By Dawn Ius
Pet owners understand the power of unconditional love. That stampede of feet when you walk through the front door can make you feel like the most important person in the world, and nothing can comfort sadness faster than a tender feline kiss. Your pet can heal your heart just with its presence, but if your fur companion is under the weather, it can sometimes leave you feeling helpless.
For author J.G. Faherty the unfortunate stomach troubles of his chocolate lab and subsequent trip to the vet inspired THE CURE, a paranormal horror about Leah, a young veterinarian both blessed and cursed with the power to heal.
“I remember thinking about the famous novel by F. Paul Wilson, The Touch, where a man gets the power to heal. And I thought, wouldn’t it be great if a vet had that power? Animals would never have to suffer,” Faherty says. “And right away I knew I was on to something, but I didn’t want it to be just a rehash of the other book, so I took some time and came up with a bunch of twists and problems that were unique to Leah.”
Indeed, the dark side of her special ability is explored when a force of evil murders the man she loves, transforming the shy, dorky Leah into a demon of retribution. She resurrects her love and embarks on a mission for revenge, leaving readers to eventually question whether Leah has control over her power—or whether it controls her.
“For me, it was all about how a good person will sacrifice anything to help the person they love, and a better person will do it to help innocent animals,” Faherty says. “But there are other themes as well—such as no good deed goes unpunished, keeping secrets can be bad, power corrupts, and so on.”
By Jeremy Burns
From the novel that inspired recent Hollywood blockbuster Paranoia to the best-selling Nick Heller series, thriller legend Joseph Finder has been captivating readers for decades. But with his latest book, the author tells his most personal tale yet as a son’s quest to understand his incapacitated father leads him to a shocking discovery embroiled in political corruption and underworld conspiracies. Finder sat down with The Big Thrill to give readers a glimpse behind the curtain of his latest project, along with some fascinating information about the author himself.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am lucky enough to be able to make things up for a living. I’ve written thirteen books, twelve of them novels, and ten of them standalones. I studied Russian politics and history in college, then went to grad school in Russian studies and taught for a while before I wrote and then sold my first novel, The Moscow Club. Since then I’ve been a full-time novelist. I live in Boston with my wife, our daughter (well, sometimes—she’s in college) and our dog.
Tell us about your new book, THE FIXER.
THE FIXER is in many ways my most personal book. It’s a standalone story about fathers and sons, written in the wake of my own father’s death. It’s about a man’s discovery of the person his father really was, of the extraordinary things we find out about the people we thought we knew. The story starts with Rick Hoffman, a magazine journalist who finds himself out of a job and in desperate financial straits discovering, hidden in the walls of the old family house where he’s forced to live, millions of dollars. The only person who knows where all that money came from is his father, Lenny—a stroke victim in a nursing home unable to communicate. As Rick investigates, he finds he’s stumbled upon a conspiracy decades old and some very powerful people who don’t want the truth to come out.
By John Raab
It’s a busy time for author Paul Gitsham, who in addition to launching book three in his popular DCI Warren Series, has also released a short novella called BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER.
The Big Thrill caught up with Gitsham to talk about the long and short of writing, plus, the inside scoop on SILENT AS THE GRAVE, the third instalment of the series featuring DCI Warren Jones. In this book, things get personal for the gritty cop as he investigates the grisly murder of a former gardener. To find the killer, Jones must go up against criminal conspiracy, a ruthless gangster, and the haunting truth of his past.
You have two new books out—one is a short story called BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER. Is this a prequel to your full length novel, SILENT AS THE GRAVE?
BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER is a stand-alone DCI Warren Jones story, set between book two, No Smoke Without Fire, and book three, SILENT AS THE GRAVE. Like many writers, I have a file of story ideas that I’d like to share, some of which need a full novel to tell properly, and others, which are naturally shorter. BLOOD IS THICKER THAN WATER serves two purposes, really. First, it’s a little something for my readers to keep them happy until the next book is available. And second, it’s a way into the series for readers new to Warren Jones. I decided to include a short preview of SILENT AS THE GRAVE, both as a teaser for my fans, and as a taster of my writing for those deciding if they want to commit their time to an unknown character.
By Barry Lancet
Donna Galanti has led an interesting life to date, and an interesting life can lead to interesting stories. By the time she was nine, she’d lived in nine separate places. And she kept moving. She’s lived in England, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and once went to school in an English castle not unlike Hogwart’s, the fictional centerpiece of the Harry Potter series.
The first book to leave her breathless was C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. She went on to devour all his other books, along with those of Roald Dahl. She wrote her first play, a mystery, at the ripe old age of seven. Decades later she wrote a pair of paranormal suspense novels, A Human Element and A Hidden Element, two-thirds of her Element Trilogy.
And now, taking a breather from the adult world, Galanti has penned a Middle Grade (MG) novel, JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD, returning to the books of her youth.
Galanti took some time out to talk about her latest book with The Big Thrill.
In JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD, you’ve created another world that exists alongside ours. The story takes a dramatic turn when first Joshua’s friend Finn, then Joshua himself, are whisked away to this second world during an unusual lightning storm. Tell us about this place where kidnapped kids are kept in a pit until they are sold as slave labor and the guards carry “snake spears.”
The medieval world of Nostos (meaning “homecoming” in Greek) consists of twelve realms that steal mortal children from Earth via the Lightning Road and uses them for resources. Between the realms are lawless lands where outcasts roam, and if you’re a slave child lucky enough to escape your workhouse—and the clutches of the Child Collector—you’d better watch out for The Edge, where you could fall into the Great Beyond and never return.
Humans are thought of as uncivilized, ignorant beings, and therefore expendable. A myth exists of a way to change the hierarchy of power and end mortal slavery. Through the generations, some have tried and been cut down by those who want power for themselves—but someone may be coming, whose voice will not be silenced…
Mark Pryor shines a light on his newest novel in the Hugo Marston series.
Mark Pryor is currently an Assistant District Attorney with the Travis County DA’s office. He is also author of the popular crime fiction Hugo Marston series. He grew up in Hertfordshire, England, and currently lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three young children. Before taking pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), Mark worked at various jobs: ski instructor, personal trainer, and bra folder (I’m not making this up, I swear). But the job that largely formed his future as a writer was that of newspaper reporter in Colchester, Essex, where he covered the police and crime beat for nearly two years. In 1994, Mark moved to America, according to him, “mostly for the weather.”
Mark, thanks for taking a few moments of your time to share some thoughts and insight on your new book, your process and the life of an author. To get things started, could you tell us a few things about yourself—a little bit about your background, where you live, a day in the life of Mark Pryor.
