September 26 – October 2: What about language? How much credence do you give it? How important is it?

In On Writing, Stephen King tells the story of asking Amy Tan what’s the one question she’s never asked in a Q&A. She responded, “They never ask about the language.” So, we’re asking ITW Members Catriona McPherson, D. E. Johnson, Kelli Stanley and J. H. Bográn what about language? How much credence do you give it? What does it do for your story? Characters? Dialogue? Setting? The reader? How important is it?

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Catriona McPherson was born near Edinburgh in Scotland and educated at Edinburgh University, leaving with a PhD in linguistics.  She is the author of six 1920s detective novels, most recently Dandy Gilver and The Proper Treatment of Bloodstains as well as two modern capers.  Catriona recently moved to northern California, where she writes full-time when not tweeting, blogging and killing star thistles on twenty ramshackle acres.

D.E. (Dan) Johnson‘s literary debut, a historical mystery entitled The Detroit Electric Scheme, was published by St. Martin ‘s Minotaur in September 2010. The sequel, Motor City Shakedown, was published by Minotaur in September 2011. Dan is a history buff who has been writing fiction since childhood, but had to hit his midlife crisis to realize he should get serious about it. He and his wife, Shelly, have always encouraged their children to make their dreams a reality – and it finally occurred to him to do the same. After taking classes, reading everything about writing he could find, and writing for hours every day, he hit on the right subject and genre, and wrote a book that Loren Estleman calls “A LES MISERABLES for the American experience.”

Award-winning author Kelli Stanley writes two series–one set in 1940 San Francisco, the other in first century Roman Britain. Kelli’s newest novel is CITY OF SECRETS, the second book in the Miranda Corbie series following the Macavity Award-winning CITY OF DRAGONS. With CITY OF DRAGONS, Keli reinvented the golden era of noir fiction, and created a heroine as unforgettable as San Francisco itself. Destined to become a classic, the critically-acclaimed CITY OF DRAGONS was a finalist for the prestigious Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and is both a nail-biting suspense thriller and a time-machine to 1940. NOX DORMIENDA, Stanley’s first novel in her “Roman noir” series of mysteries, won the Bruce Alexander Award for best historical of 2008, and is currently available on Kindle. A sequel and re-launch of the series, THE CURSE-MAKER, is published by Thomas Dunne/Minotaur. Stanley holds a Master’s Degree in Classics, and lives in San Francisco. For more information about her and her books–including multimedia video and audio–please visit her website.

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist; he ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José is the author of TREASURE HUNT, the first in the series of a professional thief that goes by the handle of The Falcon. Other works include short stories, contributor to The Big Thrill magazine, co-screenwriter for two TV serials and movie reviews for Honduran newspaper La Prensa.

29 Comments
  1. Sisters in Crime recently sent out a very entertaining decoding of publisher-speak: magisterial = long, much awaited = late, acclaimed = not selling . . . were I more organised I’d even have the link . . . and with language and style in mind, I’ll add lyrical = nothing happens.
    Which probably reveals a rich vein of Philistinism in me.
    Now, I write in the voice of an classically educated Englishwoman of the 1890s (as a state-school educated Scotswoman of the 1960s) so the stylistic constraints can sometimes feel like a whalebone corset but what about language, style, poetics, and all that malarkey in the thriller/crime/mystery macro-genre overall?
    Here’s my tuppenceworth. The paragraph-long decripto-dump of “fine writing” can certainly tip you out of the world of the story and back into your armchair, wondering what the writer was thinking when s/he left it in in the final draft. On the other hand, thoughtless, clunky, pedestrian language can do the same job just as thoroughly.
    Here’s a short example that might count as both:
    “He felt his soul admitting defeat. Teetering on the brink between presence and absence, he stared out at the ocean waves in the distance.” (from a published novel by a living writer. I’m not naming names this early in the week.)
    Oh dear, right? Is an attempt at stylistically heightened writing that misses with such a clunk maybe worst of all?
    I’d be interested to know whether other writers find themselves more often having to rein in over-the-top writing or having to add colour to language that feels too work-a-day.

  2. To me it’s all about the writing, and most of that is the language. A writer needs to enthrall a reader, and Dick and Jane language generally isn’t going to do it. Writing historical mysteries, I get to cheat a bit. People expect my books to have a bit more description and a little more flowery language. I don’t deliver on the flowery part, but I do make sure the characters are set in an environment that a reader can experience.

