Andrews & Wilson is the bestselling writing team of Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson—the authors behind the Shepherds series, the Tier One and Sons of Valor series, and Rogue Asset, the ninth book in the W.E.B. Griffin Presidential Agent series. They write action-adventure and covert operations novels honoring the heroic men and women who serve in the military and intelligence communities.
Brian is a former submarine officer, entrepreneur, and Park Leadership Fellow with degrees from Vanderbilt and Cornell. Jeff worked as an actor, firefighter, paramedic, jet pilot, and diving instructor, as well as a vascular and trauma surgeon. During his fourteen years of service, Jeff made multiple deployments as a combat surgeon with an East Coast–based SEAL Team. Jeff now leads a men’s military ministry for a large church in Tampa.
TFx: Dark Intercept is the first of three novels in the Shepherds series. Can you give us a brief overview of the series?
Andrews & Wilson:
The Shepherds series follows Navy SEAL Jedidiah Johnson, a man haunted by a strange event in his youth that shook his faith and put his life on a new trajectory. Now medically retiring after an injury, he is called back into action when his estranged childhood best friend David reaches out for help in locating his kidnapped daughter, Sarah Beth.
This begins Jedidiah’s journey into the world of spiritual warfare, fought in the shadows by the mysterious covert action unit known as the Shepherds. Dark Intercept kicks off an action-filled series that explores biblical concepts of spiritual warfare, good and evil, and crises in faith in a modern setting while beginning Jedidiah’s heroic journey to redemption.
TFx: Where did the inspiration for this series come from?
Andrews & Wilson:
This series is one we’ve been kicking around for a while. Obviously the inspiration for the military and covert operations side of the story comes from our time in service and the real-life special operators we’ve had the honor to serve beside. Blending this with faith and biblical supernatural elements, however, is inspired to an extent by the same service. In our own lives and service, we’ve had to deal with burning questions about the nature of God, His role in the world and our lives, good and evil, and supernatural, spiritual warfare the Bible tells us rages around us every day.
Jeff’s opportunity to lead a men’s military ministry for a large church further inspired both of us as we worked through the issues with veterans and active-duty service members struggling with the same questions.
TFx: The Shepherd series includes a faith element. Is this a new direction for your novels? Why did you choose to include a faith element?
Andrews & Wilson: One of the greatest blessings of writing this series for Tyndale House has been the ability to blend elements of our faith into our passion for writing gut-wrenching, authentic covert operations fiction. It was such a thrill to have great discussions with one another and others about what we believe and what the Bible says, about both the spiritual warfare aspects and the faith crisis aspects of the story.
This was a new, but very natural, direction for us and one we feel is important because, as we said before, these are questions that an enormous number of combat veterans, as well as everyday folks, struggle profoundly with. After twenty years of constant, sustained, and highly kinetic combat operations in the Middle East, the number of active-duty personnel and veterans with this experience is enormous.
Add to this their loved ones who often must struggle beside them with similar questions, and you have millions and millions of people for whom the questions we pose are relevant. Being able to put all of this into an exciting thriller novel gives readers a new medium to tackle their own questions of faith and spirituality. We hope as the readers of this novel go on Jed’s journey with him, they find their own answers and insights in parallel.
TFx: “Taken meets Stranger Things” and “supernatural thriller series with military elements” have been two phrases used to describe this series. Why are those great descriptive phrases?
Andrews & Wilson: Taken is the story of a man who is willing to risk everything and do anything to rescue his kidnapped daughter. In Dark Intercept, we find Jedidiah Johnson in a similar situation—except in Jed’s case, there’s a twist. Instead of setting out to rescue his own daughter, Jed agrees to rescue the daughter he wishes he’d had.
The Stranger Things mash-up is a super-fun and appropriate reference because just like in that series, in Dark Intercept, the reader quickly realizes there’s more going on than meets the eye in the streets of Nashville. Seemingly impossible supernatural occurrences are happening all around Jed, and the more he tries to deny them, the worse things get. An unseen battle is raging, and the players are engaged in spiritual warfare.
TFx: Which character in Dark Intercept was your favorite to write? Why? Which character was the most difficult to write? Why?
Andrews & Wilson: Our protagonist Jedidiah Johnson was thrilling to write. Our shared military service gives us a certain kinship with Jed. At the same time, there were periods of struggle where the personal and spiritual issues Jed wrestles with in the story also happen to hit very close to home for us.
Jedidiah is a warrior in spirit and deed, but he struggles with the same questions of faith and purpose that so many Americans do. He wants to find answers to those things creating uncertainty and confusion in his life, but for too long he’s been afraid to ask the hard questions. Looking in the mirror can be a challenge, especially when what you see in the reflection makes you uncomfortable. We think everyone can relate to that.
Writing Sarah Beth Yarnell tested our storytelling chops. It’s a challenge to find a realistic voice for younger characters and finding an authentic voice for our twelve-year-old heroine was no small endeavor. Ultimately the task was made easier by the fact that we both have daughters about Sarah Beth’s age—daughters who are strong young ladies and girls of faith. By putting ourselves in Sarah Beth’s shoes and trying to channel the courage necessary to survive her ordeal, we found the inspiration to write her story.
Get Andrews and Wilson's latest release, Dark Intercept out now on Amazon.
When dark forces rise, are faith and firepower enough?
On the eve of his medical retirement, Navy SEAL Jedidiah Johnson receives a frantic call from his estranged childhood best friend David Yarnell. David’s daughter has been kidnapped off the streets of Nashville in broad daylight. The police have no suspects and no leads. The only clue: the body of a dead priest left behind at the scene. With the clock ticking, David is growing desperate, as is his wife, Rachel . . . Jed’s first love.
Despite his painful history with David and Rachel, Jed agrees to help. But he’s spent his career as a door-kicking Navy SEAL, not an investigator. His presence immediately draws unwanted attention, creates friction with the local police, and triggers a mysterious attempt on his life. Just when he thinks things can’t get worse, it starts to happen again—the voices in his head, the nightmares, the visions. Dark memories and strange abilities, things he believed he’d left behind when he fled Nashville for the Navy at eighteen, begin to resurface.
Jed realizes that to save the missing girl, he must take a leap of faith and embrace the gifts he’s denied for all these years. To foil this dark intercept, he’ll need more than just his years as a SEAL operator, because he has no choice now but to take up arms and join the battle in the unseen spiritual warfare raging all around him. And there is far more at stake than just a missing girl: the world is not the place he thought it was—and he is not alone.
Follow the military heroes of The Shepherds series as they bring the power of light into the dark mystery of Sara Beth’s abduction.
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