Absolutely, and thanks for having me. Originally I’m from England, I lived there until I was twenty-five years old. My mum is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, so I took a trip there in 1992 just to visit family, travel around the country a little. But I fell in love with the place and never really left. I went back to school in Chapel Hill and ended up in law school at neighboring Duke. I met my wife there and she brought me to Texas, where she has family.
I’ve been in Austin for almost ten years, and I work here as a state prosecutor. Right now I’m in the juvenile division prosecuting kids, although, in truth, we try to fix their problems, not prosecute them.
By Ethan Cross
Hemophage (n.): One who subsists on blood; a vampire. Also, strigoi.
Made strigoi against their will, Robin Bradford and his lover Naomi Paris confront a series of threats from other vampires dedicated to destroying them both. Author Stephen M. DeBock’s narrative begins in 1600s England and carries forward to the present, weaving actual historical events into the chilling story of two star-crossed lovers.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with DeBock to talk about HEMOPHAGE, the thrilling conclusion to The Pentacle Pendant trilogy.
Tell us about HEMOPHAGE in one line.
Made vampires against their will, Robin and his lover Naomi must confront a host of enemies dedicated to destroying them.
What kind of research did you conduct for HEMOPHAGE?
The novel spans some four hundred years, with settings in 17th Century England, colonial America, the Pacific theater in WWII, Vietnam, inner city Newark, NJ, Washington, D.C., and environs. I did extensive research on the Internet, also in books relating to the eras and events described, and further used my own experiences when writing about some of the contemporary venues. As the third book in The Pentacle Pendant trilogy, it incorporates characters found in at least one of the first two books and necessitated the making of a gigantic spreadsheet incorporating names, dates, and events in the first two novels—and then slotting in the newest characters and their narratives to ensure the integrity of the entire scope of work.
Describe your typical writing day. How do you balance your writing with marketing, editing, plotting, and all other commitments?
I’m a retiree, so my writing day can begin at any time inspiration strikes. This is a blessing. At times, I’ll wake up and head straight to the computer and write for two to three hours; at others, I’ll detour on the way to bed and write for another hours-long stretch.
Charley Davidson has enough going on without having to worry about twelve hellhounds hot on her trail. She is, after all, incredibly pregnant and feeling like she could pop at any moment. But, just her luck, twelve deadly beasts from hell have chosen this time to escape onto our plane, and they’ve made Charley their target. And so she takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. Of course, if hellhounds aren’t enough, Charley also has a new case to hold her attention: the decades-old murder of a newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows of the convent.
Add to that the still unsolved murder of her father, the strange behavior of her husband, and Charley’s tendency to attract the, shall we say, undead, and she has her hands full…but also tied.
After the success of The Watchman, the first in the Marc Portman series, which zoomed to the top of the Amazon ebook list in the espionage category, and featured Portman fighting Somali pirates and terrorists, I had to choose somewhere equally challenging for him to go in the second book, CLOSE QUARTERS.
Sad to say, I wasn’t exactly short of options.
At the time of writing in 2013/14, Ukraine was heating up to be another long-term center of conflict, with pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukrainian government forces in the east of the country, and increasingly seen to be backed by active Russian forces (or “volunteers,” as they were described by Moscow).
Watching the flurry of diplomatic activity as politicians from various quarters tried to help, I was struck immediately by the possibility of one of these well-meaning advisers or monitors being taken captive and used as a bargaining tool between east and west. After all, it has happened before.
Very quickly the idea of a U.S. State Department official sent to check out the developing situation finding himself in custody and an unknown fate became the plot for a story, and Portman was on his next assignment.
By Dan Levy
You know the feeling. When you lose a credit card, or your driver’s license, or find a charge on your bank statement that you don’t recognize, you feel exposed and vulnerable. You find yourself wondering: How exposed am I? What damage has been already been done? What damage is yet to come?
Governments and militaries are no different. Yes, they take greater precautions to protect their cyber interests, but it’s because the world (in many cases) is at stake. Today, the Internet is the new battleground, cyberwarfare the new fight, and computer code the new weapon. The shift in conflict also inspired a series of CODE novels by author Thomas Waite. We caught up with Waite as his latest novel, TRIDENT CODE (the second in the series), is set to debut. Below is our email interview with Waite (edited for length).
Growing up in Ipswich, along with your educational background, certainly gave you a great foundation to pursue a writing career. It seems that you took a respite from writing for pursuits in technology. What brought you back to writing?
In college, I poured my heart and soul into my creative writing courses. After graduation, I needed a job and my career in the technology sector was not at all calculated. But writing was a constant, at first ghost writing for others, and later under my own byline. If you read much of what I published in the Harvard Business Review, it is really storytelling. That can be as powerful in the business world as it is in literature. After building and selling a firm, I returned to my first love and started writing novels. And I love it!
What is it about computer code that is thrilling to you and makes it central to your novels?
With the advent of the Internet and much more sophisticated technologies, I recognized that cyberspace would become the next domain of terrorism and criminals with codes could wreak serious harm.
By Derek Gunn
Port St. Lucie— situated in St. Lucie County, Florida—sports beautiful weather, parkland, a PGA Tour golf club and…a Devil Tree. You won’t find that part in Wikipedia but back in 1977, bones were found buried under the tree, and ropes still tied to the tree itself. The deaths are attributed to The Killer Deputy, so named because th accused was an officer of the law. While the story itself is not fully substantiated, there is enough detail to allow a legend to have grown around this tree, and the killing, raping and torture of many young women.
But that’s not all. Added to this is the story that, when the surrounding area was designated for Parkland and the tree ordered to be cut down, strange things began to happen. Chainsaws refused to start, so the crew brought new chainsaws, and these also wouldn’t work. They tried logger saws, but the teeth sheared off or broke. They also tried an axe, but it bounced off and killed the person swinging the axe. Since then, there have been haunting sightings and the tree has gone down in American folklore. Legends are born from far less, and yet this isn’t a well-known story—until now.
Okay, enough of the history lesson. Interesting and worrying as the above is, it’s a child’s story compared to what Keith Rommel proposes in his new novel, THE DEVIL TREE. Rommel will be known to a number of you as the author of The Cursed Man novel and film, a strange and well-written investigation into madness, death, and their association with an insane killer. In THE DEVIL TREE, Rommel lays out his own interpretation of the legend and true history. After reading it, I can say I won’t be going on any picnics in Florida, especially near any trees, for quite some time.
