Pop Culture

Best-selling author Vince Flynn dies at 47

Jim Mone / Today
Best-selling author Vince Flynn at his home in Edina, Minn., Sept. 2, 2005.

Minnesota writer Vince Flynn, 47, the author of 14 thrillers and mysteries that reached the New York Times best-seller list, died early Wednesday morning after a battle with prostate cancer.

Flynn announced on his website in February of 2011 that he had Stage III prostate cancer and had been a proponent of increasing awareness about the disease. His books centered on the popular character of Mitch Rapp, an undercover agent for the CIA who thwarts terrorist attacks on America.

“He fought to live, just like the CIA operatives did in the stories he created,’’ close friend Kathy Schneeman wrote in a remembrance of Flynn on Catholic Hotdish.com. He was brave and courageous, just like the characters were within his fictional pieces.”

Flynn was working on a book titled “Survivor Man’’ at the time of his death, according to Schneeman.

“We wish his health would have improved and that he would have been a ‘Survivor Man,’’’ she wrote. “We wish he could have finished that last novel, and many other Mitch Rapp stories.”

Flynn self-published his first novel, “Term Limits,’’ while working as a bartender and using writing to help overcome his dyslexia. He decided to self-publish it after five years of searching for a publisher and more than 60 rejection letters. The novel was picked up by Simon & Schuster imprint Pocket Books in 1998 and became a New York Times paperback best-seller in 1999. His 2001 novel, "Separation of Power," reached No. 7 on the New York Times fiction best-seller list.

"It has been our distinct honor to publish Vince Flynn for the entire length of his career," Carolyn Reidy, President and Chief Executive Officer of publisher Simon & Schuster, Inc., said in a statement. "As good as Vince was on the page — and he gave millions of readers countless hours of pleasure — he was even more engaging in person. He had a truly unique ability to make everyone — from those of us at Simon & Schuster who were fortunate to be part of his publication, to booksellers and retailers around the nation, and most of all, his readers, with whom he had a very close relationship - feel as if we were on his team and sharing in his life and his success. Yes, we will miss the Mitch Rapp stories that are classic modern thrillers, but we will miss Vince even more."

Growing up as the fifth of seven children, Flynn was a longtime Minnesota resident who graduated from St. Thomas Military Academy High School and the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. He worked in marketing for Kraft General Foods out of college and later was medically rejected by the U.S. Marine Corps because of a condition from a car accident he suffered as a child that caused seizures. He later worked in real estate in the Twin Cities before moving to Colorado to focus on writing his first novel. Flynn is survived by his wife and three children between the ages of 10 and 17.