Please enjoy my interview with Dalton Fury, author of the best-selling Kolt “Racer” Raynor series. His newest thriller, One Killer Force, comes out on October 20, 2015. This interview was first published on my blog in 2012.
Who is Dalton Fury?
DALTON FURY was the senior ranking military officer at the Battle of Tora Bora. As a Delta troop commander, he helped author the operation to hunt and kill Bin Laden.
10 Questions with Dalton Fury
1. Mr. Fury, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Your new thriller, Tier One Wild, came out on October 16, 2012. Tell us a bit more about this work.
Thanks for the opportunity to connect with your readers Ethan. Tier One Wild is the second book in the Delta Force thriller series featuring special operator Kolt “Racer” Raynor. It’s actually the sequel to the first novel – Black Site.
2. Who is Kolt “Racer” Raynor and how did you go about creating his character?
Kolt Raynor is the kind of operator that every one wishes they were. He marches to his own drummer, gets things done, ignores the red tape, and doesn’t impress too easily. Of course, with a resume like this, he has his share of issues. Kolt is actually a composite of four or five actual Delta operators I had the good fortune to serve in the ranks with – a true mix of the unique talents, idiosyncrasies, motivations, and personalities of America’s best commandos. Many of the edge-of-your-seat high risk missions Kolt pulls off in the series are things my former mates and I either actually experienced, or things we wish we would have been given the green light to do.
The knock on Kolt Raynor is that at times he is borderline insubordinate, and he operates largely off of gut instinct. It is a modus operandi that garners him widespread support within the ranks, solidifies his pad speed, and gives him enormous operational clout. And even though the Generals don’t necessarily care much for his antics, they are usually smart enough to let it play out.
3. What sets Tier One Wild apart from countless thrillers featuring Delta Force agents?
Well, for one thing, using a phrase like “Delta Force agents” is synonymous to saying something like “football bat” or “field goal shortstop”. That’s okay for some, but having served in the Unit, I’m uniquely qualified to share with readers the correct terms and phrases – which is one of the things I think that sets a book like Tier One Wild apart from some of the others. Notice I said “set apart” not necessarily better as I know there are a dozen plus incredibly talented fiction thriller writers out there already that I’m a huge fan of. The messes Kolt gets into are genuine and authentic, but not always 100% realistic, because some of the things Kolt and his mates get after in the books are so off-the-chart risky that no commander in the world would approve them…that’s where Kolt’s impetuous personality takes over. He usually requests execute authority, but depending on the answer, he may suddenly experience a broken and unreadable radio connection with his boss.
I think it is very difficult for many thriller writers, particularly if they write in a character as a special operator or commandos, to nail the personality, character, personal challenges, and mind set of a real-deal operator if they have never served their nation as one themselves. It’s extremely tough to get selected for and serve in the Tier One ranks – were talking less than one percent of all those that try – it’s natural that it would be tough for any writer to capture this without the benefit of first-hand experience.
4. Why do you write?
First, writing is a struggle. It’s certainly not easy and doesn’t necessarily come natural to me. I’m sure it does for some of the top fiction writers, but for me it takes real commitment and dogged determination to craft a story that hopefully will satisfy a reader. I’m incredibly humbled by the overwhelming support readers have generously provided me. Putting life in Kolt Raynor gives me tremendous personal satisfaction and in many ways is entirely therapeutic. I lost a lot of good teammates over the course of twenty plus years in the military and have seen a lot of guys maimed physically, mentally, or both since 9/11. There is a unique mind set and bond among Delta operators that can’t be bottled and sold, can’t be replicated in any other venue in the civilian world, and really can’t be taught in any institution of higher learning. However, this same bond, this real idea that your nation and your mates come first while you are in the ranks, can be capitalized on as an incredible source of motivation and commitment to do the right thing and make a difference in your family, your post-retirement pursuits, your church, and your community.
5. A word of advice for new writers?
I think first and foremost, manage your expectations. Being a New York Times Best Selling author is great, but simply completing your manuscript is powerful and rewarding in itself. There are a dozen variables that determine how well your work does, but the most important one is how satisfied you are as the author. You don’t need a six-figure book deal from a prominent New York City publisher or a top-ranked agent to be proud of your effort. These days, you can publish your work without them.
Of course you have to be committed to seeing your work through to the end. I typically write in spurts, hoping to craft authentic plot points that I think might grab the attention of readers’ of this genre and which forces them to make the decision to turn the page. When someone tells me they lost sleep last night because they couldn’t wait to see how Kolt and his teammates got out of a jam I don’t feel sorry for them. It kept me up too. Once I have a group of ten to twelve mini-plots, I then dive into the hard part of back pedaling to connect the dots and weave it all together with one of the best thriller writers in the business Mark Greaney. Mark is an incredibly talented writer and can take a Rubix Cube of cool Delta Force-like ninja stuff, work his magic, and in short order have readers pleading for Kolt Raynor to snap someone’s neck and fix things.
6. What is your typical writing day?
I carry a small notebook with me while driving or at work. I consistently pull over and capture the thoughts immediately. Napkins, unpaid bills, airline boarding passes have all been part of this Delta Force thriller series. I’m constantly running ideas around my head and searching for the small things that might give readers something fresh or a new spin to something they are familiar with. For example, everyone knows how to enter a plane and everyone assumes that the doors are the obvious way a counterterrorist force would enter to rescue a plane full of shell-shocked hostages. But Kolt’s looking for something a bit off-the-wall and of course, extremely high risk. The opening scene in Tier One Wild is a good example of this. I like to refer to writing as my part-time job as I do most of it on the road and at night while sitting in hotel rooms across the country. Nothing like complimentary Marriott Columbian Roast coffee and a big chew of Redman to get Kolt off his fourth point of contact.
7. What are your favorite pastimes?
Probably no different from most really. Since I’m retired now, I no longer have to share my time. My family and work come first. Kolt and former mates second. My wife and daughters have been extremely supportive of the series and as long as the vast majority is done on the road, no objections from them.
8. What other books are you working on at the moment?
Hopefully Kolt Raynor fans will be pleased to hear that I’m currently writing book 3 in the series. I’m really blessed to have an agent like Scott Miller of Trident Media Group and an editor like Marc Resnick of St. Martin’s Press who believe in me and the series. We all had a vision for this series and those two guys never wavered, giving Mark Greaney and I a blank check to craft an exciting series and make it work. I call book 3 – Killer Man’s Son – but the ultimate title may be entirely different.
9. What do you like to read and what are you reading now?
It’s been interesting in that I’ve been given the opportunity to review advance copies of a dozen books, both fiction and non-fiction, related to the military, terrorism, and national security. I usually read on the plane and always have something with me. I just finished reading Stephen Coonts’ yet-to-be-released Pirate Alley, GLOCK: The Rise of America’s Gun by Paul Barrett, and an early copy of Back In The Fight, a memoir of Army Ranger Joe Kapacziewski by Charles Sasser. All three are terrific and were hard to put down at times to get to my own writing.
10. What can readers expect to find in Tier One Wild?
Well, I’m happy and entirely humbled to say Tier One Wild hit #31 on the New York Times Best Seller list, so maybe some of those unique plot points mentioned above worked out. Kolt Raynor is given a second chance to make a difference after having been booted from the Unit in Black Site. Given that once-in-a-lifetime chance, he returns to the ranks in Delta Force and promises to think things through a little more before he acts. Of course, nobody believed him, especially the shrinks. Readers shouldn’t either.