Unknown Rider: Battle Born Book 1, a military thriller from debut author Jack Stewart
Author Interview + Book and Author Info!
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After a Navy pilot inexplicably loses control of his stealth fighter, he stumbles upon a global conspiracy, and embarks on a thrilling chase filled with espionage and betrayal.
“A high-octane and adrenaline-powered thriller… Strap in and hold on!” —Jack Carr, Former Navy SEAL sniper and #1 New York Times bestselling author of the James Reece Terminal List series
TOP GUN instructor Colt Bancroft has just catapulted off the USS Abraham Lincoln, his F-35C Joint Strike Fighter trailing blue and yellow flame as he climbs into the night sky off the California coast.
When he is sent to investigate a series of mysterious lights floating dangerously close to his aircraft carrier, disaster strikes. His jet becomes unresponsive as it rolls inverted and enters a nosedive aimed right at the aircraft carrier’s unsuspecting escort cruiser…
What follows is a tale of heroism and betrayal, spycraft and suspense, and aerial combat against an unexpected adversary.
To clear his name and unmask a traitor, Colt must survive a dangerous game of spy-vs-spy, where trusting the wrong person could cost him his life. To stop the enemy from hitting their ultimate target, Colt must use every ounce of his skill and training…and uncover the identity of the UNKNOWN RIDER.
From author Jack Stewart, a former US Navy Top Gun instructor pilot, comes an exhilarating military thriller that’s packed with high-octane action and puts the reader behind the controls of a modern jet fighter. Perfect for fans of Tom Clancy and Dale Brown.
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Unknown Rider is available in ebook, paperback, hardback and audio.
Interview with Jack Stewart, Author of Unknown Rider
Unknown Rider features Top Gun instructor Colt Bancroft. What would you like readers to know about your hero?
Colt is just your average guy … who happens to fly at almost twice the speed of sound.
He is a skilled pilot and regarded as an expert by his peers, but you wouldn’t know it if you ever ran into him at a party. No, wait. That’s not true … You’ll always know when a pilot is at a party because he’ll tell you. Yeah, that’s it.
Colt is just your average overly confident jet jockey.
Describe your publishing journey for Unknown Rider:
Whew… That’s a loaded question. Unknown Rider was actually my sixth completed novel. I queried the other five (with a few full requests), but nothing stuck.
I met my agent, John Talbot, at Killer Nashville in 2021 and we talked about my fourth book. He was interested but thought it wasn’t right for the market. Six months later, another agent offered me representation, so I asked John if he was still interested. He said he was, but he wanted to read some of my other writing. I sent him another I had finished and a few chapters of what eventually became Unknown Rider.
He signed me on those chapters, and after several revisions, we finally went on submission in the summer of 2022 and landed a four-book deal with Severn River Publishing.
Outlaw, the follow up to Unknown Rider in the Battle Born series, is already available in pre-order. Had you planned to write a series? Tell us about the process for writing the second book.
I definitely planned on writing a series. But I had thought through a three-book arc and was surprised they wanted me to do four books.
The challenge with writing in a series is to include enough back story organically that you can pick up the third book without reading the first two and still enjoy it, but give readers who have been there since the beginning little details that tie them all together.
As a former US Navy Top Gun instructor pilot and combat veteran, you are an expert in the world of modern jet fighting. What was it like creating a fictional pilot? Did you stick close to the reality of those experiences? Or were you able to suspend your disbelief for dramatic effect?
When you read Unknown Rider, I think you’ll find the circumstances I put Colt in entirely unrealistic.
But what I did try to convey was the emotional experience of aerial combat. I wanted the reader to feel what it’s like behind the controls of a modern jet fighter. I wanted to give an insider’s look at life aboard a modern aircraft carrier.
I love this answer!
You grew up in Seattle and went to school in Southern California at the University of San Diego. Now you live in Texas. You have also traveled a lot, though much of that was while flying combat missions from aircraft carriers. Tell us about some of your favorite places that you have visited or lived and why:
I moved away from Seattle when I graduated high school to attend the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
During my time in the Navy, I lived in Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas (I earned a Masters from USD through a cohort in Corpus Christi).
I’ve sailed in every ocean, set foot on every continent but one, but my favorite place is always at home with my wife and three kids – wherever that is. It’s true what they say: Home is where the heart is.
What are you working on now?
I just finished writing Bogey Spades, Book 3 in my Battle Born Series. I am currently working on Book 2 in a series I will publish with Tyndale beginning in 2025.
Once I finish that, I will return to Colt and Punky and close out the series with Book 4 – Declared Hostile.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
Treat writing like a sport. You don’t get better by reading about it. You get better by doing it.
You get better by watching how others do it.
Surround yourself with others who want to push you to improve. Seek out opportunities to push others. Build a community and don’t shy away from asking an expert from help. But, above all else, never ever ever give up. I received countless rejections on five completed novels before I finally found my agent. If I gave up after the first (or hundredth) rejection, I wouldn’t be where I am now. And, I can’t wait to see where I’m going!
Jack Stewart, author of Unknown Rider
Jack Stewart grew up in Seattle, Washington, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy before serving twenty-three years as a fighter pilot.
During that time, he flew combat missions from three different aircraft carriers and deployed to Afghanistan as a member of
an Air Force Tactical Air Control Party. His last deployment was with a joint special operations counter-terrorism task force in Africa.
Jack is a graduate of the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) and holds a Master of Science in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego. He is an airline pilot and has appeared as a military and commercial aviation expert on international cable
He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and three children.