Special To The Big Thrill

International Thrills: An Interview with Adrian McKinty

International Thrills: An Interview with Adrian McKinty

By Layton Green I love international crime fiction—thus this column—and I’d long wanted to read something set during the Troubles (the brutal internecine conflict over the constitutional status of Northern Ireland that I remember so vividly from my youth.) Adrian McKinty, an award-winning Irish writer who grew up in Belfast, was recommended to me by a friend, and so I picked up a copy of GUN STREET GIRL, Adrian’s latest novel featuring Detective Sean Duffy, a Catholic police officer working the mean streets of Belfast during the Troubles. And what an inspired recommendation it was. A fascinating mystery grounded in historical events, a setting that taught me something about the world, and spare but beautiful prose: GUN STREET GIRL was just what I wanted. A more »

By February 28, 2015 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: Why We Love the Political Thriller by Steve P. Vincent

Special to the Big Thrill: Why We Love the Political Thriller by Steve P. Vincent

From Fleming to Clancy and Beyond: Why We Love the Political Thriller By Steve P. Vincent We love a political thriller. We love goodies and baddies, edge-of-your-seat suspense, epic stakes and politics far sexier than your average strongly-worded UN Security Council Resolution. But what’s remarkable is how robust the genre has proven to be in film and fiction; its evolution from James Bond through the Cold War to now. The political thriller remains a staple of pop culture storytelling. Things were easy right up until the fall of the Berlin Wall: Western (usually American) hero battles maniacal USSR villain with earth-scorching consequences if he loses. Yet after spinning its wheels through the mid-90s with nobody to worry about, the genre found the road again, with more »

By January 31, 2015 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: The Long Road to Collaboration by Grant Jerkins and Jan Thomas

Special to the Big Thrill: The Long Road to Collaboration by Grant Jerkins and Jan Thomas

Done in Fifteen Years: The Long Road to Collaboration By Grant Jerkins and Jan Thomas Whenever a substantial creative endeavor (novel writing, film directing, music composition, etc.,) is accomplished by two or more people working together to achieve a single voice, the first things people want to know is: How did you come together to write the novel? And how did you do it? In this Special to THE BIG THRILL, Grant Jerkins and Jan Thomas—co-authors of the police-sniper thriller, DONE IN ONE—take a look back at the unlikely circumstances that brought them together to write this “high-powered, bone-rattler of a novel.” * * * Grant Jerkins: In the late 90s, I was working primarily as a screenwriter. I’d written five spec scripts and managed more »

By January 31, 2015 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: The Importance of the Historical Thriller by Jerry Amernic

Special to the Big Thrill: The Importance of the Historical Thriller by Jerry Amernic

By Jerry Amernic From my observations, people, especially the young, are surprisingly ignorant of history. When I taught writing courses to college students, I was dumbfounded by how little they know about historical events. That got me thinking about some important periods in history, and what a travesty it would be if they were forgotten, only to suffer the risk of history, as they say, repeating itself. Thus became THE LAST WITNESS, a novel about the last living survivor of the Holocaust. In the book, the character’s one hundredth birthday takes place in 2039, but the world has all but forgotten. Like many novels, it was first turned down by various publishers, one of whom said he had to “suspend disbelief” with the premise that more »

By January 31, 2015 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: The Room by Tim O’Mara

Special to the Big Thrill: The Room by Tim O’Mara

In something new for THE BIG THRILL, Barry-nominated author Tim O’Mara, a special education teacher in New York public schools, wrote this great vignette.  It isn’t hard to see how his teaching led him to the world of detective fiction, with a series centered around a teacher / ex-cop who often gets involved with cases involving students or former students. —Eds The Room By Tim O’Mara There’s something not quite right about the guy sitting across the table from me. He knows it. I know it. But he’s not talking. That’s why they called me. I have a rep for being good at getting guys like this to open up. If they go silent, it’s my job to pick up on the body language, subtle gestures, non-verbal clues. After five more »

