Interview with Scott McEwen (author of Target America)
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “Let us take a walk over to the Dude Maker Hotline and say hello to Scott McEwen, who has a new book out called Target America. It’s part of the Sniper Elite series of novels. Target America is an exciting book and a little bit of a change of pace for us here. I liked what I read in the copy I have and I thought some of you would as well. Scott, tell us a little bit about Target America.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Let us take a walk over to the Dude Maker Hotline and say hello to Scott McEwen, who has a new book out called Target America. It’s part of the Sniper Elite series of novels. Target America is an exciting book and a little bit of a change of pace for us here. I liked what I read in the copy I have and I thought some of you would as well. Scott, tell us a little bit about Target America. I’m reading some of the book. I haven’t finished it yet. Some of the characters that are in the book, if you would, just kind of introduce the audience to what the setup is here for Target America.
Scott McEwen: Target America is a sequel to the Sniper Elite series. The Sniper Elite series was done and made because there were a lot of stories out there from guys I knew in the teams that were black ops stories that I felt, if fictionalized, could be amazing writing. That’s really what I’ve put in this, some fictionalized accounts of things, particularly in the first book but also in this one, of operations that have taken place.
In Target America we shift the gears a little bit. There are some terrorists that are released from Guantanamo that end up coming back to hit the United States, kind of a little prophetic, if you will, with the news that we have at the moment of this administration releasing five terrorists in violation of law. Coincidentally, it’s what we wrote into this book. These terrorists are Chechen in origin but definitely Islamofascists just like we’ve seen with these guys that were let out now. They come back to bring suitcase nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union into the United States, one of which detonates at the border, the other which is in play, which brings another set of constitutional and martial law applications that this country doesn’t envision. I’m telling you right now, if we don’t close the Southern border, which is our conclusion to this book and really the reason for this book, if we don’t watch what’s coming in our Southern border, rest assured we are going to have some incidents coming from that border.
Mike: It’s interesting that you point out the Southern border because it’s the Southern border that seems to be the border that gets the least amount of shrift. We often talk about the Southern border and there is a danger there because you’re coming up through Mexico. There’s also a danger on the northern border. You may not get across the interstate there, across one of the official checkpoints, but we are most certainly vulnerable on all borders. Tell me a little bit about the sniper character in this book. I recently watched the film — I don’t know if you had anything to do with it — Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise in it. It was kind of a murder mystery really that he solved, basically because of his knowledge of how snipers work and what they actually do versus what the mythology and fable says they do. Tell us a little bit about the characters in Target America.
McEwen: Target America, the central character is an individual by the name of Gil Shannon. Gil is a former SEAL Team 6 sniper. Really what you have with a sniper from SEAL Team 6 or any of those teams, you have an individual that not only has received all the training of the SEAL teams, which is an amazing amount of skills that these guys acquire, but you also elevate yourself to a SEAL Team 6, which is the elite of the elite. Then you become a sniper within that group. This is a very, very special group of guys. That’s what this guy is, a bunch of people I’ve known and a bunch of personalities I’ve known, including one I wrote about in American Sniper. I put all those personalities together and distilled the toughest, the most resilient, the most skilled of all of them and put them into this character, Gil Shannon. Gil really represents a lot of guys I’ve known from the SEAL teams and has all the heart and desire and will-not-quit that we see from all the guys that come out of SEAL teams.
Mike: Let me ask you a follow-up, and you may or may not be able to answer this. At the end of the movie Captain Phillips, there are three guys that are on the deck of a Navy carrier and they’re waiting for the green light to be able to take out all three of the Somali pirates. They have to have a green light to get all three at once. Mythology or are these guys that deadly accurate? They were like 300 yards out and able to all in sync execute that mission. Is that your guy Gil Shannon?
