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The July edition of the Big Thrill is here!

28 new thrillers from ITW Members, including debut novels from Teri Anne Stanley and Wendy Tyson, plus new nonfiction from Steven Philip Jones. Don't miss the Between the Lines Interview with Karin Slaughter by A.J. Colucci; a Special to the Big Thrill: THE KILLING novel: The Rewards and Challenges of Bringing Linden and Holder to the Page by Karen Dionne; a second Special to the Big Thrill: A Q&A with Simon & Schuster Senior Editor Sarah Knight by Barry Lancet; and don't forget to visit the Africa Scene with Annamaria Alfieri.

CLICK HERE to read more!

Debut Authors

Deadly Chemistry by Teri Anne Stanley

perf5.000x8.000.inddBy Donna Galanti

debut-authorTeri Anne Stanley’s debut novel, DEADLY CHEMISTRY, just released and USA Today bestselling author Ruthie Knox notes that “[w]ith fast-paced, clever writing, strong heroines, and to-die-for heroes, Teri Anne Stanley is definitely one to watch!”

In DEADLY CHEMISTRY, former undercover cop Mike Gibson has been laying low, working as a maintenance man to put his troubled younger brother through college. But when a beautiful scientist enlists Mike’s help to repair the damage done to her lab by a group of vandals, Mike finds that his, and his brother’s pasts, are about to be brought to light. Laura Kane was happy having a secret crush on the hot maintenance man at Tucker University, but when the drug she was studying is stolen, Laura has a chance to get to know Mike in person. The problem is, he seems to know more about what’s going on than any maintenance man should. But then the drug turns up in the wrong hands, and Mike and Laura have to decide if their own chemistry will help, or hinder, the race to save innocent lives.

Teri Anne Stanley has been writing since she could hold a crayon—though learning to read was a huge turning point in her growth as a writer. Teri’s first stories involved her favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters, followed by her favorite teen idols. She has also authored a recipe column (The Three Ingredient Gourmet), and scientific articles (Guess which was more interesting!). Now she writes fun, sexy romance filled with chaos and havoc, populated by strong, smart women and hunky heroes.

What inspired you to jump from your earlier days of writing about cartoon characters, science, and cooking to writing suspenseful, sexy romance novels?

Well, I kind of outgrew the cartoon characters, the science stuff is a little dry (and there aren’t any nekkid parts), and I kind of gave up cooking. Even with just three ingredients—cooking is such a time suck!
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Deadly Assets by Wendy Tyson

DEADLY ASSETS front under 2 mbBy Derek Gunn

debut-authorMystery and thriller writer…dog lover…dreamer—these are the words that greet you on Wendy Tyson’s website. The themes carry over into her writing and appeared in our correspondence during the writing of this article. I mean what’s not to like about this woman?

DEADLY ASSETS is the second book in the Allison Campbell mystery series but don’t let that worry you about jumping straight in. Allison Campbell is Philadelphia’s premier image consultant and helps others reinvent themselves. She is a gutsy woman who had to rebuild her life and her own confidence when an old case went wrong and she lost her practice and her husband. Today, she is well-heeled and polished and moves in a world of powerful executives, wealthy, eccentric ex-wives, and twisted ethics. And boy, are they eccentric!

Tyson’s background is in law and psychology and she lives near Philadelphia with her husband, three sons, and two of the aforementioned dogs, Labs Molly and Driggs. Tyson kindly supplied a concise summary of the first book for me, but DEADLY ASSETS is definitely a novel you can pick up and leap straight into. The characters introduce themselves quickly and the back story is revealed when background is needed.

The first thing that will strike you about this book is Tyson’s writing. I loved it from the first page; clouds bruising clear skies and ramshackle mansions that, similar to their owners, have seen better days, are just two of the well-crafted descriptions that had me breezing through the pages.
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Wanted: Dead or In Love by Kym Brunner

WANTED - DEAD OR IN LOVE MEDIUMcoverBy Stacy Mantle

debut-authorWhen your life centers around words, there are few things you can do other than teach and write. Author Kym Brunner has managed to integrate both careers into a very busy life with the release of WANTED: DEAD OR IN LOVE, the first of two young adult books.

WANTED is about a teen girl who, after cutting herself on a spent bullet extracted from Bonnie Parker’s dead body, becomes obsessed with the legend of Bonnie and Clyde. When the notorious outlaw begins communicating with her through thought, she realizes she’s in over her head.

We caught up with Brunner to discuss how she manages to consolidate historical fact with modern characters to create a wonderfully entertaining story.

Most of your books are set in or around Chicago. What is it that fascinates you most about the region?

What doesn’t fascinate me about the region would be an easier question, because I LOVE my hometown! I grew up in Chicago and lived there until my mid-twenties, moved to the suburbs after I got married, but I still visit the city frequently. The downtown region is gorgeous; the people that live in the Midwest are friendly and thus, love to talk (which is a fabulous benefit to observant writers like us). Besides, the weather is great three months a year. (Okay, so that part’s not so great—but it certainly gives us something to talk about.)
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Over My Live Body by Susan Israel

Over My Live Body - SIsraelBy Basil Sands

debut-authorThis month THE BIG THRILL introduces to Susan Israel and her debut novel OVER MY LIVE BODY.

