The Thriller Zone

On today's 148th episode of The Thriller Zone, we're thrilled to welcome New York Times bestselling author Kyle Mills.

Kyle is the superb author who took over the Vince Flynn legacy series of the Mitch Rapp stories. And today he speaks about his latest thriller CODE RED, and how he plans to hand off the series to another iconic author, Don Bentley.

If you're a fan of military-themed thrillers, then you no doubt are supremely aware of Kyle's masterful handling of Mitch Rapp.

This is taken from Kyle's website, as he shares some "Behind The Scenes" of the iconic series.

"Code Red was an interesting novel to conceptualize. Because I was considering making it my last entry in the series, I found myself looking back at where I’d been—from finishing the arc Vince started in The Last Man, to Mitch going toe-to-toe with an opponent who was nearly his equal, to the desperate race to stop a Russian invasion of Europe. Over my time guiding the series, the character has evolved from a man still enraged and frustrated by the death of his wife to someone who’s found the stability of a new family and maybe even a little peace.

In the meantime, America has endured a decade of violent geopolitical changes from both inside and outside its borders. The direct threat from Islamicists has given way to growing political dysfunction, an increasingly belligerent China, and advancing technology that seems to be careening out of control.

What’s Mitch Rapp’s role in this new reality?

In the end, I decided it wasn’t my place to find out. I wanted to leave Mitch’s new custodian a solid platform to launch from without locking him into any particular course.

This gave me the opportunity to end with a stand-alone adventure that puts Mitch back in Arab territory but with a few modern twists. The goal was to tip my hat to Vince’s earlier books by creating an operation that involves a lot of fireworks and returns Mitch to his roots.

Which brings my era to a close. It’s hard not to feel a little sadness, but I’m excited to move forward with my Fade series. While I’ll miss writing about Mitch and the gang, I’m really looking forward to going back to reading about them." -Kyle Mills

To learn more about Kyle and follow him on his new journey, go to: KyleMills.com

As always, THANK YOU for following and subscribing to TheThrillerZone.com

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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.

David Temple:
Ladies and gentlemen Please welcome Kyle Mills to the Thriller Zone And hi, Kyle.

Kyle:
Hello, thanks for having me

David Temple:
I have just learned folks that so Kyle and I will talk and you know, in the green room before and he said, you know, you're just you're delaying my happy hour. So yeah, take your time, Dave. Thanks a lot. I'm like happy hour dude, Jackson hole you're only like two hours. Oh, no, I'm in Spain. I'm like

Kyle:
Well, you know, I'm not above starting happy hour early.

David Temple:
Right, right. Yeah. Who is? What's wrong with that?

Kyle:
Exactly.

David Temple:
We're gonna be talking about Code Red here in just a minute, the Vince Flynn novel and a fantastic read, like big surprise there, like, oh yeah, you really dropped the ball. No one's ever gonna say about you, Kyle. I mean, it's just an amazing read. But let me take a quick split second because we were watching a new television series and I know this is off the beaten path, but it's my show, we get to do that. What was the name of that? Who is Aaron Carter? And it's have you seen it?

Kyle:
You know, no, it popped up in my Netflix though.

David Temple:
It's so funny, we finished the series last night and I turned to my wife Tammy and I said, that was good? I mean, it was good and it was intriguing, but it wasn't, it was like the depth of a little wading pond. I was wanting more, but here's my favorite thing. It was all shot in Spain, like outside Barcelona. And I'm like, oh my God, where is this? And then I started drilling down because I can't, you know, I don't have no attention span. And so I said, I hear Spain is a great place to retire. She said, really? I said, oh yeah, I've been reading this all over the place lately. And then here you, I found out that you're living in Spain. That is so wild.

Kyle:
Yeah, it is a nice place to retire. I know a bunch of people that have.

David Temple:
And it's so affordable according to these research. And there's this panel online that it'll teach you exactly how to set up retirement in Spain. And it's way easier than I ever would have imagined. So kudos to you. When did this happen?

Kyle:
Yeah, we've been living here on and off for a few years now. So we

David Temple:
Okay.

Kyle:
live here for a year and in Wyoming for a year and just kind of go back and forth. So yeah, it's interesting. I mean, it's not without its challenges. I can tell you that right now. I mean, we're renovating a house right now and the bureaucracy and then you're an immigrant. So you get to spend your time sitting in the immigration office with all your paperwork, hoping they don't deport you and stuff like that. But those things are interesting. It's

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
something different.

David Temple:
Well, Kyle, I feel like as though I should know you. I mean, between your prolific number of New York Times bestsellers, including, of course, all the Vince Flynn books, and the fact that I follow you on social media and you I, and we have moved in and around the circles, I was just thinking as I was warming up for the show, how can I not have met Kyle yet? He's like one of the biggest dudes in the industry, and which. Of course it's slightly. Well, you don't get to meet everybody, but anyway, you know, it's just weird that we haven't met yet.

Kyle:
Yeah, you know, honestly, I'm kind of a reclusive, I think. I mean, the one I live part-time in Spain, which

David Temple:
Sure.

Kyle:
people don't get around to very much, and the other part in Wyoming, which nobody ever goes to. So maybe that's it. But

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
I'm trying to get out a little more. I went to VoucherCon last year, and unfortunately I'm gonna miss it this year, but maybe next year.

David Temple:
Well, I'm going to miss seeing you because I'll be there starting, oh geez, what, a couple of days. And, um, but Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a place I've always fantasized about living. And I know here I'm off the beaten traffic and we're going to get on the track in a second, but that is some of the single most beautiful countryside in the world. It makes you wonder why more people don't live there.

