A world of differences would seem to separate the life of a Navy SEAL and a professional writer.
But for Jack Carr — who has lived both realities — the two are linked. He led assault and sniper teams in Afghanistan and Iraq, serving in Naval Special Warfare for more than 20 years. His path into the military, though, was carved out by his love of books about warfare.
“I knew I wanted to join the military, and found out what SEALs were at age 7. My mom was a librarian, so I was always surrounded by books and a love of reading,” he said. “I went to the library and did a bunch of research, and my takeaway was that SEALs were some of the most elite special operators in the world, and their training is some of toughest ever devised in modern military. I was in.”
After a distinguished career as a Navy SEAL, Carr is now a bestselling author. His five military-inspired thrillers have combined to sell millions of copies, while his debut, “The Terminal List,” was adapted into an Amazon Prime Video series starring Chris Pratt. The show, which Carr serves as an executive producer on, was one of the most streamed shows after its release.
As Carr prepares to release his sixth book, “Only the Dead,” he is making a stop in Franklin for a special in-person event. The writer will be sitting down with Franklin police chief Kirby Cochran to discuss his writing, his service to his country and everything in between during a live presentation on May 23 at the Historic Artcraft Theatre.
Seeing how the stories have made an impression on people around the country has been humbling, Carr said.
“It’s another opportunity to say thank you. I try to do it on social media as much as I possibly can, but it’s different to be in person to shake somebody’s hand and take a picture, hear a little bit about them about how they found out about the books,” Carr said. “I just love to be able to go out and say thank you. They’re the reason I can do what I love.”
Carr knew a couple of things from a very early age. First, he knew he wanted to be a Navy SEAL. His grandfather had been killed fighting in the Pacific during World War II, and Carr grew up with the medals and photos of him in service.
As he yearned to understand more about military service and the sacrifice his grandfather had made, he was drawn into popular culture depicting it.
The books he devoured learning more about it helped cultivate an appreciation for writing.
“I started reading those books, because those protagonists had backgrounds that I wanted to have in real life,” “I had such an amazing experience reading. There was magic in those pages. I absolutely loved all of those stories.”
After finishing his career in the military, Carr used the knowledge he’d gained in service, combined with all of the stylistic and thematic lessons he’d learning from a lifetime of reading, to start his first novel.
He compared the process to his own time as a Navy SEAL.
“When you say you want do something like that, you don’t think about not making it. You don’t think about not making it through SEAL training. The draw is that it’s hard. You prepare yourself by putting in the work to make it through that training,” he said. “Same thing with writing.”
The result was “The Terminal List,” a thriller centered on Carr’s protagonist, James Reece. After Reece’s SEAL team was killed in an ambush, and his family killed upon his homecoming, Reece learns the motive behind the attack is a conspiracy within his own government. The result is a quest of vengeance to overcome the corruption he’s discovered.
“The Terminal List” was a hit, topping best-seller lists and helping Carr continue on the story with a subsequent flurry of novels: “True Believer,” “Savage Son,” “Devil’s Hand” and “In the Blood.”
“The books are resonating, I think, because of the feelings and emotions I put into them from things that happened down-range (in Iraq and Afghanistan) — not necessarily what happened there, but real feelings and emotions associated with those events,” he said. “And my character is not the person in this book that he was in the first book. He’s adapting, he’s evolving, he’s learning from past successes and failures.”
“Only the Dead,” which was released on May 16, continues Reece’s storyline as he is drawn into a world-shaking conspiracy decades in the making. He’s the only one standing in the way of a cabal of global elites assuming control over the world.
In promoting the new book, Carr was invited to central Indiana through the Johnson County Public Library’s Authors at JCPL program. When he found out that Cochran was an avid reader, Carr suggested having him conduct the interview for the event.
“I have so many law enforcement who come to my book signings,” he said. “Most of the bookstores I go to make a point to tell me my crowds are different than other authors’ crowds — a lot of former military, special operators there, police officers, firefighters, EMTs.
“It’s awesome to get up there with the police chief. I’m really looking forward to it.”
How to help
The sit-down conversation between Jack Carr, an ex-Navy SEAL and bestselling author, and Kirby Cochran, Franklin police chief, is sold out for May 23. To those going to the event, or others who want to support local veterans, Helping Veterans and Families of Indiana is collecting boxed and canned goods.
The list of immediate needs includes peanut butter, jelly, side-dish packets, mac and cheese, instant oatmeal, mashed potatoes, stuffing, ramen noodles, cereal, soup, canned meats such as Spam, chicken, tuna and chili, canned fruit and canned vegetables.
People can also donate at the organization’s Amazon Wish List, with a link found at hvafofindiana.org