Susan hails from Connecticut where she lives with her beloved dog, but New York City lives in her heart and mind and her story. A graduate of Yale College, her fiction has been published in Other Voices, Hawaii Review, and Vignette and she has written for magazines, websites, and newspapers, including Glamour, Girls’ Life, Ladies’ Home Journal, and the Washington Post. As her first full-length novel works its way into the hands of eager readers, she is currently at work on the second book in the Delilah Price series, currently called STUDENT BODIES.

Susan, tell us a little about OVER MY LIVE BODY.

OVER MY LIVE BODY is told from the point of view of my main character, Delilah Price, who realizes she’s the object of affection of a stranger she wants no part of, somebody who doesn’t seem to want to take no for an answer. She doesn’t know what she did to deserve this and doesn’t know how to make him stop and only when violence escalates do the police get involved. A sad truth: this is what usually happens, particularly when the person being stalked isn’t a celebrity of some sort.

How did you come up with your main character Delilah and especially her unique job?

Like Delilah Price, I modeled for art classes but my experience was controlled and comfortable and non-threatening. I started developing the story line then: what would happen to someone in a less-cloistered setting? And of course some of the characters Delilah meets in the course of the investigation tend to insinuate she “asked for it” by posing nude. As if any victim of any crime “asks for it.” Modeling for art classes is more of a matter of numb limbs than sexuality. Artists get that. Delilah poses for art classes, for her peers as well as others in other NYC art classes, to help pay the bills. It can pay pretty well. But she learns there’s a price attached to that, pun unintended.
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A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin

AKITM Cover V2By George Ebey

A new twist on history awaits in Graeme Shimmin’s new novel, A KILL IN THE MORNING.

The year is 1955 and something is very wrong with the world. It is fourteen years since Churchill died and the World War II ended. In occupied Europe, Britain fights a cold war against a nuclear-armed Nazi Germany.

In Berlin the Gestapo is on the trail of a beautiful young resistance fighter, and the head of the SS is plotting to dispose of an ailing Adolf Hitler and restart the war against Britain and her empire. Meanwhile, in a secret bunker hidden deep beneath the German countryside, scientists are experimenting with a force far beyond their understanding.

Into this arena steps a nameless British assassin, on the run from a sinister cabal within his own government, and planning a private war against the Nazis. And now the fate of the world rests on a single kill in the morning.

THE BIG THRILL recently got in touch with Graeme to discuss his process and what he has in store for us next.

A KILL IN THE MORNING re-imagines the World War II / Cold War eras and gives us a world where the Nazi regime still exists in the 1950s.   What excited you about this idea and how does it differ from other stories that may have tried a similar approach?

What excited me about writing A KILL IN THE MORNING, was an image I’d had in my head for years of hanger doors grinding open to reveal an amazing super-weapon that I could never quite see. I also had inspiration from all the classic spy novels I’d read. When I started writing, all those ideas just seemed to flood out. About half-way through, I suddenly realized how it had to end and that it was really going to work. I sat back and just thought that “this is the story I was born to write.” It was an amazing moment. I felt like a sculptor, chipping away and finding the sculpture was already there inside the marble.
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The Inheritor by Tom Wither

inheritorBy Dan Levy

debut-authorWhen you consider the recent NSA revelations, the Edward Snowden leaks, the 9/11 Commission Report, and other scandals, it’s been a tough decade or two for America’s intelligence communities. With over one hundred thousand people working in intelligence agencies across the U.S., there are bound to be individuals who get those agencies the wrong kind of media attention—as well as attention from the thriller writers seeking inspiration for an antagonist.

A former intelligence officer for the United States Air Force, Tom Wither wrote his debut novel, THE INHERITOR, to remind readers that U.S. intelligence services are filled with Americans serving their country with honor and patriotism. Wither characterized the current perception as frustrating: “As part of that frustration, I wanted to express the professionalism, the sacrifices, and the great work ethic that the vast majority of people in the intelligence business bring to the table.”

Now, before you think that Wither is using his novel as a platform to pontificate, hold tight. Wither will be the first to tell you that conflict and character are paramount. “It is a challenge to make sure that as I craft the story, I do so in such a way that I’m telling a good story, that I’m using modern-day technology, and that I’m showing what it’s like to live in the profession,” said Wither. He added that the need to compartmentalize his professional and personal lives helped as well, “When you sit down to craft a story, as a knee-jerk reaction, you don’t think about work. You think, ‘How can I build an exciting story? How can I have characters do things that will hold a reader’s attention and make (him/her) enjoy the ride?’”
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The Red Chameleon by Erica Wright

red chameleonBy Karen Harper

debut-authorKaren Harper caught up with very busy poet-turned-thriller-author, Erica Wright, just as she was getting ready to launch her debut novel.  Erica is heading to New York City in June for events and publicity, and we wish her all the best—and to her intrepid heroine Kathleen Stone.

What is THE RED CHAMELEON about?  