Kyle:
Yeah, you know, it's a lot of people want to move there, but the problem with it is almost all the land there is publicly held. So you have Grand Neutral National Park and all the other land. So the actual amount of land that you can live on in that area is tiny. You look out at it, you think, oh, look, it's empty for as far as the eye can see, but it's almost all public land. You've got the National Elk Refuge is right there. So it's become very, very popular and it's causing it to become very, very expensive.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
I mean, I moved there 30 years ago, so it was really different then.

David Temple:
Oh wow. So you were way ahead of the curve. And this has to do with your rock climbing passion, which we're going to get to in just a couple of minutes. But for those folks who tune in for the show to hear about superstars like you and hear about their books, I want to make sure I do this up front so I don't lose my audience to be perfectly frank. So so Code Red, which we talked about, hits bookshelves on September 12. This show will drop one day prior to that. So on the 11th. And How are you feeling about this book? I mean, outside of the normal goose pimples and all that, how are you feeling about it? And by that, I mean, are you as excited about this book as that very first Flynn book, which I believe was a survivor, right?

Kyle:
Right. Yeah, I wouldn't say I was excited about the Survivor, as I terrified about the Survivor. Because, you know, at that point, I'd written a book about Mitch Rapp. I didn't know if anybody really wanted me to write a book about Mitch Rapp, if they wanted the series continued. You know, I talked to a few fans over email and stuff, but, you know, I was really concerned that it would go out there and everybody would hate it and or not want it to exist or whatever. And So that one was a little more stressful than anything. Fortunately, people really liked it and they wanted to have the series continue. Yeah, I feel really good about this because we have a thing that was... was dreamed up by my publicist called the Ambassador Program. And we send a bunch of books out to big Mitch Rapp fans prior to publication.

David Temple:
Mm-hmm.

Kyle:
So it's kind of nice because you get to kind of interact with them on social media and email and stuff and find out what people think of the book. And people seem to really love this book, which is great because it's my last. And I wanted to go out on a strong note.

David Temple:
Yeah, let's talk about that for a second. I got that news, I don't know when that news came across my radar. It wasn't in the last couple of weeks. It's been a while, but I was like, Kyle is doing what? And then of course you think to yourself, well, you've been doing this for how many years. So it makes sense to move on to find other things. Plus, you've written a stack of NYT bestsellers for quite a long time. So it begs, I guess it begs the immediate question, and I'm jumping ahead of myself. not a surprise there, that what will you be doing with all that righteous time next? Are you, you know, do you have a new series in mind? Do you have a standalone? Are you gonna take some time off?

Kyle:
No, I have a new series in mind. I had written a book called Fade many years ago about kind of this crazy former Navy SEAL who was a bit suicidal and in the end he gets shot and in my mind when I wrote the book he was killed. But then as time went on, I started to see him like me being a coma, because I really loved that character, and fans really loved the character. And they always send me emails saying, are you ever going to bring this character back? We'd like to hear some more about him. And so I've been kind of working on that in the back of my head for ever, a decade. And... Now I want to resurrect him, almost literally.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
And I have kind of a series in mind for him. So that's what I've been working on since I finished the Mitch Rapp book.

David Temple:
It's interesting and I hope this is a compliment. And I know you've dabbled in the, and you're a fan of the Bourne world, but it does remind me of that very first Bourne where he shows up and you think he's dead and all of a sudden, this is probably slightly unrelated, but it just made me think of Jason Bourne and that kind of a character that is, you think is out and all of a sudden he's back in and then, so I'm really excited about hearing about, seeing that come to life.

Kyle:
Yeah, it should be fun. I'd like to tackle some of the current problems that are going around in the world. And he's an interesting character to do it from, because he's kind of a little bit philosophical and a little kind of wacky. But I think it'll be an interesting view of the world, and still big action-packed thrillers with huge concepts and stuff that I like to do. So give me a chance to explore something a little bit different. and to give fans a different perspective on Mitch Rapp. Don Bentley has taken over for me, and he's a great writer and a huge fan of the series. So I'm looking forward to being a fan again.

David Temple:
Yeah, that is one nice thing about sitting on the sidelines and going, you know what, I'm going to sip my cocktail out by the pool of the ocean and just watch someone else do all the heavy lifting while I

Kyle:
It is,

David Temple:
enjoy.

Kyle:
and it's exciting too to get to read the books again. You know, I haven't gotten to really read a Mitch Rott book in a decade,

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
because I've been writing.

David Temple:
And in talking about a guy who is so perfectly suited to take over that franchise, I mean, mega talent, probably certainly knows how to flat out write, probably one of the nicest, most grounded, level headed down to earth guys you'll ever meet. I mean, kudos to whoever made that, pulled that together.

Kyle:
Yeah, and you know, he's ex-military, ex-FBI, he's written for Clancy. He was kind of the dream candidate, though honestly, I didn't think they'd be able to get him because he was doing so well with the Clancy stuff. He's coming out top of the New York Times list and stuff, so we were lucky.

David Temple:
What do you think, now this is just purely your opinion conjecture, what do you think that Don, because you know Don pretty well, what do you think will be the flavor he will bring that is slightly different than the flavor that you brought? I'm just curious if you have any ideas.

Kyle:
You know, I don't know. He's been bouncing around a lot of different ideas and they're all really compelling. Some are very similar to what I've been doing and some

David Temple:
Uh-huh.

Kyle:
are really different. So I wish I could answer that question.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
I'm gonna have to ply him a little bit when we're on tour together and see if I can get a few specifics about what the next book's gonna be about.

David Temple:
That's right, I just read where you and he are going to be hitting the circuit to promote Code Red. And what are those plans looking like? I think I saw a photo, maybe it was on your Twitter feed or Instagram feed with the poison pen maybe?

Kyle:
Yeah, Poison Pen, Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis, and The Lark and Owl in, it's outside of, it's in Georgia, outside of Georgia, the city, outside of Austin, Texas. So yeah, we'll be doing those three appearances, chatting about where the books have been, where they're, you know, we'll get a little bit, hopefully, about where they're going, and talk about the Clancy stuff and everything, so it should be fun.

