The Thriller Zone

On today’s 183rd episode of The Thriller Zone we’ve a special treat. If you’re a fan of Thriller & Crime Fiction, then you’ve no doubt heard of The Real Book Spy. Well, today we sit down with Ryan Steck to discuss his latest thriller OUT FOR BLOOD.

This latest entry picks up where the last Matthew Redd thriller left off…with one exception. Redd’s danger is deeper. And the read is not only longer, but richer in scope. Yeah, it’s a good one! 

On today's show Ryan and I discuss a whole plethora of items like OUT FOR BLOOD, plus his first two thrillers, you'll also hear Ryan and I discuss a few things about New York Times Bestselling Author Jack Carr. We discuss in depth the process of writing substantial thrillers, learn about Ryan’s home life which involves no less than 11 mouths to feed, we cover a bit of Thrillerfest, and we hear about how Ryan got his start as The Real Book Spy. All is all, it’s a fully-packed hour of all things Thriller Fiction, with Real Book Spy Ryan Steck.

Learn more about Ryan and his Real Book Spy World at RyanSteck.com

Last thing before I sign off: A reminder that this is our Anniversary Month, and how we're excited to also welcome New York Times Bestselling Author MEG GARDINER on June 10th, where we'll cover her latest in the UNSUB Series, SHADOWHEART!

Then, the following week, the 17th to be exact, I’ll let you in on a closely held secret. Recall my very first guest…the person who took a chance talking to a then-yet-mostly-unknown podcast host of a little-startup pod called The Thriller Zone? If not, it was May Cobb. Well, she’s promised to return to celebrate our THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY, as we discuss her latest thriller THE HOLLYWOOD ASSISTANT. 

So, do yourself a favor, and add Meg Gardiner’s book SHADOWHEART and May Cobb’s HOLLYWOOD ASSISTANT to your Summer Reading lists, as you’ll want to devour both of them.

Join us again soon for another exciting edition of TheThrillerZone.comYour Front Row Seat to the Best Thriller Writers in the World.

Award-winning Green Beret, Steve Stratton, is the author of the Shadow Tier Series and the novella, A Warrior's Path: the Lance Bear Wolf Story. Learn more at stevestrattonusa.com

What is The Thriller Zone?

Podcast host and thriller author David Temple gives you a front-row seat to the best thriller writers in the world. If you like thriller fiction in Books, Movies, and TV Shows, you’ll love The Thriller Zone Podcast.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (00:01.582)
Hello everyone, I'm Dave Temple, your host, and on today's 183rd episode of The Thriller Zone, we have a special treat. If you're a fan of thriller and crime fiction, then you've no doubt heard of The Real Book Spy. Well, today we sit down with Ryan Steck to discuss his latest thriller, Out for Blood. This latest entry picks up where the last Matthew Red thriller left off, with one exception, or maybe two. Red's danger is deeper, and the read is not only longer, but richer in scope.

Yep, it's a good one. You'll also hear Ryan and I discuss a few things about New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr. We discuss in -depth the process of writing substantial thrillers. We share Jack Carr's stories. We also learn about Ryan's home life, which involves no less than 11 mouths to feed. And before the end of the show, we discuss Jack Carr. We cover a bit of Thriller Fest. We hear about how Ryan got his start as the real book spy. And we get inside scoop on Jack Carr. See a theme here?

All in all, it's a fully packed hour of all things thriller fiction. So let's get into the thriller zone with real book spy Ryan Steck. All right. Look, we're ready to go because it doesn't get any better looking than you. Well, thank you. Thank you. Likewise. It gets no better sounding than you. If I had your voice, I would I'd be doing my own audio books. Can I just say I finally get to meet the real book spy. Thank you. Yeah. Well, likewise, man, I finally get to meet.

The real Thriller Zone. It is kind of crazy how we have been circling one another's universe for two years -ish. I mean, this show will be three in June, so. Happens quick, doesn't it? Yes, it does, son. Yeah, the Blip Spy is turning 10. Wow. Yeah. Let me slide this little bad boy up. Looks good. Look, I got the hardcover. With the tangerine spine that no one told me about.

Until I opened it and it came and I was like I had no idea the spine was gonna be orange and Is there a? Reason behind that yeah, I mean they always do like a really striking on the spine just so it jumps out at you Normally they match the lettering and the font color was the same as my last book I guess I just assumed they'd have the same Spine color, but they were like now we went with tangerine cuz by the way, you know Someone told me that because I didn't call it orange. I called it tangerine.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (02:25.422)
Right? So I was coached, for sure. Like, yeah. Did you like the tangerine? I was like, you mean the orange? Yeah. Look good. I like that. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, Ryan, anybody can say orange. Yeah. Just say tangerine. Yeah, man. It's, it's interesting. You know, I would have wrote tangerine, but talking, I would have called it orange. And I think that proves Kyle Mills once said, you know, no one pays an author or writer to talk. They pay us to write. There's a reason. And,

Every interview I do, I start thinking he's right, man. He's definitely right. Well, we are going to get to Out for Blood very shortly. By the way, quick note, his guy's name is Pym. I can't remember how to say his last name. He did your animated book trailer. He did. In fact, Ryan, let's take a look at it right now. And I'm going to add voiceover just for the funsies of it. OK, thank you. Hey, and beat the EQ. From Ryan Steck, the Real Books spy comes another riveting thriller in the Matthew Red series.

When his enemies start an avalanche of revenge he won't be able to outrun, the elite soldiers lures all of them into the frigid Montana mountains hoping to draw them out. They won't stop until they kill everyone he loves over his dead body. Brad Thoris is packed with nonstop action. Jack Carr says reaffirms Ryan Steck's prowess in the thriller genre. This year, the snow will be stained red. Ryan Steck, out for blood from Tyndale. Solid.

Looks good, didn't it? Wow. Shout out to Pym because I'm probably the worst clients ever worked with. I don't know what I want. I just know what I don't like. I'm not helpful at all. So someone could be like, do you want, how about we do this, this, this, this? And I'm like, I don't really like that. Okay, Ryan, what do you like? And they're very hands on and they're really supportive of like collaborating. I have no clue. It's like, I will tell you, man, my covers, I've been really blessed. I have three great covers. I think they're great. Yeah.

