Before Jeffery Deaver became one of the most successful writers in the country, he was a journalist, a lawyer—and even a folk singer. But from the time he was in grade school, he knew that he wanted to write fiction. And not just any fiction—commercial, popular fiction. Books that kept readers up all night.
So, some thirty-five years ago, he decided it was time to give it a try. Deaver is the first to admit that his early novels didn’t sell as hoped. But he didn’t give up; he learned from his early work, honed his craft, and worked hard to become a master storyteller.
In the mid-1990s, Deaver released The Bone Collector, which featured quadriplegic protagonist, Lincoln Rhyme. The book has been named one of the best thrillers of all time, and went on to become a feature film starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.
As for Deaver, today he’s an A-list bestselling author with more than thirty novels to his name, and more literary nominations and awards than you can count.
While many writers might rest on their Lincoln-Rhyme-laurels, Deaver has a broad and impressive body of work. He writes stand alones, short stories, and even penned a James Bond novel, an honor given his love of the iconic character. What’s more, Deaver is an innovator. In The October List, he told a thrilling story—in reverse. In XO, he wrote songs for an album that accompanies the book. And in The Starling Project, he wrote an original audio play. Perhaps publishers should call him Midas—everything he touches seems to turn to gold.
This month, Deaver releases the highly-anticipated SOLITUDE CREEK, the fourth in his acclaimed Kathryn Dance series. The author recently answered some questions for The Big Thrill:
SOLITUDE CREEK is the fourth in the Kathryn Dance series, following the amazing, XO. What’s in store for Dance this time around?
Oh, mayhem, chaos, and terror, of course! In this novel, Kathryn gets busted down to “buck private” for making a serious mistake during an interrogation; she’s relegated to civil work for the CBI, like checking health certificates and bottle deposit receipts. But you can’t keep a strong woman down and she secretly runs an investigation on a villain obsessed with turning people’s panic into a weapon.
My debut thriller will launch in a few days. The galleys are out, the blog tour has commenced, events have been scheduled. I am, at the same time, excited and nervous.
Once a new writer manages to conquer the seemingly insurmountable hurdles of landing an agent and a publishing deal, a whole new set of challenges awaits. You only have to look at the statistics to know that the chances for a new writer being discovered and launching a successful debut novel are daunting. I won’t recite those statistics here, just to say that, to beat those odds, more pressure than ever is on the writer’s shoulders to promote themselves and their work—to stand out in the ever-increasing demand for a reader’s attention, build a readership, and create momentum for future books.
Word of mouth is still the best way for a writer and his or her book to be discovered, and that requires spreading the word as far and wide as possible. The dichotomy is that all of the promotion in the world will not guarantee a book’s success—success depends on the intangible: how does your book resonate with readers?
Yet, without promotion the book may never get into the hands of readers.
On a panel recently, I was asked what has surprised me as a newly-published author. The answer was an easy one. For all the fierce competition out there, authors are great supporters of new writers and their work. As authors rise in their careers, they reach back to offer a helping hand, and I wager many new writers would face an even greater struggle to establish their careers without that support.
ITW and the authors who created it are a perfect example. Part of the organization’s mission statement is to provide a powerful support network for all authors. This is especially true for debuts and those “next steppers” who face similar challenges with book two, three, and beyond.
OLD EARTH is a geological thriller that spans all of time—cutting backward and forward along the space-time continuum as the suspense builds and the mystery unfolds. It begins with an exploration by Galileo in 1601, jumps to a contemporary dinosaur dig in Montana, crosses back centuries to the Inquisition, and ultimately considers the very origins of civilization.
Through the investigation of paleontologists Quinn McCauley and Katrina Alpert, readers are taken on a globe-hopping adventure. Yet, just as the characters stumbled upon their find, Galileo provided me with quite an accidental discovery that became central to the plot development and excitement of OLD EARTH.
I originally outlined a purely present-day story: an excavation leads to a mysterious find, the find sets up an international search, the search reveals an amazing truth.
When I sat down with my initial outline to begin writing, I quickly realized I was missing something important. I needed a powerful inciting incident.
As a journalist and history buff, I looked for something profound, believable, and grounded in truth. As a researcher, I hoped I could dig up something tangible and exciting.