David Temple:
Yeah, well, you know, he'll be wearing that, uh, plaid

Kyle:
Cowboy

David Temple:
shirt

Kyle:
shirt.

David Temple:
of his cowboy shirt, cowboy boots. Hey, from my fictional, uh, co-conspirator character, Captain Obvious comes a question. What do you suppose, and again, this is me asking you to dive into the minds of other people, which is completely, uh, ridiculous, but it's just kind of what I do. What do you suppose was that single biggest magic sauce, secret sauce? that Vince Flynn had because when he came on the scene, I remember just going, wait a minute, who is this guy? Where did this guy come from? Where did these, I mean, it was bigger than life. And I remember just gobbling up those books back in the day. What do you think that sauce was?

Kyle:
You know, one of the things that I, I mean, I read all those books again. I'd read them over many, many years. I read them all again before I started in one big push. And I mean, he did a lot of things well, but one of the things that nobody ever really talks about with him that I think is super important to his books is he created these really rich villains that you hated and you really wanted to get there is, you know, people talk about Mitch Rapp, what a great character he is. And he's super iconic. And that's true.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
But he's only as good as the guys you want him to kill. And so that's one of the things that I loved about those books is you're just waiting for that guy to get shot in the face by Mitch Rapp, you know, and it's so satisfying when it happened.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
So I think that's one of the things that people don't think about when they think of Vince, but that if you actually study his books like I did, it's a huge component.

David Temple:
I had a conversation with Lee Goldberg recently and the show is going to drop soon and he brought up something that was so, it's so simple yet so profound and we were talking about you know how does one learn how to not duplicate the secret sauce but how to really understand how a good book works and he said take a book that you read that you really love break it down, the blueprint is right there in front of you in black and white, deconstruct it, put it on a big poster board or whatever, and then learn from it and use some of that technique moving forward. And I'm like, I had never heard anyone and it sounds so, you're like, yeah, Dave, how you doing? But it is one of the greatest little lessons that I picked up and I thought, it made me think of what you just said is like, just if you're going to read. Deconstruct, learn how the pros do it and move on.

Kyle:
Yeah, I mean when I decided I was going to write a novel, I didn't really have any background in it other than being a fan of novels, particularly thriller novels. And I read, I remember now, I read Cardinal of the Kremlin, which is probably my favorite thriller novel. I read Kiss the Girls, which was super popular

David Temple:
Oh,

Kyle:
at the time,

David Temple:
yeah,

Kyle:
Patterson,

David Temple:
yeah.

Kyle:
and The Pelican Brief.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
And all really different. because that's why I picked them. They're like really different novels, but all very, very successful and people loved them and kind of broke it down. I probably still have them sitting around with all my notes and highlighting in them and like, why did this work? Why didn't this work for me and all that? And man, I learned a lot from that.

David Temple:
This is one thing that I find so intriguing about you, Kyle, is the fact that you are, you know, I talked to so many people on this show now two and a half years in that say, Oh, I wanted to be a writer since I was a child. My very first story was eight years old and I've been writing ever since. Or, you know, I picked it up as a hobby in grade school or college and I never stopped. You're, you had a completely different path and Kind of a late bloomer, if you will, and then you have this prolific career. Tell me how you made that happen.

Kyle:
Yeah, it was not really expected. I worked for a bank, I did corporate loans for a bank, and I was a really fanatical rock climber. That was basically my life. I worked at the bank and I climbed rocks. And I realized I never really did anything creative. So I wanted to try something creative, and I was going to build furniture. and my wife reminded me that I wasn't very handy. And so I don't think she really didn't, we live in Wyoming at the time, and that she

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
didn't want me to fill the garage with tools and have to park outside and all that. And she's the one that said, well, you love reading, why don't you write a novel? And I don't know, I never took any English class. I have an economics degree, so didn't seem like a great idea, but it kind of intrigued me. And so... I kind of studied up on it, got some how-to books, read those novels and thought, yeah, I'm just going to embark on this and, you know, my mom will read it and, you know, it'll go in a drawer.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
Yeah. So it turned out pretty good, I thought.

David Temple:
Bye.

Kyle:
And then I thought, well, maybe I'll try to get it published. And it ended up getting published and became a national bestseller. Which is great, but honestly I had never planned to write a second book. So my agent signed me to a two book deal and I was kind of panicked because I had no ideas, never, never considered it. So I didn't even know if I had a computer or a place back then. I think I wrote it like I'd bring home the laptop from the bank and write at night on it.

David Temple:
Oh, geez. You know,

Kyle:
So.

David Temple:
this blows my mind because I think of all the people, probably including myself, that have fantasized for years. Oh, man, if I could just, you know, hit it and blah, fill in the blank. And then for someone to... kind of come at it from nowhere and then hit it so well. But you know, this begs the question or challenges the thought, I think, that if you operate in the realm of passion, meaning you find something that really makes you tick and then you go after it with reckless abandon and you really absorb it and enjoy it, and you do it without the worry of, man, can I make a living on it? I think therein lies part of the magic because you're not... It's like mercury in your hand, if you've ever tried to hold mercury, when you go to reach for it and squeeze it, it just shoots out from between your fingers. You can't do it. So it's, you know, it's a little bit metaphysical there, I suppose. But I think sometimes when you want it so bad and you're reaching so hard, it is the mistake. Whereas if you just relax and lean into it and go, it's going to be okay, if it's supposed to work, it will. And then it does, right?