But I have zero to do with that. The second one, the cover that you see right now of lethal range is the way it came in. And I had all these ideas to make it better. And I kept asking for these changes. Every single one made it progressively worse to the point where I was like, let's just go back to the very first one that that's what we did. That was like, that's the one that that published. So the trailer, I'm no help. I would I would say like, hey, what if, you know, instead of that, you did this, this, this, this, and this. And they do it and I wouldn't like it. And so I'd be like,

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (04:45.358)
Okay. How about none of that? And, instead let's try it. And so finally they just were like, what do you think if we just do this? And I was like, just send it to me and it looked great. And so they didn't need my input at all. You know, it's a funny thing. I probably am what you would call a classic control freak. Cause there's this, I got a real good idea of exactly what I want. And I got this idea and about the color and the font. And I have learned Ryan over the years, shut up, David, and just go, Hey artist.

You're the master. Go for it. Because I have found that the more you toy with it and you just kind of personified that in your comment, the more you toy with it, the more you send it off the rails. Yeah. I really have learned just stick to the writing of the books and then let everybody like the art department was hired to work in the art department for a reason. You know, yeah. Publicists do publicity. Publishers do publishing. Yep. Snipers do shooting.

and writers should just write. We should just write and just leave it at that. And I mean, it is funny, like, you know, I talk, you know, I have all the same writer friends that you do, but like talk to Jack Carr and he writes all of his own flat copy. So you go to Amazon, you type in one of his books, the product details that like pop up, he writes those. And I was like, okay. And I know which authors don't.

But now it bothers me because I don't write mine. So without for blood, I wrote what I thought would be the flap copy. I never told my publisher. And so they sent me, they're like, here you go. There's the product description. And I was going to come back and go, I wrote a product description and theirs was so much better than mine that I just never said anything. And we just, I just rolled with it. Lesson learned. Before we get into the deep of things, I just want to know, is it true that Ben Coase called you the godfather of the thriller genre?

Yeah, I did. That was a good one. That's huge. You know, I came from a sports world. They called me the Adam Schefter, the Thriller world. And I like that one better, to be honest with you. But yeah, he did shout out Ben Coase for that one. Yeah. Now that makes sense because you're, as you know, I did radio for 25 years. You have a cadence and you hit the mic a certain way. You got a cadence and a delivery because I was watching you on Twitch recently, which I don't know a thing about. I don't either.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (07:05.614)
I'm like that guy, that guy should be on the radio, man. He should be like, you want you to be perfect for it. You're the, and I don't mean this in a diminishing way. You're the perfect sidekick to a morning show, which is what I did for 25 years. Because you're the guy that I can always, I could always look to and go, and I'm not one of those egocentric hungry guys that I got to have all the limelight, but I find your strength. I'm going to go, right. What do you think about that? Step away, let you do your magic, you know?

It's a mistake, man. I have a lot of thoughts. If it drives my wife nuts, someone has my take on something. We're gonna have to sit down and order lunch, probably. But yeah, I mean, that'd be fun. Twitch, I don't know anything about Twitch. I don't know a thing about it. My agent had the idea a few years ago. He represents this guy named Tulayem, who is a character in Call of Duty. I didn't even know they had real people in that video game. And I sense, I won't name names, though I wish I could, but like,

All my favorite authors, with the exception of maybe a few, play Call of Duty. Okay? That's a real thing. Including some of these tier one special forces guys. All right. I was playing and my agent goes, you know, you ever heard of Twitch? to lamb, you know, it's in Call of Duty and they have this platform. It's like a billion dollar. And I didn't know anything about it. And I was like, what it's, you watch people play video games, like people pay money for that. I would never, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I used to, I had all these cousins and I could never play Nintendo.

because they would hog it and I had to watch and that was not fun. I would never have paid to watch. I was like mad. And when I saw it was a billion dollar a year industry, I was like, well, someone's watching and paying for that. And so I went into it very foolishly, man. Like David, I knew nothing. And I was like, yeah, I'm going to start streaming. I did not know you need like a super PC for that. This is a true story. I told my wife I was going to do it and she was very supportive. I didn't know I had to build two computers. I couldn't even build a computer. So that meant.

hire someone to get all the best stuff is $25 ,000. And my wife was like, Ooh, that better be a tax write off. So we got into it. And then my daughter does it with me. And that's why it's fun for me is my oldest is now an adult and she really holds her own. And I think she just likes it because she can get on and like roast me in front of everybody, you know, and show our relationship. So we have a lot of fun with that. 25 large to get in. I had no ideas.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (09:25.87)
Yeah, it was wild. You should see my office now. So I have that, I'm mirrored, so I don't even know where to point. That AC unit is because I have two custom built PCs just cranking heat in here. It's horrible. I think I saw, I saw the Twitch with you, your daughter and Jack Carr. Yeah. She smoked, dude. She, you said hold your own. She did exactly that. She does. Yeah. She keeps me on my toes. I think she lives. This is revenge for her. My oldest is, her name's Brent and

I have a different parenting style. I believe in laughter and you know, my daughter is now a manager at a belt tire store and she works with a lot of guys and they always like I'll come in and they're like, you know, you ruined her Mr. Stack. We try to roast her and joke with her all the time and we could never get her because she said her whole childhood was that. And it's true like that. I really believe with laughing with the kids and

we pick on each other. It's all out of love, right? Like, yeah, you can get away with that, with the ones that you love. Someone else comes in and makes a joke. It's not funny anymore. Right? Mama bear, daddy bear are going to be all over them. But with my daughter, I was like, man, bullying will never be a thing. Cause I'm the one that teases them the hardest. Like they're ready for the real world now. So now the cameras are on her. I think Brynn enjoys getting in front of the camera and making fun of me publicly, you know? And so, I just kind of let her do her thing and we have fun with it.

It flat out works. Now we're going to get to Out for Blood in a second, but I want to do this. It's dropping June 4th, by the way, but I want to talk to you because we've been circling, as I said, each other's universe for a while. And I want to start with, because I don't know this and I haven't found the answer anywhere. So I thought I'll ask the guy who did it. And that is the when and the why did you launch the real book spy? Okay. So there's two answers, right? So I'm going to give you, I'm going to give you the answer. Then we'll give you the honest answer.

