Kyle Mills: Researching Lethal Agent


Research is one of my favorite things about being an author, but sometimes it can become terrifying and overwhelming. This year, my latest novel, Lethal Agent, has immersed me in the world of viruses and pandemics. Expertise in this arena can be a bad thing—I now have way too much knowledge about how devastating a bioweapon could be.

I’ve been thinking about biological attacks since the 2003 SARS outbreak. My wife and I were embarking on an around-the-world trip at that time and I still remember brushing off our families’ demands that we cancel our trip. I felt a moment of regret when Singapore airport security tested us for fever, but we made it through without being quarantined. In the end, that trip produced nothing more dangerous than a bit of stomach upset from a sketchy zebra steak in Namibia.

Disease Reshapes The World
The truth is that nothing in history—advancing technology, war, civil uprisings—has matched the sheer impact of disease. Plague wiped out nearly a third of 14th century Europeans, with casualties reaching as high as eighty percent in parts of southern France and Spain. It’s hard to fully grasp how much this changed the known world. To this day, we can see the effects of plague on politics, religion, art, and literature. Humanity’s relationship with death and its outlook on life were fundamentally transformed.

The Spanish flu, which broke out around the end of World War I, killed about thirty million people worldwide. Extrapolated to the present day population, that disease would have taken the lives of 150 million.

Again, it’s hard for a citizen of the 21st century to imagine the scale of this pandemic. Surgical masks were worn in public. Stores were prohibited from having sales to prevent people from gathering in confined spaces. Some cities demanded that passengers’ health be certified before they boarded trains.

How bad was it? Bad enough for children to invent a nursery rhyme. Here’s what kids skipped rope to in 1918:

I had a little bird,

Its name was Enza.

I opened the window,

And in-flu-enza.

Pandemic In Modern Society
If a similar pandemic broke out in modern society the toll would be unimaginable. We live in an interconnected, heavily populated world. A disease that starts in Asia could be in the US, Europe, and Africa in a matter of hours. Medical services would be overwhelmed. International—and even interstate—commerce would stall as authorities tried to slow the spread of the disease. The machines that make our society possible—from food production and delivery to power generation and sanitation would break down as critical workers were incapacitated or died off. Bodies would go unburied and people would flee the cities. World economies would collapse.

But how likely is another pandemic similar to the ones of the past? Unfortunately, almost inevitable. Humans continue to move into unfamiliar habitat, bringing us into contact with animals and germs we haven’t encountered before. The massive demand for meat puts us in close proximity to livestock including pigs and birds suffering from infections that can jump species. The former scenario is probably the story of AIDS—a disease that started in chimpanzees and crossed over to humans. If that virus’s genetic code had been a bit different and it had gone airborne, today’s world would be very different place.

Bioweapons Aren’t Complicated
Finally, there’s my wheelhouse—terrorism. People tend to think of bioweapons as being engineered in some complex way, but it doesn’t have to be so. Lethal Agent is based on the terrifyingly plausible scenario that a SARS-like virus breaks out in Yemen. With no medical infrastructure to speak of and a war that prevents organized intervention like we saw in 2003, the disease is left to incubate in remote villages.

But how would someone weaponize it? Much has been written about crop dusters and other elaborate delivery strategies. But in reality none are necessary. Just smuggle a handful of sick people into a developed country. There you could have them loiter in airports, go to nightclubs, or get jobs in food service. The structure of modern society would do the rest.

These days, every time someone sneezes near me I think about 14th century Europe or the closing years of World War I. And, as usual, my newfound paranoia will haunt me until I replace it with the scenario for my next book…

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

Kyle Mills: On The Road Again - Seeing Old Friends and Meeting New Ones


It’s hard to believe that this will be my fifth Mitch Rapp tour, this time to promote Lethal Agent. Starting September 24th, I’ll be catching up with readers in Minneapolis, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Hilton Head, and Cranston, Rhode Island. Here are the details of my schedule.

In my early writing days, an upcoming book tour would weigh on my mind for months. I dreaded going to places where no one knew me and I felt like I didn’t belong up there on stage (more about imposter syndrome in this interview). These days, I look forward to book tours. Why? Lots of reasons, actually…

Fans Have Interesting Comments

I’m curious to hear readers’ reactions to my books. Fans of the series have an incredibly deep knowledge of the Mitch Rapp universe and I always end my tour with observations and perspectives to ponder while writing my next book.

Even more fun is connecting with readers who are just discovering Mitch Rapp. As longtime fans know, it’s impossible to recapture that sense of wonder you had when you first met the character. It always makes me wish I could forget everything about the series and pick it up again for the first time.

Bookstores Are Magical

I have always loved bookstores. There’s nothing quite like browsing through thousands of titles, oblivious to the hours slipping by. While virtual bookstores are certainly convenient and their inventory is huge, the comforting ambiance and in-depth knowledge you get in a brick-and-mortar bookstore simply can’t be replicated. Plus, it gives readers and writers a chance to interact face to face—something that’s difficult to replicate online.

It’s important to me to know that people are passionate about my books. Writing can be a pretty solitary pursuit and this is the one time of the year I get to see readers actually flipping through the pages I’ve spent a year sweating over.

It’s also the time I get together with the friends I’ve made over the years—fans of Vince’s and of mine, experts in various disciplines who have helped me along the way, booksellers, and fellow authors. It’s always a pleasure to get out from behind the computer screen and in front of the people who make all this worthwhile.

Thanks For Your Support

A big thanks to everyone who makes the effort to come and chat with me when I’m on the road. It’s your kindness and enthusiasm that keeps me—and Mitch—going.

See you in September!

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

Kyle Mills: Remembering Vince Flynn (4/6/66 to 6/19/13)


It’s hard to believe that the sixth anniversary of Vince Flynn’s passing happened this month. The hole his death left in the hearts of his friends, family, and readers is something that’s often in the back of my mind when I write.

As June 19 approached and I started working on my sixth book in the Rapp series, I found myself thinking about Vince’s impact on the contemporary thriller genre. And, of course, what I’ve learned from him.

Taking It Mainstream
Vince and I both published our debut novels—Term Limits and Rising Phoenix—in the late 1990s. At that time, the Internet barely existed, social media was years off, and the impact of the 24-hour news cycle was fairly muted. Commentary on the state of the world was largely disseminated the old-fashioned way—evening news programs, print, and radio. Major changes were on the horizon, though, and Vince seemed to understand that before many of the rest of us.

Vince wasn’t the first novelist to have the media look to him for analysis of the subjects he wrote about. Tom Clancy is a classic example of how a fiction writer can become a legitimate expert with a mountain of research and the right contacts. Vince, though, made it all seem so easy—his natural charisma and strongly held beliefs captivated audiences in a way that even Clancy couldn’t. He got readers thinking of thriller writers as something more than people squirreled away in their basements hammering on keyboards.

