“The top priority of a thriller writer is to thrill — to make your heart rate spike.” My latest interview on #TheBeirutProtocol.

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — Here’s the latest interview I did as part of the book tour. It was published on April 5th by BookTrib, “the leading source for book news and reviews.” Enjoy!

THE REALITY BEHIND FICTION THRILLERS

“The top priority of a thriller writer is to thrill — to make your heart rate spike.”

So says author Joel C. Rosenberg, and when it comes to his latest work, The Beirut Protocol, mission accomplished. “I want you to be able to look over the shoulders of bad guys plotting their next moves.”

In the fourth installment of Rosenberg’s gripping new series with plenty of political intrigue, agent Marcus Ryker finds himself in the most dangerous situation he has ever faced; he is captured, brutalized and dragged deep behind enemy lines. (Learn more about the novel in our review.)

Rosenberg’s background and ties to political leaders around the world add a layer of unique credibility to his writing. He recently discussed The Beirut Protocol with BookTrib, going into detail on how and why it came about. 

Q: In your novels, The Beirut Protocol included, you take people to places they may not want to go and advance real-life theories they may not want to hear. Is that part of being a thriller writer?

A: Absolutely. I need to draw you into a fictional world that fascinates and frightens you. I love to take my readers into places I’ve always wanted to go: the Oval Office, the White House Situation Room, the Kremlin, the palaces of Arab kings and crown princes, the inner sanctum of the Supreme Leader of Iran, the underground bunkers of radical Islamist terror masters, and so forth. And I want to put you inside the world of one of the CIA’s top operatives, Marcus Ryker, as he tries to decipher and defuse the plots against the U.S. and our allies.

Q: Are you trying to send any subtle or not-so-subtle messages to your readers, or is this just an entertaining ride?

A: Above all, I’m trying to entertain my readers. But I do have other objectives, one of which is to warn of threats I believe could blindside America and our allies if our leaders misunderstand or ignore them. Americans have been fighting the forces of radical Islamism for two decades, and I’m concerned that they are tired of the fight. They feel they have invested enough blood, toil, tears and sweat to protect their country and way of life. That’s understandable — indeed, I completely sympathize — but the problem is that the forces of radical Islamism are angrier and more dangerous than ever before, and there are other threats rising, too, in Russia, in North Korea and in Communist China. I’m trying to educate and warn my readers about these threats and why we must not let down our guard, even for a moment. 

Q: You have had the chance to meet world leaders at the very highest levels. What kind of influence or impact has that had on your writing?

A: One of the most unexpected developments in recent years has been the wide range of world leaders who have read my novels and invited me to meet with them. Among them have been Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State (and former CIA Director) Mike Pompeo, back when they were both serving in Congress. Jordan’s King Abdullah II read The First Hostage, which was about ISIS trying to assassinate him, and rather than banning me from Jordan, the king invited my wife and me to visit him in Amman. President George W. Bush has become a reader of my novels, and the king and crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and the prime minister of Canada. Leaders in Europe and here in my home country of Israel have as well. I have been very fortunate, and I think these meetings and relationships have made my novels much richer and more interesting. 

Q: Here are a few things we’ve heard about Marcus Ryker: He is your favorite character, he does not fit the typical superhero mold, and in The Beirut Protocol, we see him as we’ve never seen him before. Please explain all!

A: There is no question that Marcus Ryker is my favorite character I’ve written. Marcus is one of the most effective agents employed by the CIA. He is highly trained, incredibly smart and brave beyond belief. At the same time, Marcus has been wounded in combat as a Marine and in the line of fire as a Secret Service agent. He has also been wounded by the murder of his wife and son, by failing to protect the two people closest to him. He is free to take enormous risks to keep his country safe, but he struggles to know how to rebuild his private world. Is he wired to lead a quiet life and raise a family? Or is he called to a life of danger for which he should remain single and alone? It’s this tension between his professional skills and calling, and his private desires and questions, that intrigues me.

Q: How do you go about doing the research for your books?