Okay, so the first was that there was no one -stop shop for all things thriller and you look at like literary awards Every year dude, I've never even heard of those books ever same thing. I would like my wife my wife will watch the Oscars I've never heard of a single movie that ever wins best picture ever I didn't even know they were made I but I go to every billion dollar movie right fast and the furious Avengers I like those things and I certainly like why it's like the same thing in the movie world all these movies that never made money that no one's ever heard of when this

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (11:42.414)
Best picture, it's like how? But the movies that the rest of us casually go to and love never win anything. And so it's very similar in the book world, right? You never see Brad Thor win Book of the Year, and he should, and he should. You just don't see it. Unless it's like a thriller award. And so that bothered me. And I was transitioning from sports writing, and I was doing editing, and I was friends with a lot of these authors, and I thought, why is there no one stop shop for all things thriller?

And a mentor of mine and dear friend Ted Bell, the late Ted Bell was a friend of your show as well. He was the one that was like, buddy, why don't you build it and we'll all, we'll all come follow you. And then the other answer is this. Like I was writing reviews for other people and it sucked. Like I hated it. Like I really hated it. It turns out I don't work well with a boss like at all. And I don't like being told what I had to review and, and when it had to come out, I just wanted to do it kind of my way. And I felt like as a fan,

I could bring that to the table, right? And I think the guy that we've seen really nail that is Jack Carr. Because in my time as a book spy, no one has broken out like him. It's probably, and I say this all the time, it's probably the closest to like what it would have been like to cover Vince Flynn or Brad Thor in the early 2000s. And so you're seeing Jack come out and the thing I love is he's a fan first and foremost. He always talks about that. He loves other books, other authors. He's always propping everybody up.

And so I came at it from sort of that standpoint, if it makes sense. I wanted to be a fan and help people like me find more books that they would enjoy. Yeah, so much to unwrap there. There are a couple of things. First of all, I've never seen anybody jump out of the gate like him. I met him in 19 at Thriller Fest, and I think it was the year before or maybe two prior that he had just come out. And I've watched him in that short amount of time. And I'm like, Jack.

You're blowing my socks off. I mean, everything he does and he's a marketing machine. And now I last time I told him, he, he said I had to, I had to, I had to hire a, a CEO of marketing or something to just handle everything that's going on. Just a crazy world. He's got, and you know, they're busy. Yeah. He has a new chief of staff, I think, and they're super busy because Jack is he's rolling, man. I was one of the first people to read the terminal list way before.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (14:07.95)
anyone knew about it. And so I got to talk to him before he was the Jack Carr. Right. And he's the same exact dude. Like that's what's so cool is he's not changed. I will I will tell you something funny. So I got the terminal list and I got connected to a Jack and at the time I was writing and nobody knew it. And I was early drafts of Fields of Fire. And at the time I wanted my hero to have a unique weapon. And so I have Matthew Redd and I asked Jack I said,

Hey, I want my hero. He carries like this tomahawk. He picks up. What do you think would be like a good, you know, model brand, this and that. And he was like, probably the one that my character uses. You might want to read my book. So I did. It was just like, this sucks. You know, I got to rewrite. So I took it out. So the next year I'm talking to him and he goes, Hey, what's your book about? And I was like, dude, no one's doing anything like this. It's this special ops guy. He's in Montana. And I give him the whole pitch. He's like, sounds really cool. And I'm like, so what's your new book about? And he's like,

You're not going to believe it, but James Reese is in Montana. And I was like, no, for real. And he was like, yeah. And I was like, my gosh, dude, Jack Carr is him and Taylor Moore. I don't know if you've had Taylor on. yeah. yeah. So we share an agent and every time I come up with a good title, my publisher psyched and then John Talbot, our agent is like, you know, you probably can't use it. Taylor has that. So lethal range. I wanted to be down range and he rolled out down range. And then just recently I was going to go with the title cold trailing and he's got cold trail. I was going to a firestorm.

He had firestorms. So I called Taylor one day. Our agent was like, you guys should talk. You know, you write some similar type things. I had no idea how similar our books were. And we're talking on the phone one day and I'm like, first of all, I hate you because you take every title from me. Like, and he had no clue at all. So he was laughing and we had this, this fun and he's a good friend now. but we're going back and forth. He's like, what's your books about? And I'm like, it's about this former special ops guy who goes home to Montana, working his cattle ranch. He's like, that's pretty similar to.

You know what I do, but don't worry. My stuff's real different. Like my guy settles down and has a family and I was like, dude, we gotta read each other's books. Like that sounds a lot like mine. And so it's, I really think red and Garrett Cole are just long lost relatives. So this is begs the question. How cool would it be? And Taylor's such a swell guy. Can you imagine you two getting together and co -writing and having your universes either, either co -write that's a idea a or your universes collide in that.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (16:30.862)
you cross -pollinate your characters into each other's story. It would be interesting. I've sort of mentioned to him, I think he's doing a Matthew Red Easter egg in one of his new books. And I definitely, my book next year that I still don't have a title for because Taylor took it. I still have one. I submitted a few ideas to the publisher and they're working on approving one. I still have one because of Taylor.

but I definitely put an Easter egg, a Garrett Cole Easter egg. It would be fun, man. It for sure would. you guys would be a great yin and yang on the microphones. That's for sure. Well, I want it to, there's a couple of things that has sprung up in my mind as I'm reading about you and your work. And of course we're still going to get to out for a lot. I just want to dive a little bit more. And that is having grown up in a religious home. I have, I think you have to, I know you're a faith based guy. I'm,

I'm well aware of Tindale House, because I grew up, my dad was a preacher, so I saw Tindale House all around the house constantly. And its connection to faith -based. But here's my question. Do you have a specific faith -based point of view as you write, which is different than, you know, a Christian story, we'll use the word Christian air quotes, is a Christian story. There's not going to be any fouling, there's not going to be no sleeping, violence is minimal, blah, blah, blah. Yep.

I learned this having done that film, Chasing Grace. So my question is, is there a specific faith -based point of view that you kind of keep in the back of your mind as you travel down the road with Matt? A little. You know, the big thing for me is I don't write, I don't want to write, honestly, I don't, I don't want to write Christian thrillers. No. I want to write thrillers.

