Born in 1970; married Cori (an attorney); children: one son. Education: University of Michigan, B.A., 1993; Columbia Law School, J.D., 1996.
Addresses: Office —3389 Sheridan St. #267, Hollywood, FL 33021. Website —http://www.bradmeltzer.com.
Author of novels, including: The Tenth Justice, 1997; Dead Even, 1998; The First Counsel, 2001; The Millionaires, 2002; The Zero Game, 2004. Cocreator and a writer and producer on Jack & Bobby, WB Network, 2004-05. Actor in the Woody Allen film Celebrity, 1998. Writer of Green Arrow: The Archer's Quest, book version of issues of the comic book Green Arrow, 2003; wrote the comic book series Identity Crisis, 2004.
In 2004, Brad Meltzer proved the breadth of his writing talent with three very different successes: his fifth novel, the thriller The Zero Game, was released; he wrote a comic-book series for DC Comics; and he saw a television show he co-created, Jack & Bobby, debut on the WB television network. His thrillers, with well-researched details and often set in Washington, D.C. politics, have attracted such attention that a United States Senator wrote the introduction to the book version of another of his comic-book projects.
Meltzer grew up in Brooklyn and Miami. His father, the son of a Jewish immigrant, worked in the garment industry until 1983, when the family moved to Florida. There, his father started selling insurance, and his mother got work in a furniture store. Writing was always a big part of Meltzer's life, even if he did not quite realize it. He got into the University of Michigan in part by writing his application letter as a love letter to the school. He told the Chicago Tribune 's Web Behrens, "Even when I was in junior high school, high school, college, anytime I had to write an essay, I would always go up to the teacher and say, 'You know what? Rather than comparing Freud and Erikson in an expository essay, can I send them on a picnic and let them get in a fight with each other and just write the dialogue?' Invariably, every teacher would say yes. I did that all the time."
At age 19, while in college, Meltzer went to Washington, D.C. for an internship on Capitol Hill, an experience that would influence much of his future writing. When he graduated in 1993, he got a job offer from Games magazine and moved to Boston to take it, but the publisher he had wanted to work with soon left the magazine, so Meltzer put his energies into writing a novel instead. That novel, called Fraternity, was rejected 24 times and never published. But Meltzer resolved to write a second novel, and he did so while going to Columbia Law School. (Attending law school with him was his high-school sweetheart, Cori, whom he married.)
The new book, The Tenth Justice, about a Supreme Court clerk who accidentally reveals an important decision before it is announced, was published in 1997 and became a best-seller, so Meltzer continued with his writing career and never practiced law. People reviewer Pam Lambert noted that Meltzer's characters were not as rich as his plot but declared that Meltzer showed "a veteran's panache with plot and pacing" and had "earned the right to belly up to the bar in the company of John Grisham, Scott Turow, and David Baldacci, and join the growing ranks of attorneys making their cases on the bestseller list."
Meltzer says research is key to his writing. "You can invent all the stuff you want, but if it doesn't smell real, readers will know in a nanosecond," he said in a question-and-answer page on his website. "To me, fiction is at its best when it has one foot in reality." When he decided one of the characters in his 2004 novel The Zero Game would be a young, black, female Senate page, he spent months researching, interviewing people, and talking with friends, trying to perfect the character. He spent so much time researching what it was like to be one of the president's children for The First Counsel, his 2001 novel about a White House lawyer who dates the president's daughter, that he also wrote an article of advice for President George W. Bush's daughters Jenna and Barbara for USA Weekend . As part of his research, Meltzer contacted every living daughter of a president, and one (he will not say who) agreed to talk with him. Friends who worked in the White House let him in and showed him around, and a former Secret Service agent who had enjoyed The Tenth Justice also helped him.
In the book, the lawyer and First Daughter slip into tunnels under the White House to evade Secret Service agents who are supposed to watch her. Such details about Washington landmarks in his books are probably one reason he was consulted by the Department of Homeland Security's Analytic Red Cell office, which brings together people from outside the department to brainstorm about how to prevent possible future terrorist tactics. "When I got the call, I was floored," Meltzer told the Washington Post 's John Mintz. "They said, 'We want people who think differently from the ones we have on staff.'" Meltzer signed an agreement not to talk about the hypothetical situation he helped discuss, but he told the newspaper that his panel also included FBI and CIA employees, a psychologist, a professor who studies Middle Eastern terrorism, and a philosopher.
In his 2002 book The Millionaires, Meltzer veered away from Washington thrillers to tell a bank-robbing story. The millionaires in the title are two brothers who work at a bank, Oliver and Charlie, one responsible and ambitious, the other a free spirit. They decide to transfer an unclaimed $3 million into their bank account, triggering a chase and intrigue involving Secret Service agents, an insurance investigator, and a mysterious woman. Reviewer Ron Bernas, writing in the Chicago Tribune, declared that the brothers' relationship lifted the book above the average thriller.
