During the time I attended Hampden-Sydney College, General Sam Wilson, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was president and initially introduced me into the world of espionage. During my subsequent studies, I became fascinated by the CIA and read dozens of non-fiction books related to Middle East politics, spy craft, the CIA’s war against terrorism, tales of clandestine spies and double agents, and memoirs of former agency directors.
Ironically, I did not become an avid reader of fiction novels until The DaVinci Code was released in 2003, but it was the novels of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor that hooked me into the political spy thriller genre. This would later lead me to the novels of Joel C. Rosenberg, Mark Greaney, Daniel Silva, and Jack Carr.
Though I had always wanted to become a novelist, I was too concerned about the prospect of failure. My decision to ‘go for it’ came after a meeting with author David Baldacci at a book signing in Williamsburg, VA. At the time, I would be turning forty-years-old later that year and I asked him if that age was too old to write my first novel. He stopped mid-signature, looked up and me and said, “Oh, hell no. The industry could use some good young writers!” Upon hearing those words, I didn’t know if I should be more excited that he thought forty-years-old was still considered to be young or that this legendary man of the industry was telling me to go forth and pursue my dream. I started the first draft of Surviving the Lion’s Den, which was originally named The Iranian Plot, immediately after I got home and the rest is history.