Yes, I was brought up in a Christian home. My faith is important to me, you know, and it is. And the way we raised our children here, my wife and I, we have six kids. It's really central to our home. However, I'm not someone to preach at anybody or think I'm better. I don't at all. If someone became a believer tomorrow, they're probably already a better Christian than me, man. Like, I don't think I'm better than anybody. So I never wanted to write books like that. But one thing that I kept

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (18:41.55)
just kind of laughing at was the idea that Matthew read his father -in -law as a preacher. And I couldn't get over what it would be like to sit in church on Sunday and hear things like, thou shall not kill. And then on Tuesday, I have to go kill a ton of bikers. You know, they're trying to hurt your family. Like it was something I felt like I wanted to explore, but also I think every, every believer, every religious person has a very different, you know, path and maturing process. You're not the same person you were day one that you are day a hundred or day a thousand.

And so I wanted to show what might that look like. And one of the things that like, you know, you start talking to, to, to veterans and service guys, a lot of them are believers. And I really found that as a source of inspiration with Matthew read with my series, a lot of, I'll never forget. I don't know that he said it publicly, so I won't name him, but he's, he's another thriller author with a military background who spoke very candidly to me about like, what is it like to go into combat? And he was like, I just prayed the whole time.

And I thought, man, that's really interesting. I probably would have been too scared to even do that. Like I don't even think I would have had a thought. Like, you know, and that's where they talk about you rely on your training. And I thought, okay, there's a market, you know, I wouldn't say that the faith elements are central theme to the books and I'll never be someone that's preachy. I think there's authors that do that really, really well. And I wouldn't call it preachy, but like Joel Rosenberg is the standard, you know, and I still don't think he writes Christian thrillers. I think he writes thrillers. There's just, he's got a little bit more of a message than me.

In the back of my mind, I know where red is heading, but far more than, you know, where he's at from a religious standpoint. I kind of know where he's at just as a, as a person. Cause to me, he lives inside my head, right? Matthew people like, I get asked all the time, are you Matthew red? And I'm like, I, my wife probably wishes I look more like him than I do. but if I were six, three and a half and 265 pounds of peer muscle with a nice tan work in the ranch,

Yeah, I mean, I probably would say more things that he does because I could get away with it, right? I see him the end game with red. I know where I want to be as an adult. Now, I don't even say where I want to be. It's like I kind of just see where he's at later in life. And it's my job to show how he gets there. And so I'm answering that question a little vague just because there's a lot that happens in this book and then in the next one that comes out next summer. Untitled. Thanks, Taylor. And you'll see some of that growth. That's what I would call that. A lot of character development and growth. But.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (21:03.886)
You know, I don't, I don't, I haven't really gone too deep at all in the religious elements just yet. Okay. Yeah. Made me think about something. How funny is it that so many of our heroes in these books, military thrillers specifically, end up looking somewhat like, is it Alan Richardson, the new Jack Reacher? Yeah. Right. That, cause what you just described is about what he is and looks like. Yeah. It's kind of crazy. Yeah.

Since I am relative noob to the Ryan Steck fan club, I'm wondering if there's something that you kind of, and since you just referenced faith, is there something you'd like your readers to kind of walk away with, some kind of an inspiration or a feeling or a message, or is it just flat out your entertainment? So my number one goal is to entertain you. Definitely I want to entertain the reader, but...

Yeah, the hidden message I think for me is really simple blood makes you relatives you choose your family Yes, that's important to me. You know, my first three kids are adopted I was told I couldn't have kids or probably would not have children boy. That was a lie My first three are adopted and then my wife and I we had three more and so now I have you know, I have six kids so But what I would tell you is if you watch my streams on Twitch with my oldest She's more like me than any of my other kids which makes no sense because she doesn't have any of my DNA. I

You know, and she's the most like me and that's wild to me. But I, but you know, I, Matthew Redd's world is a fictionalized version of mine. His best friend in his books is, is a guy named Mikey Durhammer. That's my best friend. He lives like 200 steps that way. Okay. Like seriously, my house looks at his house. Red, Red gets a canine companion at the end of book two. And it was very prevalent in this book and out for blood rubble his Rottweiler. And you,

I'm shocked you haven't heard them yet in this interview. Rubble is my real life Rottweiler. He's 130 pound Roddy. I just take what's real to me and fictionalize. I have relatives I've not seen in forever. I have relatives, I have cousins I've not seen in my whole adult life. But I have people that I love that I consider family that aren't blood. And when you look at Red's world, that's very much true.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (23:22.318)
And that's sort of a message that I believe in. And there's anything I've preached at all. That's probably it. By the way, I saw your rot in, I think it was Instagram when he was a puppy. And so he's now a buck 30. He's a big boy. Yeah. And I got suckered. OK, so here's the deal, David. OK, so everyone wants my dog because he's like, he truly is. I've had dogs my whole life and I thought I love dogs. It turns out I never did. I loved Rubble. He is. It's so different.

He I never taught him anything and yet he knows everything. He's completely obedient I have no idea how people think I like people ask me all the time for tips on like training dogs I have no clue whatsoever. He just picked it up and minds obeys very loyal to me He's so loyal to me that if people start hugging me, he'll break it up. He's not like a big fan of of Even my wife or my kids like hugging on me for too long. And so rubble

is kind of like the perfect pet for me, but also for Red. But what happened is now my kids all want one. So we, I just got suckered into getting two puppies. So we have two additional Rottweilers. That's a whole new way of life for us. Yeah. Wow. That's amazing. You know, I, sadly I lost my dog. We had to let him go a couple of years back and I thought, I thought there's nothing.

I've now lost both parents and in some ways losing my dog felt, I'm not going to say worse, but completely different, but bad. And I thought Tammy, my wife went to a shopping the other day and saw, saw one of those little things where they put the pups out for adoption. And I said, I'm assuming you just stopped and looked and she goes, yeah, I didn't bring one home. Did I? And like, yeah, but how close did you get closer than I probably needed to. So yeah.

Yeah, my wife did it. So we had to put our, we had an 11 year old pit bull and we had to put it, he had cancer. We had to put them down right at earlier this year. We all had the flu, the pneumonia, and I was really laid up, couldn't even go to the vet with them, broke my heart. And so a couple of weeks later, I'm still down recovering and my wife goes, Hey babe, we'll be back later today. I'm taking the kids out. And I said, where are you guys going? And she goes, we're just, we're heading to Lansing for a little bit. And I'm like Lansing, like, so where I'm at in Michigan, that's two and a half hours.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (25:44.142)
You know, I'm like, what are you doing? And she's like, you know, there's these puppies, we're just looking. And I'm like, no, babe, don't do this. Don't don't do that. She's like, babe, we're not buying. It's fine, honey. We're just looking. And this is what a sucker I am. I get a FaceTime there, they're at the breeders. And this is a true story. And she she goes, hey, hon, if we were going to get one, which one would you want? So I'm looking at all these dogs and I'm like, well, I like the big one.

