Between The Lines

A Between the Lines Interview with First Thrills authors Lee Child, Steve Berry, Michael Palmer, Heather Graham, John Lescroart, and more

by Brett King

It began as an alliance.  When International Thriller Writers was formed in 2004, its promise rested on bringing together established novelists with emerging writers.  As part of its brisk legacy, ITW has championed the work of new authors, a dedication that shines in the breakthrough publication, First Thrills:  High-Octane Stories from the Hottest Thriller Authors.  Forge Books released the critically acclaimed anthology for the first time in paperback on May 24, 2011.

Under the careful editorship of New York Times bestselling author Lee Child, First Thrills brings together original short stories crafted by seasoned authors to help showcase work from debut authors.  “The idea was to sprinkle some major attractions in the shop window, to draw your eye,” Child notes about the participation of bestselling authors.  “[They] all contributed stories—free, gratis, and for nothing, simply because they remembered their debut years and didn’t want to stand by idle.  Among them, they sell many millions of books a year, and we think they brighten up the shop window enormously.”
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Between The Lines feature interview F Paul Wilson

by Andrew Peterson

This month, it’s my honor to feature one of the supernatural thriller genre’s most interesting personalities,  F. Paul Wilson.  I’m not only a huge fan, I consider Paul a friend.  At various conferences around the country, we’ve been on panels together and closed bars after hours.  One of Paul’s most admirable traits is his protectiveness of his family and personal life.  During this interview I made a valiant attempt to break in, but he held firm and the firewall stayed up!  Paul might claim all that private stuff is boring anyway, but trust me, there’s nothing boring or dull about this amazingly talented writer.  And you won’t find a kinder pro in the business.  And if anyone’s curious, the F stands for Francis.
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A Between the Lines Interview with William Bernhardt

By Andrew Peterson

Between The Lines has featured many interesting authors over the years, but none of them ever drove an ice cream truck or sold vacuum cleaners door-to-door.  Those early jobs didn’t pan out—our featured author ate his profit margin and never sold a single vacuum.

William Bernhardt was born in Oklahoma City and raised in a small suburb not far away.  The heartland of America is rich with tradition and heritage and has produced some of our nation’s greatest artists and authors.  Bill Bernhardt is no exception.  His 29 titles have been translated into two dozen languages worldwide and his sales have topped 10 million books.

To give you a visual; if you laid 10 million books end-to-end, the line would stretch approximately 1,320 miles.  It just so happens that’s the same distance from Bill’s birth place to the heart of the publishing industry, New York City.  So the next time he flies from Oklahoma City to the Big Apple, he can visualize a continuous line of William Bernhardt books paving the way.  And the line grows longer every day.
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A Between the Lines interview with Sebastian Fitzek

By Andrew Peterson

ITW’s international membership is far-reaching and expanding.  A few issues back, Between The Lines featured Peter James from Great Britain.  This month, we’re moving across the English Channel to Germany for a look at Sebastian Fitzek.

One word comes to mind.  Maverick:  A lone dissenter, intellectual, artist, or politician who takes an independent stand apart from his or her associates. I think this describes Sebastian well.  He’s the kind of man who will prove you wrong when you tell him he can’t do something.  He lives by the same “risk versus reward” philosophy that Lee Child does.

In 1971, Sebastian was born in Berlin where he currently resides.  He’s happily married to Sandra, an amazing and kind lady who’s recently given birth (10-10-10) to their daughter, Charlotte.  His dog, two rabbits, and horse make up the rest of his immediate family.
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A Between the Lines interview with Hank Phillippi Ryan

By Andrew Peterson

Is it difficult being a television reporter?  Demanding?  Stressful?  Without a doubt.  But those aspects of the job have never discouraged Hank Phillippi Ryan.  In fact, she’s won 26 Emmys and 12 Edward R. Murrow awards to prove the point.  She’s also received dozens of regional, national, and international awards for her unique style of “hard hitting investigative reporting.”  There isn’t enough room in this feature to list them all.

Just as the FBI has adopted the words, Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity, Hank could adopt the words, Poise, Courage, and Commitment.  She has all of these qualities and more.  For three decades, her profession has been to investigate high profile news stories and then report the findings on television.  Hank is also on call for live breaking news as it occurs, even at 3am.

As you read this interview, you’ll discover being a TV investigative reporter isn’t all roses—far from it.  Some live shoots are inherently dangerous.  You don’t have to be embedded with combat troops to be at risk.  News reporters tend to follow the most spectacular events and Hank has reported from many hazardous situations.  One of the interview answers below lists some of her more harrowing moments.
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A Between the Lines interview with Christopher Reich

by Andrew Peterson

What is a thriller?  And why are they so popular right now?  I think it’s fair to say Christopher Reich has a handle on the answers.  His eight titles have been translated into
20 languages with total sales approaching three million copies worldwide.  Christopher also has the amazing distinction of reaching the New York Times bestseller list with his debut novel!  NUMBERED ACCOUNT opened at #13 and stayed on “the list” for six weeks, peaking at #9.   To date, over one million copies of NUMBERED ACCOUNT have been sold.

