Interview: Brad Thor, Novelist

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Brad Thor is an American novelist, whose works include several New York Times Best Sellers. He’s just finished his newest book, Code of Conduct, and took some time to share his everyday carry inspired by his many military- and spy-themed thrillers. Read along to see what gear he uses and to discover his secret for any aspiring author looking to get published.

What’s in your everyday carry?

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View Brad Thor’s Full Everyday Carry

I write about spies + the SpecOps community. Most of what they do is under the cover of darkness, and the color black plays heavily in their gear selection. I suppose, over time, that has seeped into my consciousness.

Black is sleek, timeless, and always stylish:

Field Notes – Pitch Black + Fisher Bullet Space Pen: I never know when a good idea is going to come my way and I always want to be prepared. There’s nothing worse than getting a flash of something fantastic, only to lose it because you didn’t bother to write it down. By carrying a small notebook + a pen that works no matter what the angle/weather conditions, I have no excuse not to commit everything to paper.

Knife – Otanashi noh Ken – Designed by James Williams for CRKT. Simply put, one of the most badass folding knives on the planet. Tons of SpecOps members carry James Williams’ blades. Based on centuries-old Samurai designs, nothing on the market beats it. I carry it because men whose lives depend on their tools, also carry it.

Magpul iPhone 6 cover – I love the Magpul brand and I own tons of their gear for my rifles. Theirs is a wicked smart company, always on the cutting edge. If everything else I have is battle-ready, why shouldn’t my phone be?

Gerber “Shard” keychain tool – Gerber makes some excellent products. I incorporated the “Shard” into my EDC so that I would stop abusing my knives. I open lots and lots of cardboard boxes, which dulls blades pretty fast. If my knife comes out in an emergency situation, I want it to be super sharp. The “Shard” does the day-to-day work I need done and is the packhorse to my Otanashi noh Ken thoroughbred.

Leatherman Style PS multitool. Multitools are great to have around. My problem was that whenever I needed mine, it was sitting in my bug out bag in my SUV. It was just too big to carry, and I’d be damned if I would wear something on my belt. Then Leatherman came out with this version and I knew I’d be carrying it everyday. Super small, super light, and super strong – no matter what the job, I’m always carrying the right tool.

Also in my bug out bag, is an awesome headlamp. Unless you’re in a fighting scenario, they are absolutely the way to go. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a headlamp setup compact enough to EDC. That’s why I carry a compact flashlight and love my Streamlight 88030 Protac Tactical Flashlight 1L. In addition to being small and lightweight, I love its battery shelf life and the fact that you can remove the pocket clip. I can also drop it in water for a half hour without fear, it offers easily indexed high and low intensity options, plus it includes a strobe feature – which every EDC’er should demand of any flashlight they carry.

Finally – I saved the BEST for last. My favorite EDC item is my Kobold Phantom Chronograph. How badass is this watch? Google “James Gandolfini Watch” and see what pops up. This is the watch my Navy SEAL protagonist, Scot Harvath wears and it is the watch I wear. From top-to-bottom this watch projects “Don’t Fuck With Me” confidence. It is the Rolex for men who are the real deal. Kobold (of Pittsburgh, PA) has designed timepieces for not only special edition Land Rover vehicles, but has also sent their watches on some of the most harrowing global expeditions ever attempted by humankind. I love it because elite operators who do some of the world’s deadliest and most precision-demanding work, wear a Kobold. As far as I am concerned, that’s the ultimate endorsement.

How would you summarize your profession, and what your day-to-day is like?

International thriller author.

Everything I do is about discipline. Writing is easy. It’s the sitting down to write that’s hard. But as Jack London once said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Where do you find the inspiration to sit down to write?

No matter how many books I have sold, I continue to see myself as a small business owner, handcrafting a new and extremely special product every year.

My readers are not just my customers, they are the people I work for. It is incumbent upon me to not only give them the very best, white-knuckle thrill ride I am capable of, but to get better at my craft every year.

Let’s face it, there are lots of things competing for people’s time and dollars. If I can’t earn your loyalty, I don’t deserve it. But I hate to lose, so I work harder, longer, and smarter than anyone I know. Phoning it in, is not in my nature. If you are not committed to kicking complete and total ass, you’re swinging your sword in the wrong arena.

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Other than writing, what else are you passionate about?

I enjoy bourbon and antique typewriters – on brand for an author, right? I also love watches, cufflinks, knives, and all sorts of firearms.

My favorite cufflinks are made from a pair of old typewriter keys that read, “Shift Freedom.”

I love well-tailored suits, and shoes that take a high shine. I have two pieces of crystal on my desk, passed down from my godfather. One is a lion, the other is a ram. They symbolize courage and determination – two traits I strive to embody on a daily basis.

My desire is to live ready. Whether it’s for the next intriguing idea, something my wife or children need fixed, or who-knows-what. Whatever comes, comes. I just want to be the man people can turn to. And in doing so, I hope to set the example for others.

Why do you EDC?

The short answer for why I EDC can be summed up by the Latin phrase “Virile Agitur.” (Editor’s Note: That roughly translates to “do the manly thing.”)

I EDC because even when I sat (post college) in a little office in Chicago, trying to figure out who and what I wanted to be, I knew that I wanted to be ready for whatever the world threw at me.

I EDC because I know that smart people EDC. People who sit on the side of the road with a flat, waiting for help are not EDC’ers. People who EDC come from all walks of life, but we all speak the same language. We all want to be the solution, no matter how small, of whatever problem pops up. In short, we’re both old school and new school. We’re old school, in that we’re prepared, but we’re also new school in that we look around and see that we’re the only one’s who are prepared, ready for any challenge.

What I love about EDC, is that this is a fraternity (of men & women) who are thinkers and problem solvers. That’s not only what our culture needs, it’s just damn cool.

Do you feel there’s anything missing from your EDC?

Night Vision. Night Vision. Night Vision.

It’s like headlamps. We need smaller and better night vision that works for EDC.

Do you have any new releases we should check out?

My new thriller, CODE OF CONDUCT – which incorporates TONS of very cool EDC, has just been published and is available now.

Given your success as a novelist, do you have any secret tips for other writers trying to make it?

I love giving advice on the topic of how to become a published writer, because there is so much bullshit out there.

First, the good news on getting a publisher:

If you want to write non-fiction, you only need to write an outline, a book proposal, and a sample chapter.

If you want to write fiction, you have to write the entire novel.

How did I get published?

If we’re talking fiction (that’s my A.O.), once you have a complete manuscript (and which you have had everyone you know sweep for typos), pick up The Guide to Literary Agents and learn how to pitch agents.

Secret Brad Thor Tip: Ignore the part about submitting to one agent at a time. Pick your top 10, or 20 agents and shotgun them! The best thing that can happen is that they fight over you. If you send to one agent at a time and wait for a response, you could waste years of your writing career. (Agents HATE that I tell writers this. Too bad.)

See more of Brad’s work at his website, and keep up with him on Twitter.

Photos courtesy of Brad Thor

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