The novel is short, more a long novella, however your nerves will be thankful for this as the writing begins at a snappy pace and ramps up from there. The story starts in the past with a horrifying tragedy, and then comes to the present, with a lone fisherman making a horrific discovery under the canopy of the tree. From there, the investigation continues in the present, peppered with returns to the past to flesh out the history.
By Jeff Ayers
NIGHT TREMORS is Matt Coyle’s second novel in the Rick Cahill series. His first novel in the series, YESTERDAY’S ECHO, took home the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, San Diego Book Award for Best Published Mystery, and the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Silver Award.
The follow-up promises as much if not more: Nightmares of the man he killed two years ago still chase Rick Cahill through his sleep. Memories of his murdered wife haunt him during waking hours. When an old nemesis asks for his help to free a man from prison wrongly convicted of murder, Rick grabs at the chance to turn his life around. His quest fractures his friendship with his mentor, endangers his steady job, and draws the ire of the Police Chief who had tried to put Rick behind bars forever. With the police on one side of the law and a vicious biker gang on the other—all trying to stop him from freeing the man in prison—Rick risks his life to uncover the truth that only the real killer knows. What really happened one bloody night eight years earlier?
Coyle took a few minutes out to chat with The Big Thrill.
Who is Rick Cahill?
Rick is a disgraced ex-cop who many years after his wife’s murder is still the main suspect. At the beginning of NIGHT TREMORS he’s working the adultery detail, taking photos of people doing what they shouldn’t, for a successful La Jolla private investigative agency. He’s made decisions and taken actions in his life that have had horrible consequences. Yet, he still lives by the code handed down to him by his late father: Sometimes you have to do what’s right even when the law says it’s wrong.
By Dawn Ius
In a small Midwestern town, on a cold March day, a man plunges to his death off a high, rocky cliff, setting in motion a string of events that will rip open the long-hidden secrets of the town’s most prominent family—secrets that haunt amateur sleuth Thea Browne and will change her entire worldview.
WHAT HAS MOTHER DONE is the first in a new mystery series by bestselling author Barbara Petty, and perhaps, the most challenging story for this veteran of three previous standalone thrillers.
“I have wanted to write a mystery series for a long time,” she says. “But I knew I would have to create a protagonist that I could live with. Not an easy challenge.”
Petty knew she wanted a female lead with a compelling career, but was quick to dismiss “professional detective” for something more familiar. Leaning on her background in the newspaper industry, Petty made Thea an investigative journalist, naturally transitioning her into a somewhat reluctant amateur sleuth after her mother is accused of a murder she didn’t commit.
“My protagonist’s reporter’s scepticism and loyalty to her family propel her to carry out the investigation the local police have dropped,” she says.
Petty describes Thea as a kaleidoscope, encompassing aspects of friends, family, and even Petty herself. “She starts as an unwilling champion for her mother, but ends up as her fiercest warrior,” she adds.
From the successful French series La Femme Sans Peur, author J. P. Touzeau has translated the initial volume of WOMAN WITHOUT FEAR—and finally introduced his popular protagonist, Trinity Silverman to the English-reading world.
Outwardly successful and beautiful, Trinity has been crippled throughout her life by continual worry. When she accepts an offer to tackle her enduring anxiety with a “magic pill,” the resulting boost in self-confidence does exactly what she was promised, eradicating all her fears and doubts, at least until the pill’s effects wear off. Feeling like she can take on the world, Trinity gets more than she bargained for when the threatening real-world side effects are more than she anticipated.
“It was very well received,” Touzeau says in reference to the original two French volumes of the series, noting that “Volumes one and two hit number one and number two during the summer 2013 in the general Amazon Top One Hundred.” To date, La Femme Sans Peur “has sold fifty thousand copies and touched the hearts of many readers.”
WOMAN WITHOUT FEAR was written after Touzeau watched a close female friend struggle with anxiety and endless fears. Trinity’s story was a means to help change his friend’s perspective, to show that these overwhelming emotions could be tackled. “It ended up touching many more people than I thought,” Touzeau says.
For our international readers, in a rare departure from our usual format, we shine a spotlight on this Austrian-based writer. A companion piece on German author Kathrin Lange can also be found in this issue. —The Editors
BLUNZENGRÖSTL is a traditional Austrian meal consisting of fried potatoes and black pudding—not for the faint of heart. It’s also the title of the first book in a thrilling new mystery series by Ines Eberl.
The hero is a food journalist on the hunt for regional recipes—but as he makes his way across the world, he encounters much more than an enhanced palate: danger, mystery, and even murder.
“The knife on the cover is an allusion to the murder, but also the tool of chefs,” Eberl says, noting that for this first book in the Murder a la Carte series she worked with the Red Bull Media House to be able to include recipes throughout the story.
For the sequel, Eberl will be working with a famous German chef, who she teases may play a nefarious role in the underlying mystery.
Unfortunately, English readers may have to wait a while to dip into this literary buffet. Eberl and her publisher are currently working on the translation of her first crime novel set in Salzburg, and continue to look for an American publisher. If genetics play a part, Eberl’s chances are pretty good.
Many of us who love reading thrillers started reading them in our teen years if not sooner. Jeffrey Westhoff was one of those readers and with the publication of THE BOY WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, has written a book he would have wanted to read back then.
So what started a newspaper feature writer on the path to write a young adult novel? It began with a misheard question.
While working on an article about young adult spy novels (Alex Rider, Young James Bond, and several others), Westhoff attended a book signing by an author friend, Laura Caldwell. “Looking for sources, I asked Laura if she knew anyone writing a young adult spy novel. She misheard my question and responded with enthusiasm, ‘You’re writing a young adult spy novel?’ I said no I wasn’t, and she said, ‘You should!’ Then I said, ‘You’re right, I should!’”
Westhoff acted on the idea right away. As he was driving home he remembered the man he saw in Lucerne while on a trip to Europe as a teenager. He was absolutely certain the man was a spy. Westhoff posed a question to himself: “What if I came across that man dying in an alley five minutes later, mortally wounded by an enemy agent?” The book spun off from that question.
In brief, while on a school trip to Europe, Milwaukee teenager Brian Parker hopes for a taste of the glamor and excitement of his favorite spy novels. What he didn’t realize was that he would get more then he bargained for. Stumbling across a dying spy catapults Brian into a desperate chase across the continent. He faces a deadly path but reading all those spy novels has taught him a few tricks; and it just might save his life.