A: I certainly do a great deal of nonfiction reading when I’m not writing novels, mostly autobiographies, biographies and history. I’ve also been very fortunate over the years to have built a wonderful network of current and former spies, CIA directors, special forces operatives, ambassadors, political strategists and others who have become great resources. I carve out time to meet with these sources, asking them questions and getting their advice and suggestions. There’s no question that I do a lot of googling, too. But I find that having coffee and tea and breaking bread with real people who are currently engaged in confronting our worst enemies — or spent their lives doing so, even if they are now retired — is the best form of research. 

Q: What did you find to be the most difficult scene in the book to write?

A: My hero is captured by the enemy in the opening chapters of The Beirut Protocol. It’s hard to write about people being tortured. You try to imagine yourself in that situation and it’s stomach-turning. How does your protagonist handle it? At what point does he break? And how in the world is he going to be rescued or escape? I’ve written 15 previous novels, and I’ve never put any of my heroes in a situation quite like this. Plus, while Marcus is being held and tortured, a massive missile war is erupting between Israel and Hezbollah. That was hard to write because my family and I live in Israel and could one day, maybe soon, have to go through Hezbollah firing 4,000 missiles a day at us. That’s terrifying, I have to tell you.

Q: What’s your next project?

A: Even as I work on my next Marcus Ryker novel, I’m finishing up the final edits on a nonfiction book called Enemies & Allies: An Unforgettable Journey Inside the Fast-Moving & Immensely Turbulent Modern Middle East. Twenty years after 9/11, the book looks at where the region is headed, how attitudes toward the U.S. and Israel are changing, and how events in the Middle East will affect our futures. This book gives me an opportunity to take you inside meetings I’ve had with the president of the United States, the vice president, the secretary of state, multiple CIA directors, the prime minister and president of Israel, Arab kings and crown princes, and so many others, about the most important and sensitive issues of our time. This is the first nonfiction book I’ve written in almost a decade, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. 

Can novelists predict the future? Here’s a column I wrote for “Crime Reads” magazine.

Novelists are not prophets or psychics, clairvoyants or descendants of Nostradamus.

They are not supposed to be, at least.

But over the years, some  have seemed pretty close.

Dean Koontz once wrote a thriller called, The Eyes of Darkness, which predicted a global pandemic started by a lethal virus called the “Wuhan-400,”  originating in Wuhan, China.

True, in the original edition published in 1981, the virus was produced in the Soviet Union and it was called the “Gorki-400.” In 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Koontz put out a new edition in which he changed the villain to the Communist Chinese government.

Plenty of naysayers say Koontz didn’t get it exactly right—but….

[To read my full article, please click here.]

[To get your copy of THE BEIRUT PROTCOL — in hardcover, e-book, or audio formats — please click here.]

THE BEIRUT PROTOCOL hits #16 on the Publishers Weekly hardcover fiction bestseller list.

Jerusalem, Israel — Fresh off of hitting the USA Today list, The Beirut Protocol has just landed on the Publishers Weekly list of hardcover fiction bestsellers at #16.

PW ranks the top 25 bestselling novels each week.

It’s exciting to see people enjoying the new installment of Marcus Ryker’s adventures. Thanks to all of you who have purchased a copy and encouraged your family and friends to do the same — it’s been fun to read all of your reviews and notes!

The coming week is filled with lots more media interviews, and of course the Israeli elections on Tuesday. For updates, please follow me on Twitter. Please also follow our coverage at ALL ISRAEL NEWS for the latest on the election and their implications.

THE BEIRUT PROTOCOL hits #39 on USA Today bestseller list. Thriller explores eruption of a Third Lebanon War even as tensions really heat up on Israel-Lebanon border.

JERUSALEM — We just got some great news!

The Beirut Protocol has debuted in the Top 40 of the USA Today’s list of 150 bestselling books of all kinds in the United States.

Thanks so much to everyone who has purchased a copy — and bought them for family and friends. And thanks to everyone who has enjoyed this one and written good reviews and sent us kind notes and promoted the novel on social media. We really appreciate it!

If you haven’t gotten yours yet, the best deal I’m seeing right now is getting the ebook version on Amazon’s Kindle— that’s 45% off the hardcover price.

