Special To The Big Thrill
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 »
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 »
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 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 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 »
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 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 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 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 »
“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 »
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 »
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 »
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 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 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 »
The Questions I Get Credibility. Verisimilitude. The willing suspension of disbelief. These are what authors strive for and what readers demand. And for good reason. Every author attempts to create a story world that draws in the reader, that takes him or her to an unfamiliar place or into a fascinating and suspenseful situation. A place where the reader, page after page, will ask, “What happens next?” But if the author stubs a toe on the details, the reader will fall out of the story and will no longer trust the author. Writing a credible story requires an understanding of the story’s world. In crime fiction and thrillers this often involves various types of science, arenas that are foreign to many writers and readers. Until more »
By Paula Tutman Have you seen the cover of Jonathan Maberry’s new novel, EXTINCTION MACHINE? If you didn’t know that Joe Ledger was a bad-ass before, the cover leaves absolutely no doubt. The fifth installment of the series of books published by St. Martin’s Press, the new release takes the Baltimore detective to new highs and lows. I’m from the Baltimore area. I remember when it was a dusty, dingy little industrial town. With the Inner Harbor, the baseball stadium and the explosion of downtown, it has become a charming, dingy little industrial town. Its proximity to Washington D.C. means the smog of politics wafts along the breeze and settles in the nooks and crannies of ‘Bal’more’, sealing the cracks with espionage, intrigue and duplicity. more »
FANFEST—THRILLERFEST’S INAUGURAL FAN EVENT! One thing you can count on is that the team at ThrillerFest will find a way to keep things interesting. This year, the annual ITW conference will include a cocktail party called FanFest that will allow authors to give back to their readers in a unique way. ITW’s VP of Marketing, M.J. Rose, created the event, and shares her thoughts about the premiere, “ThrillerFest is a great conference, but how could we make it greater? How could we fashion an event that would make our members look like heroes to their fans? That members could use as a marketing tool? Our idea—FanFest, the prize authors could offer in contests on their blogs, newsletters, Facebook pages, and Twitter. A way to get more »
Author Michael Connelly climbs into the van just before midnight to get to the airport for a 2 a.m. flight. Much like Mickey Haller, the protagonist in Connelly’s THE LINCOLN LAWYER, he’s taking part in something undercover. Connelly’s most dedicated fans won’t learn what is going on until he returns.
He’s not the only one. Brad Meltzer, Joseph Finder, Kathy Antrim and myself are all on the same undercover mission. We’ve each had, at best, three hours of sleep. It is day three.
Why would the authors of THE LINCOLN LAWYER, PARANOIA (Finder), CAPITAL OFFENSE (Antrim) or the creator of the popular television show DECODED (Meltzer) spend 20-hour days away from home? Why would Connelly join the ranks of James Rollins or Sandra Brown, authors who have embarked on this mission previously? Why would authors like Kathy Antrim live out of their bags for a ten-day tour where showering might involve a 100-yard hike in the dark?
Their mission is clear: They’re part of the USO’s Operation Thriller, a tour that brings authors across the globe to meet the men and women who serve.
The FBI Files: Gangs and Organized Crime By Kimberley Howe THE SOPRANOS brought organized crime into our living rooms, and SONS OF ANARCHY revved our interest in the world of motorcycle gangs. But are these popular television shows an accurate portrayal of what gangs and organized crime look like today? Michael Plichta, Unit Chief, La Casa Nostra/Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs/Major Theft Unit,was kind enough to appease my burning curiosity about this fascinating subject. His informative answers opened my eyes, as I hope they will open yours, to this growing international issue. GANGS How are gangs growing and evolving? For most people who join an urban street gang, the decision is less of a choice, and more a way of life. These gang members are not weighing more »
By Anthony J. Franze and Jenny Milchman Anything that calls itself ThrillerFest has a lot to live up to. Luckily, this year’s ThrillerFest—the International Thriller Writers’ annual conference—delivered more than its share of thrills. Held in the heart of Manhattan, ThrillerFest VII was the largest and most successful T-Fest yet. On hand were hundreds of the world’s top thriller writers, as well as scores of industry professionals, journalists, producers, aspiring writers—and let’s not forget the readers and fans. Haven’t been to ThrillerFest yet? Not clear what it’s all about? Come take a journey with both the Chair and the Membership Coordinator of ITW’s Debut Authors Program as we give some background on ThrillerFest, and then go behind the scenes—way behind the scenes—at this year’s event. more »
By Hank Wagner Although it might be hard to believe, forty years have passed since David Morrell’s classic thriller FIRST BLOOD was first published. During that time, the book’s protagonist, Rambo, has become well known across the globe, primarily due to four movies starring Sylvester Stallone. We thought it appropriate to celebrate this milestone anniversary by sitting down with Morrell, the author who started it all with his creation of the traumatized ex-soldier, to get his perspective on the novel and its important literary and cinematic legacy. This is the 40th anniversary of the publication of FIRST BLOOD. For the occasion, you revised your novelizations for the second and third Rambo films and then wrote introductions for them. You also wrote an e-essay, “Rambo and more »
By Brett King Synchronicity. From time to time, psychiatrist Carl Jung believed, we face events that seem unrelated or even coincidental until we find meaning in their shared experience. I think Alan Jacobson can testify to the importance of synchronicity in his career as a bestselling novelist. While practicing as a chiropractor years ago, a hand injury forced Alan to retire and sell his practice. During the transition period, he had a chance encounter with the head of the Department of Justice’s Criminalists Institute. Although the criminalist was seeking a character reference, that moment of synchronicity led Alan to audit a course on blood spatter pattern analysis. His research at the DOJ crime lab, in turn, allowed him to meet rising FBI agent Mark Safarik more »
By Julie Kramer New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein is back with NIGHT WATCH, her fourteenth thriller starring sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra Cooper. Fairstein has certainly lived her research, spending a career as a New York prosecutor before becoming a crime novelist. She remains a leading legal expert on sex crimes and domestic violence. Her latest tale of suspense features a wealthy financier charged with attacking a hotel maid – a ripped from the headlines premise. As an added treat, readers get an inside look at the ruthless business of gourmet dining. Booklist gave NIGHT WATCH a starred review, calling it “a real winner from a legal thriller master.” Here in THE BIG THRILL, Fairstein discusses the difficulty of finishing NIGHT WATCH after the more »