Ryan Steck is an editor, an author, and the founder and editor in chief of The Real Book Spy. Ryan has been named an “Online Influencer” by Amazon and is a regular columnist at CrimeReads. TheRealBookSpy.com has been endorsed by #1 New York Times bestselling authors Mark Greaney, C. J. Box, Kyle Mills, Daniel Silva, Brad Thor, and many others. A resident of Michigan, along with his wife and their six kids, Steck cheers on his beloved Detroit Tigers and Lions during the rare moments when he’s not reading or talking about books on social media.

In this interview, Ryan provides some insights into Out for Blood, the third book of his Matthew Redd Thriller Series.

FF: How was your approach to writing Out for Blood different from your approach to writing the previous two Matthew Redd thrillers?
The first two books were always building to this story. I knew that from the beginning, so my goal when writing Fields of Fire and Lethal Range was to introduce all the necessary characters—both good and bad—so that they could all come together in Out for Blood. In that way, I think of this book almost as an Avengers-like story, where all the heroes band together to fight a common enemy. But in setting that up, I will say that I did feel a lot of pressure to deliver the story I wanted to tell, and in the end, I am really proud of this book and how it turned out, and I think my readers will really enjoy it.

FF: What was the most exciting part of writing this story?
I don’t want to give too much away, but the final act of this book is bigger than anything I’ve ever done before. When Redd, Emily, Mikey, Liz, Blackwood, Kline, and so many other characters have to come together in an effort to defend Wellington, the stakes are as high as ever—and the action is nonstop. I had seen that scene in my head for years, and it was so much fun to finally get to write it. I can’t wait to hear what readers think of it.

FF: You have described Matthew Redd as being “with” you for a long time. How has he changed from his original incarnation until now?
At the beginning of the series, Redd mostly identifies as a Marine. That changes rather quickly in Fields of Fire, and he has somewhat of an identity crisis going into Lethal Range. Now I feel like he knows exactly who he is, and in fact, I touch on that early in this book. Redd’s worked hard, alongside his wife, to build a new life and a family together. So, really, when you step back and look at the character we meet in Fields of Fire compared to who he is today, it’s a night and day difference. For me, that transformation has been key, but it’s also far from done. You’ll see Redd continue to grow both in this book and in the next one in a way that might surprise some readers.

FF: Out for Blood continues the series’ exploration of the difference between “family” and “relatives.” How do these themes impact the characters in the book?
One thing that Matthew Redd and I have in common is our shared belief that being blood-related to someone makes them a relative, whereas family is something you choose. My best friends in the world are Mikey and his wife, Emily Derhammer. They’re family to me, and I love them as such. So much so that I put them in my books! You might have noticed that Redd also has a BFF named Mikey Derhammer. So, none of that is by accident. When I mentioned before that Redd and his wife have worked hard to build a family, they have. Sure, they have a child now, but they also have Mikey and Liz, Kline, Emily’s parents, and so on. You will absolutely see how that theme plays a major role in this book, but there are also a few negative examples of “family” in Out for Blood too. I can’t touch on that too much just yet, but I’m confident people will spot it when they see it. Moving forward, though, this will stay a present theme in the Redd universe, and while I don’t want to keep teasing the next book too much, I would say that “family” is the central theme of Redd #4, which will hit bookstores in the summer of 2025.

FF: The dog in the book is based on your rottweiler, Rubble. How does the introduction of man’s best friend influence the story?
That’s true! It’s funny because while these books are fiction, I put a lot of stuff in them from my actual real life. So, whereas I mentioned that Mikey is a real person and my closest friend, but also fictionalized in my series, so too is Rubble. I guess it always just made sense to me. Redd is a man of few words, but he is fiercely loyal to those he loves. I always pictured him with a dog, one who doesn’t require constant attention but shares Redd’s loyalty, and it just worked out that I am familiar with that sort of bond because of my own rottweiler. In the end, I am so glad I chose to add Rubble to the cast because not only is he a loyal friend to Redd, but in some ways, he becomes a weapon too.

FF: Why is the setting of Out for Blood important?
In this book, Matthew Redd is tested like never before. Not only have the Twelve sent people to kill him but that battle is set to take place just as the worst snowstorm in Montana’s recent history is moving over the region. I tend to see my books in my head before I write them, and I just always loved the idea of these events playing out amidst fresh powder and a chilling white backdrop. Redd isn’t just fighting a team of trained killers. He’s also fighting the elements, and both—or either—is enough to take him out at any second. To me, that heightens the tension and the suspense, and I sure hope readers feel that as the story unfolds.

