How big is Brad Thor? The blockbuster author has written 20 spy thrillers in 20 years and sold more than 20 million copies — snapped up by passionate fans of his propulsive series featuring Scot Harvath, a former Navy SEAL turned covert intelligence operative. His latest book in the series, Black Ice, immediately jumped to No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list when it came out this summer.
A stickler for realism who's become something of an intelligence and counterterrorism expert, Thor, 52, has traveled across the globe to research his books; he even followed a black ops team in Afghanistan in 2008 for background on his eighth book, The Apostle.
Thor was also recruited to work for the Department of Homeland Security's “Red Cell Program,” he says, where he and other creative minds brainstorm terrorism scenarios for the U.S. intelligence officials to help them anticipate possible threats.
In Black Ice, the 20th book in the series, Harvath is spending a romantic summer with his girlfriend in Norway when he spots a man he'd killed years ago — or thought he'd killed — stepping out of a cab in Oslo. The ensuing chase takes our hero to the Arctic Circle, and into the center of an international battle over control of the increasingly valuable region.
While Harvath and his adventures are fiction, the conflict in the Arctic is, according to Thor, very real. That's why he calls his thrillers “faction,” he said in a phone interview with AARP from his Nashville home. “You don't know where the facts end and the fiction begins."
The author, friendly and gregarious — “I love doing interviews!” he says — told us about how he gets his ideas, how Harvath differs from James Bond, his future in Hollywood and more.