For our international readers, in a rare departure from our usual format, we shine a spotlight on this well-known German author. A companion piece on Austrian-based author Ines Eberl can also be found in this issue. —The Editors
By Dawn Ius
In the first volume of Kathrin Lange’s popular Faris Iskander series, her protagonist suffers from intense self-hate. After losing almost seventy people in a hostage situation gone very bad, Iskander is crippled by guilt, despite his partner reminding him he wasn’t the one to pull the trigger—the kidnapper was. Still, Iskander lives with the underlying fear that one of his enemies will return.
Of course, this is exactly what happens in GOTTESLUGE.
Iskander is called in to a kidnapping taking place in one of Berlin’s most popular churches. Before a young muslim boy known to Iskander blows himself up with a suicide bomb, he relays two chilling messages: They lie when they say God is great. And, Next time you will be pulling the trigger.
The events propel Iskander into a deep darkness—which for a character that is already badly wounded, makes for a thrilling and emotional ride.
“Faris is Muslim and he is a German special unit police officer,” Lange says. “I always smile when readers tell me something like this: ‘At first I thought I could not love him because he is Muslim, but then I realized that he is absolutely, normally German.’ That is what I wanted him to be!”
Not to mention sexy—an important trait for Lange who admits she likes to include at least one love story in each of her books.
Vaughn C. Hardacker is a writer of five novels and numerous short stories. Sniper, his first novel, was selected as a finalist in the Crime Fiction category of the 2015 Maine Literary Awards.
In THE FISHERMAN, homicide detective Mike Houston returns for a second outing. When an elderly couple recruits his partner, Anne Bouchard, to help locate their missing granddaughter, the two take up the hunt. Where they expect to learn that the girl has gone off on a romantic interlude, they soon discover that there is much more than meets the eye. Not only is the granddaughter missing, but dozens of women have disappeared before her—and each disappearance is somehow linked to someone called The Fisherman. The case will lead Houston and Bouchard from the streets of Boston to the wilderness of the north Maine woods.
Where did you get the idea for THE FISHERMAN?
The idea came from my late wife Connie. She had accompanied me to Vancouver and fell in love with the city. She came across the case upon which the book is loosely (very loosely) based.
Some of the reviews suggest that this book is not for the faint-of-heart, that it’s a violent book. Is it?
My protagonists are former police officers who have dealt with violence for most of their adult lives, and another of my major characters, Jimmy O’Leary, is a gangster. These are all people who live with violence. The challenge was to make their world as realistic as possible without including a lot of gratuitous violence. So, the short answer is yes, there is violence. Which I tried to offset with a more human side of each of the major characters. Heck, even my antagonist has some, no matter how minor, redeeming features.
Before Jeffery Deaver became one of the most successful writers in the country, he was a journalist, a lawyer—and even a folk singer. But from the time he was in grade school, he knew that he wanted to write fiction. And not just any fiction—commercial, popular fiction. Books that kept readers up all night.
So, some thirty-five years ago, he decided it was time to give it a try. Deaver is the first to admit that his early novels didn’t sell as hoped. But he didn’t give up; he learned from his early work, honed his craft, and worked hard to become a master storyteller.
In the mid-1990s, Deaver released The Bone Collector, which featured quadriplegic protagonist, Lincoln Rhyme. The book has been named one of the best thrillers of all time, and went on to become a feature film starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.
As for Deaver, today he’s an A-list bestselling author with more than thirty novels to his name, and more literary nominations and awards than you can count.
While many writers might rest on their Lincoln-Rhyme-laurels, Deaver has a broad and impressive body of work. He writes stand alones, short stories, and even penned a James Bond novel, an honor given his love of the iconic character. What’s more, Deaver is an innovator. In The October List, he told a thrilling story—in reverse. In XO, he wrote songs for an album that accompanies the book. And in The Starling Project, he wrote an original audio play. Perhaps publishers should call him Midas—everything he touches seems to turn to gold.
This month, Deaver releases the highly-anticipated SOLITUDE CREEK, the fourth in his acclaimed Kathryn Dance series. The author recently answered some questions for The Big Thrill:
SOLITUDE CREEK is the fourth in the Kathryn Dance series, following the amazing, XO. What’s in store for Dance this time around?
Oh, mayhem, chaos, and terror, of course! In this novel, Kathryn gets busted down to “buck private” for making a serious mistake during an interrogation; she’s relegated to civil work for the CBI, like checking health certificates and bottle deposit receipts. But you can’t keep a strong woman down and she secretly runs an investigation on a villain obsessed with turning people’s panic into a weapon.
My debut thriller will launch in a few days. The galleys are out, the blog tour has commenced, events have been scheduled. I am, at the same time, excited and nervous.
Once a new writer manages to conquer the seemingly insurmountable hurdles of landing an agent and a publishing deal, a whole new set of challenges awaits. You only have to look at the statistics to know that the chances for a new writer being discovered and launching a successful debut novel are daunting. I won’t recite those statistics here, just to say that, to beat those odds, more pressure than ever is on the writer’s shoulders to promote themselves and their work—to stand out in the ever-increasing demand for a reader’s attention, build a readership, and create momentum for future books.
Word of mouth is still the best way for a writer and his or her book to be discovered, and that requires spreading the word as far and wide as possible. The dichotomy is that all of the promotion in the world will not guarantee a book’s success—success depends on the intangible: how does your book resonate with readers?
Yet, without promotion the book may never get into the hands of readers.
On a panel recently, I was asked what has surprised me as a newly-published author. The answer was an easy one. For all the fierce competition out there, authors are great supporters of new writers and their work. As authors rise in their careers, they reach back to offer a helping hand, and I wager many new writers would face an even greater struggle to establish their careers without that support.
ITW and the authors who created it are a perfect example. Part of the organization’s mission statement is to provide a powerful support network for all authors. This is especially true for debuts and those “next steppers” who face similar challenges with book two, three, and beyond.
OLD EARTH is a geological thriller that spans all of time—cutting backward and forward along the space-time continuum as the suspense builds and the mystery unfolds. It begins with an exploration by Galileo in 1601, jumps to a contemporary dinosaur dig in Montana, crosses back centuries to the Inquisition, and ultimately considers the very origins of civilization.
Through the investigation of paleontologists Quinn McCauley and Katrina Alpert, readers are taken on a globe-hopping adventure. Yet, just as the characters stumbled upon their find, Galileo provided me with quite an accidental discovery that became central to the plot development and excitement of OLD EARTH.
I originally outlined a purely present-day story: an excavation leads to a mysterious find, the find sets up an international search, the search reveals an amazing truth.
When I sat down with my initial outline to begin writing, I quickly realized I was missing something important. I needed a powerful inciting incident.
