I’ve been a fan of Simon Gervais for a long time, as far back, in fact, as 2015 when his debut novel, A Thin Black Line, first came out.
That book was the first in a series starring Mike Walton, who along with his wife Lisa, works as a covert asset of the International Market Stabilization Institute, a privately funded organization operating outside official channels to protect North America’s financial interests.
This year, though, Gervais upped his game in a big way. Hunt Them Down, his latest high-octane thriller, is the start of a new series, this time following a former Army Ranger named Pierce Hunt. When we first meet Pierce, he’s fresh off a six-month suspension and ready to strike back against the Mexican drug cartels in a big way . . . until everything goes to hell after members of a prominent cartel kidnap Hunt’s teenage daughter and give him just 72 hours to complete an impossible mission to win back her safety.
As thriller aficionados know, anytime you take a highly-trained operative and drop him in the middle of a personal, desperate situation that forces them to do whatever it takes to meet their objective, bad guys tend to die in bunches—and Gervais doesn’t hold his character back here for a second, unleashing him in a way that results in breathtaking violence at breakneck speeds. Not only is it the best thing he’s ever written, but Gervais’ Hunt Them Down is probably the best first book in a new series this year, and is not to be missed.
While scheduling conflicts kept us from connecting prior to the book’s launch, Hunt Them Down was just named a Kindle Daily Deal for today, which gave Gervais and I another chance to catch up, and he agreed to go on the record for our Five Questions segment.
Read the full Q&A below, then click here to get your copy of Hunt Them Down, the explosive first book in a brand new series from Simon Gervais.
TRBS: First of all, I loved Hunt Them Down. This is your best book yet, no question. How did you come up with the plot details, and how much research did you have to do before actually sitting down to write?
Gervais: Thanks so much, Ryan! This truly means a lot coming from you. I’m thrilled you loved Hunt Them Down. My wife Lisane and I came up with the plot one morning while brainstorming about the next book in my Mike Walton series. At some point, she asked me what would be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I didn’t have to think too long about this one. If someone was to take my kids away from me, I’d go nuts and I would do everything in my power to get them back. “Why don’t you write a story about this?” she asked me. I agreed. And since the protagonists in my Walton series were childless, I decided to start a new series.
For research, it was pretty easy. I spent the first three years of my career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police —RCMP—working on national and international drug cases. During these three years, I worked closely with my American colleagues at the DEA. As a former federal agent, I know how the bureaucracy works and I try to infuse my books with a healthy dose of realism, especially when it comes to tactics. As for Mexico, a good friend of mine lives in San Miguel de Allende. He was happy to help with the scenery.
TRBS: Pierce Hunt is a great new character. Is he based on anyone you actually know, or completely fictional?
Gervais: While Pierce Hunt is a fictional character, his emotions draws from the experiences I lived through during my military and law enforcement career. I like to think that these experiences acquired while actively participating in real-world events bring a certain authenticity to the page. While my time serving as an infantry officer and then as a counterterrorism officer for the RCMP unquestionably influences Pierce Hunt, I have no issue admitting that Hunt is a much more accomplished fighter than I could ever hope to be. He has the training, the skills, and the drive to administer justice on his terms. And, in Hunt Them Down, he certainly does.
TRBS: What is your writing process like, and what advice do you have for new and/or aspiring authors?
Gervais: I write 4 or 5 days a week for about 5 hours to 6 hours, often more when my deadline is about to expire… Years ago, a titan of the industry told me that to be successful in this business you needed three things. The first one is to be a good storyteller. There’s no way around this one. The second is “who you know”. If you don’t know anyone in the industry, it’s almost impossible to break through. And third, you need luck. Lots of luck. I would add that hard work and perseverance are also of the utmost importance.
TRBS: Who are some of your favorite authors, and what was the last really great book that you read?
Gervais: For 2019, I will say that True Believer by Jack Carr was my favorite thriller. I love how Jack describes his protagonist James Reece’s time in Africa. It was an honor for me to blurb that book. Jack is a terrific writer, a legend in the making. Other books I’m really excited about are Red Metal co-written by my good friends Mark Greaney and Lieutenant Colonel Hunter “Rip” Rawlings, Without Sanction by Don Bentley and the new Robert Ludlum’s The Treadstone Resurrection written by Joshua Hood.
TRBS: Lastly, what’s next for you now that Hunt Them Down is available, and when can readers expect to see Pierce Hunt again?
Gervais: Trained to Hunt, the second book in the series, comes out on September 24, 2019. I’m also pleased to announce that I’ve recently signed a new contract with Thomas & Mercer to publish two more Pierce Hunt books. Furthermore, I’m also working on a special book project with my wife. I’m super excited about this new venture and I think my readers will be thrilled too. Stay tuned!
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.