As you read the following interview, you’ll get a deeper look at the man behind these incredible espionage thrillers and some of the forces that shaped his life. 
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A Between the Lines Interview with Karen Dionne

by Andrew Peterson

If the soul of a volunteer is golden, then Karen Dionne is worth millions.  Simply stated, you’d have to look hard to find a more dedicated and hardworking author who is more generous with her time.

dionne-karen.jpgNot everyone featured in ITW’s Between the Lines interview needs to be a megastar.  Karen doesn’t have millions of books in print and her work has been translated into just two, and not dozens of languages.  She’s a charter ITW Debut Author–class of 2008-2009.  But her debut status is about to change.  Her second environmental thriller from Berkley, BOILING POINT, will publish in January 2011.
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A Between the Lines interview with Ridley Pearson

by Andrew Peterson

Who is the man with the infectious smile, charming personality, and overflowing generosity?  The answer can be found within ourselves.  Ridley Pearson represents the best humanity has to offer.  His love of life and the intricate balance it seeks is plainly evident in the stories he crafts.

ridley-pearson.jpgAlthough he’s quite modest about it, Ridley Pearson is a household name in more than 70 countries.  With over 12 million copies sold worldwide, his 38-plus books have been translated into 22 languages.

Ridley’s novels resonate with his readers because there’s passion behind the words.  Simply stated, he loves to tell stories.  If he’d lived 15,000 years ago, he would’ve been the hunter sitting at the campfire recalling the day’s hunt to a captive audience.
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A Between the Lines Interview with Peter James

james-peter.jpgby Andrew Peterson

In this month’s feature is one of England’s favorite sons.  Representing the “I” in ITW, is Peter James.  Peter is a Brighton born author, screenwriter, and film producer.  His latest novel DEAD LIKE YOU went straight to the #1 slot on the Sunday Times Bestseller list–and hit #1 on all the other UK fiction bestseller lists as well.  That’s a good trick.  He even beat “The Man,” James Patterson who had to settle for the #2 slot.  Sorry Jim, but he got you!

Peter’s books have been translated into 33 languages with an estimated total sales of 20 million copies worldwide.  He receives fan mail from virtually every country on the planet–with one common question:  When is the next Roy Grace novel coming out?

As a board member with the title of Vice President of International Affairs, Peter is heavily involved with ITW.  He oversees six different sub-chairs, each representing a different area of the world.  As ITW continues to encourage and promote international authors, Peter is at the forefront of that effort.
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A Between the Lines Interview with Heather Graham

By Andrew Peterson

This month it’s my pleasure to feature one of the industry’s most amazing talents–Heather Graham.  She’s classy, multi-talented, prolific, and endearing.  The list of compliments could on and on.  Loyal.  Hard-working.  Generous.  Dare I say–beautiful?
Yes, I’ll make that statement:  Heather Graham is beautiful!

graham-heather.jpgI first met Heather at the 2008 ThrillerFest.  I’d read many of her books, but to discover the person behind the pages was so charming and personable, took me by surprise.  After all, Heather has written over 150 novels and novellas, has 75 million books in print, and her stories have been translated into 25 different languages.  Yet she talked to me as a peer.  Now admittedly, I’m a small fish in a big pond–I have no illusions about it–but at that moment in time, it sure didn’t feel like it.

Later that night when I met her husband, Dennis, the feeling returned.  They’re both down-to-Earth, genuine people who share a profound love of the profession.  What impressed me the most was how approachable they are at conferences.  Heather goes out of her way to interact with fans and authors alike.  She even hangs with Joe Konrath, but we won’t hold that against her!
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A Between The Lines interview with Janet Evanovich

By Andrew Peterson

janet-evanovich.jpgOne of the nice things about being an editor for ITW is featuring some of the publishing industry’s biggest names, and Janet Evanovich is no exception.  Her Stephanie Plum books have been translated into 27 languages and distributed to at least three times that many countries.  How many of us could even name that many languages?  Janet’s not sure how many books have been sold, but it’s somewhere between 70 and 100 million!

I’ll try to put that in perspective.  Let’s average the two numbers and use 85 million for the tally.  Let’s also assume the average reader needs around 24 hours to read one of her books.  Some people will read faster, others slower, but 24 hours sounds about right.  Doing the math produces a truly astonishing number.  I ran the calculation twice to be sure I had it right.

With 85,000,000 books sold, Janet Evanovich has (cumulatively) provided the world’s readers with 9,703 years entertainment! That’s a boatload of time.  97 centuries ago, wooly mammoths were still roaming North America.  And no, Janet wasn’t around back then!
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A Between the Lines Interview with Lee Child

By Andrew Peterson

Jack Reacher.  Men want to be him.  Women want to have his children.  What is it about this tall, unassuming, street-smart man, with an atomic clock in his head who wanders the countryside looking for adventure?  Why are we so fascinated with his unique lifestyle?  And what spawned this phenomenon?

lee-child.jpgThe answers are found inside Lee Child’s soul.  Reacher isn’t just some random concoction, he’s the result of a lifetime’s worth of experience and influence.  Simply stated, Jack Reacher is more real than any of us will ever know.

Lee Child’s legacy is forever secured.  Reacher is a household name in more than 51 countries and 36 languages.  Reacher is timeless.  If he’d lived in the Egyptian era, he would’ve kicked Marc Antony’s butt, seduced Cleopatra, led a slave revolt, and moved on.  In medieval times, he would’ve been a sword wielding Crusader fighting injustice against peasants.  And in the old west, he would’ve been a nomadic gunslinger who helps a rancher defend his home against murderous cattle rustlers.

Lee’s approach to the Reacher books isn’t complicated.  It doesn’t have to be.  “For a so-called noir or hard-boiled writer, my books aren’t really very gray.  There are good guys and bad guys, and the good guys win–count on it.”
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