As a journalist and history buff, I looked for something profound, believable, and grounded in truth. As a researcher, I hoped I could dig up something tangible and exciting.
Digging deeper for a story is the part I love.
Open one door, it leads to another. Go down a path, there’s a fork with more possibilities. Come up with a strong notion, then more intriguing intersects reveal themselves, leading to more doors, more paths, and more forks, with decisions to make at each.
For me, the first “door to the past” led to Galileo’s early life—before the telescope. I wondered whether he, like Quinn McCauley in my contemporary story, had ever explored a cave. To my wonderful surprise, he not only had, but I learned something I had never known. In 1593, Galileo invented a rudimentary device to determine temperatures. Yes, Galileo invented the thermometer, or more accurately the thermoscope!
By J. F. Penn
(NOTE: This interview with Tom Harper can be watched on YouTube here.)
Tom Harper is the international bestselling author of eleven historical thrillers, including his latest, ZODIAC STATION. He recently took some time off to talk to The Big Thrill.
Tell us a bit more about you and how you started your writing career.
It’s something I’d always wanted to do. I remember being eight years old and telling my teacher that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. By the time I finished university, I hadn’t shaken that idea and I knew it’s what I wanted to do. I also knew that it was incredibly unlikely.
So I went to work for an actuarial consultancy for a while, which was a really boring job, but at an interesting company. Then, I decided to have a crack at writing seriously. I saw an advert for a crime writing competition, the Debut Dagger Competition, run by the Crime Writers’ Association in the UK. It was one of those moments that changed my life.
It was just an advert in the Sunday Times one weekend. If I hadn’t bought the paper or if I’d not read that section, or it had gone into the recycling bin, I shudder to think how my life would be different. They wanted a first chapter and synopsis of a crime novel, and the deadline was several weeks away. I sent mine off to the competition, trying to think no more of it, but it turned out that I was a runner-up, which was amazing. Editors and agents, who were originally judges in the contest, started contacting me.
I took a sabbatical from work and blasted out that book as fast as I possibly could, signing with an agent who had judged the competition. She was able to sell the book very quickly once I’d actually finished it. So it was all very fast and it’s one of the real good luck stories in publishing.
Penny Lorimer was born in England, but has lived in South Africa from the age of six months. She grew up in Johannesburg, studied drama at the University of Cape Town, and was an actress for five years, supplementing her inconsistent income by waitressing and working for the Johannesburg Public Library.
After leaving the acting profession, she held a variety of positions, including union administrator, radio newsreader, dialogue coach for television, film editor’s assistant, and PA to an archbishop. She now works in the education sector for a national group of independent high schools serving economically marginalized communities. FINDERS WEEPERS, her debut mystery, was published in South Africa in May last year. It’s a powerful and moving story, and exposes the current South African education crisis along the way.
FINDERS WEEPERS takes place in a fictional rural school in the Eastern Cape. Girdwood, once a highly regarded private school that educated some of South Africa’s future leaders during the Apartheid era, has now fallen into disarray and is as bad as any rural high school in the country. Boniswa Sekeyi, a committed teacher educated here and in the United States, takes on the job of principal and is determined to restore the school’s previous high standards.
I asked Penny how she’d come to write FINDERS WEEPERS.
Would you tell us something about yourself and your writing?
I have always been a voracious reader—I cannot go a day without reading and would rather forget my toothbrush than my book when going on holiday. (I’ve done so in the past, in fact.) I think when you love reading, and read a lot, it’s inevitable that you begin to wonder whether you could do what these writers—who give you so much pleasure—are doing. So I’ve also been interested in writing almost as long as I can remember. I’d written bits and pieces at various stages of my life, but never anything lengthy or significant. I came second in a Fair Lady short story competition in the late 1980s, and my work always involved writing—speeches, website content, reports, and many, many letters. As my children got older I began to feel a need for another kind of creative expression and began to consider writing a novel, without really knowing how I would find the time.
I loved reading books about writing, and, in an essay, Maeve Binchy wrote that if you wanted to write you had to give something up. It could be exercise, playing poker, watching television, or time with friends and/or family. I didn’t play poker and the only thing I was willing and able to give up was sleep. At around the same time I got the beginnings of the idea for FINDERS WEEPERS and felt pretty passionate about it. So I started waking up at five a.m. every morning and writing for an hour before getting the kids and myself ready for school and work. On weekends I would work for a bit longer and in this way managed to complete the book in about three years. It was very long at first so there was still a lot of re-writing and editing to do before it got whittled down to its final form. Thank the universe for all the people that insisted on the shortening and showed me how to do it!
Reviewers have called Orest Stelmach’s writing “brilliant, nuanced and deeply moving,” which is high praise for any author, but especially for one whose first language was not English. Born in Connecticut to parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine, his Nadia Tesla thriller series is deeply influenced by his Ukrainian heritage and the catastrophic consequences of the accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The series takes the reader from New York to Ukraine, Siberia, Alaska, and Japan. His upcoming release, THE ALTAR GIRL, brings this chilling series to its end.
Stelmach’s way with words is apparent before you even crack one of his books, however. Visit his website to read essays that are witty, inspiring, and emotive. You’ll find in these short writings, the hand of a master storyteller.
Orest sat down with The Big Thrill for this interview.
THE ALTAR GIRL is a prequel to the popular Nadia Tesla series. In what ways is Nadia different now than she would have been had the prequel been written first?
In fact, the prequel was written first. After the subsequent three books were published, I went back and rewrote the prequel years after I first imagined it. I ended up changing eighty to ninety percent of the book. As a result of writing the later books first, Nadia did change, just as you suggest. First, she became more mature for her age, with a voice that reflected her childhood hardships. And second, she became a woman with shame, the kind that defines humanity. In Nadia’s case, her shame is at the core of the plot and themes of THE ALTAR GIRL.
By E. A. Aymar
Suzanne Johnson enjoys keeping a foot in two worlds.
Her Sentinels series takes place both in contemporary New Orleans and an intricately developed paranormal universe that lies just beyond the city. Her characters battle both supernatural and human conflicts, but Johnson is too skilled a writer to let the physical fights overshadow the emotions that led to them. And although her books employ a number of fantasy conventions, Johnson uses actual historic incidents and figures (such as Hurricane Katrina, and the French pirate Jean Lafitte) in her work.
Additionally, she co-writes the Collectors’ series under the pseudonym Susannah Sandlin. Despite her busy schedule, Johnson took the time to discuss her writing and her latest book in the Sentinels series, PIRATE’S ALLEY.