With a little help from the best wigmaker on the Atlantic seaboard, Kathleen Stone can take on a variety of personas, from a posh real estate agent to a petulant teenage boy. She was once a valuable undercover cop for the New York Police Department, but since her early retirement following a botched case, she has gone a little soft. These days, she mostly catches cheating spouses in flagrante. When one husband ends up not so much adulterous as dead, Kathleen must use her rusty skills to catch a killer.

You have two fascinating elements in your past:  you are a poet and you have taught at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. What did you teach there? How have these experiences impacted your first novel?

I taught composition courses at John Jay, but snuck a little poetry onto the syllabus. Carolyn Forché’s “The Colonel” was always a favorite. My students definitely played a role in my interest in crime writing. They were mostly going into criminology, so I tried to educate myself on their career paths even if only to make our conferences more productive. I had no intention of writing a mystery novel when I started teaching, but looking back, it almost seems inevitable.
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Deep Winter by Samuel W. Gailey

deep winterdebut-authorDEEP WINTER by Samuel W. Gailey is a dark, gripping debut novel of literary suspense that The New York Times and other major critics describe as a “beautifully written, suspenseful, page turner.” The book was a debut author pick by Penguin and Good Reads.

Samuel graciously agreed to answer some questions from THE BIG THRILL.

Tell us about DEEP WINTER

DEEP WINTER takes place in 1984 in a small Pennsylvania town where a woman is found brutally murdered one winter night. Next to the body is Danny Bedford, a misunderstood man who suffered a tragic brain injury when he was a child. Because of Danny’s limited mental abilities and menacing size, the townspeople have ostracized him out of fear and ignorance. When the deputy sheriff discovers Danny with the body, it’s assumed that Danny’s physical strength finally turned deadly. But the murder is only the first in a series of crimes that viciously upset the town order—an unstoppable chain of violence that appears to make Danny’s guilt increasingly undeniable. With the threat of an approaching blizzard, the local sheriff and a state trooper work through the pre-dawn hours to establish some semblance of peace. As they investigate one incident after another, an intricate web of lies is discovered, revealing that not everything in the tight-knit town is quite what it seems.
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Eat What You Kill by Ted Scofield

Eat What You Kill by Ted ScofieldBy Hank Schwaeble

debut-authorWhen THE BIG THRILL asked me to interview Ted Scofield regarding his debut novel, EAT WHAT YOU KILL, an unvarnished depiction of one man’s brutal climb to reclaim a spot in the upper echelons of Wall Street’s commanding heights, I was excited to have an excuse to pick up a book that touched upon high finance, the law, and the dark side of human nature.  To my surprise, I discovered that Ted and I go way back—we just didn’t know it.

A graduate of both Vanderbilt Law and graduate Business School, it turns out Ted was working on his juris doctor at the same time I was, and we undoubtedly passed each other in the halls and around campus almost daily.  Needless to say, I was eager to hear about how a former classmate of mine came to write a novel some are calling the AMERICAN PSYCHO of the new millennium.  Fortunately, Ted was happy to take time out of his busy schedule as corporate general counsel and securities attorney and answer some questions for us.

Congratulations on your first novel!  Tell readers of THE BIG THRILL a little about what inspired you to write EAT WHAT YOU KILL and how your background as a lawyer and MBA influenced the book.

Thank you!  Sometime around my eighteenth birthday, I shorted a stock for the first time (that is, I bet that the price would fall).  I had about two thousand dollars riding on it, all the money in the world to me, and I wondered what I could do to force the stock to tank.  At that moment, the seed for EAT WHAT YOU KILL was planted.  Over the ensuing two decades I worked in politics, graduated from law school and business school, toiled as a Wall Street attorney, and the story grew and grew.  Finally, I just had to write it down.  The novel’s major plot points are pretty much what were in my head when I wrote the first word.
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Legitimate Business by Michael Niemann

Legitimate Business by Michael NiemannBy Ian Walkley

debut-authorThey say it helps to write what you know. Michael Niemann—a Ph.D and Adjunct Professor of International Studies at Southern Oregon University—has the right background to offer us a taut, authentic and intricate thriller of Africa that will satisfy fans of Wilbur Smith and Gerald Seymour.

In LEGITIMATE BUSINESS, protagonist Valentin Vermeulen, a Belgian investigator for the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services, is tasked with a routine audit of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur when a UN policewoman is killed. Her best friend claims she was targeted because she complained about shoddy armored personnel carriers (APC). Vermeulen’s investigation leads him to a gunrunning scheme operated by a British military contractor with more at stake than a few APCs with bad starters. The civil war in Darfur is about to turn much deadlier unless Vermeulen can prevent a cargo of stolen missiles from reaching its destination.

Michael graciously agreed to answer some questions for THE BIG THRILL.

Why did you make your protagonist, Valentin Vermeulen, a UN investigator? Do you have a background in the UN?

