When it comes to hard-hitting thrillers, few are doing it better than General A.J. Tata. I’m a big fan of his work, especially his latest book, Direct Fire.
Direct Fire is the fourth book in Tata’s Jake Mahegan series, which kicked off back in 2015 with Foreign and Domestic. With each book (Three Minutes to Midnight 2016, Besieged 2017) Tata gets better and better. His biggest just so far, though, is with his new book, a rip-roaring action thriller that starts quickly and only gets faster as the story unfolds. While this series was already very solid, it feels like Mahegan has officially arrived . . . Direct Fire elevates Tata’s franchise putting him one step closer to guys like Ben Coes, Mark Greaney, and Brad Thor. (If you’re a fan of their stuff and haven’t tried Tata’s books, you need to!)
Ahead of the release of Direct Fire, Tata agreed to take part in our Five Questions segment, providing really insightful and thoughtful answers to a wide range of questions. See the Q&A below, then keep reading to learn more about the latest Jake Mahegan thriller.
Tata: I mostly free write. Start with an idea–autonomous cars as vehicle IEDs in Besieged, e.g.–and then build around that concept. Who could do that? How would they do it? What would be their purpose? How could you stop it once unleashed? I get much of this thought process from spending a lifetime thinking of the worst thing that could happen to my troops and then finding solutions to keep that from happening. I had to be creative as a commander and developing stories is no different. I try to write 1,000 words a day. Some days more, some days less. I use excel to do a brief outline that moves me from acts one through three. For me, the most fun is getting to that “all is lost” moment where there is no chance of success for the protagonist and then having to devise realistic and cunning ways out of the dilemma.
TRBS: I just finished reading REAPER: GHOST TARGET, a book that you co-authored with Nicholas Irving — wow is that book fantastic! Reaper comes out on May 8th, 2018. . . What can you tell readers about that project, and when can your fans expect to see Jake Mahegan again?
Tata: Riffing with Nick on that book was a blast. He’s a great partner and we had fun pulling that together. The idea of a sniper in combat who loses his spotter and his rifle in the opening scene captured us and set the stage for a chase. Nick wanted the antagonist to be his real-life antagonist in Afghanistan, so we created a fictional version of “The Chechen.” Vick Harwood, The Reaper, is a great protagonist and you’ll be seeing more of him after Ghost Target. With Mahegan, The Fire and The Fury (November 2018) will find Jake on the cusp of World War III chasing three human biometric keys to stop the Russian, Iranian, and North Korean (RINK) alliance. It’s the first step into a geopolitical combat novel with Mahegan and Jake finds himself, as usual, torn between peace and war. With the tensions so high right now my editor, Gary Goldstein, and I thought it was the perfect time to work on a high tech thriller that entertained the concept of a conventional and nuclear war in today’s Internet of Things and Machine Learning environment.
TRBS: Lastly, who are a few of your favorite authors, and what books are on your TBR list right now?
Tata: Oh wow. So many. Brad Thor, Mark Greaney, CJ Box, John Sandford, Ben Coes, John Lescroart, Kim Howe, Matt Betley, Gregg Hurwitz, Kyle Mills (either as himself or on Vince’s books), Lee Child, Ward Larsen, Joseph Finder, Joel Rosenberg, and Michael Connelly, to name a few. That was a quick glance at the bureau in my bedroom. I preorder all of these authors.
Packed with high-powered action and stunning authenticity, the novels of Brigadier General A.J. Tata have won widespread acclaim from the bestselling masters of suspense. In Direct Fire, he brings the war on terror to America—with his hero, Jake Mahegan, caught in the crossfire. . . .
A powerful banker, gunned down in cold blood. A military family, senselessly slaughtered as they sleep. A four-star general, hacked and framed by virtual assassins. Another key general, kidnapped from his farm near Fort Bragg. Atrocities like these are all too common in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. But this is the United States of America . . .
When Jake Mahegan receives a distress call from General Savage in North Carolina, he rushes to the commander’s home—and walks right into an ambush. When the smoke clears, Mahegan is alive but the implications of the attack are as absolute as death: The terrorists are here . . . and no one is safe. Joining forces with Savage’s combat JAG officer, Alexandra Russell, Mahegan follows the trail to a killer who goes by the name “Jackknife,” a Syrian refugee-turned-terrorist who vows to avenge the bombing of a Syrian wedding—by killing as many Americans as possible.
But time is running out for Mahegan. Terrorist cells are gathering in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hackers are emptying the nation’s banks of millions of dollars. And their final act of vengeance will bring the whole world to its knees. For Mahegan, it’s time to kill. Now.