Jack Carr is a former Navy SEAL who led special operations teams as a Team Leader, Platoon Commander, Troop Commander and Task Unit Commander. Over his 20 years in Naval Special Warfare he transitioned from an enlisted SEAL sniper specializing in communications and intelligence, to a junior officer leading assault and sniper teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, to a platoon commander practicing counterinsurgency in the southern Philippines, to commanding a Special Operations Task Unit in the most Iranian influenced section of southern Iraq throughout the tumultuous drawdown of U.S. Forces. Jack retired from active duty in 2016. He lives with his wife and three children in Park City, Utah. He is the author of The Terminal List, True Believer, Savage Son, and In The Blood.
Q. Book 5 in your Terminal List series, In the Blood, hits slated for a late March 2022 release. How do you keep the story fresh?
Jack: I am a lifelong fan and student of the thriller genre, so I am not worried about running out of ideas. I am also a lifelong student of warfare in both theory and practice which gives me a solid foundation from which to anticipate over the horizon threats based on what our enemies are learning about us. I keep the stories fresh by incorporating themes, characters, tactics, and strategies that interest and fascinate me. I know I am on the right path if I am as excited to write it as I am to read it and if I get emotional doing both. It’s all about heart.
Q. What geopolitical events inspired In the Blood?
Jack: In the Blood gets personal so readers can expect Navy SEAL Sniper James Reece to be on the hunt for reasons tied to events in previous novels. I call it “a novel of violent resolutions.” I’ve also incorporated current events in Africa, Israel, and Russia along with research into quantum computing, mobile phones, the Internet of Things, and government surveillance. What I learned made me want to move to a cabin in the woods and never touch an electronic device ever again.
Q. Is your protagonist, Lieutenant Commander James Reece, inspired by anyone? How did you develop him; and how has he developed over the series?
Jack: As with each of us as humans James Reece will evolve over time. We are all on a journey and get one ride on this planet. James Reece is no different. In the first novel (SPOILER ALERT) he thinks he is dying which frees him up to become an insurgent on home soil. When he (SPOILER ALERT) discovers he is not dying in the second novel he has to learn to live again. He needs to find his next mission. How did I develop him? Well, we share a similar background which allows me to explore different real-world situations I was involved in and take the feelings associated with those experiences and apply them to a completely fictional narrative. If the emotions I associate with him in the novels seem authentic, that’s because they come from a real place.
Q. Brad Thor helped you get your start. What’s the story there?
Jack: A SEAL buddy who had left the military for the world of finance sat next to Brad at a fundraiser year’s back. This friend knew I was planning to leave the military and that I was about four months into writing The Terminal List. He reached out and connected me with Brad who he had helped with some of the SEAL specific portions of his novels.
Brad and I had a great conversation but it was like a job interview as he wanted to know why I was writing. We discussed how I grew up loving the genre, that my mom was a librarian, and how I always knew I would one day write thrillers when I left the military.
I think he realized that I was writing for all the right reasons. He told me that my friend had told him a few things that I had done in the SEAL Teams, and he said, as a thank you for that, ‘If you write a book, and if you finish this thing, I can let my publisher know it’s coming. Now, I can’t guarantee they’ll look at it. I can’t guarantee they’re going to read one word of it. And I definitely can’t guarantee that they’re going to like it if they do read it. Don’t call me, don’t ask me questions, don’t ask me for advice, don’t send me chapters because I won’t read them BUT when you’re completely done, tell me, and I’ll let them know that it’s coming.’
Then he asked me when I was going to be finished and I said, ‘One year from today,’ and he said to call him back then.
So, I marked it down on the calendar, and one year from that day, I called him back. He picked up, and I told him it was done. He asked, ‘Is it as good as you can possibly make it?’ and I told him that it was done, but that I could probably tweak it a little bit more here and there. He told me to call back again when it was as good as I could possibly make it. So I took another four months, making it as good as I could possibly make it. Then I called him back and said, ‘It’s as good as I can possibly make it. Let’s do it.’
Brad sent it to New York, and it turns out they did open it, and Emily Bestler, who is Brad’s editor and was Vince Flynn’s editor, did read it, and she loved it.
Brad called me after Emily told him she wanted to publish it. I pulled over on the side of the road when I saw the call come in. He told me that I’d just been struck by lightning. I’ll never forget it.
Q. What made you want to write thrillers?
Jack: I have wanted to write since my earliest days. My mom was a librarian, so I grew up surrounded by books and with a love of reading. In about 5th grade I began to read the books my parents were reading. That was the year Tom Clancy’s The Hunt For Red October came out. I quickly discovered and read everything I could find by David Morrell, Nelson DeMille, A.J. Quinnell, Marc Olden, J.C. Pollock, Louis L’Amour, Frederick Forsyth, Jack Higgins, Ken Follett, Ian Fleming, Clive Cussler, and James Grady. My mom introduced me to Joseph Campbell through a series of interviews he did with Bill Moyers called The Power of Myth. His Hero With A Thousand Faces was and continues to be a huge influence. Later I’d find Stephen Hunter, Daniel Silva, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Stephen Pressfield, Kyle Mills, Brad Thor, and Mark Greaney. I could not have had better professors in the art of storytelling.
Q. The TV series based on your hit debut, The Terminal List, is scheduled for an early 2022 release from Amazon Prime Video. How have you been involved in the production? What was your reaction when you learned Chris Pratt would play James Reece?
Jack: I thought of Chris Pratt playing James Reece as I was writing The Terminal List and I thought of Antoine Fuqua directing so to have Chris and Antoine bringing James Reece and The Terminal List to life is nothing short of amazing! We are all executive producers on the show and I have been an advisor on all the scripts. I have learned a ton about screenwriting and production over the past two years. The cast and crew knocked it out of the park. I can’t wait to get it out there in the wild!
Q What’s next?
Jack: There are quite a few projects in the works, some of which remain classified. My Danger Close Podcast is going strong, and I can share that I will start work on the sixth James Reece thriller on January 1, 2022. What is it about? In The Blood offers some clues…
Jack Carr's Latest
A woman boards a plane in the African country of Burkina Faso having just completed a targeted assassination for the state of Israel. Two minutes later, her plane is blown out of the sky.
Over 6,000 miles away, former Navy SEAL James Reece watches the names and pictures of the victims on cable news. One face triggers a distant memory of a Mossad operative attached to the CIA years earlier in Iraq—a woman with ties to the intelligence services of two nations…a woman Reece thought he would never see again.
Reece enlists friends new and old across the globe to track down her killer, unaware that he may be walking into a deadly trap.