No, I don't want a dog, babe. Do not like I see where this is headed. Don't bring home a dog. She's like, I'm not bringing home a dog. You can't take them home for another three weeks. and I'm like, honey, no, it gets so much worse. Not only did she buy one, but she did buy two. So I really do have two Rottweiler puppies. Now I have bear and tank. We're now a three dog family. And it's all because my kids are hoping they have their own rubble and Melissa wants her own rubble. My dog is great. Like they want one that's super loyal to them. So,

I got suckered so hard into that and I've never had three dogs before. It's completely a whole new way of life. Three dogs and six kids. I joke and say we're probably like one kid and a couple dogs away from having our own reality show at this point. Well, I was just going to say six kids, three dogs, two parents. You got to sell books to be able to keep this little habit going, don't you? Yeah, for sure. Yeah, definitely.

All right, let's get into a little bit more out for blood before we run out of time. I wanted to say that the, the opening scene was so deliciously solid. I mean, I, I always know that you have really found an exceptional writer when that opening scene, not the first paragraph, which is, you know, maybe four paragraphs I'll give you, but when you got me going into the second and third page and I can't get there fast enough,

I know I've landed on a decent book. So thank you. Kudos to that. And, and your sense of time and space, action tension, just superb. And on top of it all, Matthew, just, just a cool dude. He's the kind of guy that you go, you, and for readers who already have read your stuff, they're all going, yeah, Dave, yeah, welcome to the party. But for me as a new fan, I go, man, that's the kind of guy you go, I want to know.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (28:00.398)
What makes him tick? What's coming up next? How long can I follow him? So just a mini applause here, dude. Thank you, man. Thank you. Yeah. So that I don't sit here and give something away like we, you know, we're always guilty of doing. dude, don't say that. Whatever you do, don't say that. Not that thing. So I'm going to let you give me the pitch for out for blood. And that way I can be safe. Definitely. It's well, let me let me just speak on the opening real quick. So it's this is a winter book.

It's the worst snowstorm in Montana history basically, and Red finds himself in the middle of it, which is hard enough when you're a cattle rancher in Montana on your own. It's a lot harder when there's a whole kill team after you, and that's where he finds himself. But the opening, I was really proud of. So a couple of things. It was an Easter egg that no one could spot, but when I wrote the original draft of Fields of Fire, something like eight years ago, it originally opened with, for those who don't know, winters in Montana can be deadly, but it wasn't the cold that was killing Matthew Red.

I recycled that, I finally got to use it. Fields of Fire became a completely different book. By the time it hit publication, I went through rewrites. I always wanted to come back and do a winter book. And so with Without for Blood, I liken this to like an Avengers type book. If you've read my first two, everyone you've met along the way, they're here, they're back. It's one big battle to not only protect Wellington, Montana, Red's hometown.

But Matthew, Matthew read, you meet him in fields of fire. He's this ex just Marine Raider who came home looking for answers about what happened to his adopted father, who's a cattle rancher, lived a very quiet life. And he ends up unearthing a global conspiracy that only he can stop. He's changed a lot in these three books. He was a loner in book one. Now he's married. He's got a family. Well, the problem is he's got more to lose. Right. That was all challenge. Now he's got a family and people he loves. There's a bigger target on his back because they're being targeted as well.

So where the book opens is Red's part of an FBI fly team to hunt down this cabal I call the 12. They now know that Red knows their identities. That's sort of not to give away book two, but Red finds out a lot more about them in book two. That changes things. He was sort of a nuisance before to them. Now he's a direct threat. Now they know that he has their information, which means they gotta take him out. So they're not just looking to silence him now, they're out for blood.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (30:18.574)
They're going to threaten him and everyone he loves. And it becomes a question of how far will Matthew Red go to protect everyone and everything he loves. So when he gets a call that he's got maybe an hour until there's a whole kill team at his front door, he's got to figure out what I have absolutely like no preparations for this. So what do you do? And that was the fun part for me. That was the jump off point. He sends his family in one direction with people he knows can protect them. And he goes by himself with his horse, Remington and his, his trusty hundred.

30 pound Rottweiler rubble and he heads up in the middle of a snowstorm into the mountains of Montana, hoping that he can use the land as an equalizer. And it just kind of all is downhill from there or uphill, depending on how you look at it. It was intimidating to write, because I've never written anything this big. I knew if you've been a reader from the first two books, there was going to be an expectation. You probably saw where this one was going. And I really wanted to make sure I delivered that. And it was kind of hilarious, because when I sat down to write it, I'm writing a winter book.

Michigan got one of the worst snow storms we've had in decades. And so I would just walk outside out of my porch and stand in like an actual blizzard and then go back inside and write it. And my next book is a wildfire book, which the first day I went to write it, we got the smoke from Canada that came over the U .S. and I'm sitting outside like taking it all in like, okay. So.

You know, I'm really, I'm really, really proud of this book. The reactions have been amazing. We got great quotes from Jack Carr and Brad Thor, literary heroes of mine. It's a revenge book for sure. Well, it's just flat out dynamite and at 342 pages, which by the way, call me crazy, call me an old man, but I think you shrunk the font by a notch to be able to get it at 342. Cause I'm sitting there reading and I'm, I'm a couple of hours in, I'm like,

I'm adjusting my glasses. I'm like, am I getting old that fast? And then a couple, pull out a few other books and I go, he shrunk the phone a little bit. That's it. It caught me off guard too. I mean, I think they got to keep printing costs down. it was a big book. I can tell, you know, authors measure and word count. And this one came in very close to 130 ,000 words is the biggest thing. A normal thrillers, a hundred thousand words. This had been the biggest thing. And then, you know, now I'm, I'm writing the, the Alex Hawk books for the late Ted Bell.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (32:37.678)
And I did my first one called Ted Bell's Monarch and that's that's over 130 that's closer to 140 ,000 so Alpha Blood is no longer the the biggest book I've written but it's for sure the most action -packed now How did you get past your agent and and or publishers the fact of going? 30 plus over if if a hunch about the average. Yeah, the key is here's the secret You just don't ask you just turn it in and it's over

And the look, the rule in publishing is if it's going to be over a hundred thousand words, it better not feel like it. Yeah. So really what most writers do is you just play stupid. You're like, I didn't realize it was a little over. You can't do that at 130 ,000, you know, the, the great Tom Colgan at Penguin when, when Monarch was running over, I called them and made sure it was okay. But I asked if I could turn in like at one 20, he was like, it's totally fine. It's no big deal. And I definitely sent it at like one 35 or one 38. I can send Dale a heads up to.