McEwen: And not mythology at all. These guys practice off moving ships. In fact, one of the guys I’ve been working with, hopefully one of our new congressmen who’s a definite respecter of the Constitution, Ryan Zinke, former commander of SEAL Team 6, he just won the Republican nomination for Congress out of the great State of Montana. I’ve been supporting Ryan heavily. I’ve been out there for his campaign. He just won and hopefully we’ll have him in Congress come this November. We need guys like that. We need guys who’ve been through war, that have seen what it is to command at war, and are willing to go to Washington and tell those that would not follow the Constitution that that is their job. That’s easily what these guys can do. Honestly, I’m not exaggerating. I knew Chris Kyle very well and shot with Chris Kyle all the time before Chris was taken from us last February. Chris could throw down on a 1,000-yard shot and hit whatever he wanted at 1,000 yards. It’s just amazing how good these guys are.
Mike: What’s the number one thing that you would say you have learned since you converted from being an attorney to being an author and getting to know these men that you portray? You put them in fictional settings, but, as you point out yourself, this isn’t an awful lot of fiction here. This could actually happen. What would you tell the audience is one of the more standout things that you have learned in your experience of writing? Interviewing these guys, getting to know them perhaps, getting the nose under the tent, so to speak?
McEwen: I think what I’ve learned is there’s a group of people out there, and particularly the SEAL teams, but just our warriors and military in general that really, really believe in this country. It seems as if we see every day in this country a lot of people that take for granted all the things that have made this country great and have added to this country. I’m telling you right now, those soldiers really are the definition of it. They put that belief on the line every day. We’ve still got boots on the ground. We’ve still got men and women out there in harm’s way, and we will continue to do so. If we, for one minute, forget the fact that they’re the ones that are keeping the wolf at the door, then rest assured that wolf will come very hard. That’s really what Target America is about, that we cannot fall asleep in the belief that there are not those that just hate us for being us, for being America. It’s not like any individual out there has done something themselves to upset these people. There is a group of people out there in this world, and a lot of them are Islamofascists, this whole group of people that believe in this jihadi part of Islam, that will take whatever efforts they can, whatever weapons they can get their hands on, and they will use them against us. I think the only thing that stands between us and them is the United States military and a strong group of men and women that defend this country.
Mike: I’ve had the distinct pleasure and honor, I have met and know personally a pair of Navy SEALS. I have met and know also a pair of Army Rangers. One Army Ranger is like a brother to me. One of the things that I learned from them is humility and modesty. You would have to drag it out of them to find out what their occupation is. I don’t think they do it because they’re under orders to remain anonymous and secret. They do it because: Dude, that’s just what I do. Is that your experience?
McEwen: I think so. Not only are the reticent to talk about it in public in general, but they just consider it to be a job. It’s strange but they have that background of loving this country. They look at others that don’t and it’s almost like it’s foreign to them. The group that they surround themselves with and the group they work with every day, these men and women in the military, they believe it. When they see somebody like we’ve seen recently with this Bergdahl thing, walking off his post — I don’t know the whole circumstance. I haven’t interviewed the guy. I don’t know what his mindset was. I do know I’ve read the emails and I do know what his fellow soldiers have said, which I take to heart as opposed to what the State Department spins on this or this administration. I think to myself it’s so foreign to them because not only does that compromise what they believe in as citizens of this country, but it compromises their own security.
We see that with the guys that went out to try to get them back who were killed. It’s not a small thing when you’re in a situation like these guys are in to have somebody turn on them or even to have somebody who won’t do their job. It’s huge. That’s why this administration has no concept of what it is to be these guys, because they really don’t care. I really don’t think they care what these guys think, and that’s really what bothers me.
That’s why I like to write patriotic work like Target America. The characters in Target America are as patriotic as you can get. If you liked American Sniper and you like Sniper Elite, you’re going to love this book because these guys lay it on the line. A personal friend of mine was Ty Woods. Ty Woods and Glen Doherty, if you look at what they did in Benghazi, it gives you an idea of exactly what these guys are really about. They’re about: We’ve got Americans in trouble. We’ve got a situation where we’re being attacked as a country. They’re going to put their life on the line. They don’t have to be ordered to do it. That’s what they do.
End Mike Church Show Transcript