    Two mistakes that I think are often made by beginning writers:

    1. Writing so that it sounds like writing. If you can’t say it simply, then rework it until you can. Your words will get in the way of the story.

    2. Use metaphors and similes sparingly. I try to keep myself to no more than one comparison every few pages, if that. And I try to discover comparisons I haven’t read. For example, in my new book, Motor City Shakedown, my protagonist watches a pretty girl hurry to a brutal gangster and lean in for a kiss. He says, It was like watching a butterfly light on a piece of shit. (I’m especially proud of that one. I write noir, after all.)

    I get my inspiration for the beauty of language (which, admittedly, you did not see in the previous paragraph) from historical writers like E.L. Doctorow, T.C. Boyle, and William Kennedy, who are able, because of the genre, to use language that might raise an eyebrow in contemporary fiction. Their prose is beautiful, often funny, almost always enthralling.

    That’s not to say that I don’t find inspiration in crime fiction. For example, I marvel at Elmore Leonard’s dialogue and how much mileage he gets from a few spare words. His work is a great example of another way that a great command of writing can evidence itself. “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip,” he says.

    I’d rather try to turn those parts into something interesting enough that readers won’t skip them, and therein lies the challenge. Every word is important and must be used for the right reasons.

    Rich characters populate crime fiction these days, evidenced by books such as Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River. And it’s all about the language–flowery or plain, effusive or spare. It all can work if done right.

  3. Language is everything.

    I trained as a classicist–meaning I spent an inordinately long time learning about the ancient Mediterranean world through archaeology, art history, history, literature, cultural studies and particularly language. Latin and Greek are highly inflected languages, which means word choice and word positioning is much more flexible than English.

    “Dog bites man”, for example … in Latin, you can easily rearrange the position of the words in the order of “man bites dog” *without* changing the meaning.

    My writing–particularly the Miranda Corbie series (CITY OF SECRETS, CITY OF DRAGONS, etc.)–is steeped in a sense of the lyrical … it’s part of what the series is, the themes and textures and the sense I’m trying to convey.

    I grew up reading poetry, and nothing gives you a better sense of rhythm and diction. Greek and Latin poetry uses rhythms we don’t hear in English–every language does–which added to my sensitivity to the music inherent in good prose.

  4. Great comments, so far – thank you all!

    I believe that while language is important, above all, the writer’s word choices have to serve the needs of the story. I pay a great deal of attention to the musicality of my words, and to the rhythm of my sentences, and often, I hear the pattern of the syllables in my sentences in my head before I even know what I’m going to say.

    But no matter what I end up with, my individual word choices are always based on what the story needs. What would the character really say in this situation? How would they say it? Is there a stronger verb I can use in this instance than “run,” or is this one of those occasions where a more flowery word such as “dash” would distract?

    All this attention to word choice, unfortunately, makes me a very slow writer. I agonize over just about every word I write, so I definitely pay a lot of attention to language – probably too much!

  5. Oh, D.E. – you’re so right and so lucky. A) right. What I love about Ian McEwan – not a thriller writer as such, but Atonement was a puzzle novel of the first order, non? – is that he’s a beautiful, beautiful writer but you can’t catch him at it. I remember saying to a friend that his description of wearing a bias-cut frock was top-notch and surely he must have crossed -dressed a bit in the research, but then when I went rifling through the pages to find it and read it out to her it was just half a line and I couldn’t imagine what I’d been talking about. B) Lucky – to be writing noir. You can have such fun with extended metaphors in noir and because they’re so firmly part of the tradition they don’t break the fourth wall. Favourite noir simile/metaphor, anyone?

  6. Karen, it’s endlessly interesting to me how differently different writers write. (Woo, repetition – so fab when Hemingway does it and so . . . repetitive when I do it).

    What you said about hearing a pattern of syllables – pre-meaning – is fascinating and strange (in the best way). Can you give an example?

    It reminds me of Kate Atkinson saying that she sees the shape of a book – e.g. rhomboid – before she knows the characters or the plot. A large audience at Harrogate one year did a formation “Wha-?” when she said that and only a very few individuals nodded in recognition.

  7. Karen, it’s great to see you here!

    And you bring up a good point … how word choice builds our characters.