By December 31, 2014 Read More →
Special to The Big Thrill: Thrilling Holiday Gifts

Special to The Big Thrill: Thrilling Holiday Gifts

Six Mystery Bookstores Recommend Novels You May Have Missed By Barry Lancet With the holidays approaching, the rush is on to find a seemingly endless string of perfect gifts. If you are passionate about thrillers and mysteries, why not pass on your enthusiasm to others? And what better way to do so, then introduce them to a new voice or a new discovery? With that thought in mind, THE BIG THRILL asked a half dozen renowned mystery bookstores across the country to recommend the perfect gift. Our only criteria: they had to be books the stores loved—novels they regularly recommend to customers—that might have slipped below the radar this year. The bookstores responded enthusiastically with an impressive array of twenty titles. So if you’re looking more »

By November 30, 2014 Read More →
SPECIAL TO THE BIG THRILL: The 1000 Thriller Giveaway

SPECIAL TO THE BIG THRILL: The 1000 Thriller Giveaway

The Biggest & Best Book Contest Ever By Jenny Milchman It won’t come as a surprise to readers of THE BIG THRILL that the International Thriller Writers is about to sponsor a contest the likes of which nobody has ever seen before. After all, this is an organization known for innovation; for vastly expanding the thriller world and building a unique community of readers, writers, authors, and fans. But giving away a thousand books? That seems like a tall order—a tall stack, that is—even for a group as envelope-pushing as this one. Yet that is what’s about to happen. For the past six months, titles by ITW members have been sent to an office in California that must by now resemble Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory…with more »

By October 31, 2014 Read More →
SPECIAL TO THE BIG THRILL: Movie and T.V. Action Scenes

SPECIAL TO THE BIG THRILL: Movie and T.V. Action Scenes

How Hollywood Gets It Wrong By Chris Grall In Elizabethan times, an ordinance was passed preventing men from wearing swords to the theater. Apparently, in an age where dueling was commonplace, the crowd could become overly enthusiastic and join the cast on stage during a fight scene. Because much of the audience knew how to fight, choreography was vitally important to the success of the production. If the fight scene was not convincing, the actors could be mocked or booed off the stage. Today, action scenes are ubiquitous in movies and television, yet relatively few people are versed in violence and/or the operation of modern weapons. This allows directors and producers a lot of latitude when it comes to action scenes. Mistakes and errors are more »

By October 31, 2014 Read More →
Special to The Big Thrill: Domestic Suspense

Special to The Big Thrill: Domestic Suspense

Spouses Andrew Grant and Tasha Alexandra’s Separate Roads to the Bestseller List By Dawn Ius One can only image the murder, betrayal, and intrigue that goes on in the home of Andrew Grant and his wife Tasha Alexander. Luckily, and to the delight of their legions of fans, all of it occurs on the page. Bestselling author Grant was a precocious six-year-old when he penned his first thriller—a riveting tale about giant tortoises escaping from the Dudley Zoo in what proved to be a vain attempt to rally the British people in ousting Queen Elizabeth II, and insisting on republic, rather than monarchy. Quite a complicated story for a first grader—and, completely untrue, a humorous anecdote made up by Grant’s wife of four years, New more »

By September 30, 2014 Read More →
SPECIAL TO THE BIG THRILL: ThrillerFest IX

SPECIAL TO THE BIG THRILL: ThrillerFest IX

Celebrating Ten Years of Innovation By Kimberley Howe and Anthony J. Franze It wouldn’t be summer in New York without hundreds of the country’s top thriller writers ascending on the Grand Hyatt for the International Thriller Writers’ annual conference, ThrillerFest. It’s a place where a new writer can get discovered, an old one can learn some new tricks, and fans can get up close and personal with legends in the genre. This year’s event, held from July 8-12, was arguably the best yet, given that it was also a celebration of an incredible milestone: ITW’s tenth anniversary. “What began a decade ago in a meeting of forty writers,” ITW co-presidents Lee Child and M. J. Rose told attendees, “has turned into an organization boasting over more »

