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Behind every storyteller, there’s a story — maybe more than one. Maybe many.
In the case of best-selling novelist and former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, a deep love of family, love of country and love of reading and writing — plus respect for America’s military and veterans — are the opening pages in a fascinating, multi-layered career.
“I knew from a very early age that those were the two things I wanted to do in life — serve my country in uniform, and then write thrillers,” the author, based in Park City, Utah, told Fox News Digital in a recent interview.
Carr has just released his latest thriller featuring popular series character James Reece — who, not surprisingly, is a former Navy SEAL.
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The novel, “In the Blood” (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster), came out May 17, 2022.
Here are highlights from a fascinating conversation with Jack Carr just as he was about to go on tour for the new novel.
Given his dedication to the military and all who have served our country — including his own grandfather, a military aviator who died in the waning days of World War II — it seems no accident the book is out just ahead of Memorial Day this year.
Fox News Digital: How do you write so many books? You’ve written “The Terminal List,” “True Believer,” “Savage Son,” “The Devil’s Hand” — now your newest, “In the Blood.” How do you do it?
Jack Carr: It’s exhausting! Oh my gosh! It’s crazy. (laughs) But when you have a series character, that’s what people want now.
“Today, people really want a recurring series character, so that’s what you gotta deliver.”
Carr (cont’d): This all really started with Clive Cussler in the late ’70s — and then … Michael Connelly, Daniel Silva, Vince Flynn, Tom Clancy, David Morrell and so many others … People want so much more information now. And as a novelist today, it’s so easy to give it to them.
Today, people really want a recurring series character, so that’s what you gotta deliver.
Fox News Digital: In your cover photo on your book jackets, you look so serious and intimidating. Is that really you?
Carr: I know! People who know me are always telling me, “You’re always smiling. So what is the deal with that book photo?” And I answer, “I don’t know, it just seems like I should be serious for that.” That’s just how it goes.
Now I’ve got a new author photo — I’ve upgraded a little with my beard. But I’m still pretty serious in the new photo. Still not really smiling, but moving in that direction.
Fox News Digital: What do you want people to know most about your latest novel?
Carr: The easy part is that it’s a sniper-centric novel of violent resolution. That’s really what was in my head. That’s my background. I was a SEAL sniper.
And I always wanted to write that sniper-centric novel but not fall into the trap of having two snipers on opposite sides, on two buildings across the street, looking for each other, looking, looking — and at the last section they both see each other at the same time, and they shoot, and one bullet goes through the scope of the other guy.
“I went deep down the rabbit hole in terms of researching artificial intelligence, quantum computing, surveillance of U.S. citizens — I had no touchpoints.”
Carr (cont’d): I mean, I love that, it’s great. But it’s been done a few times in movies and in literature!
So I had to figure out: How do I write a sniper novel without that? And that was the fun part to figure out … I went deep down the rabbit hole in terms of researching artificial intelligence, quantum computing, surveillance of U.S. citizens — I had no touchpoints.
Carr (cont’d): For the sniper stuff, I had a very solid foundation. I still check it, because I’ve been out of that world for a while. But with quantum computing, I had no background.
So I had to start essentially from zero, which included looking up what a quantum computer actually looks like. I thought it was just a large computer — and that is not what it is!
Type it into your search bar and look. It’s this golden Medusa-looking thing with wires suspended in a vacuum. It is a crazy-looking thing.
Carr (cont’d): So I wanted to know: What are our capabilities? What are the Chinese capabilities? What are the Russian capabilities?
And what about the private sector? IBM has one of the top ones in the country. But even if you read something on quantum computing and artificial intelligence, it’s essentially dated by the time you finish reading it.
“I wanted to uncover things that people are reluctant to give up.”
Carr (cont’d): So books, journals, magazine articles and this sort of thing — they just provide the foundation. And I then went and talked to a lot of people … but everybody leaves something out. I wanted to uncover things that people are reluctant to give up.
Still, I got a clear picture of what it is. And I think that what’s in the book — I don’t think I’m far off. And if I am, it’s only that I don’t describe how far ahead we actually are, just to keep this out of the science fiction realm rather than the political thriller genre. It was scarier than the bioweapons research I did for the last book.
Fox News Digital: Tell us how you made the transition from military man to thriller writer.
Carr: I just knew from a very early age that those were the two things I wanted to do in life — serve my country in uniform, then write thrillers.
Carr (cont’d): My grandfather served in WWII and he was killed in WWII — he was a Marine aviator. He was killed in May of 1945 near the end of the war, but I have pictures of him. I had his medals. I had his wings.
I had the silk maps that they gave aviators back then, because if they hit the water with a paper map, it would disintegrate, but the silk map just got wet and they could still use it. I had all that stuff, I still have all that — it was a natural draw for me.
Plus, “Black Sheep Squadron” was on TV, with Robert Conrad playing legendary Marine aviator Pappy Boyington. I watched that with my dad and it was the power of popular culture. It was his connection to his dad — my grandfather — so I was headed in that direction.
“My takeaways were that SEALs were some of the best military in the world and had some of the toughest training ever devised by our military, so I thought — I’m in.”
Carr (cont’d): And since my mom was a librarian, I was always reading. I grew up with a love of books and a love of reading.
When I was seven years old, I found out what SEALs were — my mom and I did research into SEALs. And then on weekends, there was an old black-and-white movie called “The Frogmen” on TV, and I used to watch that, with guys climbing up over the beach, and I thought, These are my people right here.