Yeah. Before we go to break, I wanted to say, and, and my memories of Ted Bell are as yours are as well, just phenomenal. One of the nicest men that walks the planet. Givvy, brilliant, classy. I got to know him really well, closer to the end, unfortunately too close because we were going to hook up and get together in Miami when I was going down to visit family. And then we got the news and I was, I was.

rushed. It took me weeks to get over that. And just what a legend. So kudos. Memory to our good buddy Ted and kudos to you for taking over in his stead. Thank you. You know, that interview that you did with him, I went back to watch a lot before I was writing. I went back and watched every footage that we had of Ted. Everything I knew about the books, I'd worked with them for a long time behind the scenes.

And I wanted to go and everything I thought I knew that he felt about Hawk in his series, I wanted to go watch every interview I could find. And so I watched not only his interview with you, but also the, you put out a quick show after his passing, man. And that was really beautifully done. So kudos to you and shout out to Ted's daughter, Bertie, who now runs the Ted Bell estate. And I'm super, man, it's hard to put into words, you know, when they asked me to do it. And David, like I'm...

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (34:52.59)
I was so stupid when my agent called and said, you know, Hey Ryan, everyone wants you to be involved. I thought they meant like behind the scenes as an editor or something. I had no idea they wanted me to write it. And so when he was like, no, we're talking like as the author, I was like, my gosh. Like, and it was a lot to get my head around. Ted meant a lot to me that when I got the news that he had passed, I locked myself in my office. I cried the hard, I don't even think I've cried the hard since I was a child, man. I wept for hours.

And it was heavy. You know, when I started Monarch, I'll tell you what, man, when, when I was doing fine in the opening and everything, but I got to my first Hawk chapter and I typed that first quotation mark and I was about to write dialogue for Alex Hawk and it really hit me. Like I had to stop. I was very overcome with emotion because I realized no one but Ted has ever given this guy a voice. It was heavy for me. And I got up, walked around.

came back and and and and tore into it and I'm I'm really really pleased to say that Bertie obviously Ted's fantastic daughter really good friend of mine now was the first reader and she she gave me her stamp of approval and that meant a lot so that one comes out March 25 of next year and I'm excited nice well first of all hi Bertie we love you we miss you dad yeah

kudos again to you because I can't wait to read that because Ted was such an inspiration speaking of some inside secrets here with Ryan we're gonna take a short break let our sponsor do some talking but when we come back he's gonna share some of the secrets his secrets time -honored in the world of social media and we're gonna find out his best writing advice it's Ryan Steck out for blood right here on the Thriller Zone stay with us

And welcome back to the Thriller Zone. I'm David Temple. This is Ryan Steck. We're out for blood. And boy, I'll tell you, Ryan, you have, you've hit it out of the ballpark with this puppy. Only number three now. Yeah. Thank you. How does that feel? I mean, to have, all right, let's just, let's, let's step back a second. First of all, Real Book Spy. You've been around for, what'd you say? A birthday's coming up on 10. Yeah. You're well respected in the community. Everyone loves you. I'm a, I'm a big fan. First time we've really got a chance to meet.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (37:00.046)
And I'm so impressed with your work ethic and your tenacity and your integrity. And I know that you got some inside secrets because I've been watching you on all the social media and I'm like, and I was asking myself as I was writing notes over the weekend, I'm like, find out from Ryan. What that secret sauce is and not the writing device. We're going to get that in a second, but the way that you're able to lift the real book spy.

and your books and other authors and serve this whacked out world of social media simultaneously and be so successful at it. I mean, I wish I knew. Yeah, I wish. Look, secrets I'm good at. My favorite thing is my favorite writers that are now friends is to call them and scoop them and tell them, you know, I'll just casually mention the title of their book or something and just see what they say.

Yeah. Or mention things, you know, and every time people are like, I can't believe you know that. And I'm like, I'd be pretty terrible books by if I didn't. Right. Right. Social media has changed so much since I started. Yeah. You know, I mean, we went from Twitter to X or whatever. Elon's calling it now. Like it's, it's a totally different thing. I never see anything I want to on it. Like I'll say, like many people, it's all, I honestly think all the crap I see is exactly the things I never want to see on social media. Yeah. Like do what.

Whatever your algorithm is, just reverse it and we're probably good. But I do think it's a powerful tool when it comes to finding people who are like -minded. It's becoming harder to reach those people, I think. And I was probably fortunate enough to get a bit of an audience before things changed a lot. Yeah. But I do think, and this is true for men, like for male readers, like, look, let's be honest, okay, if you weren't doing the show and I'm not the book spy, and you, so none of this exists. You read a book you really love, what do you do? What do you tell about it? You tell your friends.