By July 31, 2014 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: THE KILLING Novel: The Rewards and Challenges of Bringing Linden and Holder to the Page by Karen Dionne

Special to the Big Thrill: THE KILLING Novel: The Rewards and Challenges of Bringing Linden and Holder to the Page by Karen Dionne

What It’s Like to Write a Television Tie-In Novel by Karen Dionne There are two broad categories of television and movie tie-ins. A novelization is a retelling of the show or movie. An original novel based on the show uses the show’s characters, but the story is the author’s. Neither are fan fiction, since tie-in authors are hired by the license holders to write their books. Well-known tie-in writers include Kingsley Amis, Raymond Benson, Lawrence Block, Orson Scott Card, Leslie Charteris, Arthur C. Clarke, Max Allan Collins, Ian Fleming, Jonathan Maberry, David Morrell, and Robert B. Parker to name just a few. Tie-in books are published by major publishing companies, sell tens of millions of copies worldwide, and regularly appear on the New York Times, more »

By June 30, 2014 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: Industry Focus:  A Q&A with Simon & Schuster Senior Editor Sarah Knight by Barry Lancet

Special to the Big Thrill: Industry Focus: A Q&A with Simon & Schuster Senior Editor Sarah Knight by Barry Lancet

By Barry Lancet Lovers of thrillers and mysteries will find Sarah Knight’s pedigree of more than passing interest. During her long career at several major publishing houses, Knight has worked with a star-studded array of writers, including James Lee Burke, Stephen Hunter, Jeffery Deaver, Taylor Stevens, and Gillian Flynn, among many others. Before she moved over to Simon & Schuster to work with the house’s stable of bestselling crime writers, Knight plied the editorial waters of Scribner, Henry Holt, and, most recently, Random House, where she was fortunate to edit Gillian Flynn’s DARK PLACES and then pick up a little property called GONE GIRL—only to accept a job offer from S&S soon after. She still finds leaving behind that future bestseller painful to recall. While more »

By June 30, 2014 Read More →
Special to The Big Thrill: Screenplay vs. Novel Writing by Terry Hayes

Special to The Big Thrill: Screenplay vs. Novel Writing by Terry Hayes

By Terry Hayes Not long after I had first moved to Hollywood, I ended up in a meeting with several senior studio executives on the 20th Century Fox lot. The subject we were dealing with was a remake of PLANET OF THE APES, the classic 1968 movie starring Charlton Heston as an astronaut and the great Roddy McDowell as a chimpanzee. Oliver Stone was a producer – and being courted assiduously by Fox to also be the director – and Don Murphy, who some years later would be hugely instrumental in bringing the Transformer movies to the screen, was the other producer. My role was to write the script – an assignment which had come my way thanks to my writing work on, among other more »

By April 30, 2014 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: Top Ten Firearms Mistakes in Fiction by Chris Grall

Special to the Big Thrill: Top Ten Firearms Mistakes in Fiction by Chris Grall

By Chris Grall There is nothing I love more than a good story. I’ve been a voracious reader since the second grade, when I cut my teeth on just about every Hardy Boys book ever written. As I grew older and left Frank and Joe behind, my taste evolved to more complex fare. Growing up also meant a career, which for me happened to cultivate an expertise in firearms and tactics. Put those two things together and you have an avid reader who recognizes weapon errors in fiction. If it were just firearms instructors who notice these mistakes, I wouldn’t worry too much about them. However, with between 270 to 310 million firearms in the United States* it’s a good bet that simple errors could more »

By March 31, 2014 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: ITW’s Online ThrillerSchool

Special to the Big Thrill: ITW’s Online ThrillerSchool

THRILLER SCHOOL: ITW’s New On-Line Craft School Want to write a better thriller? Want to crack into publishing? Or maybe the bestseller list? Here’s your chance. Thriller School begins April 7. Fiction writing isn’t easy. Not for anyone. Whether you’re writing your first manuscript or your fiftieth, it’s difficult and time-consuming work. And a life-long pursuit. Professional writers never cease improving their craft. I think every writer understands this simple truth. Virtually any writer will tell you that regardless of how many times you’ve done it or how far up the bestseller list you’ve climbed, that first blank page is a scary proposition. Fears and self-doubts always rise up. But experienced writers will quickly add that the more you know, the more you write, and more »

