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Author Brad Meltzer talks Michigan mentions, secret spy groups, and his newest thriller

Jun 17, 2015

Meltzer went to college in Michigan, learned how to write there, and grew up there.
Credit Andy Ryan

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

When Brad Meltzer sent his first novel to 20 publishers, he got 24 rejection letters.

His next novel became a New York Times bestseller.

Meltzer has lived at the top of the bestseller lists ever since, and he’s just released his newest political thriller: The President’s Shadow.

Success has not made Meltzer forget his past. In fact, he draws directly on his initial failure for inspiration to continue writing.

“I don’t think it’s one of those things where it’s like, ‘Oh I got past it and I should go on,’” he says.

“I think you use that as fuel and you use that to make yourself go forward.”

Meltzer’s writing has led him down some interesting paths.

"A few years ago, I got a call from the Department of Homeland Security asking me to come and brainstorm different ways that terrorists could attack the United States," Meltzer says. 

"And my first thought was if they're calling me, we've got bigger problems than anybody thinks."

As he looked through history, Meltzer realized that a similar idea was used by George Washington, who came up with a secret group of regular citizens who would serve just the president.

That's when the new book really started.

Meltzer spoke with Stateside about his newest thriller, getting research help from a former president of the United States, and why you'll find a secret Michigan mention in every one of his books.