FF: This is the third book in an action-packed series. How do you ensure the excitement remains vibrant throughout the series?
That’s a great question. Up until now, I would say that all of the books really stand on their own and have a different feel to them that’s unique to that story. Lethal Range has a lot of action in it, and so does Out for Blood, but it’s a different kind of action. The key for me, at least while writing it, was to make sure that Redd has nowhere to turn, nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide from the enemies chasing him—ensuing an action-packed showdown in more ways than one. As a whole, though, my goal is to constantly mix it up from book to book. Readers who remember the first two books will notice that Redd isn’t fighting any massive man-giants in this one (like Shevchenko or Baby Boy), so even when there are fight scenes, they have a different feel to them than before.

FF: How can aspiring authors make their characters come alive?
I don’t think there is any one right answer to that question, so I’ll just say that a simple suggestion is to allow your characters to be vulnerable from time to time. I’d wager that everyone has experienced vulnerability a time or two in their life, and so that’s something readers can identify with. Moreover, anytime you’re able to work in themes or issues that are relatable, I think readers are more likely to connect with those characters, as they can better understand what your characters are facing, experiencing, or going through. In a lot of ways, the key to writing fiction is to add as much realism as possible.

FF: You describe Matthew as a “new Christian.” How does this impact the story?
Redd’s faith is important to him, but it’s not the kind of thing I’m trying to hit the reader over the head with. Meaning, I don’t necessarily want to offend anyone, or write something that would turn them off to the rest of the story. But just as I write what I know from real-life experiences with actual friends or my dog, this was just another thing that naturally worked into the story and my character because it’s another extension of me and my own beliefs. To a certain degree, I think a lot of heroes in fiction have morals or live by a code of some sort. Well, so does Redd, but in his case, you know where those morals come from.

FF: How has your work on The Real Book Spy impacted the Matthew Redd Series?
I think right from the very beginning of my career as an author, my goal—because I cover so many thrillers—was to write something that was very much unlike anything else in print right now. I had thought long and hard about what I might write long before I ever put pen to paper (or, well, fingers to keyboard), and I kept coming back to this thought that we never see the Mitch Rapp or Jason Bourne types of characters stationed out west. And why not? In a place like Montana, backup—as you will no doubt see in this book—is hours away at best. Worst case, you might not have help for days, maybe longer. To me, that really heightens the tension, but it also fits the “lone wolf” operator well, and so it all kind of clicked. I’m a huge fan of Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Daniel Silva, Mark Greaney, Brad Taylor, and Jack Carr, to name a few, and it was when trying to come up with something different than what those guys might write that Fields of Fire really took shape for me, and that continues to be true today.

Out for Blood
Matthew Redd Thriller Series #3
Ryan Steck
Tyndale House
Genres: Mystery/Suspense, Military Thriller
Release Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN-10: ‎1496485971
ISBN-13: ‎978-1496485977

Book Summary:
Winters in Montana can be deadly, but it wasn’t the cold that was killing Matthew Redd…

Gavin Kline, executive assistant director of the FBI’s Intelligence Directorate, is escorting a high-value prisoner with the intel to bring down a global conspiracy when their plane comes under attack. In the aftermath, much of Kline’s team is dead, but he recovers a phone from a member of the hit team that reveals another attack is imminent. This time they’re going after the man who was instrumental in capturing the prisoner and foiling their plans: Matthew Redd.

When Redd learns he’s in the crosshairs, he sends his family into hiding and heads for the mountains. He might be outnumbered, but the hit team will have to hunt him down on his own turf. With a snowstorm bearing down on Montana and no help in sight, Redd fights for survival in the harshest conditions. But when they take the fight to his hometown, he’ll need all his allies at his back to save what he holds most dear.


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About The Author

Ryan Steck is an editor, an author, and the founder and editor in chief of The Real Book Spy. Ryan has been named an “Online Influencer” by Amazon and is a regular columnist at CrimeReads. TheRealBookSpy.com has been endorsed by #1 New York Times bestselling authors Mark Greaney, C. J. Box, Kyle Mills, Daniel Silva, Brad Thor, and many others. A resident of Michigan, along with his wife and their six kids, Steck cheers on his beloved Detroit Tigers and Lions during the rare moments when he’s not reading or talking about books on social media.