    How they speak, think, interact–and the multiple languages THEY speak (to their parents, their lovers, their adversaries, their friends) reveals everything we need to know about them–and without hammering readers over the head.

    I wrote screenplays (alas, unproduced) before I wrote my first novel, and I’ve always been grateful for the experience. No prose to rely on, everything in dialogue, monologue or action. Hemingway (in “Hills Like White Elephants”, for example) makes it look easy, but creating and maintaining character through dialogue is key, and writing screenplays (or plays) can really help hone that skill.

  8. Catriona, my favorite metaphor is (of course) Chandler, but not the “tarantula on a wedding cake” that is often (and deservedly) quoted.

    This one’s from (if my memory’s not off) The Little Sister, and runs something like “She was about as exclusive as a mailbox.”

    Chandler’s my first and best influence in crime fiction. My debut novel, NOX DORMIENDA, is a Chandler homage (the title basically means “The Big Sleep”) … I had a whole lot of fun creating “Roman noir” metaphors and similes true to the time and era (83 AD) and yet reminiscent of the traditional hardboiled style.

    Stuff like: “My heart was thumping louder than a cymbal player in a three-sister dance act.”

    I remember reading Chandler’s notebooks and discovering that he kept lists of potential metaphors and similes to plug in for later use! But D.E. is right … a little goes a long way.

  9. Hi Karen!

    I think you make a great point about the music in prose. It’s seems to be a hard thing to categorize, but when you read a good writer out loud there is a rhythm and a musical beauty that’s missing in a lot of work. I don’t know if that’s an innate talent or if it’s something that can be taught, but my impression is that you have it or you don’t.

    What do you all think?

    And I absolutely agree with Catriona that the language has to serve the story – in every way, the story must be the master.

  10. I’m not sure I’d characterize either language or story in a master-servant relationship … I think the two are intertwined so indissolubly that language becomes the story.

    Craft notwithstanding, of course. We write thrillers–readers need to feel that compulsion to turn the page–and suspense and tension demands pace and action. But how the story is told is as much a part of the narrative as the other ingredients.

    Should it be third person? Close or objective? First person? How about past tense or present tense? Our language use depends as much on these decisions as anything else, and they are intrinsic to the story-telling.

    Ah, decisions, decisions …

  11. Great point, Kelli. “Good use of language” doesn’t necessarily mean lots of embellishment.

    But, if I’m honest, I know I’ve stayed awake too late reading exciting, plotty, badly-written novels more often than beautiful, thoughtful, novels of ideas. I don’t always like myself in the morning.

    Re those other choices: my pet hate* is when the pov is so close you get endless bodily functions described as though you’re in that wee submarine in Incredible Journey – saliva, stomach acid, sweat glands . . . even tear ducts can get annoying. How British of me, right? To prefer a safe social distance.

    I suppose it could be very effective if it was deliberate but I don’t think I’ve ever come across it as a stylistic choice – in a thriller; Nicholson Baker is different – only as a result, I suspect, of close identification of the writer with the protagonist. Would love to know if there is an example of a thriller where an inside-the-skin pov works well and seems like a thoughtful choice.

    *If we start a round of pet-hates, I don’t want tha to count as mine. I have more . . .

  12. I’m fairly new to ITW but travel a lot and find these roundtables compellling. This one in particular. All of you make excellent points. Such a neat deal to be able to talk craft with established writers like this. Surprised more people don’t take advantage of it.
    Language, more than any other thing can make or break a story with me. In fact, sometimes the bad ones ring so tin in my ear that the are hard to shake loose. I have to read a few lines of A River Runs Through It that I keep on my desk just to ‘wash’ my brain. Maclean writes in a sort of poetry that would seem forced if I tried it, but flowed so well when he did it…
    Though I don’t write noir, I love the mataphors and similes mentioned above. Dan, the butterfly image is great.
    I’m lucky to associate with so many hard nosed, hard core coppers who live and talk ‘noir’ all the time in order to stay sane during the rough moments and keep from throwing up. I steal a ton of good stuff from them. I remember a skinny meth-head straining to get out of a pair of handcuffs behind his back. I was busy arresting a second guy and an older officer came up and warned me–“Don’t let the skel slip is cuffs,” he said. “He’s shakin’ like a puppy passin’ a peach pit.” I wrote the phrase down on the back of my ticket book as soon as I got my two prisoners in the car. Finally was able to use it in a book a couple of years ago.
    Thanks for letting me but in to your discussion. Nice work.

