Vince Flynn, “The Last Man” and the cat …

As an avid Vince Flynn fan I anxiously await the release of his latest novel “The Last Man” (out in the Fall 2012, And as a fan, just like so many others, Mitch Rapp has become a friend, even a challenge. Have you ever wondered how Mitch would have done something you are struggling with? Honesty, please: I know I do… 
Point in case: A while ago I received a picture email from a friend with a challenge to spot the cat in the middle of a scrap heap (picture at the end of this post). Game on! It’s human to compete and show others that you can (although I’ve been told that men struggle with this concept more than women).  “Easy, enough,” I thought and loosely scanned the picture, one eye on the picture, the other on my watch. “I’ll do it within 10 seconds. And of course, boast about it.”

Thirty seconds in: No cat. “Maybe there is no cat,” I thought. “It’s a test.” Invigorated by the revelation I left the cat and scrolled to the end of the email, hoping to find a “There is no cat, just testing to see if you’ve read the whole email” message. Nada.
“You can’t find the ca-at, you can’t find the ca-at,” my inner ten-year old sing-songed. Damn that cat! Back to the picture, this time with two eyes roving over the jig-saw from left to right, top to bottom. Time was no longer the objective. I had an ego to protect. I just had to find the cat!
One minute 14 seconds into the quest I found it. “You’re slo-ow,” the inner-me taunted. “How could you have missed it? It jumps out at you!” Man, I could kill that cat. And my inner-self for being so slow.
Enters Mitch Rapp… How long would it have taken him to spot the cat? I thought I knew the answer. He’d not only spot it instantly, he’d also know of five ways to neutralize the cat-threat there and then!
Back to reality. What about Vince Flynn, how long would it take him to spot the cat? Well, I don’t know Vince personally, but I’ve read enough about him to have no doubt. In less than 10 seconds he’d have the kitty in his cross-hairs.
What’s the point of this, you ask? It’s this. I enjoy Vince Flynn’s novels. Not just the plot – there are way too many who write about post-911 terrorist issues. No, I enjoy his style. Many writers give us words and a story and we happily rush over and simply gobble them up. Not Vince. His novel’s cover page is a thick vault door that swings open the moment you courageously step into page 1 and slams shut right on your heels to leave you trapped inside Mitch Rapp’s world. In an instant your cozy reading spot is transformed into a world of narrow alleys somewhere in a Middle Eastern country with rich coffee smells and drumming sounds of tongue-twisted hawkers rendering your own coffee cold and tasteless. Time stands still and movement becomes unimportant as you follow Mitch on his quest, watching his back like not even Irene can; not for a moment doubting his moral code when he serves justice on those who so deserve it; not for a moment hesitating to spill a tear for this rough diamond with his big heart when he is struck down with agonizing pain…
How does Vince Flynn do it? How does he convert his keyboard into a canvas; common English words into color and sound; a novel into a best-seller series that just leaves you wanting more? From my own novels I know how difficult it is to create endearing characters; to involve the reader in a show rather than a tell as your story unfolds.
In a sentence: Vince can spot the cat.
If you’re a Vince Flynn fan, you’ll know that he is/was dyslexic. That he struggled for years to put words together to make a sentence; that reading thrillers helped him overcome this obstacle; and that dyslexia is the reason he became a world famous author.  
In general, people with dyslexia have to adjust their senses and the way they live life to compensate for the shortcomings introduced by dyslexia. They are more observant of people and things, paying attention to mood, setting and context rather than relying on the written word to gather information. To communicate without pen, they compensate with a creative flair that brings a smile to the face – they think through images and feeling rather than sound and words. To show the world they are not “dumb” or “stupid”, they outshine their rivals with such passion, force and confidence that no-one would ever guess they had a developmental reading disorder. They are highly creative, intuitive and excel at three-dimensional problem solving. 
The character traits required to spot the cat.
And the exact ingredients required to make a great thriller.
So, READER, when you open “The Last Man”, do pause for a moment and acknowledge the greatness of the novel.The effort and dedication Vince (more than authors without dyslexia) has put into the pages to… yes, entertain us, is absolutely remarkable.
And WRITERs, lets learn from Vince, or at least attempt to. Try and bring more show and less tell into your novel; try and be more creative when you introduce another character. Through observation, mood and context, show us rather than tell us the story. The world has enough Joe Blogs and enough mundane without us deliberately creating more.
I’m sure doing my best to learn from the Thriller Master.

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