Kyle:
Yeah, I mean sometimes it does. I definitely advise people not to get into writing for, you know, I'm going to make a million dollars because it really doesn't happen very often, let me tell you. Even very talented, very successful writers, it's not, it's just not necessarily a huge money maker. It's something you have to be passionate about. I loved writing. I worked when I, I worked really hard on it. You know, a lot of people think, oh, you know, you've written 23 books or something, it's easy now. was before. So you've got to really work hard on it, really hone your craft. I'm always a person that's never good enough and I'm always recrafting things. But that's kind of the behind the scenes thing. It's not always fun and games. A lot of sitting in your basement worrying about this paragraph doesn't flow very well.

David Temple:
Isn't it funny and I get this from everybody who's on the show. They'll

Kyle:
Ahem.

David Temple:
say things like man I'm afraid it's just gonna suck. But you've just written 23 number one hits. Yeah, but This one could suck and i'm just always amazed at why We as writers tend to kind of lean into that negative space That self-doubt.

Kyle:
I don't know.

David Temple:
Yeah

Kyle:
You know, and it's funny, because all the spouses have the same stories of, oh, they're tearing around the house again, going, this is crap, throwing wadding up paper and throwing it at the walls. And they're all like, oh, it always works out in the end. You do this every time. But

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
you know, I did on Code Red, I did on every book I've ever written. So, you know,

David Temple:
Did your wife say that?

Kyle:
oh yeah, I told you. She's like, oh, I can't think of anything. I'm never gonna think of another idea again. Ah, yes you will.

David Temple:
You know, your publisher, Emily Bessler, who is very easily one of the most respected and most delightfully gracious people I've ever had a chance to interact with, says of Code Red, in case I want to put an extra little plug in here, it is the very best book quote from Kyle Mills yet. How does that make you feel?

Kyle:
Makes me feel great because

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
I mean this is an important, I think the two most important ones have been the first one, clearly.

David Temple:
Sure. Yeah.

Kyle:
But for me a little bit the last one too because. The pressure was really on for me because I would hate for it to go out on a week note, particularly because I think there would be an impression, you know how people are, that I kind of phoned it in because I knew I was leaving.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
And so I was especially like, you know, really especially attentive to making sure that this was a really strong novel. So people would say, you know, that I respected the... the series and Vince's memory. So hopefully I have.

David Temple:
Yeah, and you know, those were mighty big shoes to fill back in the day, but you have to walk out with this great confidence that you nailed it and you nailed it time and time again. And you've got this legion of fans that go, Kyle did it. He carried on the torch. He did it magnificently. And while we're sad to see him go, he did a great job. I mean, that's, that's a wonderful legacy to be able to leave.

Kyle:
It's been great. I mean, the fans have been really kind. And you know, it's funny on the last book, I got a lot of email and comments. that they thought that was the last one. Basically the last chapter was kind of, Mitch had dealt with this crooked president and he's back at home and then he was gonna ride off in the sunset and I got a lot of really nice letters and comments saying, you know, this has been great, it was an amazing series and this is just a great way for it to end. And I write back, I'm like, it's not ending.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
But it was really nice to hear people that really appreciate it. I get a lot of emails about what Vince meant to people and what the character meant to people and where they were when they picked it up. It's great to do something that you feel like you've impacted people's lives positively even if it's just that you gave them something fun to do for a couple of days.

David Temple:
And you know, that's a really superb point. And I think about this often. We, you know, as writers, we think, oh, we want to do either, we want to craft the great American novel or we want to do something of massive significance and so forth. But so many writers that come on the show, and I think about this sometimes, sometimes you just want to jump on a flight. And while you've got five, six, eight hours to fly, you just want to escape and not have to do spreadsheets or worry about work or la la. want to escape and I think sometimes we kind of forget that or I'm not saying we do we could forget that and forget the magic of just disappearing in some good fun entertainment

Kyle:
Yeah. And it's really different now even when I started. I mean, the world is so much more fast paced

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
with the internet and you're always on and you're always got your cell phone and all this stuff. And yeah, the perfect time to get on a plane, you have to shut your cell phone off and you can just disappear into another universe

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
and let it all go for a little while. That's what I love about books. I don't feel that way about, I mean, I like TV and movies, way about it. I don't like completely get immersed in them the way I do a book.

David Temple:
And I'll tell you what I think, this is my theory, Kyle. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this is, I'm a closet indie filmmaker. I turned my very first self-published book into a film. Some of my listeners might know. And there's something about taking that story that's lived in your brain for so long and turn it into film. But the thing is, and I always say this to people, when I hear people go, oh, but dude, the book was so much better than the movie. And I'm like, well, of course it was because you were the director inside your book. were the director, you're building the sets in the scenes and you decided who the actors were and all that. So it's always going to be deeper and richer and fuller, right?

Kyle:
Yeah, for sure, and longer.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
There's only so much you can explore

David Temple:
Hey!

Kyle:
in two hours

David Temple:
Yeah!

Kyle:
when you've just taken a book that would take you 10 hours to read. So,

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
yeah, like actors and stuff have to handle that. So, yeah, to me it's always been a really different experience. I've always loved, above all, all things to read. And... It is hard to, you know, I mean, certainly you have some books that have, or movies that have transcended the books, but I feel like that's a, it's more the exception than the rule.

David Temple:
Yeah, anomaly. Hey, so let me ask you this about audiobooks. Are you a fan of that? And I would imagine if you're well, if you're, and I know you're not rock climbing quite to the extent that you used to, but you might be biking, for instance, or skiing. Do you ever carry along audiobooks? Do you ever are you an audiobook fan at all? Yeah.

Kyle:
No. I've listened to them mine, like little snippets of mine, just to hear what people sound like. Not really. I like to listen to podcasts, but nah, I really like the printed page. I like to lay on my sofa and look at words

David Temple:
Sure.

Kyle:
for some reason.

David Temple:
And is it true the rumor I've heard that the Thriller Zone is one of your favorite podcasts?

Kyle:
Absolutely. My very favorite.

