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Don Bentley: On Being Picked to Write a Book in a Famous Series

Thriller author Don Bentley discusses how he was selected to write Target Acquired, the latest Tom Clancy novel.

Don Bentley is the author of the Matt Drake thriller series, including Without Sanction, The Outside Man, and two forthcoming titles, as well as Target Acquired, a Tom Clancy Jack Ryan, Jr. novel. Bentley spent a decade as an Army Apache helicopter pilot during which time he deployed to Afghanistan as an Air Cavalry Troop Commander. Following his time in the military, Bentley worked as an FBI Special Agent and was a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team member. Learn more at DonBentleyBooks.com.

Don Bentley

Don Bentley

In this post, Bentley discusses how he was selected to write Target Acquired, the latest Tom Clancy novel, and much more!

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Name: Don Bentley
Literary agent: Barbara Poelle
Book title: Tom Clancy Target Acquired
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release date: June 8, 2021
Genre: Military Thriller
Elevator pitch for the book: A seemingly simple favor for a friend ends with Jack Ryan, Jr., hurtling down a path of violence and betrayal in the latest breathtaking entry in this #1 New York Times bestselling series.
Previous titles by the author: Without Sanction and The Outside Man

Tom Clancy Target Acquired: A Jack Ryan Jr. Novel by Don Bentley

Tom Clancy Target Acquired: A Jack Ryan Jr. Novel by Don Bentley

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What prompted you to write this book?

Tom Colgan, the editor for my Matt Drake series, is also the editor for the Tom Clancy books. At the conclusion of my editorial call for The Outside Man, the second book in my series, Tom asked me if I’d be interested in writing the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan, Junior series. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance!

(5 Tips for Writing a Spy Thriller Novel)

How long did it take to go from idea to publication?

I had about 10 months to write the book. My high-level concept for the book stayed pretty much the same, but what I originally pitched my editor changed dramatically. Fortunately, he’s a good sport!

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

The Clancy books are on a very tight publication schedule. I turned in Target Acquired in February 2021, it releases in June 2021, and the 3rd book in my series, Hostile Intent, is due in July 2021. That meant that all the editing, rewrites, etc. for Target Acquired happened on an extremely compressed timeline while I was simultaneously trying to write Hostile Intent. The schedule was a bit crazy, but still incredibly rewarding.

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Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

I write organically, which means that while I have a decent understanding of where the book is going, large parts of it are still a surprise to me. For instance, I was pretty near the end of the first draft before I worked out the antagonist’s motivation. Hopefully, since it was a surprise for me, it will be a surprise to the reader!

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I’m a huge Tom Clancy fan, and I think one of the things Tom delivered to his readers in spades was pure, unadulterated fun. Red Storm Rising was one of the first books of his I’d read, and I still remember being a thirteen or 14-year-old kid transported to the front seat of an F-14 Tomcat as it was doing strafing runs on a Russian cargo ship. I hope Target Acquired brings this same level of fun to today’s Clancy readers.

Don Bentley: On Being Picked to Write a Book in a Famous Series

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Find a way to work with Tom Colgan. He’s an incredible editor and a fine man.

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