Author One-on-One: Dick Wolf and Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle is the author of the #1 bestselling memoir American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.
Chris Kyle: Last summer I got a chance to work with Dick Wolf on NBC’s Stars Earn Stripes, which raised much-needed awareness of veteran’s charities. You know Dick from some of the best shows on TV—Law & Order and more—but it turns out he’s a helluva thriller writer, too. His first book, The Intercept, is a kickass story about an NYPD detective on the hunt for a group of terrorists who have sneaked into the U.S. without getting noticed. There’s an exciting sniper shootout in the middle of Times Square, a scene where they flush a suspect out of a small hotel in Manhattan, and a final chase through downtown right before a dedication ceremony at Ground Zero. This has ‘big hit’ written all over it.
Detective Jeremy Fisk is an effective hero, a street-smart New Yorker who can step back and see the whole picture – the threats others are overlooking. How did his character evolve? What kind of skills does he need to succeed in counter terrorism?
Dick Wolf: I had inspiration from specific detectives I have known over the years. The chief skill needed for counter-terrorism is the ability to think totally out of the box. Detectives have to look for solutions to problems that have never been encountered. And it is especially difficult fighting enemies who think that dying is a positive, not a negative.
CK: How do you think the fans of the Law & Order TV shows will react to The Intercept?
DW: I hope they’ll be pleased. I think they’re getting a book that shares Law & Order’s procedural “leanness” with an extra shot of character.
CK: I’m a Texan through and through, but I have to admit that your native New York City is a great setting. What’s unusual about tracking terrorists in American cities vs. other places in the world?
DW: It’s a lot more difficult to track foreigners in a country, like the US, that is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural environment as opposed to more insular foreign countries where foreigners stand out.
CK: Since I got out of the Navy, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of terrific law-enforcement snipers. The sniper scene in Times Square is very cinematic, yet also disturbingly real. How did you come up with that?
DW: One shot, one kill is not only a dramatically satisfying concept, it’s also cinematic. I’m thrilled by your reaction to the sequence, since it’s actually my favorite moment in the book.
CK: In Iraq we had very strict rules of engagement. Do you think a detective is ever justified in bending the law?
DW: Yes, I do. You don’t want cowboys in counter-terrorism, but you certainly want officers who think independently and sometimes cross lines to save others.
CK: Any chance we’ll get to see The Intercept on TV or the movie screen?
DW: I certainly hope so. That would be a great bonus to what’s already been an extremely pleasant experience.
CK: Do you have plans for more books?
DW: Absolutely. I'm already working on the next one with Jeremy Fisk!
Wolf’s espionage and police-procedural hybrid combines the brainy suspense and unfiltered social commentary found in the best Law & Order episodes with perfectly calibrated action. Six run-of-the-mill passengers on a Stockholm-to-Newark flight subdue a hijacker, foiling an obvious al-Qaeda plot to destroy the Freedom Tower just before its July 4 dedication. But, after interrogating the hijacker, NYPD Intelligence Division detectives Jeremy Fisk and Krina Gersten are convinced that the hijacker’s weak discipline cloaks a greater plot. With Gersten guarding the Six as they run the gauntlet of media appearances, Fisk hunts indicators of a large-scale attack. He soon focuses on another passenger, a Saudi with tribal connections to both Osama bin Laden and the hijacker, tracking him as he methodically wakes sleeper agents scattered throughout the city. A subtle underlayer examines the experiences that can morph people into terrorists and the stereotypes that both aid and inhibit their capture. Readers will be fascinated with the inner workings of the Intel Division, modeled on the CIA, and by the full-sensory description of New York. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: As the creator of television’s Law & Order franchise, Wolf knows his crime, and his first novel is being treated as a major media event. Expect attention to be paid everywhere type is set, film is shot, and bytes are bit. --Christine Tran