When former U.S. Navy SEAL Jack Carr transitioned from a rifle to the pen, he pursued the art of writing with the same kind of dedication he did in the SEAL teams. His first book, “The Terminal List,” which follows Navy SEAL protagonist James Reece on a path of warranted vengeance, was a smash hit and established Carr as someone to look for in the future.
“Rarely do you read a debut novel this damn good,” New York Times best-selling author Brad Thor said of the book.
Carr’s second novel, “True Believer,” picks up where “The Terminal List” left off, with Reece as an international fugitive trying to remain off the authorities’ radar. To keep himself invisible, Reece returns to a remote location in Africa, one of the last places he’d expect the U.S. government to come searching. But he doesn’t remain incognito for long.
When those who have taken him in have their livelihoods and lives threatened by poachers, a switch flips in the SEAL. He fights back, giving him a renewed sense of purpose.
As he is focusing his energy on a new enemy, Europe is reeling from multiple terrorist attacks, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. What’s worse, one of Reece’s old friends, an Iraqi he trained during the war, seems to be the one holding the shovel for so many graves.
Reece’s tactics against the poachers don’t go unnoticed, and he soon finds himself face-to-face with an old friend and a sanctioned offer he can’t refuse. What follows is an incredibly action-packed tapestry of carnage and death, redemption, and international intrigue.
Carr shows that Reece isn’t bulletproof and has flaws and vulnerabilities like any real-life hero. The pace is break-neck, and the subtle military and intelligence references add another layer of entertainment to the captivating story.
Coffee or Die spoke with Carr about “True Believer” and the process for writing the book.
COD: How did you come up with the idea for the book?
Carr: I had six or seven ideas for a first novel when I was coming up with “The Terminal List.” Those ideas are now morphing into the second, third, and fourth novels. This one allowed me to revisit an experience in Iraq. Before I finished “The Terminal List,” I figured out that “True Believer” was going to be the next part of James Reece’s journey. So, before I submitted to Simon and Schuster, before I knew anything, I had planned a trip to Mozambique. No matter what happened, I always knew I was going to write at least two.
COD: What was your favorite part of writing the second novel?
Carr: Revisiting my time in Iraq and my relationship with the real-life Iraqi officer who inspired the character Mo in “True Believer.” The other part was doing the research and going to Mozambique, adding that local flavor into the novel.
COD: Describe “True Believer” with two words.
Carr: Violent redemption.
COD: Where is your favorite place to write?
Carr: Anywhere that is quiet. With kids, life, and everything else going on, it is insane all the time. Right now, I’ve found a bit of quiet in New York, on an island off the coast of Connecticut. It’s the same place I finished the first novel. There is a beautiful view of the ocean, and it’s quite peaceful.
COD: Do you get writer’s block?
Carr: I try to make use of every spare second. With the insane schedule, I don’t have the luxury of getting writer’s block. Steven Pressfield said, “You don’t hear about truckers having trucker’s block. You don’t hear of doctors having doctor’s block. You’re a writer. You’re a professional. You write.” So that’s what I do.
“True Believer” drops tomorrow, July 30. Carr is already hard at work on his third novel. He just doesn’t quit.
Justen Charters is a contributing editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. Justen was previously at Independent-Journal Review (IJ Review) for four years, where his articles were responsible for over 150 million page views, serving in various positions from content specialist to viral content editor. He currently resides in Utah with his wife and daughter.
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