Recurring Characters Are Important
Building a series around a single character is hard. Really hard. You have to figure out a way to bring new readers up to speed while not boring fans with endless historical recaps. You have to create a long arc out of that character’s life, making him or her evolve in a realistic way. And you have to find an endless stream of trouble for them to get into. At the start of my career I wrote five novels about an FBI agent named Mark Beamon (books 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). After a while, though, I figured my readers must be getting tired of him and moved on.

What I’ve come to realize is that while I spent every day with Mark, my readers had a very different experience. For them, he was an old friend they only saw once a year when a book came out. It still surprises me how much email I get about that unconventional FBI man—even more than a decade after his last appearance in a book.

I think Vince had a much better feel for the relationship between character and reader than I did at that time. He was willing to not only continue writing about Mitch, but also to go back and fill in his early years. That’s not something I’d even considered before sitting down and really studying the universe he created. In the end, it was kind of an obvious eureka moment. I realized that I had never gotten tired of reading about my favorite series characters. Why would anyone else?

You Can’t Have Too Many Friends
My fondest memory of my involvement in the series was sitting in the packed auditorium of Vince’s high school during the release of The Survivor. He tended to name his characters after people he knew and many stood up to discuss their namesake and often described how that character had died horribly at the hands of Mitch Rapp. I still laugh when I think about those stories, but what I remember most is the size of the crowd. The number of lives Vince touched is mind-boggling.

So let’s raise a glass to Vince and once again thank him for everything he’s given us.

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

Kyle Mills: Don’t Ignore Characters When They Speak To You


The life of a novelist can be a little strange. We spend our days in a fantasy world of our own making, adopting alternate personas, talking with people who don’t exist, and spinning endless “what if” scenarios.

In order to write from the point of view of any given character, I have to employ a bit of applied schizophrenia and become that character. If his or her personality is a lot like mine, it’s fairly easy. But if it’s very different, making the jump into their mind can be a challenge.

When I wrote Burn Factor, I had to write from the point of view of a sadistic serial killer protected by the government. It’d take me a half an hour of walking around my office to get into his head and then another few hours at the end of the day to get back out of it. Not surprisingly, Burn Factor wasn’t just the first serial killer book I ever wrote, it was the last. Spending an entire year inhabiting a psychopath was a truly awful experience.

One of the most interesting aspects of characters becoming real to me is that they can be harder to control. Sometimes they absolutely refuse to follow my carefully crafted outlines. Mitch Rapp has been particularly rebellious, though I’m not sure why. Maybe because he’s Vince’s creation and not mine? Whatever it is, he has a way of surprising me.

Lethal Agent

In the upcoming book Scott Coleman asks Mitch to handle a celebrity security detail for him. Obviously, this is not the type of gig our favorite CIA assassin would normally take on. In my outline I had him refusing the job.

Then, as I was writing the scene, I got to the moment of his refusal and Mitch fell silent. Instead, he became focused on the fact that Coleman had always been there for him—even when the job description included the phrase “and then we’ll probably all die.” It turns out that Rapp’s distaste for that kind of a job is eclipsed by his sense of loyalty. Suddenly, I found myself trying to figure out how the most dangerous man in the world would get on babysitting a singer and his supermodel girlfriend.

Not so well, as it turns out.

Red War

There’s a scene in Red War where Rapp finds a bunch of Russian soldiers at a house in Latvia. They’ve already killed one of the owners and it looks like they’re going to kill his wife. In the outline, Mitch walked away from the situation. It was just another example of the horrors of war, and getting involved had the potential to derail his mission.

In the end, though, he couldn’t do it. Maybe because one of the kids in jeopardy was around Anna’s age? I’m not sure. What I do know is that the Russians take a beating and Mitch finishes the day with a Latvian family unexpectedly in tow. Not ideal in light of the attack choppers bearing down on his position.

Order to Kill

At one point in  Order to Kill, Mitch finds himself in an unfamiliar position—a no-win situation. It involves a young woman named Laleh living in an ISIS-controlled city in Iraq. The situation is desperate and Mitch is racking his brain for a way to save her.

In the midst of all that, they ended up sleeping together. Despite all the work I’d done pondering and outlining that scene, I never saw it coming. One minute their relationship was all business and the next they were in bed.

That one still surprises me. And it still haunts Mitch. This was perhaps the most visceral moment of helplessness in his long career. In a way, Laleh has come to represent all the innocent people he hasn’t been able to save over the years.

 A little crazy? Probably. But it works for me…     

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

Kyle Mills: The Story Behind Lethal Agent


In the last Rapp thriller, Red War, I wanted to plunge Mitch into a much larger scale threat than he’d faced before. Russia was perfect for that. He doesn’t speak the language, he’s never operated extensively there, and being a lone man with a Glock can be pretty uncomfortable when the ICBMs start flying.   

After spending a year pushing Vince’s style about as far as it could go into geopolitics, I was in the mood to narrow my focus. With Lethal Agent, I wanted to create something that felt like old-school Flynn—a book about Mitch kicking terrorist ass while corrupt forces in Washington try to take him down. 

Of course, I couldn’t make it too easy on everyone’s favorite CIA assassin. I set much of the book in Mexico and pitched him against a threat that a lot of fans have been asking for—bioweapons. Once again, he finds himself in an unfamiliar operating theater with a problem that can’t necessarily be solved with a few rounds from his infamous Glock. 

And it wasn’t just Mitch who was facing new and difficult challenges. I was too.

While the sleazy politician is a recurring character in Vince’s books, the world of politics has changed significantly since his death. Partisanship has become so powerful that the definitions of good and evil have become increasingly malleable. Everything and everyone are seen through the thick lens of party affiliation. 

This made creating a fictionalized, nonpartisan political villain much more challenging than I expected. My old mantra “how would Vince have done it?” doesn’t help much on this subject. He, like the rest of us, had no way of anticipating the toxic politics of 2019.   

In the end, though, I love the way the book turned out. The politician character is an homage to great past characters like Hank Clark or Carl Ferris. And the ISIS leader is intended to take readers back to terrorist masterminds like Rafique Aziz. All while throwing in a few twists and putting things in the current context… 

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

Behind The Scenes: Exploring Yemen for Lethal Agent


Typically, I try to spend time in the countries I write about, preferring to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a place before sitting down at my computer. This time, though, my research for Lethal Agent—book #18 in the Mitch Rapp series—would have taken me to Yemen. It’s just the type of place I’d normally love to visit. Despite being one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, it has stunning landscapes, a fascinating culture, and some of the most beautiful stone villages on the planet.

Unfortunately, Yemen isn’t an ideal destination right now. It’s in the midst of a civil crisis that has drawn in Saudi Arabia and Iran, spreading famine and disease throughout the country.