Yeah, but I don't think we do that as often as we probably should. I think most men are pretty terrible. I'll bring up a book to like a guy friend or even my dad. He'll be like, yeah, I love that one. And I'm like, you read it? Yeah, it was really good. That's it. That was the whole discussion. Unless you start like prying and you're trying to create a discussion around it, very rarely do I think men are going around telling each other about books and all that. They turn on book talk and it's like women have nailed this. I was going to say, here's the thing, and I'm going to interrupt you because I talked to my guy friends.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (39:25.07)
Hey, do you read so and so? If I'm gonna, we're gonna use a number of 30 guy friends. 28 of them don't read. I'm like, what? What are you doing in your spare time? Well, I've got the kids or this or that. But I asked 30 of gal friends, 31 of them have read the book. Absolutely. Yeah, they're way better at it than us when it comes to networking and talking about books that they love. So I book talk really exploded. And so what I have found is there are definitely, you know, look, I'm both sides of that aisle.

men, women that love these types of books. But I just think guys are more likely to hop on like Twitter or some guy. I think I don't understand Instagram or Tik Tok whatsoever at all. Shout out David Brown for being the first anyone in the thriller world to get on Tik Tok and do something with that. David Brown, the wizard of atrium mystery bus. Didn't he just do something the other day where he's sitting in his, no, it's William Kent Krueger sitting in his office pretending to be now, man. He's got, he's got,

guest lineups. Brad Thor had a great one that they did. Jack Carr's got a new one. Like if you aren't following Atrium Mystery Bus on TikTok, you should be because it's a totally, it's the same flavor, but like a totally different package than what you would see on, you know, Twitter or X. Now I think social media is a tough nut to crack. I do. I really do. Everyone is, is trying to replicate other people. And I just, if I have any advice to people, it would just be, don't do that. Don't look at what,

made someone else successful at what they're doing, don't necessarily try to be them, be you, because you're probably never going to match what they're already doing. Yeah. Well, here's what I'm going to pull from that, that audience that you're probably thinking. And you may or may not know this gal. You have to know, because if you're breathing today, you're going to know Colleen Hoover. Didn't she, didn't she kind of ignite the fire of book talk? My understanding is that that is true.

And that it, that book sold like many millions of copies. Yeah. Like way after it originally had come out. Yeah. I could be wrong, but I think it all started with like someone read her book and had such a reaction to it. They were crying and they got on tick tock and they posted a video of them like crying and I just took off. and so anyway, if it doesn't work, I'm going to rebrand and I'm going to write the saddest book anyone's ever read in their lives.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (41:50.734)
We have an army of thriller fans just sobbing on Tik TOK and we'll see what happens. But I do think it's wild. We're all trying to find you see with every author right now, Jack cars, crack the code. But the issue is so many writers get in the game today and they're like, I'm going to do what Jack's doing. You will never out Jack, Jack car when it comes to being Jack car. Not going to happen. Never going to happen.

Well, it does help the fact that he has several movies, TV shows, a, an entire shopping network at his beck and call on his website. And he turns around every single time. And if it's not cross tomahawk cutting boards, it's knives or cocktail glasses. I mean, he's just turned into a phenom. No one can do what he's doing. No, nobody. And if you tried, it wouldn't, it wouldn't be the same. You'd be Jack car light and no one wants that. We want the real Jack car. So everyone's got to find.

their own footing, I think. And this is by far, you know, no one talks about this enough, but just in the spirit of honesty, this is the hardest time I think it's ever been for thriller novelists since Clancy sort of redefined the genre. It is so much harder today to find an audience, to gain a readership, to get your start than it ever has been. You go back to the early, late 90s, early 2000s, Vince Flynn, Daniel Silva, Lee Child, Brad Thor, Jocelyne Rosenberg, Kyle Mills.

All these guys were just starting out. Michael Connelly's, they're all still here today. That NexWave, Brad Taylor, Mark Grainy, it's getting pretty short after that list, right? And then you're like, NexWave, it's like Jack Carr. It's getting harder and harder and harder now to continue trying to break out or really gain footing in this genre in the industry today. So, but look, let's look at Ryan Steck for a second. You don't let that...

Describe your future. You don't sit there and face look at that and go. this is this is too daunting for me because you're writing out a passion I sense I think you just have to ignore that because yeah, listen I mean this whole interview is now selling Jack Carr because he needs the help that you know for his sales No, he doesn't man. He's crushing it. He definitely is but no I mean listen Jack always says never tell me the odds someone did it before me and that's that was his attitude as a Navy SEAL

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (44:05.55)
That was his attitude as a novelist. And I think that that's very true. I'm blessed because I talk to famous, wealthy, established, successful authors all the time. So you're like, it could happen. It would be the most daunting thing in the world if you're brand new to the industry and you're coming in and this has been your dream. I don't know how you start that today necessarily. Well, you got to have a nest egg. You got to have a team behind you and you got to have a tenacious spirit unlike any other. And by the way, I know Jack's on the top.

Of your book, but we really don't have to make this the Jack car special. I mean it is it's been the Jack car show It's it's all good man, cuz I love Jack car and his readers are everywhere So I had on one of the Jack car mod watches the Aries Aries, you know, he's got branding with everybody now I had one of those on and I was with my wife You know any acknowledgements I mentioned I don't go into too much details My wife had very serious health issues when I was in edits for out for blood writing read for

And it tested me a lot in ways I never expected. And you're down, we were at a U of Med, it's hard, you're just trying to stay focused on what you're doing one day at a time. And I'll never forget the doctor looked and saw the watch, it had the Jack Carr logo, and he was like, hey, do you read Jack Carr? And it was like, yeah. And it brought me back into the world that I'm in every day. And I really mean this, David, it took the scary out of the situation.

We were at this like incredibly important doctor's appointment and I'm over here talking about Jack Carr and the guy's like, yeah, I love his books. And I'm like, you know, and of course my wife's like, yeah, we know Ryan's Ryan knows them. They're friends. And he's like, no way. And I'm like, this guy went to school for like 18 years to specialize in his field and he's geeking out over Jack Carr and he loves the books. He loves the show. Didn't know there was, you know, the watches he's got to get a watch and this and that.

And Jack is such a stud. He'd probably be mad I'm saying this, but I text Jack and I tell him all that and he's like, get the doctor's name and I want to send him a signed book. Wow. That's the real Jack car, man. That's why he's so successful. Cause the guy is very sincere. That's the truth. He is. And you know what? It would be fun. When I was watching you and Brynn and he on that, Twitch, I thought, man, how much fun would it be? The three of us, that would be a hoot and a half.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (46:24.11)
All right. As we get to rap, because I told you we'd be out soon enough, cause you got, you got your hands full and I do want to finish you in your best writing advice. Cause for a guy who has been at it for only three books, but it feels like six or 10, I know you've come up with, and I know you've heard this on the show before and a lot of people go, Dave's closing with the same thing. Well, yeah, because it's the one thing everyone really likes. I like that signature saying. So what is that? If you've,

You bound to have distilled it down to something. If you're teaching it at a class, et cetera, you got the tea up. What do you think? Right. Everyone says, right, you know what, you know, and I think that's not true, man. My, my series is set in Montana and it's about a guy who was a former Marine Raider, now turned cattle rancher. I am the most city boy you'll ever meet in your life. If I had to go to Montana in the middle of a snowstorm, I'm dead for sure. Like by nightfall, I'm dead. Promise you, I'm never making it. I didn't know anything.

