Larry Bond is a living legend.
While his name is often mentioned in the same breath as Tom Clancy, the Godfather of the technothriller genre, Bond is a down-to-earth, humble guy who continues to crank out top-notch military thrillers.
This year, the man who played a pivotal role in the creative stages when Clancy wrote Red Storm Rising is gearing up to release Arctic Gambit, the sixth book in his Jerry Mitchell series.
Just ahead of pub day, I caught up with Larry Bond, who graciously agreed to partake in our Five Questions segment, opening up and answering questions about the book, his work with Clancy, and more.
Read the Q&A below, then keep scrolling to read more about Arctic Gambit, one of the year’s must-read novels for military thriller enthusiasts, in stores everywhere tomorrow, Tuesday, May 29th.
Arctic Gambit: Five Questions with Larry Bond
TRBS: When I teased Book Spy followers about doing this Q&A with you, I was bombarded with questions about your involvement with Red Storm Rising. What was your involvement with that book, and where did the plot idea come from?
Bond: “It started with a wargame I was working on, originally called Convoy ’85, which was about NATO’s plan to move US forces to Europe if Russia ever decided to start WW III. It’s a massive undertaking, with hundreds of ships crossing the North Atlantic. Convoys would face attacks from Russian submarines (they had lots back then), and multiple regiments of long-range bombers. I intended to use the game to see how hard it was for the Soviets to interfere with the reinforcements.
“This was all after Hunt had been published, and Tom was in the ‘looking for a new book idea’ mode. He listened to me blather about the game for a while, and then said, ‘You know, that would make a good book.’ His genius.”
TRBS: You’re widely regarded as one of the greatest military thriller writers of your time. Did you ever think back when your first book came out, 1990’s Red Phoenix, that you’d still be writing novels today?
Bond: “If you had asked me back then I would have said, ‘I want to.’ Of course, people had to like what I was writing. I did not grow up wanting to be a writer, but watching Tom at work, I decided, ‘I want to do this, too.’”
TRBS: Arctic Gambit, the latest book in your Jerry Mitchell series, is just phenomenal. I absolutely loved it, and know other readers will too. The plot revolves around Russia modifying a strategic nuclear-propelled, nuclear-armed torpedo called Drakon. How much of this technology is real, and how much research did you have to do before sitting down to write this book?
Bond: “The Status-6 nuclear torpedo is very real. The Russians are building at least two subs we know of to carry it. The modification we made with the encapsulated submerged-launched missile was first used in the 1980s. It’s not trivial (after all, this actually is rocket science) but it’s definitely possible.”
TRBS: What is your writing process like. . . do you outline your books, or just sit down and crank them out? Also, do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Bond: “Because we’re collaborating, an outline is mandatory. As often as Chris Carlson and I have worked together, we still need a joint plan. An equally important reason is that we have more than a few plot threads to keep track of, and action across multiple time zones can make you crazy unless you’ve choreographed it all in advance. We’re always adding details as we work, or modifications to the storyline (always mutually agreed on).
“Because we know how the Bad Guy will meet his end before he even sets his Evil Plan in motion, we greatly reduce the chance of my greatest fear — writing oneself into a corner. Tom did it in Hunt, near the end when the Alfa attacks Red October. His solution of having Red October ram the much smaller sub was brilliant, but I don’t like to plan on being brilliant.
“My best advice to aspiring authors is to just get started putting words together.”
TRBS: Lastly, what’s next for you now that Arctic Gambit is set to hit bookstores, and when can readers expect to see Jerry Mitchell again?
Bond: “That’s very hard to say. Jerry was only supposed to be in four books, so in addition to being brave, intelligent, and of course handsome, he also has perseverance. We’ve advanced him steadily in rank and responsibility so that each story presents him with a fresh set of challenges, but the next step, admiral, puts him in command of a task force, which submariners don’t get to do. And admirals rarely get into the thick of the action, which is where Jerry likes to be. Chris and I may do another Jerry Mitchell Story, but there are other ideas we are exploring as well.”
Jerry Mitchell returns in Arctic Gambit, an explosive military thriller by New York Times bestselling author Larry Bond.
Jerry Mitchell, now the commodore of Submarine Development Squadron Five, is dismayed when USS Toledo is reported missing in Arctic waters, close to Russian territory. The vessel is captained by his former shipmate and close friend, Lenny Berg. Eager to investigate, Jerry convinces the Navy to redirect one of his squadron’s boats to find out what happened.
It turns out Toledo was sunk just outside of Russian territorial waters by a torpedo launched from a naval mine. Even more disturbing is the discovery that Russia is building a deadly weapon. Engineers have modified the STATUS-6, a strategic nuclear-propelled, nuclear-armed torpedo that is already operational, into a stealthy first strike weapon: Drakon. This new tool would allow the Russians to launch a completely covert nuclear decapitation strike on the USA.
The new Russian president has plans for Europe and is more than willing to use nuclear blackmail―or an actual attack―to keep the Americans from interfering. To avoid a Russian war in Europe and a nuclear catastrophe at home, Mitchell must find a way to destroy the Drakon launcher before it’s too late.
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.