By January 31, 2014 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: R.L. Stine and the Return of Fear Street by Dawn Ius

Special to the Big Thrill: R.L. Stine and the Return of Fear Street by Dawn Ius

By Dawn Ius It started with a tweet. A one-hundred-forty-character plea from a fan asking R.L. Stine to revive the sprawling creeptastic series that vaulted the FEAR STREET author from funny man to “the Stephen King of children’s literature.” For Stine, the request came as quite a shock. It had been more than fifteen years since he’d abandoned the harrowing halls of Shadyside High School, leaving behind nearly one-hundred books that have sold more than eighty million copies worldwide. “Before I knew it, a whole bunch of people started tweeting me with the same request,” he says. Fans of all ages began reminiscing about gory deaths, favorite characters, and the books they’d dug out of their basements and passed on to younger generations. “These kids more »

By January 1, 2014 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: Classified: Secrets to the High Tech Thriller by James R. Hannibal

Special to the Big Thrill: Classified: Secrets to the High Tech Thriller by James R. Hannibal

By James R. Hannibal I am often told that my top-secret clearance gives me a leg up in thriller writing. True, I won’t deny it, but a military clearance is not as big an advantage as you might think. Non-disclosure agreements and a general sense of operational security prevent me from relying on my professional past. As a writer, I am stripped of my background, forced into that blinding white space beyond my experience. I do, however, carry my training forward with me into the emptiness. Let me share with you the most important principle from my intelligence past that guides my novelist future: You don’t know what you don’t know. It sounds like something you might hear on PBS, a tagline to the Reading more »

By January 1, 2014 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: The USO Tour by Kathleen Antrim

Special to the Big Thrill: The USO Tour by Kathleen Antrim

By Kathleen Antrim Harlan Coben, Phillip Margolin, F. Paul Wilson, Kathleen Antrim, and Heather Graham, recently returned from the “Operation Thriller IV” USO tour where they shared time and special moments with our troops and their families. The group kicked off the tour with a three-day, morale boosting visit to Washington, D.C. where they met with wounded warriors at Walter Reed Bethesda National Military Medical Center and later aided with the presentation of this year’s Service Member of the Year Awards at the 2013 USO Gala. From there, the authors traveled to Kuwait, Germany, and the UK, bringing a touch of home to our nation’s heroes. We hope you enjoy reading about some of the authors’ experiences. F. Paul Wilson Humbled. That’s the word. I go more »

By November 30, 2013 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: Tribute to Michael Palmer

Special to the Big Thrill: Tribute to Michael Palmer

“We are heartbroken at the loss of one of our most beloved members. Michael Palmer was an amazing writer, a wonderful mentor, a great friend to all of us, and a tireless worker for good causes. No ThrillerFest will ever be the same without his smiling face and the funny, wonderful songs that he and his son Daniel performed. On behalf of the whole organization, our thoughts and hearts are with the Palmer family.”—Co-Presidents Lee Child and M.J. Rose “What a dear hilarious guy! What a joy, so funny and so generous, and so talented…and so enthusiastic, and he just—drew you in, sharing and laughing and singing and looking at the world in the most spectacular of ways!…He did it, though, right? He got it. more »

By October 31, 2013 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: 10 Most Common Mistakes in Fiction Regarding Forensics featuring D.P. Lyle & Jan Burke

Special to the Big Thrill: 10 Most Common Mistakes in Fiction Regarding Forensics featuring D.P. Lyle & Jan Burke

