Interview with Kyle Mills
As in The Third Option, Enemy Of The State’s plot has Mitch Rapp going somewhat rogue. He is asked by the president to perform a mission that is completely off the books, tracking down, interrogating, and killing members of the Saudi royal family who appear to be working with ISIS. Although Irene knows about it, she and Mitch realize this must be a completely black ops mission; thus, his resignation from the CIA. The investigation discovered Aali Nassar, Irene’s Saudi counterpart, promising to support America, while secretly in charge of the ISIS financing and eyeing the chance to overtake the country’s government once King Faisal dies. Nassar frames Mitch, giving him an excuse to hunt down the one man who might foil his plan to fund ISIS and bring about a Middle East superpower to threaten the United States. He gets the American president to agree to have FBI Agent Joel Wilson work with him to find Mitch. The action never stops as Mitch tries to keep one step ahead of his pursuers and to expose Nassar for what he truly is: a covert terrorist.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
Kyle Mills: I thought about the redacted section from the 9/11 report that possibly showed the Saudi involvement. After reading the book, people will understand I am not a big fan of the Saudis. Historically, we have overlooked a lot of what they do in order to keep alive our strategic relationship. They not only support terrorism but the schools that teach it. There is not much concern for civil liberties and human rights there. I always wanted to see them slapped down and I enjoyed watching Mitch do it.
EC: Vince had friends in the CIA. Were you able to consult with anyone?
KM: My father was an FBI agent most of his life who went on to become the director of Interpol. He was a good friend with the head of the FBI and MI6. I guess I am pretty well connected in that world and found it very interesting. When I decided to write my own novels, I decided to write about what I knew: the CIA, FBI, and MI6.
EC: Can you briefly discuss some of the characters?
KM: Some changes need to be made to keep the stories fresh. I feel I have inhabited the characters. What I did was become those characters and write from their point of view. I am going to stay on the trajectory Vince had, always using past history as a guide. I do not consider it a change, but an evolution. One thing I like about Vince’s books is that his evil characters are despicable, which propels readers through the book. Regarding the characters:
Irene is unemotional in public and would allow people to see what she wanted them to. She would not bow down to anyone. As I describe in the book, she is seen as an intellectual who made decisions not based on her gut, but her head. She believed in getting the job done. I always think of her as the puppet master. By her own admission, she is not involved but watches and waits until it becomes necessary for her to become involved. She is always in the book, just off the pages. When she is on the page, it is a pivotal moment. I consider her a realist, a philosopher of sorts, someone clear-eyed, and a student of human nature.
Mitch is described in the book as having no discernible physical or mental weaknesses, with uncanny instincts and no remorse. He’s a survivor. He is the bad cop to Irene’s good cop. He is the physical type who wears his feelings on his sleeve.
Scott Coleman is a boy scout with a Captain America persona. In this book, I could not do much with him. It always drives me crazy when I read or see someone get shot up or stabbed and five minutes later they are fine. Scott will not bounce back from his injuries for another book or so. He is still recuperating.
President Alexander is a Democrat, strong on defense, and supportive of the CIA.
EC: What about Claudia who was married to the man who killed Vince’s wife, Anna. How important is her role in this book?
KM: I wanted to resurrect her as well as other characters. There were all these unresolved ideas in the books: whatever happened to Claudia, Donatella Rhan, or Greta. Bringing back Donatella was selfish on my part. I always wondered what happened to her after she went off into witness protection.
I hope to continue including Claudia in the books, since she is not a goody character like Anna. Plus she could be a part of some operations because of her experience. Mitch needs a companion. She can be involved in both his professional and personal life. Since Mitch is consumed with his work life, anybody he becomes involved with must be a part of it. Claudia is brilliant, beautiful, mysterious, pragmatic, adaptable, and not naïve.
EC: Mitch seems to acquiesce to Claudia on the homefront.
KM: I want to humanize Mitch. I think he is fighting for normalcy, peace, and security so while at home he does not want to argue or fight. I do think she takes the initiative at home. When they work together, he is in charge, but at home she is in charge.
EC: Next book?
KM: I am going to bring back the Russian Grisha Azarov, who is no longer Mitch’s nemesis but a part of his rogue team. Scott will still be struggling to recover. I want to give Mitch a new challenge so the plot’s setting will be in Russia and Eastern Europe.