  13. Catriona, you crack me up! A good dose of Scottish wit is always bracing! 😉

    You know, my position is this, I guess: a good book is a good book. It can break all the “rules”, it can sport any technique or a muddle of them all. If it’s well-written, the magic of the word choice and the pace and the rhythm and dialogue and everything else will just *work*.

    I don’t judge a book by close POV or non-POV or any other criterion related to style … I judge it by how that particular story and characters are written … and if it’s good, it’ll leap off the page, even if it contains esoteric, polysyllabic adjectives and copious examples of the poor, unfairly maligned adverb.

    On the other hand, we could all probably name a shelf of awful books (some that sold very well, indeed) that are written according to Hoyle but far less lively than Hoyle itself.

    Even popcorn needs flavor. I like mine with garlic salt. 🙂

    But now, of course, I want to hear all those pet-hates … c’mon, let ‘er rip, it’s Wednesday!

  14. Marc, thanks so much for contributing to the discussion! Like you, language is a make-or-break for me, particularly where violence is concerned.

    The only time I’ve ever thrown a book across a room was because of a clumsy and poorly-written paragraph describing an incredibly violent death. It so happened that the death was of a small child, but the age of the victim wasn’t the main reason for my reaction.

    No, it was about language. About how it can be used as a laser beam or an elephant gun, and if you’re writing about murder and sexual assault and the horrific violence real-world victims endure on a daily basis–and you’re writing the kind of book that treats that violence with realistic depth–then the language better reflect an attitude of respect and understanding for what it’s attempting to describe.

    Anything less causes me to get angry … and books to fly.

    This isn’t a “cozy mystery” vs. “noir” type of comparison. I write noir, so yes, I’m used to dealing with a more graphic emphasis on the emotion of the violence, as opposed to a typically lighter treatment in puzzle-prominent traditional mystery. But Agatha Christie, God bless her, was able to evoke respect and understanding within the latter genre … many of her books contain rather serious passages about the metaphysics of good and evil and the horror of murder. That’s why Miss Marple, good middle-class Victorian lady that she was, had no qualms about seeing a murderer hang.

    Anyway, wanted to add that you are a lucky man to work with the poet of the puppy and the peach pit (the alliteration alone is amazing), and also wanted to thank you and your fellow officers for the work you do every day that *allows* us to write crime fiction in a safe environment. And congratulations on the upcoming release for NATIONAL SECURITY!

  15. Marc – I was enchanted by the idea of a cop reading passages of ARTT to cleanse the brain – if you wrote that in a novel no one would swallow it. But re the peach pit puppy . . . no one has ever said such a fabulous thing in my hearing; the closest was when I was watching the tv coverage in an NYC deli the morning Michael Jackosn died. I said to the woman serving me coffee: “hard to believe, huh?” And she replied: “Oh honey, his cheese slid off the cracker years ago.”

    Kelli – I don’t think any language crime has ever made me hurl a book. Even when a character found out her father had been killed and said “I can’t believe it. Dad. Dead.” (still no names but it’s the same guy as the last clunker) I kept reading. Never forgot it, though.

    Okay, my official pet hate (sub-group: language) is what I call the “lollipop-for-every-tot” approach to description: i.e. when a writer decribes the hair colour, eye colour, height, weight and top-to-toe clothing of every character in every scene. I don’t need to know that the barman that serves our guy his beer is wearing a button-down oxford (whatever that is), clamdiggers (ditto) and wing-tips (ditto again). NB: I do realise that this outfit is probably quite unlikely.

  16. Catriona– (what a cool name)
    Funny you mention the law enforcement/ writer/brain cleaning conundrum. I get that a lot. I’ve always considered myself a writer and didn’t decide I wanted to go into law enforcement until I was in Junior High. There are actually a lot of folks in my line of work who scribble a bit, some just use it as a cathartic. Others have loftier goals…
    I am blessed to work among people who use some of the most colorful language in the world. I’m constantly writing down phrases like the puppy and the peach pit. What’s more, ‘war stories’ are common place in this line of work so I don’t even have to prompt much to get the good stuff. In my early, Mark Henry Westerns I had a wise cracking bruiser of a character who was a device to get many of these golden phrases on paper.