Meanwhile, Meltzer also wrote some issues of the comic book Green Arrow. "I thought about saying no. My wife reminded me I'd been waiting my whole life to do this," he said in an interview with the website BookReporter.com. Comic books influenced his writing, much as classic mystery and thriller writers Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock did, he explained. "I was raised on comic books," Meltzer told the Chicago Tribune 's Behrens. "Those were my first serials. You had 22 pages and you had a cliffhanger. So it's no shock to me that [in novels] I like to write a chapter, tell a story, leave a cliffhanger and go to the next chapter. It's not a conscious choice; it's second nature." His issues of Green Arrow were published in graphic novel form as Green Arrow: The Archer's Quest in 2003; United States Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont wrote the introduction.
Meltzer's career peak in 2004 included a return to Washington thrillers with The Zero Game, a novel about a betting pool on votes in Congress that grows into a murder story. Scenes take place in the United States Capitol, including its basement and hidden rooms for senators and congressmen—all of which were inspired by his explorations of the Capitol during his college internship. During his research, he also explored an 8,000-feet deep gold mine. In addition, he asked uncomfortable questions about a connection between plutonium, the radioactive element often used in nuclear weapons, and the neutrino, a subatomic particle. Because of the questions, a good source of his at a government scientific facility stopped calling him back and asked Meltzer to take his name out of the book's acknowledgements.
Not everyone liked The Zero Game. "Meltzer's description of how items get into an appropriations bill and the power of congressional staffers to make things happen is informative," reviewer Ann Hellmuth wrote in the Chicago Tribune. "But once the bodies start falling, it is all downhill for The Zero Game. It's a stereotypical chase story, where the protagonists escape death by inches, foil villains and keep moving non-stop through the pages with little rhyme or reason."
Also in 2004, the WB Network debuted a television series Meltzer developed with his friend Steven "Scoop" Cohen. The series, Jack & Bobby, was about two teenage brothers, one of whom will grow up to be president. It showed Bobby (the future president) as a solitary kid, interspersed with documentary-style glimpses from the future, in which people commenting about Bobby's time as president look back on his early life. (The series attracted some critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination, but was cancelled after one season.) At the same time, DC Comics was publishing the comic-book series Identity Crisis, a murder mystery written by Meltzer that included an all-star lineup of DC Comics characters, including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Wizard magazine called it the "most anticipated comic book project for 2004," according to Meltzer's website.
"I want to explore the emotional cost of putting on a cape," Meltzer told Entertainment Weekly. The magazine was impressed with the results. Reviewer Tom Russo noted that most "event" projects in comics featuring big-name writers or several comic heroes sacrifice character development for extreme action. But Meltzer, Russo wrote, "seems quite willing to resist the temptation to have big, loud, pointless fun with the legends at his disposal. Identity Crisis focuses on lesser-known DC characters, including the Elongated Man, and shows how they react when some of the superheroes' loved ones are murdered. "The effect is to underscore that these are very human characters engaged in a very risky business," Russo noted approvingly.
Meltzer, who lived for years in Montgomery County, Maryland, near Washington, D.C, now lives in Miami with his wife, Cori, and their son.
The Tenth Justice, William Morrow & Co., 1997.
Dead Even, Rob Weisbach Books, 1998.
The First Counsel, Warner Books, 2001.
The Millionaires, Warner Books, 2002.
Green Arrow: The Archer's Quest (graphic novel), DC Comics, 2003.
The Zero Game, Warner Books, 2004.
Identity Crisis (comic book series), DC Comics, 2004.
Jack & Bobby (television show), WB Network, 2004-05.
Chicago Tribune, January 29, 2002, p. 7; February 20, 2004, p. 5; November 23, 2004, p. 1.
Entertainment Weekly, June 25/July 2, 2004, p. 23, p. 108.
People, May 19, 1997, p. 50.
Publishers Weekly, May 3, 2004, p. 29.
Washington Post, March 14, 2004, p. T10; June 18, 2004, p. A27.
"About Brad Meltzer," Brad Meltzer.com, http://www.bradmeltzer.com/author/index.html (May 21, 2005).
"Author Profile: Brad Meltzer," Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/aumeltzer-brad.asp (May 21, 2005).
"Jack & Bobby," TV Tome, http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/ShowMainServlet/showid-21658 (May 23, 2005).
"Other Works," Brad Meltzer.com, http://www.bradmeltzer.com/other/index.html (May 22, 2005).
"Profiles and Praise," Brad Meltzer.com, http://www.bradmeltzer.com/author/homeland.html (May 21, 2005).
"Q & A," Brad Meltzer.com, http://www.bradmeltzer.com/author/qa.html (May 21, 2005).