David Temple:
Hey, by the way, I was getting ready to say something about, we were talking about the finale of this book and so forth, and it made me go, oh, and I was about to mention something about the finale seen in the book, and I'm like, oh, Don't do that. But how about this? Can you give my listeners an elevator pitch of code red? That way I, um, I mean I could sit here and read the blur, but it's so much more interesting coming from the author so that they can get an idea of this high octane thriller book

Kyle:
Sure,

David Temple:
in their future.

Kyle:
sure. Yeah, this kind of came out of my interest in, or fascination for really asymmetrical warfare, and the Russians have gotten very good at waging it. But you know, it's hard to write a book about Mitch Rapp stopping, you know, Facebook propaganda. So I wanted to come up with another weapon. And the weapon I came up with in light of all the narcotics problems in the West was them engineering a really dangerous drug that would appeal to drug users across the Western world to kind of stick it to us and collapse our healthcare systems and all these things. And Mitch gets drawn into this in a weird way. he has a kind of has a marker out to a Cartel leader a huge organized crime guy who's one of the most powerful in the world and Mitch owes him and the guys having problems with drug dealers like drug shipments coming in from Syria But he doesn't know anything about Syria and he says well Mitch rap owes me a you know Owe me a favor and he speaks the language he can blend in he knows everything about the Middle East and figure out what's going on. So what starts is sort of Mitch getting sucked into basically helping this guy with his business. Becomes, starts to, he realizes starts to involve the Russians and attack, a concerted attack on the West. He draws, tries to draw the CIA back in and try to get help with this and chaos ensues.

David Temple:
It does beg a question that how in the world does a good guy owe a bad guy such a debt?

Kyle:
Well, because there were a bunch of bad guys coming after his girlfriend a couple of books ago,

David Temple:
Uh-huh.

Kyle:
and he needed to find the guy who put the hit out. but

David Temple:
Uh-huh.

Kyle:
nobody could find this guy. He was a cartel leader, really like a drug and narcotics cartel leader. And he knew this guy would know where he was. And so he, and the guy said, yeah, I do know where he is, but what's in it for me? And Mitch said, well, I owe you. And he said, well, that sounds pretty good. Here's his address. So that's how he got sucked into it, is that he had no choice. but to go to this guy because the CIA, the FBI, DEA, nobody else could find this guy.

David Temple:
Um, interesting idea that just popped into my mind because of something you said about your passion for reading. And I'm really curious to know, and I hope it's not going to put you on the spot, but when you are in your downtime, whether it's on the beach or. in a cabin, wherever that is, what are you drawn to when you want to escape from your own world and your own work world of writing? Who and or what genre do you really love just losing yourself in?

Kyle:
You know, I read really, really widely. I typically don't necessarily read thrillers all the time anymore. I used to, but now that I write them all day, sometimes I like to do different things. Strangely though, now because I live in Spain, I read almost exclusively in Spanish. So, because I really need to learn the language better. So,

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
yeah, so I just read, you know, Like just thinking of things I've read recently, I read a book that would translate to Things We Lost in the Fire, which was a terrific Argentine writer, I wish I could remember her name, who writes short horror stories.

David Temple:
Oh wow.

Kyle:
So yeah, I mean, I read just The Shadow of the Wind, one of my favorite novels of all time, but kind of set during the Spanish Civil War. a little bit, you know, the Spanish love and the Spanish writers, Spanish language writers love magical realism, so there's a little bit of that kind of stuff in them. And non-fiction, I really like.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
So I mean, it's really hard to say. I'm super eclectic with the stuff I read. Magazines, too, you know.

David Temple:
Well, between horror and magic realism and nonfiction, that's a pretty diverse range of reading. So

Kyle:
What

David Temple:
and

Kyle:
I

David Temple:
I think

Kyle:
like

David Temple:
that.

Kyle:
different, I learn a lot from that.

David Temple:
Mm-hmm.

Kyle:
From the horror short stories, how do you very quickly build tension? I love people that do that stuff well. Because I think, as you know, as a writer, One of the things that can ruin things for you is you start to really see the structure behind books and you don't really wanna know how the sausage is made, you just wanna enjoy the book. But I think that stuff all the time, like, oh, they're gonna kill this character, they're building it, it's gonna happen, and this is gonna, and I can't stop it.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
But really great writers, I can't see any of their architecture, it's just

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
an incredible experience still.

David Temple:
That is such a good point. I was making this similar point to my wife, Tammy, the other night. We were watching this series. Um, I'm not going to mention it because, and, uh, you can always tell the ones that have become, I'm going to use the phrase cookie cutter. Uh, we'll be watching. I'll go that guy right there. He's going to do this. And within seconds, he does that exact same thing. I'm like, no, watch, we're going to hit the beat. It's going to go to black, come back and do this. And it does it. And I do it on an unconscious level. Because again, to your point, you're kind of wired to like, okay, if that just happened, and that just happened, watch out, he's going to throw this at her. And it happens. The people, to your point, the people that fake you out and lead you on those little red herrings. which is getting harder and harder every day because we're getting too damn smart and then does a switch back and you didn't see it coming. You're like, oh now I'm in on a new level.

Kyle:
Yeah, and characters too. I love watching characters release. transform really skillfully because you know that's hard to do and so you know it's not like oh I just need my character to be this way now so now he is

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
you know people that you could really see it happening. I love that kind of stuff so yeah and that and that occurs in all kinds of different all kinds of different sorts of books so you know just an elegant turn of phrase I really like you know what a beautiful paragraph I think that like most people probably don't but I go back and read I know how hard they worked on it.

David Temple:
think of when you said that I think of a couple of people the very first person that popped into my head is one of our good friends Meg Gardner she can take a sentence she can take a paragraph and it's an entire story and I've often asked her I'm like Meg how in the hell did you make that sentence she goes well first of all it didn't just happen

Kyle:
Never

David Temple:
second

Kyle:
happens.

