HONORING THE DEPARTED – Part One
VINCE FLYNN 1966 - 2013
Over the past year or so, as I approach the age of forty, it seems that I receive news of friends, loved ones, business associates, and public figures I admire passing away more frequently than I’m quite ready to absorb. This being the case, I’ve decided to begin a bit of a series here in this blog dedicated to those folks who have gone to the other side that left an impact on me before their departure. Below is part one of what I hope will be a series that I soon run out of material for.
I really can’t at all recall when it was that I first began reading Vince Flynn. I do recall that once I sunk my teeth into Term Limits, I instantly had to get my hands on all of Flynn’s back catalogue. The Mitch Rapp novels were at the top of the list of novels that helped to light the fire in me to try my hand at writing my own spy thriller.
As much as Vince’s writing, and the visceral aesthetics of his characters, inspired me, Vince’s personal story equally impressed me. Vince’s writing was born out of a career trajectory that looked as typical as many people I know. He was a salesman for Kraft—I don’t know if he was pushing Mac and Cheese or lesser-known products. Then, he was on the verge of becoming a Marine as an aviation candidate when adversity struck him down and he was disqualified due to medical issues he had growing up. After dealing with the disappointment of being barred from entering the Marine Corps, he was launched back into the nine to five world as a commercial real estate rep. Not content with resigning to what may have seemed like a fate that would confine him, he harvested the idea for writing a book in his spare time. He let that ambition persist and ultimately he made the bold move to quit his job, move to Colorado, and pursue writing full time during the day while bartending at night.
But the adversity and the persistency did not end there. His first manuscript for Term Limits was rejected more than sixty times. Overcoming those rejections, Flynn decided to self-publish the novel himself. Focusing on the Twin City market, he found himself hitting the number one sales slot—leading to the agent and book deal needed to catapult his career.
Vince was not one who would naturally have been pegged to be a writer. He battled Dyslexia. He had the normal pressures of life to battle while trying to hone his craft. Yet, he was determined to listen to the persistent whisper of his heart to push through and follow his passion.
Flynn’s writing was blunt, real, and captured the post-911 zeitgeist perfectly. His ability to forecast near term geo-political realities and imagine the ever-evolving nature of threats from terrorists was in a war-gaming class all his own. He created scenes that had a tangible quality to them and lurched the reader eagerly into the next scene. His characters embodied the man’s man spirit and possessed natural dimension and depth.
The Mitch Rapp character grew to become an iconic symbol of the distaste for all politicians and for the cumbersome bureaucratic labyrinth of protocol and regulations that they impose. Mitch Rapp was all about results, not strict adherence to a rule-laden process. He got the job done and punished the bad guys. Internally, he compartmentalized guilt in order to accomplish what needed to be done for the greater good of the country—often while pissing off his superiors.
The character of Stan Hurley further typified the man’s man motif. Stan Hurley was an old school, stubborn CIA spook who took crap from no one. His on-the-clock standards were high and he was loath to compliment the abilities of Rapp or anyone else that followed him. His off-the-clock standards were low and his exploits with loose women and barroom bourbon bouts layered his character with compelling flaws and moral inconsistencies.
Although Flynn always denied any connection between himself and Mitch Rapp, to the reader, it was clear that he was lurking in Mitch’s shadow at every step—guiding his next move and steering his thoughts in tandem with his own. Mitch Rapp was indeed Vince Flynn with a 9mm berretta and CIA credentials.
After fighting cancer for years with a strong positive mental attitude, Vince Flynn passed away on June 19th, 2013. He was taken too soon. Fourteen novels was not enough. If you haven’t read them, you’d be blessed to start now. And then you too will lament his passing.
My debut geo-political spy novel, BLAZE: Operation Persian Trinity, details the adventures of CIA assassin Blaze McIntyre. Many influences were poured into the mold that created Blaze McIntyre. The writings of Vince Flynn were undoubtedly a strong ingredient in that mix.
Purchase BLAZE: Operation Persian Trinity here.