National Press Club

'Act of War' author Brad Thor raps about writing at Press Club

July 10, 2014 | By Heather Forsgren Weaver |

Brad Thor speaks about writing at a National Press Club Book Rap on July 9, 2014

Brad Thor speaks about writing at a National Press Club Book Rap on July 9, 2014

Photo/Image: Heather Forsgren Weaver

A favorite mantra of author Brad Thor is “everything happens for a reason,” he told a National Press Club Book Rap July 9.

The publishing of Thor’s first book got a boost from a chance meeting with a contact with Simon & Schuster while on his honeymoon. His new wife told him to stop worrying about the last leg of the trip –- an overnight train trip from Munich to Amsterdam in a shared compartment. Remember your own mantra, she told him.

After spending the night in the shared compartment talking with a woman about books and telling her that he planned to write a novel, she gave him her Simon & Schuster business card and said he should contact her when it was finished. His 14th book published by Simon & Schuster, "Act of War," was published July 8 and features Thor’s covert counter-terrorism operative Scot Harvath.

While Thor writes thrillers, he wants the reader to learn something so he sprinkles his novels with information that may not be well known. For example, it was not President George W. Bush who first sent the military to fight Muslims, it was President Thomas Jefferson, Thor said.

Thor writes one novel a year and the “research doesn’t seem to stop,” he said. He spends a lot of time talking to law-enforcement officials, special-operations personnel and intelligence operatives asking them “what keeps you up at night?” It is these ideas that generate Harvath’s adventures. He considers it a great compliment when he is told that he described a situation exactly like it would happen in real life. He also sometimes writes about something that has yet to happen. In one of his books, he writes about five detainees being released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Not four, not six, five,” Thor said, alluding to the recent release of five detainees in exchange for an American prisoner of war in Afghanistan.

After graduating cum laude from the University of Southern California, Thor went to Paris to write his first novel, but he stopped after three chapters and toured Europe, leading him to become the creator, producer, writer, and host of the national public television series “Traveling Lite.”

Thor still has those three chapters and he says they “read really, really well.” He is saving that idea for “some point in the future. I have it in my hip pocket [because] it doesn’t involve Scot Harvath.”

Going on tour to promote his books is not a chore, Thor said. He enjoys it because it gives him the opportunity to meet his “bosses,” the people who read his books. It is important to him that he connects with his readers, he said.

Joseph Luchok of the NPC Book & Author Committee, one of Thor’s “bosses,” introduced Thor at the Book Rap.