David Temple:
of all yeah I wrote it about seven times And then when I felt it was good, I edited another, oh, I don't know, five or six times. And then I thought of instead of that word, what would be more powerful and switch to word. And then when I thought about it that way, I'm like, that's just dang smart. And then I started reading with that knowledge and I'm like, that's how she does it. And it doesn't take away from the secret sauce of Meg Gardner. She's just a, an amazing talent, but it was a great insight as to. You know, so many people go just bang it out, you know, bang out the

Kyle:
Yeah.

David Temple:
first one and then bang out the next one. And then when you feel like you got a pretty good idea where you're going, then finesse it.

Kyle:
Yeah, and I feel like it gives a bad impression. When you're starting out writing, and I know I felt this way, I thought, oh, this is easy for Tom Clancy or whoever, and all the writers I admire, but it's not. It looks easy when you read the book, but you don't know what year that went into it, the year of suffering that went into getting those words on the page. Hopefully people appreciate when they read the books. I remember my mother knew Tom Clancy pretty well. My family was friends with him. And her telling him that she had read the book in a day and he's like, oh my god, it took me a year to write that.

David Temple:
What book did I just read in a day? I did just read, and it's the first time I've done it in a long time. I'm not going to be able to pull it up because I read about three books a week. Anyway, and I told this author... that I had done that I had gotten up, I couldn't sleep. So I was up around 2, 2.30 and I just started reading. I finished it, you know, sometime late after lunch. And he goes, dude, you know how long that took me to write? And I'm like, because of this, I said, so what's next? And I'm like, oh, I'm so sorry. I just did that thing that everyone hates that you do. And I didn't mean to do it like, well, I just finished it. It took me a year.

Kyle:
Well, they miss them. They miss these guys.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
It's funny, I was talking to Brad Thor about this recently that you spend all your days with, in my case, Mitch Rapp, in case, Scott Harvath. But you don't realize that the fans just get to see them once a year. And so that year that you don't get to see your friend Mitch or your friend Scott is long, but for us, we never left them. You know,

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
we're, we're day in and day out with them. So, uh, yeah, I feel the same way when I read a book where I'm like, wow, where's the next book going to come out? And I know I should never ask that.

David Temple:
Yeah. Oh, it's so it's so funny because it's, it's like if you were to say to a builder, I've got a friend up in Lake Tahoe who builds houses. And I could see walking up to him and going, Hey, Todd, you just built this gorgeous, modern, classical lodge house hand. built and etc. It's gorgeous. How long did it take you? Oh, it's like two and a half years. I it's gorgeous. When's the next one?

Kyle:
When's the next one? Yeah.

David Temple:
Yeah, he's like dude, let my hands heal from this one then I'll get right back to you. I got a two-part question for you because I know you've delved in the Flynn and Ludlam worlds. Between those franchises, two of the biggest maybe in the world, was there one that you felt more at home with? Again, I don't want to put you on the spot because you're, you know, rapping rap. But on a bigger scale, why do you suppose they've had such a long and illustrious career? So more at home with what's the secret of the longevity?

Kyle:
Those are two really different series and my experiences with them were really different You know the Ludlum stuff was much more they wanted a book written and that was it I was resurrecting a series that they wanted resurrected and So I had a lot of leeway as to where I could go with it, but not total free hand and Then my job was done like they wanted the book. I gave him the book that was over Vince was very different. In many ways I kind of replaced him. I interact with fans, I do promotion, I go on tour. My books, I kind of have pretty decent artistic control over them as long as within reason. It was a little bit like stepping into his shoes when I

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
took this over. I mean, I met his family and I'd go out to dinner with his brothers. And so it was much more immersive,

David Temple:
Sure.

Kyle:
I think, than the Ludlum stuff. And as far as why those had been the longevity of those, certainly Ludlum benefited from the fact that they made some really good movies.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
out of it. And Vince, you know, he just wrote books people loved.

David Temple:
Yeah, salt of the earth too man. Gone way too soon. Jeez.

Kyle:
Yeah.

David Temple:
As we begin to wrap, but before I ask my closing question, I want to scale, if you will, to borrow a metaphor about your passion for rock climbing. I was reading where you said your elbows have kind of given out, but I'd love to know, would you share that story of how that passion started and carried you for so long? Because it's such a, and to me, it's such a great metaphor for how you've scaled this world of writing hit bestsellers.

Kyle:
Oh, you know, I just, I'd always loved the outdoors. I grew up in Oregon, but I was living in Baltimore at the time working for a big bank there. And... I just never got outdoors and stuff. And it was something I once read in a magazine, a big thing about all these famous climbers from back in the day in Camp Four, Semity. And I'd always wanted to try it. So I went to West Virginia and got lessons. And for the minute I stepped off the ground, I was absolutely passionate about it and ended up moving to Wyoming. to pursue it. And went to work for a bank there and ended up becoming a writer, which was really great because then I could travel all over the world and climb, and nobody knew where I was. So it didn't seem like I was slacking off. So yeah, kind of a, it was really formative for me because You know, I mean, I worked, you know, my father was an FBI agent. I'd lived in D.C. and London and, you know, hung around with all those people. But when I moved to Wyoming and got immersed in the climbing community, it was just it was really alternative community with very alternative ideas. And the idea of you can do anything

David Temple:
Mm-hmm.

Kyle:
like society and your expectations hold you back to some extent. And I remember I had been climbing with this guy. He was a professional climber and he called I had only known him for a few weeks or something and he called me and he said you know Let's go to Thailand and go climbing for a while. I'm like, well, what's a while? He's like, I don't know We'll get him till we get bored We'll come back, you know six months And I said why you know, I have a job he's well quit and And like it never occurred to me That you could I mean could he did the same thing with me when they were filming the beach remember that with Leonardo DiCaprio

David Temple:
for sure.

