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An Interview With Scott McEwan and Thomas Koloniar, authors of the novel ‘Sniper Elite: One Way Trip’

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I am not usually a fan of novels about snipers or war. I’m more into what I call the three M’s (mysteries, media and memoirs) but I made an exception for this book for two reasons. First, that Scott McEwan, one of the two authors of this novel, Sniper Elite: One Way Trip, was the co-author of the memoir American Sniper, which received rave reviews. Second, I had made a friend at work who was a U.S. Marine and he knows his way around guns, war and other topics broached in this book. Sgt. Tyler Groft assisted me in coming up with the questions.

While the book was entertaining both Sgt. Groft and I had some quibbles about it, particularly about how it would have been better as a memoir and was unrealistic in parts. To their defense, the authors say the story is based on real missions. Personally, I thought having both a female soldier kidnapped and raped plus having a sniper hesitate when ordered to kill a pregnant Afghani was trying way too hard to force the reader’s emotions. I like my fiction without being told how to think and react and feel.

The book is in development as a movie by Scott Free productions, who made the movies Unstoppable and The A Team.

Sniper ElitecoverHere is our interview with the authors of the book:

How did the idea for this book develop?

The idea developed through meetings with various US Navy SEALs returning from combat.  Many of them snipers, all of them warriors.

Was it partly sparked, influenced or inspired by the earlier success of the American Sniper non-fiction book?

Definitely sparked by American Sniper and its success.

Why did you decide to write this book, Sniper Elite, as a novel vs as a nonfiction piece? Bigger audience?

Several reasons, including the fact that the missions the book is based upon are black ops-classified, and many of the warriors chose not to be identified.

Speaking of which what did you guys think about the American Sniper being killed? Did that come as a big shock? I recently read the thorough New Yorker piece on that fatality.

Chris’ death came as a devastating shock to all of us that knew him.  Absolute loss to our entire nation.  He is missed.

How much of the book did Scott write and how much did Thomas write? How was the work separated? Why did you need two authors?

Thomas and I wrote the book jointly and kicked many ideas back and forth constantly.  Time was the real key to the joint operation — and it worked well, we believe.

Why did you choose to have the pregnant woman? Was that to see how the characters would react to her? Do you think some snipers would react the way this one did?

The pregnant woman was to emphasize the human aspect as well as the difference between the enemy and us. The reaction of the characters was accurate to actual events.

Were you trying to make points or spark debates by having  two key female characters, the women kidnapped and raped and the pregnant lady? Where do you two stand on this issue of women in the military?

The female characters were chosen to be both timely and provoke thought.  The US has recently placed women in front line military roles. Women prisoners have already taken place and will be more and more common. I have no issue with female combatants as long as the standards for the military remain.

Don’t Seal teams usually go as a group? I was confused when you had a Seal member moving alone.

This was a rogue operation given its disapproval by command.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

The research for this project was extensive and involved mainly discussions with returning warriors.

What’s the status of this project being turned into a movie?
Movie project in development with Ridley Scott (Scott Free LA).

Lastly, what question do you wish you would get asked more often and how would you answer it?

What can I do if I am compelled to help the returning troops after reading of their sacrifices?  Donate, show up,  and support the troops at your every opportunity!

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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.