The co-writing team of Brian Andrews and Jeff Wilson, best known for their Tier One franchise that stars a former Navy SEAL named John Dempsey, have signed a new three-book deal with the Christian publisher Tyndale to launch a brand new series that will kick off in late 2021.
Though they’ve written together under a pseudonym and both put out books on their own, the co-authors’ most recognized work today remains their popular Tier One thriller series, which started back in 2016 and has dominated Amazon charts over the last four years. Recently, it was announced that they would be expanding that series in two ways, both with spinoff novels that are already in the works (Sons of War will be published next summer by Blackstone) and a series of novellas called the “Tier One Origins” that will focus on providing backstories for some of their most popular characters.
Set far outside the Tier One world that Dempsey and his Ember taskforce operate in, Andrews and Wilson’s latest franchise, known as The Shepherds series, will follow a covert unit—funded by various public servants and theological leaders in churches and ministries around the world—who are charged with protecting the world from a powerful group known as the Dark Ones.
While the covert ops and secret taskforces sound similar to their other work, one of the things separating The Shepherds from, say, Ember, is that this new series will have more of a supernatural element to it. Think Joel C. Rosenberg (The Jerusalem Assassin, etc. also published by Tyndale) meets James Rollins (The Last Odyssey), only instead of scientists with guns, throw in the bible and a number of dark forces who are hard at work behind the scenes.
“This is a project we’ve toyed with for a while, to be honest, “Andrews and Wilson told The Real Book Spy. “When a fellow author had a conversation with one of the Editors at Tyndale—who are looking to expand their line of men’s action and adventure novels—he was kind of enough to tell them he thought we had something they might like. So we received a request to pitch our project to them.
“Tyndale is a perfect house for this project with a proven track record of faith-centric and faith-friendly fiction titles and a heart of doing things out of the box that both entertain and inspire. We are in love with the idea of combining our success in the military/covert operations thriller novels like Tier One and the upcoming Sons of War series, with our passion for more speculative stories, especially when married to our faith. How would some of the supernatural gifts described in the Bible look in the modern world? This was the question that started us on the path towards this series, featuring modern Special operations warfighters who find themselves in a global—and centuries-old—battle between the forces of good and evil.
“It has been incredibly fun to craft this series and pull in diverse elements of our backgrounds and passions.”
In an exclusive statement to The Real Book Spy, Karen Watson, Acquisitions Director, Fiction Tyndale House Publishers, said, “I was completely taken by the fact that these guys have proven that they can engage a male readership, be open about their faith, have enormous promotional energy and skill, and work with a sense of humor. What a package deal! And the concept for The Shepherds was in some ways familiar and at the same time, the freshest concept that I had seen in a very long time. It landed on my desk about 48 hours after I had a wistful brainstorming conversation with my boss about new fiction ideas. He had pushed for something supernatural. And honestly, I pushed back because we’ve struggled to sell anything too sci-fi/fantasy leaning. And then a chain of unexpected connections led me to Andrews & Wilson.
“As my team worked on the proposal, I kept saying, “This is like a mash-up . . . of . . . Taken . . . and my team member Jan said, Stranger Things.” That perfectly describes this series. It didn’t hurt that the story is set in Nashville and I knew exactly where the opening scenes happen. Nor, did it hurt that I was really disappointed when the sample chapters ended. So, suffice it to say, I can’t wait to get started on this one.”
Though readers will have to wait until the fall of 2021 to get their hands on the first Shepherds books, Andrews and Wilson are cranking out plenty of content to tide their fans over until then. Up next for them, after the novella Scars, is Collateral, the sixth full-length Dempsey novel and final adventure in the story arc that began with American Operator, which is currently slated for publication on September 1, 2020.
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.