Kyle:
He called me up one day and he's like hey I'm sitting on the beach in Thailand with Leo and I've convinced him that I need an assistant I'll pay you $400 a day to come out here. We don't really do anything and We're supposed to keep him from falling off a cliff, but he never gets anywhere near a cliff.

David Temple:
Oh, that's hilarious.

Kyle:
And I was like, well, I have a job. He's like, well, for God's sake, you're really, really bent on this job thing, aren't you?

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
And it was those people though that made me want to try doing something creative and doing something different because I never thought I could because I studied economics. It was going to be the 80s, you're going to be an investment banker and

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
I'm flying a private jet and all this crap. And it never really suited me. And Yeah, so it was like that. Climbing is probably the most influential thing in my life and all the people that I met and all the places I've been and things I've done. It's really formed who I am to some extent.

David Temple:
Well, needless to say, you're not afraid of heights or you wouldn't be able to do that. But I think to myself, what was that very first day like? And I mean, I don't mind climbing hills, you know, hiking, but the idea of going up a wall of stone straight up holds such fear in me that I could not fathom. Like, what was the movie? You're gonna know it right away. Is it solo or free solo? where

Kyle:
Oh, Free Solo, yeah,

David Temple:
yeah

Kyle:
I think it was

David Temple:
and

Kyle:
called

David Temple:
I'm watching

Kyle:
Free Solo.

David Temple:
that guy and he's yeah he's climbing without ropes and your palms are sweating when you're watching this and I'm like how does one how does one do that

Kyle:
well, he's a special case.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
I mean, you don't do that under any circumstances would be the answer, you know, use a rope. A lot of free soloists have not done well over time.

David Temple:
Not done well, i.e.

Kyle:
Yeah,

David Temple:
splat,

Kyle:
they've

David Temple:
yeah.

Kyle:
died, yes. So that's kind of worrying, but. Yeah, you know the great thing about climbing, one of the things I loved about it is you know I had all these things going on in my head with work and whatever you know just daily life but all you concentrate on climbing is the next hold. And

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
I honestly never really thought about how high up I was because I would get just so laser focused on what I was doing that I wouldn't say that was ever an issue for me. If you took the rope away,

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
I would melt down. That would not be a great day. But I think it's just a great way, a really nice way to focus yourself. It also takes you to incredible places and meeting incredible people that do things that you can never

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
imagine.

David Temple:
What was your, and we'll bounce off of this, what was your closest call? What was one moment where you went, oh man, at the end of that you went, I was so close to buying the farm.

Kyle:
Yeah, so probably my worst, my closest call was in South Africa and I had done this climb. It was really long and I was climbing with the guy belaying me, so holding the rope, had written the guidebook to the area. So I didn't really give much thought to him.

David Temple:
Right?

Kyle:
I didn't know him very well. And when he was lowering me, and this happens more than you would think it would, he ran out of rope. So you have a belay device that keeps the rope on your, here, and it went through, and I started to drop. And I would have died if I, and he actually managed to reach up and grab the rope. And he was like, hey, got a little problem. And I looked down and saw him way down there holding that rope. And we had gotten on that climb with too short a rope, which I didn't check because he'd written the guidebook. So,

David Temple:
Oh my...

Kyle:
yeah, I remember that day very, it was a long time ago, and I remember it very distinctly. So that was probably my worst moment. I remember finally getting down off the thing and taking my cowboy hat laying down and sticking it over my face and laying there for about an hour.

David Temple:
Yeah,

Kyle:
And then I had

David Temple:
or

Kyle:
to

David Temple:
the

Kyle:
tell

David Temple:
adrenaline.

Kyle:
my wife about it on the way home because she was climbing something on the other side of the crag.

David Temple:
And that's a cool thing too, because you, is it correct? You met your wife rock climbing and you're

Kyle:
Well,

David Temple:
still

Kyle:
we

David Temple:
together

Kyle:
met

David Temple:
all day.

Kyle:
right before I started, kind of as I was starting. And

David Temple:
Okay.

Kyle:
she really loved it too,

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
which is great because you've got to haul around the world and spend a lot of time on it. Though I think

David Temple:
Wow.

Kyle:
she's probably glad to be retired so she can do something else.

David Temple:
Well, so you gave it up because of joint issues, I'm assuming. And I don't know how that

Kyle:
old

David Temple:
happens

Kyle:
age.

David Temple:
at your young age of 40 or whatever. I think pretty close to that. Um, do you, do you find the same joy in your, uh, back country skiing or your, or your mountain biking? I mean, I know it's, I know it's two different worlds, but there has to be every placement thrill factor for you. Right.

Kyle:
No, there's no substitute

David Temple:
Oh,

Kyle:
for rock climbing.

David Temple:
oh.

Kyle:
There's just no, I mean, you know, I've been a skier since I was three, so

David Temple:
Oh.

Kyle:
I'd always done that. But, and I love mountain biking, I love road, any kind of thing with paddles on it, I love. But, yeah, there's just no, there's no substitute for cruising around the world, camping with weird people and. doing these amazing peaks and like doing, you know, it's just, yeah. It's sad to think about that I don't do it anymore. You gotta admit at some point that it's very much a young person's game and you've gotta admit that, I mean, there came a day, and it wasn't really, I wasn't that old, I was probably in my mid-30s where I decided, do I wanna be able to lift my arms above my head when I'm 50? I thought,

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
yeah, I probably do. So, I'm

David Temple:
Because

Kyle:
gonna take up a different sport.

David Temple:
it takes that much out of you, that constant wear and tear on that particular...

Kyle:
Yeah, the wear and tear gets really bad. And you know, just as you get older, it's easier to get injured. So I've

David Temple:
Sure.

Kyle:
ruptured the tendons in probably every finger, except one, tendonitis. You get to the point where you come home and you have a big bucket of ice, you stick your elbows in it, and it's probably not a good idea

David Temple:
Hehehehehaha,

Kyle:
in the long run. So,

David Temple:
wow.

