I learned some exceedingly sad news this week. One of my favorite authors passed from this life four days ago, at the age of 47 and at the height of his writing career. Vince Flynn, an American author whose books have sold over 15 million copies in the U. S. and millions more worldwide, has been an encouragement and a challenging example to me personally in my endeavors to reach out to the world through the written word.
I cannot put into accurate words the sadness I feel at learning of Vince Flynn’s death. He was, without a doubt, one of the most talented and most morally responsible writers to grace the halls of American literature in this generation. He was a true patriot and, through his work, shared that love of our nation and all it stands for with his millions of readers.
He also stands as a beacon of personal commitment to a goal — and as a beacon of ingenuity and enterprise that is offered to citizens of this nation — in that he was determined to succeed in getting his words to the reading public and would not take ‘no’ for an answer. Although diagnosed as dyslexic during his school years, he did not let that problem deter him from reaching for his goal. Although turned down by the Marine Corps because of a physical problem, he sought for and found a way to serve this nation through his writing.
As an author who self-published his first book — after scores of rejections of the same — he went on to become one of the best selling authors of this generation. He is a powerful encouragement to others to pursue their dreams and never give up. My heart goes out to his family, and I do share their grief at losing such a valuable man.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a newspaper column concerning books and their lasting value in our lives. I also shared some of my personal experiences as an author who has enjoyed hearing from people who have been profoundly touched and moved by my stories. In connection with that experience, I wrote about Vince Flynn – in a rather light-hearted way – but my words were totally honest. In memory of this gifted man and his work, I’d like to share those words again right now:
“I’m a Vince Flynn fan. In my opinion, he literally “wrote the book” on high-concept political intrigue. Now, of course, when I’m in need of something warm and fuzzy to read – something that will allow me to escape this cruel, cold world – I definitely don’t run to Vince. But when I want something I can get my teeth into – something that involves every bit of me in the story – he’s my man.
“Every sentence is packed, and for that reason, I find it almost impossible to put his books down once I start reading. I look at the clock at 1:00 a.m. and tell myself I’ll read just to the end of the chapter. Then at 2:00 a.m. I reassure my conscience that I’ll read just one more page. And I do. Then I read one more page … and one more page … until I find myself at 3:00 a.m., facing an unforgiving alarm clock that’s set to go off in three more hours.
“So I’ve been thinking: Perhaps I’ll set another goal for myself that will help me measure my success as an author – as I see it. I think I’ll aim for writing a novel that will keep Vince Flynn up until 3:00 a.m. and make him feel guilty. Yes. That sounds like a good idea. I’ll start right now – if I can just stay awake ….”
Sadly, of course, that goal is no longer achievable, since Mr. Flynn has left us. But personally, I will still hold onto that thought, and although I will see it through tears, I will nevertheless see it as a beacon and a challenge that leads me in my efforts to write stories that will get hold of people and not let go. I believe I have something important to say in the stories I write — as did Vince Flynn — and I am enormously grateful for his example that remains here with us in all of the masterful work he has given us.