Once I decided to pursue writing fiction, I wanted to write thrillers and mysteries that were international in scope. John le Carré is probably my strongest influence in this regard. His novel THE CONSTANT GARDENER is, in my opinion, the finest example of such writing. Finding the right protagonist was one of the biggest obstacles. I didn’t want to create yet another intelligence agent, who, by definition, has to follow particular national loyalties—probably a reflection of my hybrid background, a German who’s lived in the U.S. for over thirty years. That led me to the UN. I came across a news story about an investigation of Pakistani peacekeepers. That introduced me to the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). I dug up every bit of information I could find and the character of Valentin Vermeulen began to take shape. OIOS investigators don’t carry weapons, have no powers of arrest, nor are they allowed to use force. But they have a lot of latitude in their investigations, as long as they are UN related. I try to exploit that contradiction as much as possible.
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Killing the Curse by Dennis Hetzel (with Rick Robinson)

curse

By Dennis Hetzel

debut-authorI want to tell you what happened to me as I wrote KILLING THE CURSE.

The book’s starting premise is this:

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. Baseball fans everywhere know that the team is cursed, most famously by the “Billy Goat” incident during the 1945 World Series in which a pet goat was refused admission and its master, Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis, put a curse on the Cubs. The Billy Goat Tavern also was a legendary Chicago media hangout and the setting for the “chee’burger, chee’burger” skits in the early days of Saturday Night Live.

There are many more humorous and legendary tales of grief and heartache involving the Cubs—consider black cats, Gatorade spilled on a first baseman’s glove that perhaps caused a critical error in a playoff game with the San Diego Padres and the immortal Steve Bartman. (If you need an explanation of the meaning of Bartman, don’t worry. Either Google him or move on.) In my fictional World Series, the Cubs lose Game Six in a very Cub-like way, involving a swarm of gnats.

The Cubs are the most iconic and memorable symbols of failure and frustration in the world of sports. They have millions of loyal, frustrated fans.

So, I wondered, what would happen if there was a twisted and skillful fan—remembering that “fan” is shortened slang for “fanatic”—who would do anything to ensure they would break the curse and win baseball’s World Championship? Anything. And what if the threat was so grave that the Series might have to be fixed to guarantee the Cubs would win?
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Fatal Snow by Robert Walton

fatal snowBy Dan Levy

debut-authorMarcel Proust once said, “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”

Proust was right. Not sure? Think of a favorite family vacation you took as a child. Then, call a parent or a sibling and ask them to recount the same trip. We want our memories preserved our way—embellishments and all.

Which is what makes FATAL SNOW such an interesting first novel by Robert Walton. A restaurateur and real estate salesperson living in the Northeast, it’s hard to image why he would write about an archeologist running for his life in the dead of winter through Wyoming’s Grand Tetons—until you ask him. “I was an archeology major in college,” explained Walton. “In the late 1970s, I spent time in Wyoming and Arizona on archeological expeditions.”

So while the rest of us simply wax nostalgic on Facebook, or at class or family reunions, Walton, a poet and short story writer, decided to weave his past memories together in the form of a thriller and through the eyes of protagonist Harry Thursday.

In FATAL SNOW, Harry Thursday, an archaeologist, is trying to forget the violent death of his wife during an expedition in Chile. During a camping trip with his best friend Conner in northwest Wyoming, they come upon a remote bawdyhouse. CJ, one of the girls, takes to Thursday and runs away with them. Skinny, her pimp, goes on a wild killing spree to get her back. Wounded by Skinny, and separated from Conner, Thursday battles infection hiding out with CJ while a winter storm wreaks its own havoc all around them. As they wait, Thursday discovers the secret CJ is holding, and why her pimp wants her back. It is only a matter of time before the final standoff between Thursday’s destiny and his terrible past.

Walton noted that Harry Thursday is, in some ways, his alter ego, “Harry is willing to take chances and experience events in the moment. He does a lot of things I would never do.”
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The Zodiac Deception by Gary Kriss

The Zodiac Deception by Gary KrissBy Jeremy Burns

debut-authorEvery fiction author has a debut novel, and while some authors slowly make their way onto the scene, perfecting their craft and slowly gathering acclaim, debut author Gary Kriss looks poised to launch into the limelight with THE ZODIAC DECEPTION. A journalist, professor, history enthusiast, and magician, Kriss’s intriguing bio has several similarities to that of that of his equally fascinating protagonist, a con man-spy sent to infiltrate Hitler’s inner circle. With THE ZODIAC DECEPTION poised to make a splash this month, Kriss sat down with THE BIG THRILL to give readers a glimpse into his extensive bag of tricks.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Let’s see: I was born in Brooklyn but spent the early part of my life in Tennessee, so in many ways I’m still a transplanted Southerner. Growing up in the South, with its great literary tradition, gave me a love for reading and writing. It also sparked my social consciousness, which, in turn, significantly influenced my own creative endeavors. I started writing for newspapers when I was 11 and pursued this, on and off, for most of my life, largely for The New York Times. I also served my time as a college administrator and as a professor. And since the book involves astrology, I’m a Libra with Capricorn Rising.

Tell us about your new thriller, THE ZODIAC DECEPTION.

If pressed for a logline, it would go something like this:

Espionage, romance, religion and the paranormal collide in 1942 Berlin when the Allies send an American con man, trained by Houdini, to pull off the greatest scam in history: pose as an astrologer, gain the confidence of SS chief Heinrich Himmler by playing on his fascination with the occult, and then persuade him to kill Adolf Hitler.
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Country Hardball by Steve Weddle

Country_Hardball_coverBy Robert Rotstein

debut-authorThe title of Steve Weddle’s debut novel, COUNTRY HARDBALL, comes from a baseball term that refers to a player’s willingness to play the game at an elemental level, to inflict and absorb punishment when necessary. Weddle’s series of linked stories recounts the lives of residents of an Arkansas town who, because of the devastating economic downturn, must play “good old country hardball” to survive.

