THE ATLAS MANEUVER: Five Questions with Steve Berry


On February 20, 2024, Cotton Malone—the star of Steve Berry’s New York Times bestselling series—returns for one of his most dangerous and thrilling adventures yet in The Atlas Maneuver.

Berry, whose work is often compared to Dan Brown and Brad Meltzer, is one of very few authors who are able to teach and entertain, leaving readers stunned  but also more informed. His style, in that regard, is unique, and something that’s helped make his series, which is now eighteen books long, one of the best in print today. If you’re new to Berry’s books, especially the Cotton Malone series, don’t let that number intimidate you. Though reading them all will certainly enrichen the reading experience, consuming them in chronological order isn’t necessary, as Berry has written in a way that, for the most part, allows readers to jump in anywhere.

His latest offering, The Atlas Maneuver, is, at least for my money, his best book since The Lost Order (2017), which, out of the almost 2,000 titles I’ve covered as a Book Spy, is among my favorites. Berry (and Cotton Malone, for that matter) is at his best when tackling an issue, topic, or threat that you know just enough about to be intrigued but not enough to see how the story will come together. In this book, for example, Cotton learns of a plot to weaponize cryptocurrency—something most readers probably have a relatively basic understanding of but likely don’t carry a deep knowledge of. I won’t give anything away here, but I can promise you this . . . whatever you think you know about Bitcoin, by the time you’re done with Berry’s latest, you’ll never look at it the same ever again.

For more spoiler-free details on The Atlas Maneuver, you can read my full review here.

In the meantime, leading up to the book’s release, we asked Steve Berry to come on our Five Questions segment, and this time around, I asked him about everything from how he came up with the story idea for this book to what’s next for him now that The Atlas Maneuver is set to hit bookstores in a few weeks.

Read the full Q&A below, then make sure to pre-order your copy of The Atlas Maneuver, available everywhere books are sold on February 20th.




TRBS: First and foremost, congrats on the release of your new book, THE ATLAS MANEUVER. I really loved this book.  In fact, it’s my favorite Cotton Malone book since THE LOST ORDER (2017), and I basically read the whole thing in one sitting.  How did you come up with the story idea for this one?

Berry:   Bitcoin is a subject that has long fascinated me.  I dare say that most people have little to no idea how cryptocurrency works.  I know I did not.  So I spent eighteen months learning all I could. Then I  intentionally set out to create a thriller where Bitcoin was not a passing mention, but was instead integral to the entire plot.  This may be the first thriller to ever do that.  Definitely, the number one goal of a thriller is to entertain.  But if I can educate a little along the way, that would be great too.  I also wanted to explore another aspect of Cotton Malone’s personality.  I try to do that in every book.  Here we learn (as Cotton does) of a secret from his past.  Throw in a treasure trove of lost gold from World War II (which is real) and a on-going war between the CIA and the world’s oldest bank, and you have all the makings of an international suspense thriller. 

TRBS: I’ve read and heard you say, when K.J. Howe and I interviewed you for ThrillerTalk, that you like to travel to do boots-on-the-ground research for your books. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever learned while one on of those trips? 

 Berry:   In Paris, while researching The Paris Vendetta, we discovered that my wife, Elizabeth, was afraid of heights.  That realization came as we were taking the glass-enclosed elevator up 900 feet to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  Needless to say, that was a surprise to us both.  A few years before that, though, we were in the Ukraine and decided to check out the underground tunnels resistance fighters used in World War II to hide from the Germans.  They were a hundred or so feet underground with tight spaces, low-ceilings, poor ventilation, and dim light.  During that excursion we discovered something about me.  I do not like enclosed spaces.  So we have a rule.  Anything up high is on me, anything closed-in is hers.   

TRBS: What is your writing process like, and what, if any, advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Berry:  I’m a morning person, so I do most of my work between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.  I take an hour off, then go back and work till around three.  The goal is 1000 words a day.  Keep that up and you have a book in about ten months.  Writing is most definitely a discipline, so every writer has to find the process that works best for them, then stick to it.  It is not an obsession, though.  To this day I work five days a week, no matter what.  But I only work on the weekends if I want to.  During the week?  Doesn’t matter if I want to.  I have to work.  My number one job is to deliver a manuscript on time.  A lot of writers forget that, but I think that’s a mistake.  The best advice I can give to aspiring writers?   It’s actually the simplest.  Write what you love.  And do it every day.  There’s only one way to learn how to write and that’s to write.

TRBS: When you’re not writing, what are some of your favorite hobbies?

Berry:  I enjoy playing golf, which seems to be my recreational escape. 

TRBS: Lastly, now that THE ATLAS MANEUVER is finally out, what’s next for you?

Berry:   The second Luke Daniels adventure, Red Star Falling, releases June 11, 2024.  The next Cotton Malone thriller comes in February 2025.  Then, in summer 2025, I’ll have a little something different out.  A pure suspense thriller in the vein of John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Harlen Coben, called The List. 



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, is also in bookstores, and his third book, OUT FOR BLOOD, comes out on June 4th. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. To interact with other readers and talk about your favorite books and authors, join The Real Book Spy’s Discord server.


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