Because I couldn’t do an exploratory trip, I resorted to poring over news reports, historical narratives, photos, and recordings. Not the same as experiencing the place firsthand, but combined with my experience traveling and living in places like Turkey, Israel, and Africa, it worked.

In the end, though, all this research left me wanting more: I still hadn’t experienced the taste and scent of life in Yemen. I needed to add a basic understanding of Yemeni cuisine to my arsenal, particularly since Mitch spends some time in his friend’s restaurant there. Because I couldn’t sit down at a table in Al Hudaydah myself, I decided to try out a couple of traditional recipes in my own kitchen. Not surprisingly, they’re delicious.

The following soup is my favorite and, along with way too much coffee, it fuels Mitch for a few chapters. Give it a shot yourself while you wait for the release of Lethal Agent!

My version of marak temani, a traditional Yemeni dish.

My version of marak temani, a traditional Yemeni dish.

MaRAPP Temani

* Known as marak temani to everyone else. Adapted from the 196 Flavors blog.


2 lbs lamb, trimmed of fat and cut into large cubes, keep bones

4 tablespoons hawaij (spice blend, recipe below)

Olive oil for browning the lamb

2 onions, diced

4 cloves garlic, diced

3-4 tomatoes

1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Beef stock to cover meat and potatoes

3-4 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

Hawaij Spice Blend

2.5 tablespoons coriander seeds

2.5 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 tablespoon black peppercorns or use coarse ground pepper, approximately 1.5 tsp

1 tablespoon cardamom seeds

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon nutmeg (ground)

1 tablespoon turmeric (ground)


*I used a pressure cooker but you could easily make this in a Dutch oven.

Sprinkle the lamb with the spice mixture (hawaij). Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot on medium heat and add a portion of the lamb chunks to the hot oil. Periodically turn the lamb so it cooks on a few sides and develops a nice brown exterior. Continue with the remaining lamb, then set the meat aside. If you crowd the meat in the pot, it will steam and won’t brown properly.

Add more olive oil to the pot and sauté the chopped onions and garlic over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Stir often and scrape up bits from the bottom of the pot so they don’t burn.

Add the browned lamb, several lamb bones, and the cilantro to the pot. Cut a large X into each tomato and add them to the pot as well. Pour in enough beef stock to cover everything completely, including the potatoes that you’ll be adding later.

If you’re using a pressure cooker, cook the meat for approximately 30-45 minutes. I usually check the meat after that time to make sure it’s tender. If not, I fire up the pot for a little longer. You can also simmer the lamb for approximately 2.5 hours in a Dutch oven or until it’s tender.

When the lamb is nearly done, add the chunks of potatoes. If you’re using a pressure cooker, you’ll need to cook the soup for an additional 15 minutes or so. If you’re simmering in a Dutch oven, check the potatoes periodically until they’re cooked the way you like them.

Once it’s done, remove any large pieces of tomato skin that didn’t break down and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

To serve, scoop the lamb, potatoes, and broth into warm bowls. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro. If you’d like a little heat, harissa (a fiery condiment you can buy or make) can be swirled into the broth. A flat bread, like pita, and tomato slices drizzled with peppery olive oil and sea salt make nice companions for this dish.

Hawaij Spice Blend

Put the whole spices as well as the ground spices together in a heavy skillet and toast the mixture for a few minutes. Be careful not to cook it too long or too hot. Spices burn quickly.

I grind the mixture in a small food processor and then remove any hulls from the cardamom seeds that didn’t break down. A mortar and pestle will work just as well for grinding all the spices together.

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

Kyle Mills: Stranger Than Fiction 2019 - Predictions Part 2


Predictions Part 2

This month, I’m back with the second installment of Stranger Than Fiction 2019—my annual review of what’s happening in the news and how closely it tracks scenarios I’ve predicted in my novels. If you missed Part 1, check it out and see how recent Russian actions feel eerily similar to the plot of my latest book, Red War.

Enemy of the State

When I wrote last year’s Enemy of the State, I decided to tap into Vince’s longtime disdain for Saudi Arabia. If you’ve read the entire Rapp series, you know that the kingdom’s bad behavior is a recurring theme.

The general premise of the book was that high-level members of the Saudi government were involved in 9/11 and that the American government swept it under the rug to keep the oil flowing. Right after publication, allegations surfaced that Saudi Arabia’s US Embassy had funded a dry run for the 9/11 attacks.

The novel’s antagonist also seems to have gained a real-world counterpart. In the story, the head of Saudi Intelligence intends to lead a coup, eliminate his enemies, and consolidate his power. Shortly before publication, Mohammed bin Salman rose to power in Saudi Arabia and took a few pages out of my character’s playbook. He began restricting the influence of religious leaders, imprisoning his rivals, and killing his critics.

On a less gloomy note, after the release of Enemy of the State, I came across this stealthy motorcycle created by DARPA. Mitch rode something similar to sneak up on ISIS leadership. DARPA says that the bike is about as quiet as an indoor conversation.

The Utopia Experiment

One of the most sinister things I’ve read this past year is the way China has begun tracking its people and grading their value as citizens. The government isn’t just looking at obvious crimes like tax evasion, but also infractions as innocuous as smoking in nonsmoking areas. Someone who is deemed undesirable can be restricted from things like buying plane tickets, taking out bank loans, and getting government jobs. 

This social scoring system looks incredibly similar to one I devised for my 2013 book The Utopia Experiment. My version was an augmented reality system that captured data about people and used it to score their value as human beings. What do they do for a living? Do they have a good credit rating? Give to charity? Have a criminal record? And since I write thrillers, of course all that data got into the wrong hands.

Darkness Falls

One of my favorite books to write was Darkness Falls, a story about the end of the world’s oil supply and the devastating effect of that loss. I did a lot of research on potential biological threats to the oil supply as well as what it would mean to lose such a critical commodity. Oil isn’t just power. It’s plastic. It’s lubrication for machinery. It’s pharmaceuticals. The list goes on and on.    

Earlier this year, I came across the accidental discovery of an enzyme that eats plastic bottles. It felt like something from my book and reminded me how fascinating science can be.

What’s Next?

It’s a question that never stops bouncing around in my head. I look forward to the end of 2019 to see what I got right and, sometimes just as interesting, what I got wrong.

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

Kyle Mills: Stranger Than Fiction 2019


Predictions Part 1

It’s a new year and that means I’ve been at my desk poring over 2018’s events to see how well I did at anticipating—and maybe even predicting—the things playing out in the news. The past year didn’t disappoint as technology moved forward and some shady world leaders returned to their old tricks. As always, there were days that the newspapers felt like the ultimate thriller novel. 


I grew up on Cold War thrillers and with Russia reemerging on the world stage, it was time for Mitch Rapp to turn his attention toward America’s age-old nemesis.

