My guest today is Anderson Harp, the author of the action-adventure/political thriller Retribution. (Retribution is also today’s review book). If you’re looking for a meaty and complex story just like Tom Clancy used to write, Retribution is a terrific place to start!
Q: Why did you write “Retribution”?
A: I enjoy the challenge of writing and, to some degree, like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was reportedly frustrated with the criminal novels of his time, I was frustrated with what I had been reading in the military thriller world. Some had implausible plot lines and didn’t connect to what I saw in military operations centers. Likewise, putting the plot together and making it authentic is the challenge. I wanted a plot that both propels the reader forward and leads to an unexpected ending. It places you in the true world of military operations with credible threats, accurate technology, and real action. And giving you what we all hope for – a hero that is complex but hardened steel. The guy that we all wish could be there when we needed him.
Q: Who is Anderson Harp?
A: Not William Parker, but close. Someone who enjoys challenges and is loyal to his fellow Marine. Someone who has fun doing crazy things like climbing Mount Fuji, or surfing the North Shore (with his daughter -not very well), or hunting around the world. A past member of the All Marine Track Team and national level runner, and someone who held the school record at his university for the 800-meter run for over a decade. And someone who has been dedicated to helping out servicemen and women by creating Operation Thriller, a USO Tour of authors to hazardous duty zones and who has served in operation centers both at the Pentagon and in support of Marines responsible for the invasion of Afghanistan. Someone who was the chief instructor for the Marine Corps mountain survival and cold weather training school.
Q: What is “Retribution” about?
A: Despite our best intentions, there remain bad guys, jihadists, and terrorists in our world. And the planet has gotten so much smaller. Without a guard at the door, anyone can step on a commercial airplane in Pakistan and be in your neighborhood the next day. Borders are only challenges. They are not insurmountable. We need someone who will stand at that door for all of us. William Parker, given the chance, stands at that door. We just need heroes. “Retribution” is an intense, plot driven, mission-oriented thriller that combines what is going on out there in the jihadist world with our response to that threat.
Q: How real is it?
A: VERY. The world is in flux, our military and intelligence agencies are constantly changing, upgrading, modifying in response to threats. So our military changes rapidly, but, nevertheless, the jihadist is consistent. He updates his strategy too, but remains a constant danger to our world. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, which are always at risk. The tribal territory is only a short distance from those nuclear cores. We think the danger is an assembled weapon, but the chance of a dirty bomb can have long effects. Thus, we need William Parker.
Q: What does your military background and being in the Marines thirty years bring to your writing? What is unique about this experience in the world of military thrillers?
A: In my life, I’ve been involved at different levels in the service with several world crises and helped with our nation’s response to those threats. It’s a unique opportunity in the thriller world to have been a first-hand participant in events like these. There are experiences from the small to the large that give depth to the story. For example, I spent thirty years being trained and qualified as an expert in firing weapons. The recoil of an M-14 is different from an M-16 or the 9mm is vastly different from the 45. The use of a suppressor affects much. On the larger scale, calling in artillery and air support require certain coordination’s of fire control. Operations centers are vastly different between the battalion and the Pentagon. All of this affects the realism of the story.
Q: Will we see William Parker in other books?
A: Yes, Will Parker reflects a unique warrior with special skills. He has this ability to be comfortable speaking any language. Language skills are the only way to merge with and into a culture. He is a bit of a loner who lives for the challenge. He isn’t pushed by a normal life. He likes a marathon. He is a survivalist. And he gets angry when wrongs have been committed.
Q: What motivates a Yousef al-Qadi?
A: The jihadist Yousef al-Qadi is damaged goods. He came from Saudi wealth and essentially a broken family. He doesn’t fit and his jihadist beliefs are a vehicle to place him in history. He is guided by his beliefs of a disjointed Muslim world where the fundamentalist believes everything is wrong. Women are not to be treated as equals. Non-believers must be removed from the Holy Lands no matter the cost. Brutality is accepted. It matters little if a prisoner is buried alive. He is not alone in this. He wants to establish another fundamentalist Muslim nation in the ruins of Afghanistan and western Pakistan. He is repeating history to some degree, as that area was kingdom centuries ago. He is ruthless but believes he is righteous. In “Retribution” he is disconnected from his mother. She is the daughter of the oil magnate’s gardener. He is half royalty and half pauper. And his mother dies an early death. His world is complicated as amplified by the traditions of the Arab mind.
Q: You mention that some children recruited by the Jihadists are drugged for missions. Is this a common practice?
A: Yes. Recruiters persuade children and even family members with promises of their entering a land full of flowers and food. The children come from the deepest depths of poverty where a bundle of tied together plastic trash bags are a substitute for their soccer ball. To ensure that some do not hesitate, drugs are provided. Like the Japanese kamikaze, a warrior that is most dangerous is one that believes his death or the death of others is for a value worth more than his life or the life of a child. We have good reason to be fearful of this enemy.
Q: Are you already writing another book?
A: Absolutely! The whole special operations world has changed our forces, our capabilities, and our military structures. And William Parker was a special operator before these new commands were invented. Plus, he is a light warrior. Our men and women today fight with tons of gear and technology. For instance, the most decorated soldier of the European campaign in World War II was Audie Murphy. He received the Medal of Honor for single handedly attacking a German force. He received many more decorations for his bravery. (And went on to be a movie star as well.) When he enlisted in the Army, Audie Murphy was 112 pounds and stood five feet five and a half inches. The gear that some Marines carry today is close to 112 pounds. So a light warrior like a Will Parker is important.
Q: You started the USO author’s tour named Operation Thriller. And you did two tours. What has this achieved that hasn’t been achieved in other USO Tours?
A: I had the honor and pleasure of both creating and chairing Operation Thriller. Also, I had the chance to participate in the 2010 Tour and 2012 Tour. In 2010, we covered several bases in Iraq. And in 2012, we did a whirlwind tour of bases in the Gulf. Most locations were in hazardous duty zones. It was an absolute pleasure to meet our service men and women and say thank you where they served. It gave them the chance to meet the creators of heroes that they have read and even seen in the movies. I have written articles on this experience for CNN Larry King Live, The Huffington Post, Newsmax and the ITW. Some of my co-authors that went on the tours had never served in the military, had never held a weapon and had never been in an operations center. It was great to see both the military appreciation of these writers and the writers gained appreciation of those that serve.
Q: Are soldiers a great audience for thriller writers?
A: They are for two reasons. First, as a good friend and combat Ranger said to me, “we need heroes too!” In this world, we need Will Parkers who win. We need Will Parkers who understand the threats. And second, the military, particularly when in combat or in a hazardous duty zone, has tons of down time. Nothing helps pass twenty hours on a military flight (my longest was twenty four hours stopping for refuel) like a great thriller.
Anderson Harp and BookTrib are giving away a paperback copy of Retribution. To enter, just fill out the rafflecopter.