After a family tragedy and years in prison, Roy Alison returns to his rural hometown, determined to become a better person, a different person. But the town’s grim economic circumstances, along with events from Roy’s dark past, conspire to force him back into his old ways. As he chronicle’s Roy’s quest for redemption, Weddle tells the story of a single father struggling to raise a sensitive, frightened son; of parents who hope that sports will save their child from a life of poverty; of a shy teenager who misses the chance to express his love to the girl he adores, with dire consequences; and of families devastated by drugs, financial hardship, and war.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I have an MFA in poetry, taught college for a while, then settled into newspapers. My family and I live in Virginia.

Give us an elevator pitch for COUNTRY HARDBALL.

A young man tries to leave behind the jails and halfway houses by moving in with his grandmother, back to his Arkansas hometown, but he’s caught up in a devastated economy and a past that won’t let go. Working with a family friend, he finds his chance to make a positive difference, a redemption of sorts. The question is whether he’ll make the right choice—or whether it’s already too late.
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I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead by E.A. Aymar

illsleepwhenyouredeadBy E. A. Aymar

Weekends in Baltimore

debut-authorThe first time I went to Baltimore was on a date, so that’s probably why my view of the city is tinged with romance…even though that date ended with a handshake. But, as a hopeful writer in my twenties, Baltimore was an endless book of stories, and I kept going back. And I did my homework. I read histories, guidebooks, walking tours; for a few years, I spent every weekend in the city, walking around neighborhoods with a pen and a notebook, learning about locations that my characters would later visit. I remembered Flannery O’Connor’s dictum, that the best American fiction is regional, and it seemed like this region had been given to me.

I wanted to see the city without influence, so I avoided Baltimore-based thriller writers. But then I read Laura Lippman, and realized that her reporter-turned-detective Tess Monaghan had already walked these streets. And, dammit, Lippman wasn’t the only one. Terrific writers like Sujata Massey and Tim Cockey, not to mention Edgar Allan Poe and a host of others, had all set stories in the city or region. And then David Simon introduced THE WIRE and not only sketched the city, he etched it in stone. For a time, I worried whether another viewpoint would ever be accepted.

But a city isn’t a stone or a ruin; it changes. It grows. And any city that can house all those voices, as well as the eccentric films of John Waters, Anne Tyler’s quietly powerful work, and the short stories and essays of Rafael Alvarez, and many, many others, will always have room for more. A city, like a story, belongs to both no one and everyone.
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The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton

edge of normalBy Michael Haskins

debut-authorCarla Norton’s first thriller, THE EDGE OF NORMAL, will be released this month from St. Martin’s Minotaur. Norton is an accomplished journalist with a number of non-fiction publications out there. This is her first attempt at fiction and it has garnered some great reviews.

Please give us an elevator pitch for THE EDGE OF NORMAL.

“Reeve is a survivor—not a victim—of kidnapping and captivity. True, this 22-year-old is a damaged individual. She’s scarred. She’s flawed. She’s psychologically unbalanced. But when a lurking predator threatens her young friend, Reeve quells her fears, sidesteps the law, and follows her instincts down a dark trail. But he’s watching her every move. He’s more deadly than she knows. And when she treads to close, she stumbles into the predator’s trap.”

That’s the long elevator pitch. The short one? “Think Elizabeth Smart meets Clarice Starling.”

THE EDGE OF NORMAL is your first published novel, but you have a few non-fiction books published. Did that earlier writing experience help or hinder your fiction and how?

THE EDGE OF NORMAL is actually inspired by the crime I wrote about in my first book, PERFECT VICTIM, which is about a true case of kidnapping and prolonged captivity. That case haunted me,that was the seed. But this transition from nonfiction to fiction took a while. THE EDGE OF NORMAL is debut fiction, but it’s also the fifth novel I’ve written. The others never made it to publication. It’s been a long road, and I’ve given up many times, but writing is like an addiction I can’t quit.
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Project Cain by Geoffrey Girard

ProjectCainDebut author to publish two novels (one for adults, one for teens) on the same day.

debut-authorDebut ITW author Geoffrey Girard will have his first two novels published on the same dayas Simon and Schuster gets a little extra creative and releases both CAIN’S BLOOD (a dark techno thriller) and PROJECT CAIN (a Young Adult companion novel) simultaneously on September 3rd.

Both novels center around a secret Defense project to develop bioweapons built from the genetics of violence, a program which includes dozens of young men who are the clones of infamous serial killers. When the most dangerous teens are set free by their creator, former black ops soldier Shawn Castillo is hot on their trail and enlists the help of a boy who has just learned he is the clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. As this unlikely pair races across the country after the rampaging teens, Castillo must protect the boy who is the embodiment of his biggest fears, and who may also be his last hope.

