Brad Taylor's first book, One Rough Man, debuted at No. 24 on the New York Times Bestseller List. With military-like calm, the author says it "was a pretty pleasant surprise." The follow-up, All Necessary Force, continues to follow a top-secret agency called Taskforce that serves as the military's last line of defense against terrorism.
Taylor, who lives in Mt. Pleasant, knows a thing or two about special operations, having served in the military for 21 years, including an eight-year stint in the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment. Even so, there's plenty he doesn't know. Insistent on making everything in his book as realistic as possible, Taylor spent a significant chunk of time researching while writing his second installment.
From Prague to Budapest, Taylor traveled to every place he mentions in All Necessary Force, including Charleston's own Red's Ice House and the Blind Tiger, where he frequently writes.
Taylor also spoke to numerous people to ensure every technical detail and description was accurate. He picked the brains of a chemical engineer at an oil company, a tandem jump-master, and alarm system hackers. Making mistakes that research could prevent was unacceptable. Taylor says he has read books involving military action and is irritated when details are incorrect. "People will e-mail you at the drop of a hat," he says.
So do his books offer sensitive government information? No way. Before it goes to his editor, Taylor sends a draft to friends in active duty who inspect it to make sure nothing classified is revealed. He's had to go back and rewrite sections to appease those with top-secret knowledge. He says any info that might teach a bad guy how to do business is readily available on the internet, but he keeps techniques from getting too detailed — much of what he describes is seen by the reader as if it's happening across the street rather than inches away.
Although action-packed, Taylor's focus on his protagonists makes his books more than just thrillers. "The heart of the story is the characters themselves," he says. "They make life-and-death decisions and have to live with the consequences."
Drawing as much as he did from his own experiences, many readers wonder whether the series' hero, Pike Logan, is based on Taylor himself. The answer is no; Logan is a compilation of people, grander than the average person. But, Taylor admits, "I'm kind of a smart-ass, so I guess that part is me."
The other half of the series' duo is Jennifer Cahill, Logan's partner, who is struggling on her first Taskforce mission. Taylor says his fan base is split at about 50/50 between men and women. It may be due to the romantic tension between Logan and Cahill, which is ramped up in book two. However, Taylor declines to let too much slip about his third installment, which was just sent off to his editor. But he will say that a bad guy from his first book may make an appearance.
For now, it's all about celebrating the publication of All Necessary Force — and hoping it's as successful as his first book. Taylor will be at Red's Ice House on Jan. 17 for his book launch, and you can also catch him around town throughout the month for book signings. As for the series, Taylor is optimistic but doesn't plan ahead. "I work on making each book the best that it can possibly be and let the future take care of itself."