I recently had the tremendous honor of interviewing bestselling author Ted Bell. Known for his popular Alex Hawke franchise, Bell is one of the true must-read thriller authors in the genre today. I asked him about any future writing projects and whether or not we might one day see Alex Hawke on the big screen. Check out his answers below:
Ryan: Ted, you’ve been kind of laying low for a while, are you currently working on anything?
Ted: Great question. The answer is yes, I’m working on a whole lot of things!
Ryan: Your latest novel, Patriot, just came out in paperback, right?
Ted: Correct. In fact, I just took a trip to Paris and London, and it was number five in all the airports, so that was good to see.
Ryan: Patriot was the ninth novel in your bestselling Alex Hawke series, do you have plans to write a tenth novel?
Ted: Absolutely! It’s going to be called Overkill, and I’m well underway with that story. It follows on the heels of my novella, White Death, in that it’s about Switzerland. The villain once more is Putin, who is flat broke and in danger of a coup. There have been assassination attempts on his life and the country is out of money, so he has the brilliant idea to invade Switzerland in an attempt to steal all their gold and cash reserves.
Ryan: Do you know when that will come out?
Ted: I should have it finished by Christmas, so I would say it will probably be a spring or summer release sometime next year.
Ryan: Previously on The Real Book Spy, I reported that you’re also working on a standalone mystery novel. Can you tell me anything about that?
Ted: Sure. I’ve written a book about a Private Investigator who is very much a throwback Thursday kind of guy, very old school in his beliefs and who is completely politically incorrect on every level.
He upsets a lot of people, but he’s a hard-drinking, hard-fighting kind of guy named Blackie Blaine who lives on a converted tugboat in Miami with his sidekick, a guy named Irish, who is an ex-prizefighter. Blackie is a great character and to use an old gangster term, I’m calling the novel Private Dick.
Ryan: How is Blackie Blaine different from Alex Hawke?
Ted: He’s American. He is the polar opposite of an English gentleman. He did go to Princeton, but he got kicked out for stealing his lacrosse coach’s car. He’s just the total opposite of Alex Hawke. Blackie is a one-hundred percent, testosterone-fueled American badass. Hawke is a total gentleman. But Blackie, while not a gentleman, does have a heart of gold.
Ryan: You’ve sort of become known for having plenty of babes, bullets, and fast cars in your books. Can we expect that in Private Dick?
Ted: Well, Hawke is rich. Alex is the sixth richest man in England. Blackie is, like, the sixth poorest man in Miami Beach. Like I said, he lives on a tugboat. He’s scrambling to make a buck!
Ryan: Wasn’t Blackie Blaine in a short story that you wrote?
Ted: He was, yes. Blackie was born in a short story called The Pirate of Palm Beach, which I wrote at the request of Nelson DeMille, who did an anthology called The Rich and the Dead.
Blackie actually lives aboard Errol Flynn’s old yacht, which was fitted with machine guns during World War II. Flynn actually petitioned the Navy to let him keep the guns, but they said no–so that’s in the story. Essentially, Blackie is disinherited by his father and down on his luck, so he becomes a Private Investigator.
Ryan: Vince Flynn was recognized as one of the political thriller authors who first transitioned away from Russia after the Cold War, and turned his attention to Islamic extremists, even before 9/11. In that same sense, you were one of the first authors to transition away from just radical Islam, and set your sights on Russia long before they were a world player like they are today. Even before last year’s Patriot, you were writing in Russian bad guys as far back as TSAR (the fifth Hawke novel), which came out in 2008. What led to you doing that before everyone else?
Ted: Because I felt like, just based on my own intuition about world events, that Putin was going to be the world’s next bad guy. I found him fascinating. I went to Russia, with a little help from some friends in the intelligence community, and spent time in Moscow and Saint Petersburg and even interviewed ex-KGB officers. I just thought Putin was a phenomenally interesting character, and I knew I had to deal with him in my books back in 2007 when I was actually writing TSAR.
Ryan: Is Hawke’s house in Bermuda, Teakettle Cottage, a real place?
Ted: Yes, in fact, if you go to Bermuda you’ll see endless houses that look like Teakettle Cottage. It’s real, but I promised the owner I won’t tell anyone where it is.
Ryan: I know you love to read, which authors do you enjoy?
Ted: Well, my favorite living author is Ian McEwan. He’s just a brilliant writer. He wrote a book called Atonement, which is an amazing novel and was a great film as well. He also wrote a wonderful book called Saturday about the life of a brain surgeon in London. His books are just staggeringly good.
Ryan: What is your favorite show on television right now?
Ted: The best show in the world airs Monday night on Bravo, it’s called Odd Mom Out, and my beautiful daughter, Byrdie Bell, is one of the stars. She plays a character named Simone, and the show is about hyper-competitive moms on the upper east side of New York. It’s hysterically funny, and a really great show. Other than that, I watch Fox News and that’s it.
Odd Mom Out and Fox News, those are my two shows.
Ryan: Hypothetically, if there was ever an Alex Hawke movie, who would you like to see play Hawke?
Ted: When I started to write about Alex, my vision of him was Errol Flynn who, as you probably know, was Australian. As far as looks, that’s who I saw. But I will say that there’s another Australian actor, now, who I think could make a really fine Alex Hawke, and that’s Chris Hemsworth. He checks all the boxes for me when it comes to playing Hawke.
My top three choices, if I had to pick, would be Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Robert Downey Jr.
Ryan: Okay, so you’re writing a tenth Hawke novel (Overkill) and you’re working on a standalone mystery novel (Private Dick). I have one more question… is there any news on the Hollywood front?
Bell: Well, to be honest, Ryan, do you hear that drum roll? Your timing is impeccable on that question because I have just closed a deal with a major Hollywood studio to put Alex Hawke on the big screen. You know, a huge action franchise, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m just thrilled.
Ted: I’d love to tell you everything, but we’re waiting for the studio announcement, which could come at any time now, as the deal has closed.
So when that happens, I’ll talk to you all day long about it, because it’s an amazing team that’s been put together at the studio with the executive producer and the screenwriter, and we’re all working really closely together to make Alex Hawke as good as he can be.
Ryan: So you’re going to be involved in that process?
Bell: Yeah, I’m flying out there in the next week or two for story conferences on the story line for the first feature in the Hawke series. I probably shouldn’t tell you the title, but I will. We’re calling it Hawke.
So there you have it, Hawke fans. Straight from Ted Bell himself, it sounds like we might finally be close to seeing Alex Hawke on the big screen!
I’ll be covering all of Ted’s projects, including the next Hawke book and his standalone mystery novel, so make sure to check back for updates. In the meantime, spread the word on social media using the hashtag #HawkeMovie — then let me know which actor you’d most like to see play Lord Alex.