Initially submitted as a standalone novel for teens, Girard’s agents — Peter McGuigan and Stephen Barbara, at Foundry Literary + Media — felt they could have two books on their hands and asked Girard to rework his story.  The result was a dark thriller for adults told from multiple POVs and centered primarily on Castillo and also a YA novel told in first-person by teen Jeffrey Jacobson, the clone of Dahmer.
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Cain’s Blood by Geoffrey Girard

cainsbloodDebut author to publish two novels (one for adults, one for teens) on the same day.

debut-authorDebut ITW author Geoffrey Girard will have his first two novels published on the same dayas Simon and Schuster gets a little extra creative and releases both CAIN’S BLOOD (a dark techno thriller) and PROJECT CAIN (a Young Adult companion novel) simultaneously on September 3rd.

Both novels center around a secret Defense project to develop bioweapons built from the genetics of violence, a program which includes dozens of young men who are the clones of infamous serial killers. When the most dangerous teens are set free by their creator, former black ops soldier Shawn Castillo is hot on their trail and enlists the help of a boy who has just learned he is the clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. As this unlikely pair races across the country after the rampaging teens, Castillo must protect the boy who is the embodiment of his biggest fears, and who may also be his last hope.

Initially submitted as a standalone novel for teens, Girard’s agents — Peter McGuigan and Stephen Barbara, at Foundry Literary + Media — felt they could have two books on their hands and asked Girard to rework his story. The result was a dark thriller for adults told from multiple POVs and centered primarily on Castillo and also a YA novel told in first-person by teen Jeffrey Jacobson, the clone of Dahmer.
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Deadstick Dawn by S.L. Menear

Deadstick Dawn-jpeg finalFlight Attendant to Airline Pilot to Author

By S.L. Menear

debut-authorDuring college, I worked as a water sports model. Afterwards, I began a career as a Pan Am flight attendant. I was based at JFK Airport in New York and flew to eighty-eight countries spanning the globe. Those were the glory days of the airline industry. Pan Am stewardesses were treated like movie stars—when I was in uniform, people stopped me on the street and asked for my autograph—no idea why. Airline pilots were revered as sky gods. Gourmet food was cooked to order in first class, and baked Alaska was served flaming. Hollywood legends and international tycoons were frequent passengers.

In the early 1970s, I transferred to Miami and joined the Pan Am Flying Club. Three months later, I earned my private pilot license. The Pan Am sky gods (pilots) were kind to me. They let me hand fly a Boeing 707 for two hours over South America on a flight with few passengers and good weather. I also enjoyed flying a Boeing 747 en route from JFK to Frankfurt, Germany. The jumbo jet felt as steady as flying a big house. That was my light-bulb moment. I wanted to fly jet airliners.

When I began my quest, there were no female pilots with major airlines. I spent the next few years earning an instrument rating, commercial pilot license, multi-engine rating, and flight and ground instructor certificates, and logging flight time instructing and flying charter flights. After enough flight experience, I was the first woman hired by a small commuter airline. I loved flying Shorts 330s and 360s and STOL Twin Otter prop jets. My copilot job included plenty of experience flying in bad weather, hundreds of instrument approaches, and lots of landings. I was well prepared when the time came to apply to USAir a year later.
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Japantown by Barry Lancet

japantown-225By John Raab

debut-authorBarry Lancet brings us his debut novel “Japantown”.  Barry has spent many years in Japan, and his latest thriller combines Japan and the United States together in a thriller set in San Francisco. One incident in particular started him on his present course of writing, and led to JAPANTOWN and the Jim Brodie series (the next book is in the editing stages; the third is in the works). Early on during his return to Japan, Lancet was directed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department to come down to the stationhouse for a “voluntary interview.” The MPD proceeded to interrogate him for three hours over what turned out to be a minor, noncriminal infraction. All authors should take notice that by just opening up their eyes during their everyday lives, they will find inspiration all around them. Barry also has some very exciting news already with his series. While I would love to announce the news in this newsletter, I would suggest visiting his website to find out what is going on. Let’s take a look inside JAPANTOWN.

When an entire family is senselessly gunned down in San Francisco’s Japantown, antique dealer and reluctant private eye Jim Brodie receives a call from a friend at the SFPD. As an American born and raised in Japan, Brodie has advised the local police in the past, but the near-perfect murders in Japantown are like nothing he’s ever encountered.

Using his extensive Asian contacts and fluency in Japanese, Brodie follows leads gathered from a shadow powerbroker, a renegade Japanese detective, and the elusive tycoon at the center of the murders. Step by step, his search takes him from a crime scene in California to terrorized citizens in Japan.
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The Impersonator by Mary Miley

Impersonator
debut-authorTake one missing heiress, an unscrupulous uncle, and a young vaudeville performer fallen on hard times; add several murdered girls, a mysterious Chinese herbalist, and a handsome bootlegger; then move from the seamy world of Prohibition-era vaudeville to Oregon’s rugged coast, and what do you have?

A formula for suspense, as Jessie finds herself torn between her deceitful charade and her determination to find out what really happened to the girl she is impersonating.

In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family’s vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he’s found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece.