What’s been your biggest challenge with maintaining the Sentinels series?
Building and sustaining a large multiverse—lots of species, each with different types of magic or powers—without drowning the reader in too many characters or complexity. I’ve introduced the major political players slowly, with the wizards and historical undead in the first book, Royal Street, then shifters and the water species in River Road, the elves and vampires in Elysian Fields, and now the fae in PIRATE’S ALLEY. As the series marches toward an interspecies war unless heroine DJ finds a way to prevent it, I hope introducing the species slowly in this way will help readers keep them straight!
A spy flits from shadow to shadow across Oxford-town, pausing at last to study the doorway of the main library, wherein a secret that could threaten all of England may be found. There are two guards there, guns at the ready, and the spy knows that a single misstep could prompt them to open fire and spill his blood onto the cobblestone streets.
In the plus column: The spy is invisible.
In the minus column: The guards are zombies.
Had you there for a minute, I bet. The passage above is a quick-and-dirty summary of a scene in my latest book, THE VENUSIAN GAMBIT. That first paragraph could describe any number of thrillers—the last two lines winnow the matter down considerably.
Let’s go a bit further. What if I told you the guards’ guns were muskets? That the zombies were part of Napoleon’s army in 1809, an army that had successfully invaded England? And that the secret was something guarded by diminutive lizard-men living on Venus? Now we’re talking historical fantasy and space opera. But we’re also still talking about a thriller.
There can be a certain “get your chocolate out of my peanut butter!” mentality when it comes to crossing genres, but that’s never stopped me. Some of the best thrillers I’ve ever read are outright science fiction—particularly the ones dealing with nanoviruses or high-tech perils. More plausible than Napoleon’s zombies? Sure. But not happening in the present day. They’re speculative—and speculation is at the heart of science fiction and fantasy.
Inspiration can come at a writer from any direction, but for Rachel Howzell Hall the stories that resonate most deeply are drawn from her own life and the lives of people close to her. SKIES OF ASH, her second thriller featuring Los Angeles Detective Elouise “Lou” Norton, reflects some of the turmoil she witnessed in her friends’ lives over the past few years.
In a recent interview, Rachel said, “I remember having the realization about five years ago that my friends, and friends of friends, were starting to divide into two groups—still married (like me) or now divorcing. Everyone had hit those hard patches in life, late thirties, early forties, kids, private school bills, taxes owed, jobs, lay-offs, failing health, deaths.” At the same time, she noticed a stream of news stories about domestic violence. “Husbands killing their wives, moms killing their kids, and on and on. Everyone was pissed off and frustrated and broke and suicidal. And then, our economy tanked and all these smart bankers were outed as crooks.”
Rachel blended those elements into an intense tale that begins with Lou Norton responding to the scene of a house fire in which a woman named Juliet Chatman has perished with her two children. The grieving husband and father, Christopher Chatman, is hospitalized after supposedly trying to rescue his family. Neighbors and friends call the Chatmans a perfect family living a dream life. Lou doesn’t take long to uncover the sordid truth about Juliet and Christopher’s marriage and to suspect that one of their perfect children set the fatal fire. Lesson: People are never what they seem to be.
By Ian Walkley
J. L. Abramo was born in Brooklyn on Raymond Chandler’s fifty-ninth birthday. Abramo earned a BA in Sociology at the City College of New York and a master’s degree in social psychology at the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of Catching Water in a Net (2001), winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America prize for Best First Private Eye Novel; and the subsequent Jake Diamond mysteries Clutching at Straws and Counting to Infinity.
In CIRCLING THE RUNWAY, an Assistant District Attorney is murdered in his high-rise apartment building and Detective Sergeant Roxton (Rocky) Johnson suspects his lieutenant may have something to do with it. He can think of no one to turn to for help—no one he can trust—except Jake Diamond. If the mismatched duo can avoid stepping on each other’s toes long enough, they may be able to stop circling the runway and land on the villain’s doorstep.
Jake Diamond is back after a ten-year hiatus and his reappearance was well worth the wait. Why the wait, and why bring him back?
Before Jake Diamond popped up, I had been working on a novel set in Brooklyn. The attempt at writing a mystery novel was instigated by something I had stumbled across on the Internet, a contest sponsored by St. Martin’s Press and the Private Eye Writers of America appropriately called the Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. I set the novel in San Francisco and Los Angeles, inspired by those atmospheric locations so well employed by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Catching Water in a Net won the contest and was published by St. Martin’s.
By J. H. Bográn
In a world where private detectives risk their lives for what amounts to small change, it’s obvious they do it for more than the money. Liz Talbot is one such detective. However, she’s found a rather unusual partner in crime from the ethereal world—her long-dead friend Coleen keeps guard over her and her family. Just don’t go calling her a ghost, for she has a whole different name for her condition. Susan Boyer’s latest book, LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD is the third installment in the popular Liz Talbot series.
Boyer graciously took time out of her schedule to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill.
What is LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD about?
When a father hires PI Liz Talbot to find his heiress daughter, Liz suspects the most difficult part will be convincing the overbearing patriarch she left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes. But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Kent and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk. Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.
Inspired by an event from her childhood, author SJI Holliday’s thrilling debut BLACK WOOD, hits the streets this month with a splash.
Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralyzed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story.
Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. At the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on an abandoned railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun.
But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. Can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?
Holliday is eager for you to find out!
Holliday grew up in East Lothian, Scotland. She works as a Pharmaceutical Statistician, and as a life-long bookworm has always dreamt of becoming a novelist. She has several crime and horror short stories published in anthologies and was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham Prize.
After travelling the world, she has now settled in London with her husband. She took some time to chat to The Big Thrill about her debut, the event that inspired this story, and a personal fact that may surprise you.
By John Darrin
Talking about bodice-ripper novels with a voluptuous women’s body from the neck down on the cover, Karen says, without guile: “The only time I’d want a headless character on a book cover is if the neck was gushing blood, her head having been chopped off in the story.”
Thus we begin my article on Karen Maitland and her latest medieval thriller, THE RAVEN’S HEAD.
What? Gushing blood? From this historian and member of a popular comedic speaker’s troupe?
When asked about this seeming contradiction, she says, “We go for ‘gallows humor.’ Years ago, when I worked in a hospital, I often had to go down to the morgue. The mortuary technicians were the funniest guys I’ve ever met before or since.” Maybe she should recruit some for a stand-up tour. They could call themselves “The Body Snickers” or “Embalmapalozza.”
