The SURVIVOR Interview with Kyle Mills
As with all Flynn books they are based upon action, suspense, and very strong character development. It appears that at least with this book the torch has been passed to Mills while the light still shines on Mitch Rapp and Dr. Irene Kennedy. THE SURVIVOR picks up where Vince’s last book, THE LAST MAN left off. Unfortunately, even from the grave Rickman, the antagonist in the last story, is imposing his revenge by releasing tidbits of information that include top secret CIA intelligence of classified operations and assets. Kennedy and Rapp are in a race with America’s enemies to find the perpetrators of the leaks.
Elise Cooper: How were you chosen to continue the Vince Flynn books?
Kyle Mills: Vince’s and my agent talked. I have written thrillers in the past including some books for the Robert Ludlum Franchise. Since Vince only had written three pages I was asked some ideas of where the story should go. I guess they liked my ideas so I have been contracted to write the next three books in the series. I went back and studied all the books, taking a ton of notes. I really like Irene’s character and plan to continue her as head of the CIA for quite a long time. In future books I will expand the world a bit, because as the world changes so should book themes. Vince wrote a lot about the Middle East but in the next book I will include Russia. It will be more of a straight up action thriller.
EC: Vince had friends in the CIA. Were you able to consult with anyone?
KM: My father was an FBI agent most of his life who went on to become the Director of Interpol. He was a good friend with the head of the FBI and MI6. I guess I am pretty well connected in that world and found it very interesting. When I decided to write my own novels I decided to write about what I knew, the CIA, FBI, and MI6.
EC: You seem to change the way Mitch interrogates terrorists. Agree?
KM: Because I grew up in that world I did not want to take that story line farther. I did not want it to feel unrealistic. The CIA has to work within certain parameters. In the Mitch Rapp universe they are broader than in the real world. I did some soul searching when I started because Mitch is always doing something above the law. In the books there was always a great benefit that came out of torturing without any costs. But I do not think torture is a super effective way to get information. My father has done a lot of interrogation work at the FBI and said torture doesn’t work. In THE SURVIVOR I used a more sophisticated technique similar to what the FBI will do. Having Mitch torture is not something I will strive for.
EC: Do you think there was a lot more cussing in this book, such as calling Irene a bitch?
KM: It is funny how people perceive books. Vince had a lot of swearing and Emily, his editor, took some out. I had none and she put some in, which included referring to Irene by that word. I received an email from a guy who said I cussed a lot in this book and Vince would never do that. Because I had his books in electronic form I went back and looked. In THE SURVIVOR I used it six times and in THE LAST MAN Vince used it 67 times. I guess it comes down to people’s perceptions.
EC: Are you going to have Mitch have a love interest?
KM: The poor guy did not get much love in the books, other than his wife, Anna, Donatella, and a small fling with the Secret Service Agent Maria. Donatella and Anna were complete opposites. I think Mitch will find someone in the middle. I don’t see Mitch getting married again but what is more reasonable is having a significant other who turns up sometimes.
EC: What about Greta from AMERICAN ASSASSIN and KILL SHOT?
KM: She is from the past, when Mitch was young. The problem I have in bringing her into the current context is that she was never mentioned in the present day. My sense is that they ended the relationship. As I said before, I have some other plans for Mitch’s romantic life. I will be sowing the seeds in the next book.
EC: Can you briefly discuss some of the characters?
KM: One thing I like about Vince’s books is that his evil characters are very hateable, which propels readers through the book.
Irene was unemotional in public and would allow people to see what she wanted them to. She would not bow down to anyone. As I describe in the book, she was seen as an icy intellectual who made decisions not based on her gut, but her head. She believed in getting the job done.
Mitch is also described in the book as having no discernible physical or mental weaknesses with uncanny instincts and no remorse. He’s a survivor.
Scott Coleman is a boy scout with a Captain America persona.
President Alexander is a Democrat, strong on defense, and supportive of the CIA.
EC: There is a quote in the book that I can picture Vince writing, “The problem was that unimaginably stupid had become a job requirement in Washington.” Please explain.
KM: Congress has a 14% approval rating and a 90% election rate. We should look in the mirror. Yet, that is the difference between Vince and myself. I don’t blame the politicians that much. I know a number of them and they are not as crazy as portrayed. If it would have been my book I would not have put the quote in, but it is Vince’s book.
EC: What would you like to tell the fans of Vince?
KM: I tried to bring in as little of my own style as I could. My goal is to understand each character. I am a huge fan of Vince.