I stuck pretty close to reality when creating a scenario for the book. The Russian people admire strong leaders and Vladimir Putin is a prodigy at projecting that strength. With an economy similar to that of Texas, he consistently succeeds at staring down the world’s superpowers. And every time we blink, he gets a boost at home and knows he can push a little further. 

In my scenario, he attacks NATO at the poorly defended borders of the Baltic States. How close was my story to what’s happening today?


Most people don’t know it, but Russia has an enclave on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania. It would be critical to an invasion of the Baltic States as it’s on the southern border.   

This past summer, aerial images suggested that Russia was modernizing a nuclear weapons bunker there. By fall, a commercial satellite firm confirmed that there was work happening in four areas.


Shortly after the release of Red War, Russia started flexing its muscle again with Ukraine, blocking shipping lanes and seizing ships. A similar tactic was used in my book by the Russian president to prop up his support at home and to divert the West’s attention when he moved on the Baltics. Fortunately for the world, the second part of my prediction didn’t materialize.

The Russian Navy

It’s really impressive that Russia continues to convince everyone that they have a world-class military. Their budget is less than that of Saudi Arabia’s and about one tenth of what the US spends.

In Red War, Mitch Rapp comments on this disconnect, mentioning the sad state of Russia’s Navy. A little over a month after the book was released, an icebreaker the Russians have been trying to get out to sea since 2012 burst into flames. And that comes on the heels of their biggest dry dock sinking while they were working on their only aircraft carrier.

Someone needs to slap down on Russia hard. Unfortunately, Mitch seems to be the only guy with the guts to put them in their place.


Many years ago, I tried to convince Tom Clancy to write a book about a high-tech war between Japan and China. Unfortunately, he didn’t want to do it and I felt like it was too far outside my wheelhouse, so I put the idea on the back burner.

By 2015, I’d finally thought about it long enough and put pen to paper, envisioning a highly advanced Japanese military industrial complex lurking just out of sight. In Patriot Attack, the Japanese were using their technological gifts to create a clandestine war machine built on the principles of fast, cheap, autonomous, and deadly. 

Now, with friction in Asia escalating and China making increasingly aggressive moves in the region, I’m thinking about that book again.


In mid-2018, news broke about the activities of an ultra-secret spy agency that reports to the highest levels of Japan’s government. It turns out that my idea of a completely black weapons development directorate isn’t so far-fetched.


In my scenario, the Japanese also create a bioweapon and secretly immunize their population against it. The idea was that any invading army would be severely sickened while Japan’s citizens would remain healthy and able to fight.

In late 2017, a defecting North Korean soldier was found to have antibodies against anthrax. Have the Kims weaponized anthrax and vaccinated their soldiers in a plan similar to the one I wrote about years before?

Stay tuned…

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

Kyle Mills: Music And Writing

Here’s a peek at the younger me. I still think “Haunted Elvis lamp sings Burning Love” is one of the greatest headlines ever. Today I play a classical guitar.

Here’s a peek at the younger me. I still think “Haunted Elvis lamp sings Burning Love” is one of the greatest headlines ever. Today I play a classical guitar.

I’ll admit right now that I’m pretty sentimental when it comes to holiday music. Once December comes, I like to string up lights, grab some eggnog, and revisit my favorite Christmas songs from when I was a kid. The other day I teed up Elvis Christmas while I was diving into a fight scene with Mitch and the boys. I fidgeted for a few hours and never could get it going.

Mitch seemed kind of ambivalent, and the scene just didn’t pop. Soon, I realized why I hadn’t been able to get into the groove. Kicking butt to The King crooning Silent Night was too much to ask, even of Mitch Rapp. After switching to some screaming guitars and pounding drums, things got back on track.

Music Influences My Writing In Many Ways

It provides energy, melancholy, rage—whatever a given scene requires. In fact, it’s been the backdrop of my life since I was in early high school.  

While I usually listen to adrenaline-pumping songs when my characters are interrogating, dodging bullets, and fighting for their lives, I’ve only ever written one scene that was actually choreographed to a song—PJ Harvey’s Rub ‘Til It Bleeds. The scene from Fade is a fight in a nightclub, and I imagined the fictional band on stage playing that song as I wrote. For some reason, the cadence of the fight came to match the ebb and flow of the song. If you’re ever paging through that book and get to the scene, put PJ’s song on as you read. You’ll be able to hear the parallels.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve discovered alternative music from small radio stations and obsessive music fans. These days, the Internet has replaced the practice of trading cassette tapes with people of a like mind. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll ever outgrow my passion for this kind of music. Or if I’m going to be a 90-year-old guy creeping down the highway listening to Norwegian punk.

Finally, for all you thriller writers looking for inspiration to write a bloody action sequence, here’s my go-to playlist. Be warned: Headphones only. And you’ll probably need some counseling afterward…


1. Under the Floorboard World: Queen Adreena

2. I, Zombie: White Zombie

3. Dead Cities: The Exploited

4. City Baby Attacked By Rats: GBH

5. Bleed For Me: Dead Kennedys

6. After the Flesh: My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult

7. The Wait: Killing Joke

8. Stigmata: Ministry

9. Hey: Slaves

10. Preacher: Fuzz

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

Kyle Mills: 12 Videos, Interviews, And Reviews From My Red War Tour

In case you missed the videos, interviews, and reviews from my Red War tour, here are a few recaps to catch you up on what people wanted to know while I was on the road promoting my latest book. It was clear to me as I traveled around the country that Mitch Rapp is hotter than ever. He continues to fascinate readers with his no-nonsense approach to solving the world's problems.


The Poisoned Pen
The Poisoned Pen is an iconic mystery/thriller bookstore in Arizona. There, I was interviewed by fellow thriller writer and former Navy SEAL, Jack Carr. It was the first time I’d met Jack face-to-face, despite having a mutual friend in Brad Thor. Afterward, we went to dinner where I was able to annoy him with questions about the psychology of Navy SEALs.

Normally I do radio interviews but these guys—a former Army Ranger/Green Beret and a radio producer—wanted to do a Skype interview instead. All was good until midway through when my neighbor’s dog went on a tear and wouldn’t stop barking. Still, it was a great conversation that touched on the world’s escalating threats and how I came up with the idea for Red War.

WCCO Mid-Morning Show
I did this show a few years ago when The Survivor was released so it was nice to revisit the studio to promote Red War. Talk about red carpet treatment. A car picked me up at the hotel to drive me 45 seconds to the studio on the next block.


The Real Book Spy

Ryan Steck, who many know as the Rappologist, is the most knowledgeable guy on the planet when it comes to Mitch Rapp. He's the man I call on when I’m stumped about a bit of series esoterica. Here we do a deep dive into the book, the series, and Vince’s continuing influence. He reviewed Red War, too.

