Written by Brad Taylor

After fourteen books, one question that’s most often asked of me is where I get my ideas. How do I come up with a plot and story line, time and time again, that mirrors something happening in the real world? The truth is that it’s a little bit of luck and a lot of research. 

Most of the time, an idea springs forth from a news story I read – usually something small that doesn’t make the grade for prime-time reporting, but piques my interest nonetheless. For instance, my fourth novel, The Widow’s Strike, is a about a mutated Avian flu virus being used as a biological weapon. This one, of course, was about six years too early, but the idea came from a story I’d read about researchers conducting genetic experiments on the H5N1 virus – “Bird Flu”. The virus in its current state is much more deadly than COVID 19, but it’s not airborne, meaning it’s also much harder to catch. The researchers genetically mutated the virus so that it wasairborne in order to study it in preparation for the actual virus in the wild mutating on its own. They were set to publish a paper on their work in open source material and the United States’ National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity demanded that it refrain from publishing it – in effect stating that the open source publication was putting the science in the hands of anyone who wanted to use it – nefarious or otherwise. And that was the germ of a plot.

Other times I just happen to be in the right place at the right time. The Insider Threat was my eighth book, and at the time I started writing it I was searching for a threat vector that was real, but not yet seen. Having fought in Iraq, I was aware of the foreign fighter flow inundating that country, and had a hand in dismantling the precursor to the Islamic State. At the time, the group was unknown to all but people like me, who continue to study such things. Despite their relative obscurity, they were very adept at recruiting foreigners to their cause – such as the much talked about “Beatles” in Syria, recruited from the United Kingdom. All of those fighters, though, had at least an Islamic heritage even as they held a western passport. They still had one foot in the Middle East from their father, mother or someone else. My thought was, what if someone from the United States who had no such heritage – a blonde haired, blue eyed boy – went over to Syria and became radicalized? With that passport and appearance, he would be a deadly threat upon return. And so I began writing about that, using the Islamic State. Halfway through the book, the Islamic State became ISIS and had overrun large swaths of Iraq and Syria, taking over terrain the size of the United Kingdom, burning people alive and lopping off heads on the nightly news. My book came out shortly thereafter and I looked like I had predicted the future – but I hadn’t. ISIS had been around for years. They just hadn’t been able to reach into your television screen yet. 

In the same vein, I used Boko Haram in Days of Rage, my sixth book, because I was getting weary of the same old tropes of Al Qaida or other well-known groups. Nobody had ever really heard of them before (at least in the United States), but one month before the book was released, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a boarding school in Nigeria, making worldwide news. The book came out, and I looked prescient, but I really wasn’t. While nobody in the United States had heard of Boko Haram, Nigeria – and people who study terrorism, like me – certainly had. They’ve been creating mayhem since 2009. 

I’ll be honest, though, sometimes plotlines come purely out of my imagination because I simply want to travel to an area for research. My seventh book, No Fortunate Son, is based in Ireland and the UK – precisely because my wife wanted to research her ownheritage, so I had to create something plausible out of whole cloth. Instead of news stories finding me, I went searching for a story. I should probably try that approach more often, because No Fortunate Son is one of my best books to date.

My latest book, Hunter Killer, is a little bit of both worlds. I had no intention of writing about Brazil and South America for that book, but as usual, something piqued my interest and caused me to focus there. In this case, after the previous book Daughter of War, I still had alerts up for reports about Wagner and/or Russian mercenaries causing havoc in the world. I read a story about Wagner men surreptitiously entering Venezuela, and zoomed in for a closer look, trying to ascertain the significance of it all – not for a novel, but because it interested me. I began studying the geopolitics of the region and came across the presidential elections in Brazil. Unbelievably, an ex-president was running for re-election from prison because of the Carwash scandal, the largest corruption case in history – and was winning. He was so popular that the largest off-shore oil find in the last thirty years, something Russia would love to control, was named after him. 

That was just crazy enough for a plot.


By Brad Taylor

Published by Head of Zeus on 15th October

Introducing New York Times bestselling author and former Special Forces Officer, Brad Taylor to the UK….


PIKE LOGAN tracks highly-trained Russian assassins to Brazil in this blistering, action-packed thriller from New York Times bestselling author and former Special Forces Officer Brad Taylor.

Brad Taylor

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