As a former foreign correspondent for Reuters and the BBC, Forsyth says that while much factual information is available online, his most valuable research comes from one-on-one interviews with the relevant experts to his plots. "If you want to know what it feels like to handle a major malfunction on the flight deck of a 747 jet, you better go and talk to a real 747 pilot."
Going right to the source has been Forsyth's trademark since his first successful book, The Day of the Jackal, which was published in 1971. With 13 books now completed, he says the writing process is almost mathematical - about three months mulling the idea for a story and sketching out a skeleton plot, six to seven months doing the research, and then for two months he locks himself in a shed in his yard and writes - with a strict "Do Not Disturb" warning. For his latest book, The Kill List, Forsyth spent considerable time inside the Beltway in DC talking to security experts, and also traveled to Mogadishu in Somalia, where the only hotel in that war-torn city was called "The Peace Hotel".
Al Qaeda terrorists have provided material for a number of his novels - and he sees no immediate end to that. "This madness is spreading - from Pakistan to the Middle East and all the way through Africa." He said the battle against Islamic extremism was "the second Cold War of my lifetime" and pointed out the enormous costs to the West - "half a continent could live on your (American) defense budget alone." He said the US-UK "special relationship" has been around for a long time and is still very strong, "because it is, and always has been, a relationship between professionals" - the British and US military train together, their intelligence services share "most - not all - of what they know" with each other, and this working relationship is unaffected by the changing dynamics of the personal relationships between successive presidents and prime ministers.
Because many of his sources have access to classified information, Forsyth says he always runs potentially damaging passages past the CIA or British intelligence before he publishes to make sure he does not "put good men in danger." He criticized Edward Snowden who leaked information on the NSA as someone "motivated by vanity" who had taken a pledge of loyalty and broken it.
When asked if Israel had a future, he said Israel deserved our support because it had been carved out of the desert into a very successful country, there are 1.6 million Palestinian Arabs who live in Israel and have no desire to leave, and there is "no military within a thousand miles that could defeat Israel". Forsyth has also been outspoken about politics in his home country of England, which he strongly believes should leave the European Union. "The EU is not a democracy, it is run by unelected bureaucrats."