To say I was taken aback would be an understatement. My research into this very knowledgeable and intelligent historian had led me to make a note that said, “She has a depth and intellect that seems to repel humor and sarcasm.”
Gerry Porter provides magical experiences for his granddaughter Maddie when a SuperKrafts manager takes them to New York City for a huge crafts fair.
Gerry and his granddaughter get to work on both making miniatures and solving crimes, the detecting duo’s favorite pastimes. All this, plus Rockefeller Center and Radio City, too.
But a crafty murderer wants to make sure they don’t make it safely home again to California.
What draws you to the mystery genre?
The darkness. Even the coziest mystery has an element of the darker side of life. I write light, but I read dark. I can’t stay in the light too long.
Your book cover has a snow globe on it, which attracted me right away as I collect snow globes. Tell us the significance of the snow globe with relation to the plot and/or characters.
I love snow globes, also. Maddie, Gerry Porter’s eleven-year-old granddaughter, is obsessed with souvenirs of New York City. She’s given this special one by an NYPD detective.
You might recognize J. Sydney Jones as the author of the Viennese Mystery series. Or you might know him from his nonfiction. Whether you are familiar with Jones or not, you’ll want to check out his latest stand-alone novel, BASIC LAW.
According to Jones, “ex-pat American journalist Sam Kramer is burned out: too many dead bodies, too many wars covered, too little meaning in it all. He’s got a dead-end job at the Daily European as the correspondent in Vienna, where nothing happens now that the Cold War is over. And that’s exactly how Kramer likes it.
“But his private neutral zone is shattered with news of the suicide of Reni Müller, a German left-wing firebrand and Kramer’s long-estranged ex-girlfriend. To his surprise, Kramer suddenly finds himself the executor of Reni’s literary estate—but the damning memoir named in her will is nowhere to be found. Tracking down the manuscript will lead Kramer to the unsettling truth of Reni’s death, drawing him back into the days of the Cold War and showing him the dark side of the woman he loved.”
Jones reports that the idea for BASIC LAW is based on a personal real-life experience. As he tells it on his blog, Vienna in the late 1960s and early 1970s was a haven for spies. Not only were there the expected factions representing both East and West, Austria had a rather large intelligence service of its own. “It’s also vital to note Vienna had a lenient twenty-year statute of limitations against Nazi war criminals. Thus, as with one’s friends and spying, you never knew if your cheery landlord was a former SS or not.”
One day while writing at a “dive of a café,” he realized he wasn’t in Kansas anymore when a drunken man approached him, asking what he was writing. When told a short story about Vienna, the man sat himself down, bared his arm and whispered he had stories. It didn’t take Jones very long to realize the man was former SS.
ROSES ARE DEAD, MY LOVE is the second book featuring the ever-curious and entertaining sisters, Rose and Daisy Forrest. These cozy mysteries offer a host of plot twists, intrigue, and enjoyable characters, notable among this last group being the sisters’ feisty, quirky, yet insightful mother, Angela Forrest.
In this second instalment of the series, Daisy and Rose have enjoyed a quiet six months until strange things begin happening in Old Towne once again. With a local jogger engaged in obscene indiscretions, mysterious mail mishaps, and a host of other misfortunes, ROSES ARE DEAD, MY LOVE promises to lead the reader on another “Nancy Drew”–type investigation.
“The ladies do have quite a bit of fun breaking and entering, or ‘opening and entering’ as they see it,” says Penny Clover Petersen. “And Angela’s prowess with her new Super-Shooter is rather entertaining.”
Not to mention “the secret Rose’s new boyfriend, Peter Fleming, is hiding,” adds Petersen. “He appears to be a nice, regular sort of man, if a little pretentious, but not all is at it seems.”
Sounds like the start of an excellent adventure, worthy of a cozy chair and a good cocktail, right? Check out Petersen’s website for Forrest-approved recipes. The sisters appear to have a “drink” for everything.
An avid reader and lover of well-written, engaging books, Petersen admits that a run of “bad” books was the primary motivator for her putting pen to paper. “At one point about seven years ago, I had been reading a string of really awful books and complaining loudly that ‘I could write better than this.’ My husband suggested that instead of whining, I should just write one.”
What links a terror attack on Washington, D.C., missing girls, coded price lists, and a rogue Interpol operator? It’s up to FBI Special Agent Ellie Conway to figure that out in Cat Connor’s new novel ERASERBYTE, seventh in the “Byte” series. That’s if she can survive helicopter crashes and other threats.
It’s a tale that sets the U.S. capital on fire with a series of explosions, and Ellie has to reach out to controversial connections to try and stop further terrorist attacks and horrifying deaths.
It’s a great, page-turning challenge for the agent from the FBI’s Delta A, who has already won over fans in previous adventures and should earn new ones in this outing.
Connor, who is from Cantabria, New Zealand, saw databyte, Number 6 in the Ellie Conway series, long listed for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh best crime novel award. Amid that and other excitement including a fortnightly writing workshop, Connor is busy with the launch of ERASERBYTE and other travels. Happily she had time for a few questions with The Big Thrill.
By Dawn Ius
Few eras inspire more passion—and controversy—than the Tudor Dynasty, a period of tumultuous change in England, and of course remembered for many of King Henry VIII’s exploits. Between denouncing his religion to marry Anne Boleyn and then beheading her, to his most well-known legacy of being somewhat of a (ruthless) womanizer, it’s no wonder the Tudors have front lined hundreds of books, TV shows and movies, and even today continue to feed the pop culture machine.
As an author entering the well-documented Tudor era, it might be easy to get lost in the milieu—but Nancy Bilyeau, author of the award-winning Joanna Stafford series, has carved out her own niche by writing thrilling plots set within the “real” time, while focusing not only on the more recognizable characters of the past, but also on some of the lesser knowns—like Sir Walter Hungerford, for instance, who was executed alongside Thomas Cromwell and, according to Bilyeau, may—or may not—have been a debauched madman.
“Almost everyone writes fiction in the Tudor era from the Protestant side of the Reformation,” she says. “I don’t. I have given a great deal of thought to how it felt to survive the Dissolution of the Monasteries when you were a committed Catholic. As a daughter of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, I know what it’s like to be divided—I am drawn to stories of religious strife. An English friend of mine said, ‘This is so interesting, to hear about history from the losers.’”
Bilyeau’s fascination with these historical characters stems from a deep-rooted love of English history. While her library is well-packed with non-fiction texts, this is only the beginning of her extensive fact-finding mission for each book. As a trained Journalist, whose editorial credentials include Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly, Bilyeau understands the value—and importance—of a well-researched novel. Particularly in the case of her Tudor-inspired thrillers.