I'm writing the Alex Hawk books. I pitched Tom Colgan an opening for that and he goes, it sounds great. And I freaked out because I was like, I don't even know where to start. I had to go do two weeks of research and talk to so many people to get my head around it before I could even start writing that. Write what you know used to work, I think. Now I think it's so competitive. It's so hard to get into this business. Write what you want to read and write what you're passionate about. Because if you want to be a writer, it's going to require

A lot of passion. It's going to require the never tell me the odds attitude that we've talked about with Jack Carr because he needs another shout out because you have enough. No, but seriously, man, you got to steal yourself for this is not a get rich quick scheme or let me just write a book like so and so that's not how this works. It's not how publishers work now agents work. So you got to write something because it's so part of you. You've got to get it out. And if it if it gets published, even better. Right. I wrote Fields of Fire.

That was my first book knowing it may never get published, but it was so inside of me. I had to put it on the page and see what it looked like. I felt like I owed myself that I owed the characters in the universe that and now you just keep going. I think so write what you're passionate about because you're going to need it. You're going to need it and and then write what you want to read. I want to go back one quick second because you wrote that first book because you said it had to get out of you. Were you sitting there and staring at this?

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (48:44.302)
Were you looking at the fork in the road that said, do I self publish because this was a passion and I'm just going to get it out there regardless, which is kind of how I did my first handful of books. Or did I take the right fork and go, I'm going to say this and go querying agents until the cows come home and not settle until I find one. I mean, I had an unfair advantage being a book spy, you know, and I've, I've worked as a freelance editor for a long time. So I.

I had a lot of connections and relationships with agents and I think I have the best agent in publishing, John Talbot. I absolutely trust him with my whole career. And when I wrote Fields of Fire, originally Matthew Redd was 33. He was CIA, not a Marine Raider. He was coming back to Montana and found a human trafficking ring. And John, I remember was smart enough to go like, that's not going to work.

It's a good book. No one wants to read that. I want you to rewrite it. Hey, just take the trafficking out. Like that made it sound not scary. Just take that out. And I was like, okay. And then the editor inside of me kicked in and I was like, well, you can't just take that out. Like there's, there's a ripple effect, right? That's the whole plot. So now it's a rewrite. Now it's a labor of love. And so to me, it was never like, I'll just sell publisher this or that it was, all right, let me take my best swing at this thing. You know, and if I strike out, that's okay. But I'm going to get up there and swing and I'm a swing for the fences on this one.

I listened to my agent, you gotta do that. It's never quick. Your agent gives you advice. It's not like give me a day and I'll turn it back into you. I mean, we're talking 18 months later, you know, I'm still trying to figure out how to do this. You gotta look big picture. I think, and I had the unfair advantage, computer to a lot of new writers because I was already in the industry in a very weird and unique way with a lot of different roles, editor and books by and biggest fan, you know, and.

It kind of came together for me, but that was my mindset of I'm gonna take the biggest swing I can, and if I connect, great. And if I don't, that's okay too. I still love what I do. I still love editing, I still love book spying. So I felt like if it works out, it works out. And now I kind of look back and I laugh, because if I knew how great it was to be an author, I'd have been more stressed out back then. I would have been like, this has to work. But it is great, it's really great. I absolutely love it, I've been blessed.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (51:04.398)
People are reading my books. That's so wild to me, man. These books live in your head. These characters are with you all the time. And I just did a PLA event in Ohio last month. And to get to meet readers and stuff like in person and to hear from them, that is so, so amazing. Like that is so cool. And so yeah, if I would have known how great it is, I would have been more stressed out, but I went into it, you know, pretty blind and thought I thought I knew cause I worked with authors and I was friends with them. And I had a different mindset with it, but you know, I got really fortunate for sure.

Well, again, Out for Blood is the book. If you want to learn more, go to the website, Ryansteck .com. Yeah. And Ryan, thank you so much. I'm so glad we finally got this together and I'm hoping I'm cheering you for the next book and for the Ted Bell series. Just thank you, man. Huge congrats. Thank you. I'm a big fan of the show. Like keep it up because I love what you're doing. I really, really do.

I support you all the way. I've seen a lot of people come along since I've been a book spy. A lot of websites that are like book spy rip -offs. And I just, it's hard for me to support those, because I'm like, they literally copy everything I do, like the wording of things. And I love when there's people that come around and they're original, like what you're doing. Like I'm a big, big fan of that, man. So really support what you got going on and love the interviews you do. And not only do you have the best voice, but you ask the best questions too. I really mean that. So thank you. Thank you. Well, humbled, humbled. Thank you.

All right. You get out, you take care and please let me know the next chance we get to sit down for book four. Cause it's going to be a doozy. What I'd really like to do is sit down face to face. As you know, we've been trying to slide into that more and more lately and they've become, they read, it's such a different palpable thing when you get to sit down and just really chew the fat in front of each other. I totally agree, man. I'd be up, but we'll make something work for sure. All right. Well, thank you again. Thank you, man.

Thanks again, Ryan. Now, folks, you may have heard me talking about it on social media like all week, but next Monday, I'm thrilled to announce I'll be sitting down for a three -peat performance with none other than the lovely, talented, smart and funny New York Times bestselling author, Meg Gardner. baby, you promised us to be loads of fun, as always. Now, before I go, a quick reminder. This is our anniversary month, and on the following week,

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (53:20.302)
June 17th to be exact, I'm going to let you in on a closely held secret. Recall my very first guest, the person who took a chance talking to a then yet mostly unknown podcast host of a little startup pod called The Thriller Zone. If not, it was May Cobb. Well, she's promised to return to celebrate our three year anniversary as we discuss her latest thriller,

the Hollywood Assistant. So go ahead and add Meg Gardner's book, Shadowheart and May Cobb's Hollywood Assistant to your summer reading list as you'll want to devour both of them. All right, I'm David Semple, your host, and I'll see you next time for another exciting edition of The Thriller Zone, your front row seat to the best thriller writers in the world.