Author Reveals What It’s Like Taking Over for Vince Flynn
LifeZette talks to Kyle Mills about how he came to write the Mitch Rapp novels — and his view of new film 'American Assassin'
When novelist Vince Flynn passed away in 2013 after a three-year battle with prostate cancer at only 47, he left behind a body of work more impressive than that of most writers.
He’d created one of the most beloved series characters in modern literature in the form of Mitch Rapp, a self-made machine of an assassin driven by revenge and eventually recruited into the CIA’s ranks to fight terrorism around the globe.
Flynn wrote 13 novels about Rapp before his death. While fans mourned the loss of the author — and still do — they were not ready to mourn Rapp.
Flynn's world continues to develop as three more Rapp novels have been published since his death. They were all written by Kyle Mills, a novelist and thriller writer based in Wyoming.
The latest, "Enemy of the State," was released just this month. The first film adaptation of the Rapp novels, "American Assassin," also hits theaters today.
LifeZette had the opportunity to speak with Mills, 50, about the new novel, taking over Flynn's world of spies, government red tape, and politics — as well as his thoughts on the new film.
Question: How were you chosen as author to continue this series after the unfortunate passing of Vince Flynn?
Answer: A few months after Vince passed away, I got a call asking if I'd be interested in pitching ideas for the continuation of the series. I'd been a fan since the beginning, and was excited about the prospect of getting a chance to write [about] one of my all-time favorite characters.
So I tossed out some ideas, but admitted that I'd probably change my mind 10 times before I actually finished a book. Probably not a great thing to say in an interview but, miraculously, I got the job anyway.
Q: What are the pros and cons of playing in a world created by someone else? How much of yourself can you bring to the table?
A: In the first book, "The Survivor," my goal was to create a Flynn forgery. Vince had written three pages and I was determined that no one would be able to figure out which ones they were.
I studied the entire series, right down to minutiae like word choice and sentence structure, constantly checking myself to make sure I wasn't slipping into my own voice as I wrote.
With the later books, I've been less strict. The world changes, and the books have to change with it in order to feel current.
"The world changes, and the books have to change with it in order to feel current."
Q: "Enemy of the State" is the third Mitch Rapp novel you've written. He's obviously an immensely popular character and an impressive operative in the novels. How important is it for you to grow this character, change him, but at the same time give people what they want? Can readers expect big changes in Rapp's character and outlook on life in this book and future adventures?
A: I think it's critical. Vince did an amazing job of creating a realistic character arc from Mitch in his 20s to Mitch in his 40s, and I'm very conscious of the need to continue that evolution. Without it, the character would start to feel stale.
Big changes, though, aren't in the offing. While Mitch has to evolve as a person, at his core he'll always be the man fans got to know in the early books.
Q: In "American Assassin," actor Dylan O'Brien (pictured above in the film) plays Rapp. I'm not sure he was an expected choice, but he's quite impressive in the movie. How do you feel about that casting choice and the existence of the film, overall?
A: The casting is fantastic. Dylan is exactly what I pictured Mitch to be at that age. And what can you say about Michael Keaton? He's always great. The movie has a grittiness that's rare in today's high-tech thrillers and that I think fans will love.
"Enemy of the State" is available now.
(photo credit, homepage images: Amazon)