Few thriller writers working today are as versatile as Marc Cameron. Last year, in addition to continuing his own Jericho Quinn series, Cameron took on the monumental task of following in Mark Greaney’s footsteps and continuing Tom Clancy’s iconic Jack Ryan series. His first Ryan book, Tom Clancy Power and Empire, was a massive hit, earning numerous starred pre-publication reviews.
Now, Cameron is set to release his second book set in the Ryanverse, Tom Clancy Oath of Office, which sees President Ryan take on numerous issues, both foreign and domestic.
Just ahead of publication day, I caught up with Cameron, who went back on the record for our Five Questions segment. See the full Q&A below, then click here to order your copy of Tom Clancy Oath of Office, in stores tomorrow, November 27, 2018.
TRBS: Congratulations on writing another really great novel! Tom Clancy Oath of Office is really good and, without giving anything away, it feels like you tried some new things this time around. How did you come up with the plot idea for this book, and what kind of research did you have to do before actually sitting down to write?
Cameron: “Thanks, Ryan. As you know, I’ve been a Tom Clancy fan since The Hunt for Red October. I’m a sucker for spy fiction, so one of my favorite Clancy books is The Cardinal of the Kremlin. In Cardinal, we get to see Mary Pat Foley when she was practicing her tradecraft in Moscow during Soviet times. We first meet John Clark on an extraction assignment. I wanted that same feel with Oath of Office.
“Recent events have demonstrated some severe weaknesses in relying too heavily on new technologies to protect our intelligence assets, and, as my friend and martial arts sensei is fond of pointing out, the old ways still work. Sophisticated GPS trackers, eyes in the sky, and satellite phones do not always work. Sometimes, nothing can beat real human intelligence–boots-on-the-ground and eyes-on-target. Oath of Office still has plenty of military mayhem and sophisticated tech, but it is really a book about spies and the intelligence officers who run them.
“I’m fortunate to have a few contacts in the intelligence world–friends of friends who have become my friends. Retired CIA officers, Jim Lawler, and Gary Schroen, both talented writers in their own right, were kind enough to sit down with me and share their vast knowledge.
“My editor, Tom Colgan, said something like, ‘How about we do something about a Persian Spring that isn’t what it seems . . . ‘ and I took it from there. Tom is a terrific editor and great fun to work with. I travel some and read a lot. As with any book, I started with a lot of things I knew I didn’t know. It was the unknown, unknowns that were the most fun to discover though. I learned a great deal about Iranian culture, what it’s like to be a midshipman at Annapolis, and enough about all the debris orbiting earth to scare me.”
TRBS: What was your experience like writing this book compared to last year’s Tom Clancy Power and Empire, your first Jack Ryan novel . . . was it easier, less intimidating, or somehow maybe even more challenging?
Cameron: “It’s always going to be intimidating to write a Tom Clancy novel. If it weren’t, they’d probably have picked the wrong person. I get a lot of really good feedback for Power and Empire, but there are a few people who never read Without Remorse that feel I somehow turned John Clark into a ruthless killer. Not all of Tom Clancy’s books were the same, so the fact that Oath of Office is a little different than Power and Empire didn’t worry me. These books are so large in scope that they will, I think, always feel a little daunting.”
TRBS: Those who follow you on social media know that you travel a lot. Where are some of the places you visited while working on this book?
Cameron: “Generally speaking, I wrote about places I was already familiar with. I couldn’t make a trip to Europe fit into my schedule for this book, but I did visit the US Naval Academy, US Secret Service HQ, the J Edgar Hoover Building, and the White House. I was fortunate to have retired intelligence officers who’d spent a lot of time in Iran to give me insight into the little things that one can’t find online.”
TRBS: In February, you’re kicking off an all-new series starring Arliss Cutter with Open Carry. What can you tell readers about that book?
Cameron: “Arliss Cutter is a contemporary deputy U.S. marshal based in Alaska in this series. Open Carry is a mystery set against the backdrop of a reality television show on an island in southeast Alaska. I worked with quite a few larger-than-life characters over the course of my career and like writing about such people. Arliss and his partner, Lola Teariki–a woman of Cook Island Maori descent–fit that bill. Open Carry has plenty of the mayhem Jericho Quinn fans have come to expect, with some insight into Alaska and the United States Marshals Service, where I worked for over twenty years. The book was incredibly fun to research and write.”
TRBS: Lastly, when might readers see Jericho Quinn again?
Cameron: “Jericho Quinn #8, Active Measures, is complete and in the editorial process with Kensington. I’m not sure on a release date yet, but anticipate sometime later in the summer.”
Marine officer. CIA analyst. President. Jack Ryan has devoted his life to protecting the United States. What if this time, he can’t? President Ryan and the Campus return in the latest entry in Tom Clancy’s #1 New York Times-bestselling series.
Freedom may have finally arrived in Iran. As protests break out across the country, the media rejoices over the so-called Persian Spring. Western leaders are ecstatic. Members of Congress and the Cabinet clamor to back the rebels. Only President Jack Ryan remains wary.
Meanwhile, he has plenty to handle at home. A deadly strain of flu is ravaging the United States as spring floods decimate the Southeast. An unethical senator wants to bring down the Ryan presidency and is willing to lean on fabricated bot-planted stories to do it.
But the scariest story is the most closely guarded one. Two Russian nuclear missiles have been hijacked. The Campus gets their first break when Jack Junior connects with a rogue Russian intelligence officer in Afghanistan–only to be abducted soon after arriving. John Clark and the rest of the Campus team race to track the missiles and rescue their colleague.
As sensationalized stories spin out of control and the stolen missiles remain out of reach, President Ryan’s toughest challenge emerges: How do you meet an enemy head-on, when he won’t even show you his face?
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.