January 15, 2021

One year ago, all we had was a manuscript.

A title, STEEL FEAR, followed by a hundred thousand words. No publisher. No contract. No clue whether anyone else would think it was any good, let alone good enough to take a chance on it. We both believed in it. But hey, neither of us had ever written a novel before, or even tried.

Before I tell you what happened, let me tell you how we came to that point.

Back in 2009 my agent called and said she had a former Navy SEAL sniper sitting in her office, guy named Brandon Webb, who wanted to pen a memoir and needed a collaborator. “I know this isn’t what you do,” she said. “But would you be interested?”

It wasn’t. And I was.

The Go-Giver was then just a year old. All the writing I’d done up to that point had been about business, leadership, and personal development. I had zero military background, experience, or knowledge. This sounded like a fascinating challenge.

So she connected me to Brandon. We started talking. And in one of our earliest conversations, he asked me, “Hey, would you ever be interested in writing a novel?” He had this idea for a thriller about a serial killer loose on an aircraft carrier.

I immediately said yes, absolutely. Totally.

Although the voice inside said, Impossible. Write a full-length novel? And a thriller, yet? That looked to me like a mountain the scale of K2, Matterhorn, Everest. Forbidding. Impassible. Terrifying. Despite my telling Brandon “Yes” without hesitation, I didn’t believe I could actually do it.

But someone did.

For years my wife Ana had been telling me, “You should write novels. You would be great at it.” I appreciated her faith in me, but I didn’t believe it.

She upped her game. “You wouldn’t just be great at it,” she said. “It’s where you belong. It’s what you were put here to do.”

I still didn’t believe her. I figured, when someone loves you, really loves you, when they believe in you wholeheartedly and without reservation, they think you can do anything. Well, here’s what I learned:

They’re right.

My favorite line from the movie Jerry Maguire is this one: “I love him for the man he wants to be … I love him for the man he almost is.” In the film, it’s hilarious.

It also contains a pearl of truth.

Love doesn’t blind; it illuminates. It gives the other person exclusive insight into your true potential. A rarified vision of the real you. The best you. The possible you.

Long story short: I finally took the ideas and notes Brandon sent me and started working on the novel. We showed a draft to our inner circle of readers (you know who you are) and they loved it. We worked on it some more. Turned the manuscript in to our agent on New Year’s Day, 2020.

By the summer, we’d sold it in a two-book deal to Bantam Books. They didn’t just like our manuscript, they loved it.

Iconic thriller author Lee Child loved it too. He of Jack Reacher acclaim declared it “sensationally good—an instant classic, maybe an instant legend.”

You can see it, even preorder it, HERE. And when July comes and you hold a copy in your hands and open the cover, here’s what you’ll find on my section of the dedication page:

“For Ana, who always believed; for two decades you’ve been telling me I should write novels, until I finally believed it too.”

As long as you have someone who believes in you wholeheartedly and without reservation, there is no mountain you can’t climb.


  1. Marian Head

    Congratulations! ????
    Beautiful tribute to Ana. ???? Magnificently penned, too! ????

    Looking forward to reading it! Will it be on Kindle?

    • John David Mann

      Hey there Marian! Indeed it will — Kindle, Android, iBooks … it’ll be at Walmart and Target and Books-a-Million and just about anywhere you can think of. I have links for Amazon, Barnes, and Indiebooks on the site.

  2. Adrian

    A fascinating journey – huge congratulations to you both!

    • John David Mann

      Thanks, A – it’s been more than 3 years I’ve been away from the blog. Good to be back! (Lots coming over the next six months…!)

    • Brandon Webb

      Thank you. So glad to do this with John and Ana his amazing wife.

  3. Chris Story

    Can’t wait! I’m spellbound and haven’t even cracked the spine yet.
    Thanks for the update and inspiration…so look forward to having you back On Top of the World Radio
    Chris Story

    • John David Mann

      Looking forward to it here too, Chris!


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