But there are certainly other very good deals out there in hardcover, ebook and audio formats, so definitely shop around at your favorite bookstore!

This was my favorite book tour event so far! NYT bestselling novelist Kyle Mills & I discuss THE BEIRUT PROTOCOL and the craft of writing thrillers with the owner of The Poisoned Pen Bookstore. Here are the video and podcast links.

JERUSALEM — Last week, Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona, hosted me for the best Zoom event I have done on this tour, and one of the most fun book tour events I have done in years!

Barbara also invited Kyle Mills to join us from his home in Wyoming. Kyle is the New York Times bestselling author of his own amazing novels. He was also chosen to continue writing the riveting “Mitch Rapp” novels after the untimely passing of the great Vince Flynn a few years ago. And Kyle is hitting it out of the park!

What I so loved about the conversation was that it was not so much about the geopolitical scenario behind THE BEIRUT PROTOCOL— which is fascinating and which is most interviewers ask me about — but about the craft of writing, about life as a novelist, about how I created Marcus Ryker, about how we develop characters, sources of inspiration, how we do research, and so much more.

Especially interesting was the intriguing connection that few readers know between Vince Flynn, Kyle and me that connects us all in fiction and in real life. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s worth watching the Zoom videos or listening to the podcast of our conversation just for this connection alone.

To listen to the podcast, please click here.

To watch the video, please click here.

“The Beirut Protocol” media blitz: Here are some of the TV, print & online interviews I’ve done this week about my new thriller.

(Jerusalem, Israel) — It’s been an intense and exciting few days, doing one interview after another about The Beirut Protocol. Here are links to just a few of those conversations, and some early reviews.

If you haven’t gotten your copy, I hope you’ll get it today — and please post your review on my Epicenter Team page on Facebook, and on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, and/or your favorite book website. Thanks so much!

Launch Day: “The Beirut Protocol” is finally available in hardcover, ebook & audio. Here’s my interview with The Jerusalem Post about why I wrote it, the real-life prospect of an Israeli-Saudi peace treaty, and the real-life threat of a massive Third Lebanon War.

(Jerusalem, Israel) — The long wait is over. My latest political thriller, The Beirut Protocol, is now out in hardcover in bookstores all over the U.S. and Canada, as well as internationally in ebook and audio formats.

I do hope you’ll order your copy — and copies as gifts for family and friends — today!

Special thanks to The Jerusalem Post for publishing a lengthy interview with me today about why I wrote the book, how I do my research, the prospects for a real Israeli-Saudi peace treaty, and about the very real and rising threat that a Third Lebanon War could breakout — possibly even this year — in real-life, just as it does in the book, raining thousands of Iranian missiles down on Israel every single day. Let’s pray that never really happens.

To read the full interview, please click here.

Meanwhile, here’s what Ryan Steck, editor of The Real Book Spy website, wrote about my new book:

Following the events of The Jerusalem Assassin…Marcus Ryker—a special agent working with the CIA—will face his toughest mission yet in The Beirut Protocol: staying alive behind enemy lines. 

Ambushed on foreign soil, Ryker and his team suddenly find themselves captured and surrounded by danger. Worse yet, should the terrorists who captured him learn his true identity, all bets are off—and he knows they’ll make an example out of him by executing him live on the internet for all to see . . . 

Breaking his previous trend of writing trilogies, something Rosenberg first confirmed during our wide-ranging interview back in March 2020, The Beirut Protocol marks the fourth book (After The Kremlin Conspiracy, the Persian Gamble, and The Jerusalem Assassin) in his popular new franchise. Only Jon Bennett, who served as the protagionist of The Last Jihad series (five books) will have had more screen time than Ryker, whose background and skillset better resembles the traditional thriller mold that we’ve seen from other current literary stars such as Mitch Rapp (Vince Flynn) and Gabriel Allon (Daniel Silva).

Though he wasn’t sure how long Ryker might hang around, Rosenberg did say in March, “I think Marcus Ryker is my favorite character,” and there’s no doubt that fans feel the same way. Marcus has quickly become one of the genre’s premier heroes, and when you combine his physicality with Rosenberg’s uncanny ability to constantly predict future events and beat headlines, it’s easy to see why The Beirut Protocol becomes the first must-read thriller hitting bookstores in 2021….

Announcing “The Beirut Protocol” virtual book tour. My new thriller about Hezbollah — Iran’s most dangerous terror proxy force — and a Third Lebanon War launches next week. Pre-order now!

With the pandemic still raging and Israel’s airports still closed for the time being, I’m not able to travel back to the States for The Beirut Protocol book tour. Crazy!

So, I’ll be doing all of my media interviews and speaking events from my home or from studios here in Jerusalem. To register to participate in any of the events online, please click here.

To track the interviews I’m doing, please follow me on Twitter. I’ll post links to the interviews whenever possible on my Epicenter Team page on Facebook, and on this blog. And please be sure to pre-order a hardcover, e-book or audio copy of The Beirut Protocol for yourself — and for your parents and best friends — ASAP! Thanks so much!

What is “The Beirut Protocol” all about & who is CIA agent Marcus Ryker? My 1st interview about my new thriller, which releases on March 9th. (pre-order now)

Just one week to go before my new thriller releases. Please be sure to pre-order your copy today. In the meantime, it was so fun talking to a reporter for THE BIG THRILL, the website and magazine of the International Thriller Writers Organization. Here’s their story.

NAVIGATING DANGEROUS SITUATIONS

By Austin S. Camacho

If you’re a fan of espionage fiction, you’re looking for that one book: the one where the CIA’s most valuable operative finds himself in the most dangerous situation he’s ever faced. Joel C. Rosenberg serves up that exact novel in THE BEIRUT PROTOCOL.

As the novel opens, the Secretary of State is on his way to the Middle East to help finalize a vital new peace treaty between Israel and the Saudis. Ahead of him, Special Agent Marcus Ryker is leading a team to the Israel-Lebanon border. But Hezbollah forces ambush them. At first the terrorists don’t know who they’ve got. Ryker is, in fact, a quiet killer with many enemies.

“The Iranians want to kill him,” Rosenberg says. “So do the Russians and the North Koreans. But despite the fact that he’s 6’2″ and about 175 pounds, you might not even notice him at a cocktail party. He makes it a point not to stick out in the crowd. That’s not just his personality. It’s his training.”

Ryker is a clandestine CIA officer. His cover is as a Special Agent for the Diplomatic Security Service, the branch of the State Department that protects American and foreign diplomats and dignitaries. This is after his time in the Secret Service on the Presidential Protective Detail and multiple combat tours as a Marine in Afghanistan and Iraq. With that background, it’s interesting that he doesn’t see himself as a hero.

The 4th in the new series.

“He’s highly uncomfortable getting any attention—much less kudos—at all,” Rosenberg says. “He doesn’t want praise. He doesn’t want attention. He prefers to work in the shadows, protecting his nation’s leaders, secrets, and freedoms.”

The President can ill afford a new war in the Middle East that could kill the treaty. Israeli and American forces mobilize to find the hostages, but Ryker knows time is running out. Like all of Rosenberg’s novels, the tension feels authentic, even though his stories don’t reflect real political changes because, since his first novel, he’s been creating an alternate universe.

“It feels real,” Rosenberg says. “It feels ripped out of today’s headlines, or maybe tomorrow’s. But there are significant differences between real life and the political and geopolitical environment I’m creating.”

So the story in THE BEIRUT PROTOCOL is completely fictional, but Rosenberg admits that the opening scenes in which Ryker and his team are ambushed by Hezbollah terrorists and dragged behind enemy lines were inspired by real ambushes that have taken place on the Israel-Lebanon border, one of which triggered a war in 2006.

To Rosenberg, character is king in any political thriller, as is the “what if?” scenario—but the settings are absolutely critical to his stories.

“I’m trying to take my readers into very dark places—Russia, North Korea, the inner sanctum of the Iranian regime, and so forth. I want to show people where evil festers and then metastasizes like a cancer,” he says. “So like they say in real estate, ‘location, location, location.’ I want to take my readers where they would never dare go on their own. As I was thinking about where to take Marcus next, I wanted to pick a country and a scenario that I hadn’t really explored in the past. Lebanon came to mind.”

On the Israeli-Lebanon border, where the novel begins.

In his first three novels—The Kremlin Conspiracy, The Persian Gamble, and The Jerusalem Assassin—Rosenberg established Ryker’s backstory and showed how he got pulled into working for the CIA against his will. In those books you see Ryker’s character, his values, and his incredible professional skill sets. But as he started the fourth book, Rosenberg began to wonder what it would look like if Ryker was taken hostage.

In the author’s words, “Now that we know why Ryker is considered one of the most deadly and effective clandestine operators in the CIA, wouldn’t it be interesting, I thought, to take away all of his strengths, or at least neutralize them for a while? How would Ryker react to being taken captive? To his team being captured? To suddenly finding himself in a seemingly inescapable situation?”

Ryker knows that when Hezbollah realizes who they’ve captured, no amount of ransom will save them. They’ll be sent to Beirut and then to Tehran to be executed on live television. Making Ryker a hostage not only challenges his training, it tests his character. By nature, Ryker is a protector. He is not looking to kill people. His passion is to protect people.

“He’ll kill without hesitation,” Rosenberg says, “but only if he has to. In THE BEIRUT PROTOCOL, he’s put in a situation along the Israeli-Lebanese border in which he has responsibility for the protection of his team. 

What if he was suddenly overwhelmed by superior firepower? What if he found himself in a position where those on the very team he was sworn to protect were wounded? What if they were being beaten and tortured? All this would scramble his thinking and work against his instincts. Even if he manages to find a way to escape, how will he do it with severely wounded and immobile colleagues? Should he try to escape on his own and go get help? Or is he morally obligated to stay with his team? After all, if he does escape, won’t his teammates bear the brunt of the inevitable retaliation?”

The answers aren’t obvious because Ryker doesn’t fit the classic thriller-hero mold. He’s not a James Bond-type super spy, but nor is he a George Smiley-style tradecraft master.

“Yes, he works for the CIA,” Rosenberg says, “but he’s not a classically trained spy. He’s not an assassin, or a vigilante. He’s a widower. He was a father, but his son was murdered. He left government service and never planned to go back, but now he’s been pulled back in. That’s what makes Marcus Ryker a complicated character and perhaps an outlier in the genre.”

Bottom line, Marcus Ryker is a character you want to get to know, and THE BEIRUT PROTOCOL is a great place to meet him.

My newest thriller, THE BEIRUT PROTOCOL, releases March 9. Here’s a sneak preview. (you can pre-order now!)

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Exactly three weeks from today, on Tuesday, March 9th, my new political thriller, THE BEIRUT PROTOCOL, releases in hardcover, e-book and audio editions. You can pre-order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any of your favorite bookstores — and I hope you will!

I’ll post details soon on the media interviews and book tour events I’ll be doing — but for now, here’s a sneak preview….

A game-changing peace treaty between Israel and the Saudis is nearly done.

The secretary of state is headed to the region to seal the deal.

And Special Agent Marcus Ryker is leading an advance trip along the Israeli-Lebanon border, ahead of the secretary’s arrival.

But when Ryker and his team are ambushed by Hezbollah forces, a nightmare scenario begins to unfold. The last thing the White House can afford is a new war in the Mideast that could derail the treaty and set the region ablaze. U.S. and Israeli forces are mobilizing to find the hostages and get them home, but Ryker knows the clock is ticking.

When Hezbollah realizes who they’ve captured, no amount of ransom will save them—they’ll be transferred to Beirut and then to Tehran to be executed on live television.

In the fourth installment of Rosenberg’s gripping new series, Marcus Ryker finds himself in the most dangerous situation he has ever faced—captured, brutalized, and dragged deep behind enemy lines.

Should he wait to be rescued? Or try to escape? How? And what if his colleagues are too wounded to run?

This is the CIA’s most valuable operative as you have never seen him before.