The Washington Times

When I took over the series, I was worried that some fans wouldn’t come along for the ride simply because Vince was no longer writing it. Here’s a recent convert. I’m so glad he decided to give me a chance.


Skillset Podcast
These guys were hilarious to talk to and have a great podcast with all kinds of different guests. They’ve recently moved to new digs and were still in the process of setting up their in-studio bar. I’ll look forward to that next time. They also do the photography for an enormous number of gun magazines and had a few photo shoots set up when I arrived. It was fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at how that’s done.

WCBS Author Talks
The host asked me about my next novel and my answer was: “I’m going back to what I consider more of a classic Vince Flynn book—Mitch Rapp kicking butt. Those books are fun to read and they’re fun to write.” The entire interview is here at the 8:10-17:33 mark.

First Look with Andy Morris
“These thrillers—to be interesting and fun—have to talk about what’s going on in the world in any given moment.” Find the interview here and hear Andy call me “a really famous author.” It’s on the Internet so it must be true!

Jim Bohannon, Westwood One
“We have been, historically, very afraid of provoking Russia, and Russia seems to have no similar problem with provoking us… We should have a heavy military presence in the Baltics but we’ve never wanted to do that because Putin would consider it a provocation. I say ‘bring it on'.” This is one of the more interesting interviews I had during the tour because we took a detailed look at Russia, Putin, and the potential mistakes America is making in handling him. The interview begins at the 40:00 mark.

Author Stories Podcast
Hank Garner has been bringing the backstories of hundreds of authors to fans, recently recording his 500th episode. We talk about the challenges of moving Mitch forward while maintaining the essence of who he is.

Bruce Ciskie Show
“When I took over the series, I already knew about Mitch Rapp and the universe he lived in. Then it was a matter of doing a lot of research—watching old videos of Vince, speeches he’d done, him talking about the series, fan reactions—just trying to get a real feel for it before I started.” The entire interview is here.

Dave and Dujanovic
“I was surrounded by FBI, CIA, MI6, spec ops… It couldn’t have been more fascinating. You soak it up. But I never thought I’d do anything with it.” We had a great conversation, and I always enjoy spending time with such an enthusiastic fan.

This is only a portion of the many interviews and reviews that contributed to my Red War book tour. Thanks again to everyone who took the time to review the book, read and share the press, and of course, support Mitch and his team once again. Until next year…

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

On The Road: Red War Tour Highlights


I always enjoy getting out of my office and meeting fans as I make my way around the country during book tours. This year was no exception. As usual, I kicked off Red War pub day (September 25) with a stop at Barnes & Noble in Roseville, Minnesota. This was the first bookstore that hosted a book signing for Vince when he got into the business long ago. And, not being one to break with tradition, it continues to be the first stop for my tours, too.

For those fans who weren’t able to join me in person at some point while I was promoting the book, here’s a sampling of the events from my two-week tour. Many thanks to the participating book stores and the legion of fans who came out to show their support while Mitch Rapp rolled across America.

Pub Day

TV and Radio
A big part of book tours is radio interviews, TV appearances, and podcast interviews.

Bookstore Events
Bookstore events are the backbone of my tours and a great place to catch up with old friends as well as new friends. Here are a few of the places I stopped.

Twitter Posts
For those who aren’t on Twitter, here are two of my favorite posts during the tour.

Red War Debuted At #1!
And then the icing on the cake came a day before the tour ended…

Signed Books
If you would like a signed book while supplies last, call one of the event bookstoresVJ Books sells signed books as well.


Thanks To All The Fans
Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome in your town and for the incredible support you have shown to me and to the Mitch Rapp series. Here’s to another successful book launch!

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

Kyle Mills: Do You Know Your Mitch Rapp Trivia?


In celebration of Red War’s release, I decided to round up some Rapp trivia to see how well you know Mitch’s world. Even I, the keeper of the Rapp torch, can’t always remember every last detail in these books. Fortunately I know someone who can. I reached out to Ryan the Rappologist over at The Real Book Spy for some help in stumping even the most die-hard of fans.

Rapp Style

We’ll kick this off with an easy one. What is Mitch’s preferred method of killing someone?

Answer: A head shot, naturally. But fortunately our hero isn’t a one-trick pony. He shoots people through the eyes, the nose, the open mouth, the cheek, the forehead, and the back of the head, to name just a few. And then there are all the other creative ways he disposes of the bad guys…  

Drink of Choice

What’s Rapp’s favorite?

Answer: Rapp drinks coffee more than any other beverage throughout the series. He's actually seen drinking coffee 26 times and other characters partake even more than our hero. Consent to Kill is the most caffeine-fueled book in the series.

I’m not a coffee drinker so fans may have noticed that I’ve given Rapp only one cup thus far. When I’m writing a scene, it rarely occurs to me to have a character drink the stuff. Wine, however, is a completely different thing. Mitch also enjoys a Coke periodically—my favorite morning beverage.


When “darn it” just won’t do, who has the bigger potty mouth, Vince Flynn or me?

Answer: This one will surprise a lot of people because some readers perceive that Vince was much more prim and proper than his record would suggest. After a barrage of emails from fans who were concerned about my use of foul language, I decided to find out: Had I really made these characters a bit too salty for the average fan?

It turns out I haven’t. Vince dropped the f-bomb 61 times in The Last Man, 54 times in Pursuit of Honor, and an impressive 70 times—5 times on one page alone—in Extreme Measures. By comparison, I clock in at a mere 47 in Enemy of the State and a downright austere 6 in The Survivor.

Hand-to-Hand Combat

Rapp excels at hand-to-hand combat. What discipline does he prefer, what level does he hold, and who did he train with?

Answer: Rapp has a third-degree black belt in Gracie jiu-jitsu. He spent time in Brazil training with Helio Gracie, the grand master. 

First Kill

Which gun did Rapp use to make his first kill? Who did he shoot, and what was the shot that terminated the villain?

Answer: Rapp's first kill is with a silenced 9mm Beretta 92F when he shot Hamdi Sharif once in the hand, then once in the chest at close range. 


Can you name several of Mitch’s aliases over the years? What name did he and Anna travel under for their honeymoon?

Answer: Mitch Kruse, Paul Girard, Bill Johnson, Carl. For their honeymoon, Mitch and Anna traveled under the names Troy and Betsy Harris. 


Which of Rapp’s girlfriends spent a semester abroad in Paris?

Answer: Most readers think it was Maureen Elliot who died on Pan Am Flight 103. But Maureen wasn’t in Paris… Anna Rielly was the one who spent a semester abroad in Paris.

Joining the CIA

And the Rappologist’s favorite stumper: When did Mitch officially join the CIA?

Answer: Many will say at twenty-two, in American Assassin. But that wasn't in an official capacity. He officially joined the CIA at the dying request of Thomas Stansfield.