    The bad guys give me gems as well. Back in my uniform days, I once got a call to an
    “nude female, unconcious on the sidewalk”. A distraught guy who I later found out was her pimp said to me while I threw a jacket over the poor girl and checked her pulse:
    “The b—‘s DFO, man.”
    I had no idea what he meant.
    “She Done Fell Out,” he explained. “Can’t you give her a oxygen pill or sumthin?”
    In a million years, I never would have been able to come up with such great lines. Again, I scribbled them on the back of a ticket book and used them later.

    All of you contributing to this roundtable have such interesting–but vastly different– tones and language in the way you write, even in these posts…
    And Kelli, thanks for mentioning my book.

  17. I’m not a native English speaker, so I can attest for its importance in perhaps a more heighten way than other thriller writers.

    It has been a long and winding road for me to learn the language. Not just to communicate with it in casual conversation, but to reach the point where I can write dialogs with different accents, e.g. a Texan chatting with a Bostonian. Oh, boy!

    So in my particular case, it is the most important, because even if I come up with a great plot and likable characters, my language skills can render the whole manuscript unsalable.

  18. JH – (I must say, I didn’t notice the diacritic on your second name and assumed you were Irish!) – I think I can speak for everyone when I say wow. Many 1st lg speakers of English don’t bother to represent dialect differences in dialogue – pretty amazing of you to be so meticulous. And of course, of course, of course a Texan shouldn’t use the same vocabulary as a Bostonian. Three cheers for you.

    Do you use a proof-reader?

    I found 12 American useages in a novel by a Candian, set in England, recently – lumber room, shut-in (for recluse), overstuffed (of chair), not home, dooryard, afghan (blanket), flashlight, go help, sweater-set, wrench (tool), lot (property) and angel food cake – and thought that with one read-through by someone like me it could all have been fixed so easily.

    Does it matter? Only to British people, and the UK is a small market, but it would bother me if it was my book . . .

    Going back to the topic of metaphor – I’m listening to PG Wodehouse on CD right now. He has some of the best ever. I like – of an offended servant – “ice formed on the butler’s upper slopes”. It’s not a million miles from what’s done in noir.

  19. In the pet hates department – even though it’s not “language-specific” – the POV character stopping to look in a mirror – or shop window or any other reflective surface – and pausing to think about what he/she looks like. Aargh!

    I can honestly say that when I see my reflection (something I try to avoid), I’ve never categorized my height and weight, my hair color, my square chin (okay I don’t have one) or any of the other nonsense I’ve read in a hundred books.

    The sight of this in the first chapter (where it usually appears) forces me to put the book in the pile to donate to the library – though, now that I think about it, it’s troubling to me that I would foist it on the unsuspecting public.

  20. @Catriona…Here’s me blushing.
    I learned to pick differences reading simultaneously Ken Follett (what is a “trainer”?) and Clive Cussler (Ah, sneakers!). I first thought a “sneaker” was someone who would sneak behind you. You know, like a thief.
    Yes, I rely on proofreaders-more than one-to pinpoint some issues like awkward phrasing and some usages as I am still learning the tiny nuisances of grammar.

    On a side note. I’m very proud of my last name because it can only be found in Honduras. It derives from the french Beaugrand. A general of that name came in late 1800’s to fight in the independence wars. He died in the battlefield. After a gunshot to the neck, he drowned in a river. But before that, he had married a Honduran and had procreated children.
    The national registry officer, not knowing any French (can you picture the blank expression with a 19th century equivalent of “say what?”),so he wrote the name down as best he could: hence Bográn

    @D. E. we seem to share the same pet hate. I don’t have any statistical data but it feels like the mirror trick is more often used with good-looking or average people. I don’t recall reading anyone thinking he looks like Quasimodo.

  21. Good call, DE – all I ever think if I see myself is “Oh God”.

    More on pet hates – nouns being bashed into verb-shaped holes with a sledgehammer: Suzie Doore at Hodder (my editor) who describes herself on Twitter as a railing pedant, has a hashtag #verbcrimes which is entertaining and horrifying in equal measure. Bet you can’t guess who wrote “She armed away some sweat from her brow”. My personal horrific favourite is ” ‘Stop it,’ he jerked.’ ” But, I suppose, they’re subjective. What I think is an affront to the language of Milton and Shakespeare could be someone else’s fresh phrasing.