By Jeremy Burns Jan Burke and DP Lyle M.D are not your ordinary writers.  For one, there’s the literary awards:  Burke’s won the Edgar, the Macavity, and the Agatha; Lyle’s won the Macavity and the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award and been nominated for the Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Scribe, and USA Best Book awards.  Then there’s the multiple bestseller lists.  And their leadership roles over the years in ITW and MWA. But Burke and Lyle also have been instrumental in helping other authors “get it right”—when it comes to forensics. Before the OJ trial or television’s CSI, Burke and Lyle were at the forefront of forensics in fiction and film.  Though neither are forensic scientists, they have become the go-to sources in Hollywood and the fiction more »

By October 31, 2013 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: ITW’s 10th Anniversary by Gayle Lynds and David Morrell

Special to the Big Thrill: ITW’s 10th Anniversary by Gayle Lynds and David Morrell

ITW’S ORIGINS By David Morrell  ITW’s origins date back to the early summer of 2004 when Barbara Peters of Scottsdale’s Poisoned Pen Bookstore hosted a literary event at the famed Arizona Biltmore hotel in Phoenix.  Barbara invited (in alphabetical order) Lee Child, Clive Cussler, Vince Flynn, Steve Hamilton, Gayle Lynds, myself, and Kathy Reichs to give presentations throughout that Saturday. As we bonded at an authors’ reception and over late-night drinks at the Biltmore’s bar, many of us felt that it would be fun to get together again. Our fiction tended to be different and yet fit into a general category of thrillers.  “Why not have an organization for thriller writers?” someone suggested. Over the summer, Gayle Lynds and I had several telephone conversations about more »

By September 30, 2013 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: Up Close and Personal with Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin

Special to the Big Thrill: Up Close and Personal with Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin

Up Close and Personal NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin discuss how spending time with cops, CSIs, and SWAT jocks helps them write edge-of-your-seat suspense novels. Brennan and Griffin’s newest book, CRASH AND BURN, is a collaboration featuring the Southern California detective duo, Moreno & Hart. Griffin: Some of my favorite writing advice came from my first boss, who was the news editor at the paper where I landed my first job. He told me, “Don’t write from your chair.” Each time I begin a new book, I like to go on field trips. I track down people who have the same jobs as my main characters and then go interview them about what they do. Whether it’s a police sniper more »

By August 31, 2013 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: ThrillerFest VIII by Kimberley Howe

Special to the Big Thrill: ThrillerFest VIII by Kimberley Howe

By Kimberley Howe Temperatures soared to record heights in New York City during ThrillerFest this year, paralleling our skyrocketing attendance.The atmosphere was positive, alive, adrenalizing—exactly what one would expect with over 900 thriller enthusiasts coming together to celebrate the genre.  M.J. Rose, ITW’s VP of Marketing, captures the mood perfectly when she shares, “There was a special energy to ThrillerFest this year, wasn’t there? I’m not sure what exactly it was…but everyone seemed aware of it.  From each debut author to every superstar—there was a congeniality and warmth to our 8th ThrillerFest that made it one of the best ever!” Between CraftFest, AgentFest, ThrillerFest, FanFest, and the memorable banquet, we had four incredible days of education, entertainment, and celebration, as we reconnected with old friends and more »

By July 31, 2013 Read More →
Special to the Big Thrill: Requiem for Vince Flynn (1966-2013) by Julie Kramer

Special to the Big Thrill: Requiem for Vince Flynn (1966-2013) by Julie Kramer

By Julie Kramer Thriller author Vince Flynn’s funeral was a heartbreaker. The line of mourners stretched for blocks. The ceremony had been pitched as a celebration of his life, but that’s difficult to take as gospel when someone dies at age 47, at the peak of talent. Flynn, creator of the Mitch Rapp counter-terrorism series, died recently in Minnesota of prostate cancer. Not only did he top the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller lists, he had fans in high places – even the White House. Former President George W. Bush sent a condolence note to Flynn’s widow, Lysa, reading, “Vince really loved you. He told me so.” For a writer of political thrillers, there’s no finer praise than to be noticed in Washington. Other world leaders more »

By June 30, 2013 Read More →