But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he’s wrong: orphaned young, Leah’s been acting since she was a toddler. Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition–with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she’s let go from her job, Oliver’s offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There’s only one problem: Leah’s act won’t fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie’s disappearance.
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Come Hell or High Desire by Misty Dietz

comehellorhighdesire
debut-authorFramed for a series of brutal murders, rebel-turned-CEO Zack Goldman must go to ground. When he discovers that sexy boutique owner Sloane Swift has a shocking gift—terrifying visions that connect her to his mentor’s missing daughter—he can’t believe her refusal to help him.

Aiding and abetting an accused killer ranks low on Sloane’s to-do list, no matter how hot the attraction burns between them. But putting to rest her overwhelming guilt over the missing woman’s fate proves more difficult than she ever imagined.

As the real sociopath locks in on Sloane, Zack will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even if that means becoming her psychic anchor. And as they earn each other’s trust—with danger in hot pursuit—they just may lose their hearts in the process…if the killer doesn’t put them six feet under first.
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The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen

butterflysister PB CBy Michael Haskins

debut-authorAmy Gail Hansen’s THE BUTTERFLY SISTER, an original trade paperback, comes out this month from Harper Collins. She has a BA in English from Carthage College in Wisconsin and  taught English in a community college before becoming a freelance writer and arts and entertainment journalist. THE BUTTERFLY SISTER is her debut novel.

THE BUTTERFLY SISTER has received some great reviews from the likes of Meg Cabot. Can you give us an elevator pitch for the book, please?

It’s about twenty-two-year-old Ruby Rousseau, emotionally fragile after dropping out of a small women’s college, who gets involved in the case of a missing girl after receiving a mysterious suitcase. To solve the mystery, Ruby must also revisit the demons of her past, including a heartbreaking affair with her English professor and an unhealthy obsession with women writers who killed themselves. But will finding the truth set Ruby free…Or send her off the edge of sanity?

What experience led you to come up with the plot of THE BUTTERFLY SISTER?

My honeymoon to Italy in 2004…Moments before I checked my luggage for that trip, I realized the tag on my suitcase bore someone else’s name and address. That’s because I’d lent it five years prior to a college acquaintance and hadn’t used it since. Removing her leather tag at the last minute and replacing it with one of those flimsy paper ones the airlines give out, I thought, “What if my bag had gotten lost? Would it have gone to her instead of me? And isn’t that a good idea for a story?” Thus, THE BUTTERFLY SISTER starts with the delivery of a mysterious suitcase, and the story spirals out from that jumping off point.
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Playing Tyler by T. L. Costa

Playing TylerBy Michael Haskins

debut-authorT.L. Costa’s first thriller PLAYING TYLER is released this month from Angry Robot Ltd as a trade paperback. Costa is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Masters of Teaching from Quinnipiac University. Author Sean Cummings, POLTERGEEKS, said, “Wildly original storytelling that is as authentic as it is engaging. PLAYING TYLER is one of the best YA books 2013.”

T.L. recently discussed her novel with the BigThrill:

Give us an elevator pitch about PLAYING TYLER.

I like to describe it as SAY ANYTHING meets ENDER’S GAME. When gamer Tyler MacCandless gets the opportunity to beta-test a drone piloting game to try and win a spot in flight school, he takes it.  But when the game seems too real, he teams up with the game’s designer to uncover the truth, questioning everything he knows about morality while having to fight for love in a world at war.
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Sandstorm by Alan L. Lee 

By Michael F. Stewart

This June, Alex Koves, a cunning and lethal U.S. Intelligence asset, will be unleashed on the world. This is what happens when a journalist with three decades of experience conceives a thriller. He births a ripped from the headlines page turner. And if events play out as they do in the novel, nothing will ever be the same.

Lurking in the shadows, away from any government oversight, a secret partnership has been formed between an Israeli spymaster pulling the strings of the most efficient killing machine the Mossad has to offer and an exclusive billionaire boys club that wants to dictate the New World Order. In their pocket is a powerful U.S. senator who aspires to the presidency. Success means vast wealth and increased power, and they’ll stop at nothing to succeed.

CIA operative Nora Mossa is trained to kill when the situation calls for it. She’s also capable of disappearing into thin air. Being efficient, deadly, and beautiful, however, won’t be enough to protect her after her mentor Erica Janway is assassinated in her Maryland home. With everyone in the Agency suspect, Nora turns to the only person capable of keeping her alive while she uncovers the truth behind Janway’s demise—her former lover and ex–CIA agent Alex Koves. That is, if he will even speak to her.

With danger lurking in every corner of the globe, Koves and Nora must stay alive long enough to piece together the clues to a deadly plot capable of killing thousands in the Middle East. And the clock is ticking….
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Anonymous Sources by Mary Louise Kelly 

By Brian Knight

Thom Carlyle had it all: the rowing trophies, the Oxbridge education, the glamorous girlfriend. But on a glorious summer evening in Harvard Square, Thom is murdered—pushed from the top of a Harvard bell tower. The New England Chronicle sends a beautiful, feisty, but troubled reporter named Alexandra James to investigate. It is the story of a lifetime. But it is not what it seems. Alex’s reporting takes her abroad, from the cobbled courtyards of Cambridge, England…to the inside of a network of nuclear terrorists…to the corridors of the CIA…and finally, to the terrorists’ target itself.