    I’m thinking I’ve been quite scathing – discreetly – about others’ linguistic failings. Time to come clean about my own. It’s overusing, mostly – inevitable when you write the first draft by the Benny Hill method (brakes off at the top of the hill and go (bathtub optional)). I always have to take out multiple instances of “gaped”, “frowned” and “blinked” when I’m editing. Also I overuse . . . to represent disordered thoughts or disjointed speech. And in the first book I ever wrote I used the word “dread” about forty times without noticing. My first reader (and spouse) noticed and laughed his supportive head off. Now “creeping and/or nameless dread” is a family joke.

  22. “She armed away some sweat . . .” made me laugh out loud. But it got me thinking. How about these?

    “She legged away that embarrassing itch.”
    “She brained away that bad thought.”

    Which made me think of my personal choice in the verb-hate department: “forked.” For some reason, I don’t mind seeing someone spoon something into their mouths (though I notice it, which isn’t good), but forking something into one’s mouth seems really awkward (and a little unseemly).

  23. DE: Oh dear. Oh my. And thank you very much. I’m a beginner in this beautiful game, working on building my first novel, and I realize that I have done just that – the mirror description trick. With any luck I would have caught it in the rewrite, but without your guidance it’s by no means certain.

    On the general topic, language is definitely top priority. It defines the nature of the book. Will it be a hang-on-to-your-hat freight train ride, like William Gibson’s Neuromancer? Or a deep dive into setting and character that has you longing never to rise for another breath, like Louise Penny? It’s all in the language, the actual use and phrasing of the words.

    But how much control do we, as writers, have over this? Isn’t language a fundamental part of our voice, our style, our modus operandi? I recently read a noir thriller written by a kid’s book author, and it was exactly that – a kid’s author playing at writing noir. It didn’t ring.

    Thanks, DE. Thank you all. I’m watching closely for more gems. Now I really should get back to the work.

  24. I’d be interested to know what peope think of that modish syntactic tic of having a relative clause starting a new sentence or paragraph.

    Which is what this is.

    Lisa Scottoline, whom I greatly admire, does it a lot and I caught it from her, but I blow hot and cold about it. It’s a great way to punch up surprises but something about it bothers me.

  25. Me again – youngest kid in a big family; I can’t help it. Tony, I think you’re right – most writers have a distinctive default voice. Maybe we can all overcome our bad habits to be the best example of ourselves, but we can’t (shouldn’t?) change that which makes us- Jeez, I nearly turned into a fortune cookie there for a minute, but you know where I’m going.

    My earlier career was an academic linguist and one of the most fascinating areas to me was forensic linguistics – where an analyst could show who a document (e.g. a confession) was written by, no matter who has signed it. I think from time to time that this could feature in a crime story to interesting effect, but I don’t write the right kind of crime story.

  26. Catriona, I think the relative clause issue is dependent on the writer – and the reader’s acceptance of the writer’s style. I can forgive almost any rule-breaking if the author shows me that they are the master of the language rather than ignorant of the way they “ought to” write.

    That said, sometimes I go with it even if I don’t particularly think the writer understands the rules. Storytelling is what it’s all about, and a really good storyteller can drag me through some very questionable grammar. (But they have to be VERY good to do that, because it usually irritates the hell out of me.)

    Tony, you’re welcome, but you’ve upset my library since they won’t get your book now.

  27. I’m signing out now. It’s been a most enjoyable week communing with you all, but I have to say – daily thinking about linguistic foibles and bad habits while pounding out a first draft isn’t ideal. I’m re-entering my more usual fugue state (what we Scots call a dwam) now, until Christmas. After Christmas I’ll strap my critical faculties back on for the read-through and be ready to kill all mirror-description, extraneous metaphors, and a few shedloads of “blinked” and “frowned”. Happy writing, everyone.

    1. Hey, Catriona – LOVED your comments and insights in this discussion. Though I wasn’t able to participate as much as I would have liked (tight deadline), I loved reading what everyone had to say. And if your books are half as clever as you are, well – I just can’t wait to read them!

      Thanks again, and happy writing!

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