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or his website.

The Art Of Creating A Book Title


Have you ever read a book and instantly had an idea for a title that perfectly captured the spirit of the story? If so, congratulations. You’ve just waltzed through creating a book title—one of the hardest parts of publishing.

I speak from experience. Most often, I steer clear of naming my novels, but when I get cornered, I quickly remember how out of my element I am. The process of writing a 400-page story couldn’t be more different than coming up with several words thrown haphazardly together into a greater whole. The first task is a slow, painstaking slog while the second is more a bolt of inspiration.

It’s always challenging to distill a 100,000+ word manuscript into a two or three-word description. The line is a fine one to tread: We want to give readers an accurate and compelling glimpse of the plot while carefully avoiding spoilers.

Take Red War, my upcoming book. When the team suggested it, I could immediately visualize the text on the cover. It’s simple, impactful, and gives a tantalizing hint—but no more—of what’s inside.

Lara Jones, assistant editor at Emily Bestler Books, looks for inspiration in a variety of places when working on a title. “Sometimes the author will have written us a short summary of the book that may have a good phrase or theme, or we might even go back to the agent’s pitch letter—where they told us about the book to see if we’d be interested in acquiring it—for good ideas. We often ask the publicist and marketing manager to weigh in, too.”

In the old days, books often had a main title and then a subtitle underneath that explained what the book was actually about. Over the centuries, though, this naming convention has been whittled in favor of titles that are shorter, easier to remember, and complementary to the cover art. Most modern readers, for instance, wouldn’t rush to buy Jonathan Swift's 18th century piece that inspired my first book, Rising Phoenix:

For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden on their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick.

For me, hooking a reader with a title is both a fun and frustrating part of this process. To start, I write down words that conjure strong or startling imagery or hint at the denouement. Then I try to put them together in a combination that’s catchy. This process relies in part on free association—with one word hopefully leading you to another until you land on just the right combination. Poets make it look so easy. But believe me, it’s not.

Lara says she also keeps a running list of words while reading the manuscript. “This can include anything from evocative phrases to character names to important locations. If there’s a great epigraph, sometimes title inspiration can come from that as well.”

When I first started writing, I used to look at album names from alternative bands to try to figure out how they magically blend words or come up with single ones that are so provocative. Names like Starless and Bible Black or Loveless are both wonderfully memorable and give a sense of what awaits you.

Brand Consistency
Of course, creating a title isn’t just about finding expressive words. If it’s a well-established brand like the Mitch Rapp series, a title has to fit within a framework that was established long ago. Along with cover art, font, and color, the arrangement of words in the book’s name is critical in making the cover immediately recognizable to fans.

Titles Can’t Be Copyrighted
An interesting tidbit is that titles for books, songs, and movies don’t fall under copyright protection so they tend to get recycled. Years ago, I wrote a book called Darkness Falls that explores the loss of the world’s oil supply and what that might mean for humanity. Just after we’d settled irretrievably on the title, I discovered there was a (strangely entertaining) movie about a demented tooth fairy with the same name. Very different subject matters, but that short phrase worked for both.

Titles are a subtle form of art that can win a prospective reader over in just a few seconds. Or not. But in today’s competitive world of publishing, a few carefully chosen words can be the thing that draws a reader to a book that they cherish for the rest of their lives.

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebook, or his website.

Stepping Into The Shoes Of An Icon Part III: What I Changed


I’ve received literally thousands of emails from fans, some pointing out things they think I got wrong. What were the most called out? 

Humor. There’s probably more in just one of my books than the entire series combined—a fact that was first noticed by the amazing audiobook reader, George Guidall. This was largely unintentional on my part and I considered dialing it back, but then changed my mind. As time moves forward, I think it makes sense for me to allow some of my style to peek through. I worry that trying to write an endless stream of Vince Flynn forgeries would turn the series stale. 

I opened with action sequences. It’s interesting that Vince, one of the greatest action writers in history, never started his books that way. This change was intentional—something I thought fans would enjoy. 

Anna Reilly. Notice anything different? It always drove me nuts that Vince spelled her name Rielly. I always chalked it up to his dyslexia and snuck in a fix. 

I gave Mitch an opponent who is nearly his equal. The Russian Grisha Azarov is very different in personality than Rapp, but very similar in skill and ruthlessness. Having Mitch go up against an opponent who might actually get the better of him was something Vince had never fully explored. I thought it would be fun to put the character in that situation and see how he reacted! 

As time moves forward, my books and Vince’s will necessarily continue to diverge. To feel urgent and timely, thrillers have to track what’s happening in the world at that moment and what might be right around the corner. Instead of a ridged framework, I now have to look at past books in the series as a guideline. If Vince were here today, what would he think of the implosion of the Iran nuclear deal? The evolution of ISIS? Russia’s unconventional war on the West? And more important, how would he weave them into his next story? 

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebook, or his website

Stepping Into The Shoes Of An Icon Part II: Who Is Mitch Rapp?


Mitch is a rich, beautifully drawn character, with all the complexities that entails. Like all of us, he’s not one static personality. He’s evolved over his life, reacting to his changing environment and absorbing new experiences. Vince took Mitch from the angry college kid we saw in American Assassin to the seasoned operator of The Last Man—with a lot of stops along the way.

When I wrote my first Rapp book, The Survivor, a number of fans thought I’d turned Mitch into a thug. In truth, though, I was just continuing Vince’s depiction of where the character was at that point in his life. 

Starting with Pursuit of Honor, Mitch begins to feel more angry and frustrated than in the past. He assaults Mike Nash for disagreeing with him, cripples bar bouncers, and entertains the idea of working for a Russian mobster. In The Last Man, the first 100 pages are filled with Rapp arm-twisting friend and foe alike. 

I think the reason for this is twofold. First, the death of his wife and unborn child was a blow he never fully recovered from. And second is the fact that as 9-11 fades in the minds of many Americans, he sees our vigilance waning. 

With my second book, Order to Kill, I made a conscious effort to pull Mitch back from the brink. He starts thinking about getting his life together and even entertains the idea of having another relationship. Enemy of the State and the upcoming Red War continue that gradual realignment with the goal of taking him back to what he was in earlier books. 

Of course, at his core, Mitch will remain the same: A patriot. A man with laser-like focus who doesn’t suffer fools. A loyal comrade in arms. But most of all, a soldier with the skill and courage to protect the country he loves. 

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebook, or his website

Stepping Into The Shoes Of An Icon: How To Start A Project This Monumental


I get a lot of questions on the subject of how I went about taking over the Mitch Rapp series. Now, with a few books under my belt, I thought it would be fun to do a few posts about it. 