But this is not a book set in a typically bleak cyberpunk dystopia. The setting may be financially ruthless but also affords its paying inhabitants sparkling entertainment, vast networks, and instantaneity. It could easily be imagined as an exaggerated view of today’s modern society, particularly in regard to an unhealthy obsession with money. CASH CRASH JUBILEE will certainly make you think about where we might be headed.
However, amidst all this cash and cyber-technology we still find vital sparks of humanity. This comes to light in the form of a moral dilemma faced by protagonist Amon, whose job it is to delete the online presence of those with no more credit. He is suddenly faced with the unpalatable task of doing the very same to someone he greatly admires, which results in him questioning the status quo, asking things that should never be asked, and taking him to places shrouded in digital darkness.
It is interesting how the novel occasionally employs phonetic spellings for some of its dialogue, such as in the apologetic “Aim sohry”. This reflects the setting where people resort to alternative versions of words to avoid the costs associated with official spellings. Initially, this took a little getting used to, but it successfully adds flavor to the world being described.
I had a chance to probe the mind of the author, Eli K.P. William. The following data was returned…
By David Healey
Long before there was the Walther PPK or the Glock—long, long before—there was the handgonne. In an age of swords, knights in armor, and pikes, the arrival of firearms was both world-changing and sinister.
Though primitive by today’s firearms standards—handgonnes resembled metal pipes attached to broom handles—and so unwieldy that two men were required to fire them; they were deadly nonetheless.
When several bodies are discovered in London with strange new gunshot wounds in the year 1386, it falls to “middling poet” and purveyor of secrets John Gower to investigate the case. What are these strange new weapons, who is wielding them, and what secrets are at stake?
This is the premise of Bruce Holsinger’s intriguing new historical novel, THE INVENTION OF FIRE, recently selected as an Amazon Best Book of the Month. The novel follows on the heels of 2014’s A Burnable Book, in which readers first met the main character.
Though fictionalized, Gower is based on a real person, a fourteenth-century man of law and letters who was a close friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. Much more is known about the author of The Canterbury Tales, of course; and Chaucer figures prominently in both books. To put these novels in historical context, it may help to know that they are set during the reign of Richard II, near the onset of the Hundred Years War.
By Stacy Mantle
Sexy shifters, savage villains, and exotic locales merge flawlessly in the action-packed suspense writing of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Paige Tyler. Her most recent release, HER WILD HERO, is the third book in the X-OPS Series, and it’s hit the stands with critical praise.
Her unique hybrid of genres combines the thrill of the chase with military-style action while incorporating enough sex to satisfy all readers. This week, we had the opportunity to talk with Tyler about her recent release and how she’s leveraged her storytelling ability to achieve international success across many audiences.
Tell us a bit about HER WILD HERO.
In HER WILD HERO, DCO training officer/behavioral scientist Kendra Carlsen has been begging her boss to let her go into the field for years. When he finally agrees to send her along as an observer with a team on a training exercise in Costa Rica, she’s thrilled. But the team’s resident bear shifter Declan MacBride is anything but pleased. He’s been crushing on Kendra since he started working there seven years ago, only she doesn’t see him as anything other than a friend. He’s finally moved on—or thinks he has—and spending two weeks in the same jungle with her is going to put a serious strain on his resolve. But when they get to Costa Rica, things go bad quickly. Their team is ambushed by a large group of hybrids—twisted, man-made shifters the DCO has been dealing with on and off since Book 1 of the X-OPS Series (Her Perfect Mate). Kendra and Declan get separated from the rest of their team and must depend on each other to survive. But Declan soon discovers that fighting packs of bloodthirsty hybrids isn’t nearly as hard as fighting his attraction to the beautiful woman he’ll do anything to protect.
One of the most appealing aspects of the thriller genre is its sheer breadth. Thrillers can be modern or historical, grounded in gritty realism or cloaked in supernatural fantasy, or any range of flavor in between. For thriller lovers who at least occasionally like their thrills served with a western flare, The Big Thrill recently caught up with Linell Jeppsen, previously the author of several works of science fiction, paranormal romance, and fantasy, to talk about her latest novel, LUCKY CHANCE, and how it fits into her more recent fictional universe of western action-thrillers.
Thank you for taking the time to join us at The Big Thrill and congratulations on your newest novel! While your latest books are action-adventure thrillers, they’re also very much westerns in the classic sense. What made you pick that type of genre and setting for your stories after having been writing in the fantasy and science fiction realm?
I really don’t know-—except for the fact that the first of the Deadman series percolated in my head for many years. It took about three paragraphs to realize that writing historical fiction was a whole different kettle of fish from my usual fantasy and science fiction! The first book starts in 1864… I mentioned “barbed wire” and thought, “Wait! Was barbed wire even invented then?”
Since then, I have gone on to write many more books in the series, I am far more comfortable with the research aspects of historical writing-—although it can still be a pain.
Tell us about LUCKY CHANCE, your most recent release. What do you think readers of The Big Thrill would find most intriguing about the book and its characters?
LUCKY CHANCE is meant to serve as a bridge between the Deadman and the Chance series. Many of the characters are the same—only seven years have passed and the age and circumstances of the characters have evolved.
LUCKY CHANCE is about boxing during the turn of the century. Chance Wilcox was a heavy weight boxing champion in the Army, so he is uniquely qualified to determine whether or not the culprits in this tale are guilty of “loading” their gloves with plaster of Paris. This was a fun little story but again… called for a TON of research.
By Eyre Price
International man of action, Dominic Grey, has fought cults and criminals all over the globe. In his next escapade, he takes on THE SHADOW CARTEL. We recently sat down with Dominic’s creator, Layton Green, and asked the world-traveler-turned-bestseller about his journey to the top of the bestseller list and where he plans to go from here.
You have a diverse background, from intern for the United Nations to ESL teacher in Central America, from tending bar in London to selling knives on the streets of Brixton. How have your varied experiences across the globe influenced your writing?
In an irreplaceable way. Some writers claim to write better from their imagination (though conscious imagination is of course influenced if not dictated by experience), and I believe it was Graham Greene who famously said he didn’t need to visit a place to write about it. Every writer’s journey is different, but for me, yes, my life’s experiences are such stuff as novels are made of.
You have a legal background, as well. How did your training in the law influence you as a writer?
I started writing novels while I was working at my first law firm (many would argue that I had already written plenty of fiction), and in the beginning, I had to retrain my writing style to be creative rather than dry and linear. But my legal training has helped me tremendously with plotting and research.