and Quinn’s best friend.
Both she and Quinn were desperate to help Durrie return to the person he once was.
They hoped this job would be the answer.
Discuss the evolution of freelance operative and professional “cleaner,” Jonathan Quinn.
When Quinn shows up in The Cleaner, the first book of the series, he’s been in the business for, I think, just under fifteen years. His first five years were spent as an apprentice, then, after being on his own, he becomes one of the best body removal specialist in the espionage world. To be clear, he’s not an assassin, though if he needs to act, he will. He’s the guy you hire to “clean” the scene of an operation so that it looks like nothing happened. This includes making whatever bodies have been left behind disappear forever. With the exception of his apprentice, Nate, from the first time we see Quinn, he’s basically a loner. But, over the course of the series (twelve novels, several short stories and a novella, so far), he reunites with Orlando, the woman he has secretly loved for years. With her and Nate, they become a team that only gets better and better at what they do.
How did the relationship between Quinn and Orlando originate?
Quinn and Orlando started off as apprentices at the same time, for mentors where friends. So, they often worked together. Quinn found himself drawn to her from the very start. But his mentor, Durrie, made the first move, beginning a relationship with Orlando that left Quinn out in the cold. Five years later, after a tragedy that threatened to divide Quinn and Orlando forever, Quinn has little choice but to go to her for help. From that moment, their relationship begins to mend until it becomes something even more than Quinn could have ever hoped.
Who are the members of Quinn’s team?
Orlando, of course, who is both a badass in the field and pretty handy with computers. Nate, who is Quinn’s apprentice in the first several books, and partner in those that come after. Daeng, a former Thai monk who is pretty chill even in highly stressful situations. And, most recently, Jar, (my current favorite character) a young Thai woman who is on the autism spectrum, and is even better at all things cyber than Orlando. She’s also getting better at working in the field, too. There are other operatives who make occasional appearances, but these are the core members of the team.
Discuss the development of the series featuring Nate in Night Man.
It wasn’t too long into the Quinn series that I began to think about featuring his apprentice Nate in his own stories. The problem was coming up with an angle that would set his books apart from Quinn’s. A few novels ago, an event happened in the Quinn novels that opened up an avenue I hadn’t even considered before. And from that came Night Man. I’ve also been able to set up up so that these “personal missions” of Nates come between jobs he does with Quinn, allowing him to continue on in the Quinn books, too. I’d tell you more but, you know…spoilers.
Did anything stand out in your writing process during Night Man?
A few things. The Night Man books—well, book at the moment—will all be more crime based thrillers as opposed to spy thrillers like Quinn. This have given me a whole new area to dive into, which is exciting. I love that Nate is driven to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves by…let’s just call it…a voice in his head that he can’t say no to. The stories are also told in first person by Nate, which is different than the Quinn books, too. I absolutely love writing in first person. Finally, Night Man was a blast to write. I’m not saying my other novels weren’t fun, too. It’s just that Night Man was enjoyable from beginning to end.
“Stay faithful to the stories in your head” – Paula Hawkins
In addition to the recently released NIGHT MAN, Battles has just published THE DAMAGED, another novel in his Jonathan Quinn spy thriller series. This time the story takes place fifteen years ago, when Quinn was still establishing himself as a cleaner—the person who makes bodies disappear—and centers around his deteriorating relationship with his mentor, who may or may not be going mad. A dangerous thing in a world full of guns and secrets and death.
Brett Battles is a Barry Award-winning author of over thirty novels, including Rewinder, the Jonathan Quinn series, the Logan Harper series, and the Project Eden series. He’s also the coauthor, with Robert Gregory Browne, of the Alexandra Poe series. You can learn more at his website: