In late April, SOFREP was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with the former Delta Operator known as Dalton Fury. The full interview follows.
1. Can you give us an update on what you’re up to on the writing side these days and where you see your novels going from here?
First, thanks for the opportunity to connect with SOFREP and your subscribers, Brandon. Presently, I’m juggling the release of FULL ASSAULT MODE while submarine deep in the middle of book #4 of the series, tentatively titled ONE KILLER UNIT.
I was good for a month or two after final edits of FAM, until my editor asked if I wanted to keep the series going. I mulled it over, decided what the hell, and signed again. It’s a cool place to be from a writer’s perspective, but not very healthy. Of course, editors have deadlines, and I suck at meeting them.
I’m also a hazard on the road or a walking zombie through an airport, as I find it very difficult to not fully submerge my thoughts into the current story, massaging the creative process, searching for those little nuggets of brilliance, those points of conflict and tension, that Kolt “Racer” Raynor has no choice but to deal with. Will I hold out for a Kolt Raynor book 5? Lord, mercy?
And if I ran one of your SOFREP subscribers off the road while voice-texting how Kolt is going to handle a bolt override or while scribbling on my boarding pass helping Hawk stiff arm a horny SEAL’s play while hunting my gate, definitely my bad.
2. Where do you draw your inspiration from when it comes to writing fiction?
That’s a question that I’ve struggled with for a long time now, simply because I think it’s as hard to explain as it is to understand. I’m not a writer with a lifelong resume of literary study, craft experience, and a nicely framed Masters in Fine Arts hanging above my desk. I don’t write eight hours a day as if it’s the major bread winner – my critics would recommend that, though, and truth be told, I have put more effort into studying the craft from other writers.
Writers and authors who can maintain a rigid and disciplined work ethic amaze me. Guys like the Brads – Thor and Taylor — amaze me. They pump quality books out like McDonalds kid toys from a Chinese sweatshop while smiling during book tours and answering a copy editor’s red marks on the next thriller during bathroom breaks.
After several books under the belt, I now know that if I had to clock in and out to get 2000 words in a day I’d be lost. Many writers write because they love to write, love to create, love to thrill, but they nurtured the writing skill first, and discovered the genre they would pursue with passion second.
My story is 180 degrees different. My passion wasn’t writing first – in fact, the only reason I didn’t skip high school English class any more than I did was because our football coach was more situationally aware than Miss Purple Hair. I’m passionate about the mission and men of military special operations forces, specifically Delta Force. I write fictionally about Delta, as well as some other SOF units, probably so I don’t have to deal so much with reality. Sure, I enjoy creating fiction and worry if it will thrill or not, but I write first and foremost because it’s entirely therapeutic.
I miss the old work, the boys, and the national mission. You know the deal, Brandon. This, I’m sure, is no different from how most SOF guys feel when they jack it in. Some arm up and contract overseas, some teach shooting and CQB, some delve into a startup. I simply chose to peddle my wares from the hotel sofa and am extremely thankful and lucky to have an agent and editor who allow me to fend off my demons how I see fit, more or less. Of course, without faithful readers willing to give new authors a shot, I’d be looking to update my passport photo, too.
3. Can you give us a snap shot of the current book?
FULL ASSAULT MODE, book 3 in the Delta Force Thriller series, took longer than I wanted it to (see the critic comment above), but I’m excited it finally made it off the laptop.
Embracing the daily suck in eastern Afghanistan, Delta Force Major Kolt “Racer” Raynor finally pulls execute authority from COMJSOC to snatch an HVI across the border in Pakistan. Shit goes bad, the fuckers up at platoon are screaming “abort,” but death-wish Racer won’t hear of it. Not after they have put a ton of effort into the target folder and one of his boys has PID-ed the targeted personality alone, while pulling a singleton mission. Huge cool points for getting it done, but many narrowed their eyes at Racer’s judgment call.
Back home, dodging a 15-6 Investigation and the purgatory of mandatory up-or-out officer schooling, Kolt is recruited into Tungsten, a blacker than black NCA eyes-only program that uses alternative methods to solve our nation’s toughest problems. One of those problems is al-Qaeda’s insatiable thirst to attack the USA, this time our critical infrastructure. Hitting the power grid, if successful, will kill a hundred times more than we lost on 9/11.
4. It seems like the Special Operations community is getting better about accepting former Operators who have taken up writing non-fiction and fiction. What’s your experience been with this?
Are you kidding? Maybe some of the community has, but not the Tier One units. It’s always going to be a very in-depth personal decision to write non-fictionally about any special operations unit, but Delta and SEAL Team Six particularly come with ball and chain – don’t expect there to be too much spiritual support from within.
For sure, I violated the unwritten code, the proverbial first rule of Fight Club. But if the book helped one decision maker’s thought process, when the intel picture was sketchy, or things weren’t General Officer book-perfect actionable, and the window of opportunity was closing fast, then it was entirely worth it.
As for my fiction, as long as the SOF veteran writer is still sensitive to special programs, relationships, and SOF-unique tactics, techniques, and procedures – essentially respecting his responsibility to the men and ongoing mission – then he should be less worried about what their former organization thinks and more worried about putting together the next all-nighter nail biter for the reader. They have moved on and so should the vet.
5. Since I have your attention. Two questions. 1: If you had five minutes with McRaven, who heads up SOCOM, and he asked your opinion of current operational temp and force readiness for the future, how would you answer him? 2: What’s your thinking on US foreign policy these days?
Aaahhh, no softball questions to close this out, I see. The last time I saw McRaven, he was standing there worried about what we were going to do with Saddam Hussein three weeks after he was pulled from his rat hole in Tikrit. The rub was that Saddam’s prison cell location had been compromised and that some of his diehard supporters might attempt a jail break. I was the Unit liaison to the CIA then, and he had the Chief of Base and me scouring Baghdad International for some suitable dark holes.
I respect him for sure, always have, and think he has been the right guy at the right time for SOCOM, especially so at JSOC after following the tough act of McChrystal. And, yes, even though McRaven is a former Sixer, he most certainly doesn’t need my opinion on how to run his outfit.
I do worry, though, about the standards and OPTEMPO of SOF – the latter driving the former. I remember the days when nobody else wore black Velcro, slanted shoulder pockets, or tucked their fatigue top into their pants. All of a sudden, everyone looks alike on the battlefield. But that’s obviously not a unique selection and assessment process based on a proven set of tried and true standards.
In my day, we had a hard time filling every operator billet. It’s hard for me to imagine increasing the force size substantially while still maintaining the same standards. But I’ve been out a long time and left behind guys much smarter than me. No hidden sarcasm at all, I’m sure they have it all figured out.
Besides watering the selection standards, PTSD and TBI problems in our specops vets also touch my heart. Here is where I give McRaven’s influence high marks, as he and his command team have done a truly remarkable job in awareness, treatment, and removing the stigma from the guys that have experienced the ugly side of war. Depending on your perspective, war might only be ugly.
As for the ten-pound head question, my pay grade was never high enough to worry about the direction of our Foreign Policy, but like many vets, there are things that rub me the wrong way. However, God bless those who stand up to seek high office and are put through scrutiny every day by millions of Americans who think they know better.
I do hate political correctness, particularly when our highest leaders are flat-out scared to use the term “Muslim” or “Islam,” and refuse to believe that there are a certain group of extremists that could give two shits about how many wells we dig in Afghanistan or schools we build in the Horn of Africa. Many of us have worked very closely with Muslims during the wars and fully understand not all secretly have it in for us.
But the Fort Hood shooting in 2009 is a perfect example. The President and his ilk know damn well it was terrorism, just like Benghazi, but it doesn’t fit the narrative of al-Qaeda as “on the run”, “decimated”, and “on the path to defeat.” A simple look at the number of green-on-blue in Afghanistan is proof that our standards don’t necessarily excite everyone else.
6. What’s your opinion of SOFREP and the other mil blogs on the Internet?
Really have no opinion as long as OPSEC and protection of TTPs is maintained by the host. I read SOFREP articles pretty regularly and you guys do a great job in sharing the uniqueness of special operations without compromising the next OP Neptune Spear. They seem to have accurate information more often than most and I enjoy reading Jack Murphy and Kerry Patton’s insights, which, with their obvious contacts in certain places, separates SOFREP from most of the others. The other blogs I’m usually reading think Dalton Fury is a traitor. So, keeping it light, thanks for the opportunity to talk to you guys.