Mary Louise Kelly’s debut novel, ANONYMOUS SOURCES, is available soon, and she’s graciously agreed to tell us about it.

Tell us a bit about your new release, ANONYMOUS SOURCES.

It’s a spy thriller, complete with assassins, double-agents and terrorists. But it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are scenes that some of my early readers say had them doubled over in laughter.

My protagonist, Alexandra James, really carries the story. She’s a fascinating mix of sass and vulnerability. André Breton once described one of Frida Kahlo’s paintings as “a ribbon around a bomb.” That pretty much sums up Alex James.

How much research goes into a story like ANONYMOUS SOURCES?

A surprising amount, actually. Given that it’s fiction, you would think you could just make everything up.

But – perhaps because of my training as a reporter – I was obsessed with getting the details right. I visited every setting described in the book personally, from the Eliot House bell tower at Harvard, to the room where they serve tea at Claridge’s Hotel, to CIA headquarters.
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Legal Heat by Sarah Castille

Katy Sinclair made it to the brink of partnership at her high-powered law firm with hard work, dogged determination, and the ruthless self-discipline to cultivate a conservative public image. But when she follows an evasive witness into a sex club, she can’t deny herself a red-hot sexual encounter with the seductive bartender who sets her body on fire. She’s sure no one will ever know about her indiscretion —until she walks into the courtroom to find her dirty little secret is the opposing counsel in the most important case of her career.

As the managing partner in a struggling law firm, hot-shot attorney Mark Richards can’t afford any mistakes that might cost him his biggest client, like getting involved with his beautiful, determined opponent—the mystery woman he hasn’t been able to forget. But when Katy’s quest for justice leads to death threats, Mark will sacrifice everything to protect her.

Now they’re risking their hearts…and their lives…in a race to catch a killer. Little do they know, the greatest danger lies closer to home.
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The Libra Affair by Daco 

By L. Dean Murphy

In this romantic suspense thriller, nothing can stand in the way of Jordan Jakes launching a missile in a remote desert of Iran—not even Ben Johnson, the NASA scientist she’s targeted. Against all odds, Ben follows Jordan, placing not only the mission at risk, but also the world’s fate. Everything hinges on the strength of their love.

Daco added, “On a larger scale, THE LIBRA AFFAIR is about finding balance, a home-brewed war to alter international allies and rebalance global economic powers. It focuses on obstacles Jordan Jakes faces to complete her mission successfully, but on a deeper level these impediments also parallel the difficulties faced in her personal life.

“In our personal lives, like yin chasing yang, we constantly seek balance. In the story, Jordan is too guarded. She chooses a career to hide from life; as a result, her need to control what enters her world leaves her scaling the perimeter of life when all she really wants is to find love and happiness.”
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Follow Her Home by Steph Cha 

By Michael Haskins

Stephanie Cha’s debut novel,  FOLLOW HER HOME, is released this month from St. Martin’s Minotaur.  Stephanie is a graduate of Yale Law and a practicing attorney in Los Angeles. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY said of her book “Intriguing…it’s clear that Song, a chain-smoking, hard-drinking, and nourish young woman with a Raymond Chandler fixation is well on her way to being a first-rate investigator.”

She recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for the BigThrill:

FOLLOW HER HOME has garnered some impressive reviews. As a debut author, that must make you excited. Has it overwhelmed you?

Yes! I’m thrilled with my early reviews, and yes, the actual process of seeing my book in the world is a bit overwhelming. I sold it almost two years ago, so I spent a long time accustomed to the idea that the release was in the distant future.
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A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by Susanna Calkins 

By Thomas Pluck

Susanna Calkins is the author of A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE, a mystery set in turbulent 17th Century London, in a time of great religious and social upheaval. When someone she loves is accused of murder, chambermaid Lucy Campion interprets the clues herself, all while avoiding the murderer, the law, and the everpresent cold hand of the Great Plague itself.

Those of us without a PhD in history often have a homogenized view of the past- so tell us a bit about England during the time A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE is set.

Great question!  A MURDER AT ROSAMUND’S GATE was set in the mid-1660s, a period of great political, social and religious contrasts. On the one hand, after years of civil strife and warfare, the Stuart line was restored with the return of King Charles II to the throne, ending years of joyless Puritan rule.  The theatres were reopened, long-squashed festivals were revived, and a sense of frenzied pleasure and merriment returned to the kingdom. On the other hand, with the ousting of the Puritans from power, there emerged great religious tensions among the re-established Anglican Church, the much-disparaged Catholics, as well as the many dissenting religious groups, especially the Quakers. New political conflicts between Parliament and the King were an additional source of tension and stress as well. Within all these tensions, England faced an ongoing struggle for order.

Exacerbating this struggle, between 1664 and 1666, two great disasters befell England, London most catastrophically. First, the plague struck heavily, killing thousands and thousands of people. Then, before the society could recover, the Great Fire of London swept through much of the city, destroying nearly 13,000 homes and rendering thousands homeless.  Consequently, a remarkable–if temporary–social mobility and gender fluidity occurred among the survivors, as servants and apprentices took over their master’s homes and livelihoods, and women found new ways to speak.
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