I asked my dad about them. I said, “What is a frogman?” and he said, “Ask your mother.” So my mom and I went down to the library and did a bunch of research, and my takeaways were that SEALs were some of the best military in the world and had some of the toughest training ever devised by our military, so I thought — I’m in.
Carr (cont’d): Back then, you could research almost everything actually written. And so I did. Eventually I began reading “The Hunt for Red October” — and all those books, all the Tom Clancy novels, the books by David Morrell, Nelson DeMille, Stephen Hunter and more.
All these guys had protagonists that I wanted to be one day. A Marine sniper in Vietnam … Army special forces in Vietnam … I had such a good time reading those books and I continue to read them to this day.
“I gave myself an education in the art of storytelling from a very early age and I just knew that’s what I was going to do.”
And I knew that one day after the military, I’d write those kinds of books. So I gave myself an education in the art of storytelling from a very early age and I just knew that’s what I was going to do. All of that stuff came together as I was getting out of the military.
All of the reading I’d done, all of the research I’d done on warfare and terrorism and counterterrorism — and my experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and in special operations on the SEAL teams — all of that came together. It allowed me to take the feelings and emotions that I had and tie them into a fictional narrative.
And to this day, I get to continue researching things that I don’t know about.
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Fox News Digital: Writing is often a very solitary affair. It can be lonely. How do you keep yourself motivated — how do you push through that?
Carr: I love that part! It’s like, Are you kidding? No one’s bothering me for hours on end? This is fantastic! (laughs) You know, I have my wife, three kids — ages 16, 14, and 11 — and the dog. It’s constant chaos in our house. So I have to find a place where it’s very quiet and where I won’t be interrupted when I’m writing these.
Carr (cont’d): I usually start with a one-page executive summary, a theme, a title — and then I start turning that into an outline and get as far as I can with that outline until it starts to maybe slow me down.
And then I need to go and be by myself and just write.
For this last one, I rented Airbnbs around our town — and I found a great one, an old log cabin. Everything was tiny, it was tiny, with a big old stack of wood outside, so I could chop wood and throw it into the woodburning stove inside. I had a little couch, a little table, a small bedroom, a little deck — and I could see my house from it.
“When I’m writing, I turn everything else off — I’m not connected to the internet. My computer is just for writing.”
So I could flip a switch at night and call the kids and say, “Hey, I’m saying goodnight.” And they could see me turning the lights off and on.
And I could just be by myself and write this book. When I’m writing, I turn everything else off — I’m not connected to the internet. My computer is just for writing.
For my first few books, I was going to the library to write, and I’d rent a study room there, put my name down on the list for the room — but then in the afternoons, I was getting kicked out for high school kids who wanted to work on a history project or something.
Carr (cont’d): Then COVID hit — and I needed to work at home. But when you work at home, at least for me, as soon as I close the doors to my office, that’s like a magnet for the dog to scratch and bark, for the kids to come and talk to me — they finally want to talk to me once the door’s closed!
You know, all of the things that any parent had to contend with during the lockdown. But hey, that makes life interesting.
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Fox News Digital: Do you enjoy interacting with your fans and readers?
Carr: I do. I do. It’s the reason I do what I do, which is the writing. At least 20 years ago, maybe 30, the only time you got to say “thank you” to your readers was at book signings or book fairs. Maybe you had one televised interview — maybe two.
But today, I can say “thank you” every day to people who reach out on social media to tell me that they bought my book or told a friend about it.
Carr (cont’d): It means so much to me that people would spend their time — time they’re never going to get back — in the pages of one of my books, or by listening to the audiobook, or just following me on Instagram or something.
That’s why I take it very seriously, because I know they’re never going to get that time back and they get to choose how they’re going to spend it.
So it’s a big responsibility and I take it seriously.
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Fox News Digital: Tell us about being based in Park City, Utah.
Carr: I finished up my time with SEAL teams in Coronado [in California], and I wanted to make a physical and psychological break with the military as I turned that page.
It was a wonderful 20 years, and I feel honored to have done it for as long as I did. But it was time to go to Park City, Utah, and raise the kids in a ski town and move away from all those things that had anchored us to San Diego for a while.
“My daughter and I will be going to Normandy for the D-Day events and commemorations there.”
Fox News Digital: Anything else you wanted to share as your new book comes out?
Carr: I’ll be zigzagging around the country for a while on my book tour, and then I’ll be back home.
And then my daughter and I will be going to Normandy for the D-Day events and commemorations there [on June 6].
Carr (cont’d): We’re volunteering out there to take veterans to visit that part of the world where they served their nation.
We did it this last December, too, for the 80th commemoration of Pearl Harbor — my daughter is the youngest person who ever did it. It’s with a group called the Best Defense Foundation.
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We took 64 veterans over age 96 all the way up to age 104 — all of them in wheelchairs. We helped get them around, get to the dinners, to their rooms.
The families would say to us, “Wow, this is the first time I’ve ever heard my grandfather tell that story.”
I think this has changed the course of my 16-year-old daughter’s life. She’s been so impacted by this and by these individuals.
Sometimes they open up to us about their service, about what they’ve experienced — sometimes it’s easier to open up to people they don’t know than to their own families. It was amazing for her to sit down and hear some of their stories.
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And the families would say to us, “Wow, this is the first time I’ve ever heard my grandfather tell that story.”
It was really impactful for both my daughter and for me.
In addition to the new novel, “In the Blood,” just out, Carr has a new show based on his series coming to Amazon Prime Video on July 1, 2022. “The Terminal List” stars Chris Pratt as Navy SEAL Sniper James Reece.