You’ve probably already guessed that the first order of business was research. I reread all 6,512 pages of the Rapp books and took almost 150 pages of notes. Every weapon Mitch had ever used. Mike Nash’s kids’ names. Even Vince’s word choice and how he liked to construct action sequences were deconstructed and agonized over. 

While not as enjoyable as when I’d devoured the books as a fan, it was a great way to get to know the characters’ and author’s quirks. Did you know that despite being one of the greatest thriller writers of all time, Vince never started books with action scenes? Or that many of his action sequences somehow involve a dog? 

After a while, I was seeing through the lines on the page. I felt like I was getting a strong sense of how Vince saw the world, his hopes for America, and his fears regarding the threats we face. I can tell you, for instance, that he wasn’t a fan of the Saudis, but that he was somewhat more sympathetic to Iran. He was also fascinated by the financing of terror, with Western bankers often playing a part. And, of course, there was his (and probably everyone’s) frustration with America’s political process. 

By the time I got to Protect And Defend (book 12 in the chronology) I was beginning to see glimmers of his moods, when he was struggling to remember an arc from a book he’d written years ago, and even when he was pushing a deadline. It was then that I started testing myself. Could I anticipate what the next plot twist would be? Had Vince’s characters become real enough to me to anticipate their reactions, thoughts, and conversations? 

It was only when I could stop analyzing the books and start feeling them that I put pen to paper. Fortunately, Vince’s last novel, The Survivor, left a lot of clues as to where he wanted the series to go. That made the follow-up to The Last Man a perfect book for me to start with. As the series has continued, though, I find myself focusing more and more on Vince’s overall philosophy and how he would have applied it to an ever-changing world. 

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebook, or his website

Books and Authors Who Have Influenced Kyle Mills


Fans often ask me about what I liked to read when I was young and which authors have influenced my writing over the years. When I was a kid, books were my world. My imagination was already in overdrive so reading about chasing bad guys and fighting off monsters just added fuel to the fire. While I was a thriller reader first and foremost, some of my other favorite books and writers might come as a surprise. 

Trevanian’s Shibumi will always hold one of my top spots for favorite spy books. At the time, I was reading a lot of serious characters but Nicholai Hel’s over-the-top personality and quirky humor in a genre that was largely devoid of laughs turned me into a fan from the outset. I think of Trevanian every time I add something funny to my books.

The Cardinal of the Kremlin
In my mind, Tom Clancy was the man and The Cardinal of the Kremlin is a nearly perfect thriller. I was fascinated by the complexities of the Soviet era and voraciously read every book on that subject that I could find. Tom’s dedication to realism and exhaustive research set the benchmark that I, and my peers, still chase today. Clearly, I’m still influenced by Tom and that era because Red War, my upcoming Rapp thriller, revolves around Russia. 

Anything Stephen King
I was a huge King fan and loved letting him scare me to half to death as I read under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep. I remember tearing through Salem’s Lot when it came out in hardback so I would have been around 8 or 9 years old. Oddly, my parents had no problem with me reading adult fiction at this age, but balked at me watching shows like Starsky & Hutch. I’ve always admired (and tried to emulate) how King can make a slice of everyday life go so wrong so fast. 

I couldn’t put down James Clavell’s epic story of Japanese samurai and ended up needing to get an extension from my 7th grade teacher because I couldn’t turn in my book report on time. Who knew there was a Book Two? What teenage boy wouldn’t want to immerse himself in a world of fearless swordsmen and beautiful women battling for power, honor, and love? Clavell taught me that classic story setups always appeal. In this case a fish-out-of-water scenario, which continues to be one of the best plot devices around.

The Boxcar Children Mysteries
When I was just learning to read, this series really spoke to me. The independence. The courage. The resourcefulness and loyalty. Not only did it convince me that fearlessness was the only way to live, but what I learned from these kids flows into every hero I write. If you think about it, there’s a pretty straight line from the children living in that boxcar to Mitch, Irene, and Scott. 

Mary Shelley’s portrait of the complexity of human relationships still feels relevant today and did a lot to shape me as a novelist. No one is completely good and no one is completely evil. Every character is the hero of his or her own book. While I’ve moved away from this kind of moral ambiguity in the Rapp books, it was something I loved to play with in my own novels. The best antagonists are ones who we identify with on some level—even if it’s in the deepest recesses of our hearts.

A Modest Proposal
People know Jonathan Swift for Gulliver’s Travels, but it was his essay A Modest Proposal that got me going on Rising Phoenix, my first novel. Writing 300 years ago, he made the tongue-in-cheek proposal that the poor could improve their economic situation by selling their children for food to the rich. In a similar vein, my novel wondered if we could stop the use of narcotics by poisoning the supply.

1984 and Animal Farm
George Orwell’s work did a lot to shape my worldview, and I find myself quoting 1984 more often than I’d like. Orwell’s observations still feel almost clairvoyant more than half a century later. If you read Animal Farm today, you can put a current face to every inhabitant of that barnyard. 

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on TwitterFacebook, or his website

Kyle Mills: Stranger Than Fiction - Part II


Last month, I outlined some interesting predictions I’ve made over the years and also explored some that Vince Flynn has woven into the Mitch Rapp series. The list was longer than I expected. This month I’m back with a few more examples of how we’ve used a crystal ball to peer into the future.

Once again, I’ve called on Ryan Steck, the Rappologist from The Real Book Spy to share examples of some of Vince’s all-too-real plotlines. Longtime fans of the Rapp series know how solid Vince’s intel was.


Transfer of Power

In the opening pages of Transfer of Power, Vince notes that some facts were omitted out of respect for the president and the US Secret Service. What I wouldn’t give to read the manuscript before the redactions! As longtime fans will recall, George W. Bush famously told Vince in a limo ride that he was “a little too accurate.”

Vince’s brother, Tim Flynn, joked at The Survivor 2015 launch event that Vince was a master at getting people to open up. He said that within a few minutes of sitting down with Vince, SEAL Team 6 was sharing details they weren’t supposed to talk about. He also mentioned the similarities between the bin Laden raid and Memorial Day, which I talked about in Part 1.

Protect and Defend

In 2007’s Protect and Defend, Vince wrote about the Israelis taking out an Iranian nuclear facility by embedding an agent and blowing up the plant from the inside. In 2013, a nuclear facility buried deep in an Iranian mountain was allegedly partially destroyed by a massive explosion, leaving 240 people underground. While both the Iranians and Israelis are tight lipped about what really happened there, the information available makes it sound very much like Vince’s scenario coming to life.

Here are a few other strangely prescient scenarios that have played out in reality long after my books were published.

The Utopia Experiment

I’m fascinated by wearable technology. Not so much the kind that spits out data about my workout, but the kind that will transform our senses and help us deal with our increasingly complex world.