Kyle:
but it was terrifying to give up. I mean, sort of the... sort of your meaning of life, right?

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
And what do you do? One day you wake up, you're like, well, I quit climbing, what do I do? I gotta go train. No, no, I don't.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
They go

David Temple:
Well,

Kyle:
garden.

David Temple:
so if you take rock climbing, which is the pinnacle, to borrow another metaphor, out of the equation and you bring it down to earth and you're either, you know, biking or skiing. Is that enough to keep the thrill, the thrill real for Kyle Mills? Or is it, do you think, okay, is there one thing I could step a little bit more dangerous and I'm not talking pickleball, Mr. So just, you know, hold on there. That, uh, maybe replay it gets closer to a little bit of the thrill without all the dangerous impact on one's body.

Kyle:
You know, I don't know. I never really found climbing to be that thrilling. Like,

David Temple:
Oh.

Kyle:
it's much safer than people think. So,

David Temple:
Oh.

Kyle:
I mean, that one thing that I just talked to you about was really my only really close call over the course of my life. It was beyond my control. So, for me, it was the chess game. You know, and

David Temple:
Mm-hmm.

Kyle:
climbs are graded in difficulty by number, which I found very appealing because I'm a very... number oriented guy, which is weird to be a writer, but so you could always go one harder. That was

David Temple:
Huh.

Kyle:
what my quest was about. How hard could I go? And

David Temple:
Hmm.

Kyle:
I loved the training and the science of the training and how could I get better and the chess game of, you know, you have to orchestrate very hard climbs. You spend days and days figuring out every move to the millimeter so you can make it. And that, when I substituted that for biking, I got the same sort of obsessive mentality, how fast can I get? You know, like, how would I train to do that? And then I met all the bike racers and trained with them. And like, so it was that game of, you know, self-improvement and figuring out how to do it the best way possible and things like that. Skiing's different because the better you get at skiing, the more dangerous it gets, typically. So I have a break in my head on skiing. I think I could do that,

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
but I'm not going to. Ha ha.

David Temple:
And that breaks going to save your life. Yeah.

Kyle:
And that's like the majority of my friends who have died, and you know, which is kind of a depressing thing to say, but when you live in Wyoming and you're an outdoor person that happens, it's mostly skiers, not climbers.

David Temple:
Oh, you're

Kyle:
Because

David Temple:
kidding

Kyle:
of,

David Temple:
me!

Kyle:
yeah, because of avalanches.

David Temple:
Oh, yeah, I never thought about that.

Kyle:
The great

David Temple:
Hard

Kyle:
thing

David Temple:
to

Kyle:
about

David Temple:
s-

Kyle:
rock is it's been there a million years, and you're pretty sure it's going to be there tomorrow. That big thing is snow. You're not sure where it's going to be tomorrow. And you could be in it when it decides it wants to move.

David Temple:
Oh, good point. Never thought about it that way. Well, that's amazing. Thanks for sharing that because it's just, you know, it allows me to live some of that world vicariously because there's no way in hell I would get up on that side of the rock. As we wrap the show, best piece of writing advice is the kind of the hallmark of the show. A lot of people love to hear that. And I know you got one and you've certainly put in enough time to come up with that little golden nugget.

Kyle:
Golden

David Temple:
So,

Kyle:
nugget.

David Temple:
yeah, give us the golden nugget.

Kyle:
Finish

David Temple:
Sir

Kyle:
writing

David Temple:
Kyle.

Kyle:
the book. Don't go back and write one chapter for the next eight years. You can fix

David Temple:
out.

Kyle:
it later. That would be my advice to people.

David Temple:
Finish the book.

Kyle:
Because somebody once said, was it Nora Roberts? I'm not sure. Quotes are always really apocryphal. You can fix a bad page, but you can't fix a blank page.

David Temple:
Damn.

Kyle:
And that is a very true story. And your book might end up going somewhere completely different. So don't get bogged down. Keep moving forward.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
I mean, I write chapters all the time where I think, wow, that was unmitigated garbage. But just going to move forward.

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
I'll fix it later.

David Temple:
I'll fix it in the mix as we used to say in radio. Um, well, that is good advice and it, you know, sometimes the simplicity is the best because, you know, just, I always say step one, put your ass in the chair, step two, start writing step

Kyle:
Yeah.

David Temple:
three, do it again, rinse and repeat. You know, good for you.

Kyle:
Yeah, and the other one is don't think of it as one thing. You know,

David Temple:
Ryan.

Kyle:
like, I always, I still get terrified. Every time I finish a book, I think, writing a novel is impossible. Like, it's all these, so complex, and to get it all to fit together and so long. I can't do this. 23

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
books, I still think about it. And then I think, no, just write a page. And if you do that 400 times,

David Temple:
Yeah.

Kyle:
your novel will be done.

David Temple:
It's just 400 times. I mean,

Kyle:
Yeah.

David Temple:
it's just a number.

Kyle:
Yeah,

David Temple:
Well,

Kyle:
just a number.

David Temple:
this has been amazing. I know that the bell, the little bell of cocktail hour, uh, happy hour is ringing. So thank you so much for spending the time with me. This has been awesome.

Kyle:
Yeah, well thanks for having me. It's been a lot of fun.

David Temple:
Yeah, and I think, you know, next time we, whether it's Bowser con next year or Thriller Fest or wherever we bump into, I want to make sure I grab your hand and shake it and say, you know, see a face to face and say, you know, what a great impact you've had on all of us. And as well, and while we're sad to see Mitch rep go from your hand and code red, uh, we feel good about Don Bentley taking over, but you know, we, the great thing is, is you know, that you gave it your best run. You had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. And you did. magnificent job.

Kyle:
Well, thank you. It has been fun. It's been really a terrific experience.