"That's where the future's going. That's going to be the next big menace," Flynn recalled telling himself.
"He was so ahead of his time with what he was writing about terrorism and threats. His mind worked in a different way that most of us," said Frank Vascellaro, a WCCO-TV anchor who had been close friends with Flynn since just before "Term Limits" took off.
Vascellaro, who takes credit for having introduced Flynn to his wife, said the author's success was all the more remarkable given his struggles with dyslexia. "But at the same time it was a gift, because his brain did not think in the linear way 99 percent of the population sees things," he said.
Vascellaro recalled how Flynn, while in New York with his wife, saw Clinton in a crowd and pushed his way through to introduce himself. Clinton replied, "I know who you are" and said he had read all Flynn's books, Vascellaro said.
Flynn became friends with Bush during one of his visits to Minnesota, Vascellaro said. As they shook hands on the airport tarmac along with dignitaries including then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the president told Flynn he was a big fan. Then an aide invited Flynn to ride downtown with Bush in the presidential limousine.
Pawlenty, another fan, said Wednesday in an email to the AP that Flynn had "impeccable integrity, loved his family and his country and you could not have (a) better friend."
Flynn was diagnosed with stage three metastatic prostate cancer in November 2010. The fatigue from his radiation treatments eventually made it difficult to focus on writing for more than an hour or two, and in October 2011, he reluctantly postponed publication for several months of his 13th book, "Kill Shot," which followed Rapp's adventures as he pursued those responsible for the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
But he never expressed any bitterness about dying at such a young age and kept his faith, Vascellaro said.
"It was remarkable how much courage he showed in the face of adversity," he said. "I will remember that for the rest of my life."
Schneeman, the family friend, said Flynn had been working on his next book as recently as Valentine's Day, when she and her husband vacationed with the Flynns in Mexico.
Development for a Mitch Rapp movie based on 2010's "American Assassin" remains on track, said Grey Munford, a spokesman for CBS Films, which plans to build an action-thriller franchise around the character. Bruce Willis has signed on to play Rapp's mentor, Stan Hurley. Munford said an announcement about the movie is expected soon.
Flynn is survived by his wife, Lysa Flynn, and three children. A Mass will be celebrated Monday morning at the Cathedral of St. Paul.
Vince Flynn's website: http://www.vinceflynn.com