In The Utopia Experiment, I dreamed up a device that was embedded into a person’s skull much like a cochlear implant. It fed information to the user via an augmented reality overlay that mixed the real world with holographic details. The device provided a flood of information: from emails, social media updates, and heads-up displays, to real-time fact checking and driving routes. Facial recognition even delivered instantaneous information about people and their backgrounds. Obviously, the military applications were endless, as were more sinister ones.

As I was finishing the manuscript, the Google Glass project was announced, leaving me scrambling to find out if I’d been just a few months behind the curve. Fortunately for me (but not so much humanity) their technology was only a primitive first step toward my vision and fizzled pretty quickly.

Now more sophisticated wearable augmented reality in the vein of what I imagined, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens and Meta’s headset, are taking shape, not to mention the virtual reality devices like Oculus Rift that create an entirely new universe for users. Real-time fact checking didn’t exist when my book was first conceived, but now organizations like PolitiFact do their best to keep politicians honest during their speeches.

Imagining this futuristic technology was challenging so I’m interested to see how it evolves. So far, I’ve gotten a surprising number of things right. 

The Second Horseman

Like most people, I appreciate a good heist—particularly when some incredibly clever criminal has thought long and hard about it. I decided to explore just such a scenario in The Second Horseman after having a fascinating conversation with a Vegas insider about how the city transports all that casino money to the Federal Reserve in San Francisco.

I recently read that thieves in the Netherlands stole a truckload of iPhones while the truck’s driver cruised down a motorway with no clue what was happening. Apparently this style of iPhone theft has been happening since 2008 in Europe. I dearly hope that my description of a similar technique in 2006 provided some inspiration.

I’ve already started my list for 2019 as I see some nefarious players making trouble that I envisioned long ago. It’s possible that the course of the world has already been laid out by today’s hardworking thriller writers. Stay tuned!

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or his website

Kyle Mills: Stranger Than Fiction


I, like many authors, periodically take stock of the various scenarios I’ve written about to see how many are playing out in the news. Interpreting current events and predicting their outcomes continues to be one of my favorite parts of the job. Whether I’m focused on politics, conflict zones, or technology, wreaking havoc in a way that feels in-the-moment can be a lot like fortune telling.

As fans know, Vince shared my obsession with cutting-edge realism. To revisit some of his best moments of clairvoyance, I talked to Ryan Steck—known to thousands online as the Rappologist. Ryan has dived deeper than anyone into the details of Mitch’s universe and runs the thriller website The Real Book Spy. Check him out if you haven’t already.

Memorial Day

In Memorial Day, Rapp and a group of commandos chopper into Pakistan without permission from the Pakistani government. Their purpose? To hit a high-value target. Seven years after the book was published, Osama bin Laden was taken out pretty much as Vince envisioned. As if that weren’t enough, there was also a security review of the book because the plot featured the villain transporting a nuke via the Potomac River. Apparently, this hadn’t been considered in law enforcement circles.

The Last Man

In The Last Man, Vince touched on how dangerous America’s pull back in Afghanistan could be. He talked about green-on-blue violence and how allies can become enemies when the drawdown begins. While there had been only a few instances of this in Afghanistan prior to Vince’s book, the violence ramped up after publication. He managed to connect the dots early on, paralleling stories that later dominated headlines. 

In the book, Vince also wrote about a high-ranking military official having an illicit affair with a woman at the State Department. The Last Man had barely hit shelves when the General Petraeus scandal broke.  

Like Vince, I’ve made what I hoped were just educated guesses, only to find them coming to life in the real world. Here are a few of my more interesting predictions…

The Survivor

The old saying “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is a myth. This proverb kept running through my mind as I wrote The Survivor and explored America finally facing the much-ignored fact that the money we give Pakistan often ends up in the pockets of terrorists.

Now, a few years after the book’s release, the US government has publicly acknowledged the situation and significantly dialed back military aid to the country. As was laid out in The Survivor, it’s a dangerous game of nuclear-armed chicken. 

Sphere of Influence

Five days after I turned in my manuscript for Sphere of Influence, the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were attacked. My horror was amplified by the fact that the book I’d just written was about al-Qaeda—a relatively unknown terrorist organization at that time—carrying out a very similar terrorist act.

With our country in chaos, the storyline hit way too close to home and my editor considered the book unpublishable. I found myself scrambling to rewrite the storyline in a way that would obscure the similarities to 9/11. 

It turns out that devising these kinds of ripped-from-the-headlines scenarios is an exciting game right up to the moment it’s not. We all pray that our plots stay where they belong—tucked safely between book covers.

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or his website

Kyle Mills Talks About Writing Rapp, Enemy of the State and More!


We have a round-up of Kyle's favorite 2017 interviews to catch you up on all things Mitch Rapp. 

Kyle touches on a wide range of topics from what it's like to inhabit Rapp and continue his story for millions of fans to where Mitch, Scott, Irene and the rest of the team are heading.

1. The Real Book Spy
If you haven’t discovered Ryan Steck’s thriller website, you’re missing out. Ryan’s encyclopedic knowledge of the genre gives readers all the intel they need to stay current on the hottest titles. Here’s my latest interview with him and his review of Enemy of the State. 

2. The Big Thrill
The Big Thrill is the magazine produced by International Thriller Writers, and their monthly emails are a fantastic place to discover new titles and authors. Here’s my interview with Alison McMahan.

3. Not Boring Book Show Podcast
Here’s the conversation I had with longtime Vince Flynn fans Angela Halgrimson and Stacy Verdick Case on this Minnesota podcast’s 1-year anniversary. 

4. Glenn Beck, Blaze Radio Network
No introduction needed here, Glenn’s a legend in the radio world. "Mitch Rapp is one of the best characters in fiction now,” he says. We talk about this and much more.

5. National Review Online
I spent some time with John J. Miller on the Ricochet podcast as he dove into Mitch Rapp and the American Assassin movie.

6. Elise Cooper Interview and Review
Elise published her Enemy of the State review and her interview with me in a variety of places. Here are two of them: Crimespree Magazine and the Strand Magazine.

7. Author Stories Podcast
I really enjoyed my interview with writer and host, Hank Garner. Hank can introduce you to both traditionally published and indie authors who write in a wide variety of styles. 

8. WCBS Author Talks Podcast
Scroll down to the August 30 podcast, Chapter 30. We talk about what it was like to take over for Vince Flynn.

9. Ideation Collective’s Innovation and Leadership Podcast
A business podcast is not my usual venue but I’m so glad I got an opportunity to talk to Jess Larsen. He’s interviewed an impressive group of people—both from the business and creative world—and I’m happy to be one of them. Scroll down for Parts 1 and 2.

10. Rogue Women Writers Blog
Check out this fun site run by Gayle Lynds, Karna Bodman, Jamie Freveletti, and several other successful thriller writers. In my guest post, I talk about recreating another author’s characters.

If you’re not following Kyle, connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or his website