Digging deeper for a story is the part I love.
Open one door, it leads to another. Go down a path, there’s a fork with more possibilities. Come up with a strong notion, then more intriguing intersects reveal themselves, leading to more doors, more paths, and more forks, with decisions to make at each.
For me, the first “door to the past” led to Galileo’s early life—before the telescope. I wondered whether he, like Quinn McCauley in my contemporary story, had ever explored a cave. To my wonderful surprise, he not only had, but I learned something I had never known. In 1593, Galileo invented a rudimentary device to determine temperatures. Yes, Galileo invented the thermometer, or more accurately the thermoscope!
By J. F. Penn
(NOTE: This interview with Tom Harper can be watched on YouTube here.)
Tom Harper is the international bestselling author of eleven historical thrillers, including his latest, ZODIAC STATION. He recently took some time off to talk to The Big Thrill.
Tell us a bit more about you and how you started your writing career.
It’s something I’d always wanted to do. I remember being eight years old and telling my teacher that I wanted to be an author when I grew up. By the time I finished university, I hadn’t shaken that idea and I knew it’s what I wanted to do. I also knew that it was incredibly unlikely.
So I went to work for an actuarial consultancy for a while, which was a really boring job, but at an interesting company. Then, I decided to have a crack at writing seriously. I saw an advert for a crime writing competition, the Debut Dagger Competition, run by the Crime Writers’ Association in the UK. It was one of those moments that changed my life.
It was just an advert in the Sunday Times one weekend. If I hadn’t bought the paper or if I’d not read that section, or it had gone into the recycling bin, I shudder to think how my life would be different. They wanted a first chapter and synopsis of a crime novel, and the deadline was several weeks away. I sent mine off to the competition, trying to think no more of it, but it turned out that I was a runner-up, which was amazing. Editors and agents, who were originally judges in the contest, started contacting me.
I took a sabbatical from work and blasted out that book as fast as I possibly could, signing with an agent who had judged the competition. She was able to sell the book very quickly once I’d actually finished it. So it was all very fast and it’s one of the real good luck stories in publishing.
Penny Lorimer was born in England, but has lived in South Africa from the age of six months. She grew up in Johannesburg, studied drama at the University of Cape Town, and was an actress for five years, supplementing her inconsistent income by waitressing and working for the Johannesburg Public Library.
After leaving the acting profession, she held a variety of positions, including union administrator, radio newsreader, dialogue coach for television, film editor’s assistant, and PA to an archbishop. She now works in the education sector for a national group of independent high schools serving economically marginalized communities. FINDERS WEEPERS, her debut mystery, was published in South Africa in May last year. It’s a powerful and moving story, and exposes the current South African education crisis along the way.
FINDERS WEEPERS takes place in a fictional rural school in the Eastern Cape. Girdwood, once a highly regarded private school that educated some of South Africa’s future leaders during the Apartheid era, has now fallen into disarray and is as bad as any rural high school in the country. Boniswa Sekeyi, a committed teacher educated here and in the United States, takes on the job of principal and is determined to restore the school’s previous high standards.
I asked Penny how she’d come to write FINDERS WEEPERS.
Would you tell us something about yourself and your writing?
I have always been a voracious reader—I cannot go a day without reading and would rather forget my toothbrush than my book when going on holiday. (I’ve done so in the past, in fact.) I think when you love reading, and read a lot, it’s inevitable that you begin to wonder whether you could do what these writers—who give you so much pleasure—are doing. So I’ve also been interested in writing almost as long as I can remember. I’d written bits and pieces at various stages of my life, but never anything lengthy or significant. I came second in a Fair Lady short story competition in the late 1980s, and my work always involved writing—speeches, website content, reports, and many, many letters. As my children got older I began to feel a need for another kind of creative expression and began to consider writing a novel, without really knowing how I would find the time.
I loved reading books about writing, and, in an essay, Maeve Binchy wrote that if you wanted to write you had to give something up. It could be exercise, playing poker, watching television, or time with friends and/or family. I didn’t play poker and the only thing I was willing and able to give up was sleep. At around the same time I got the beginnings of the idea for FINDERS WEEPERS and felt pretty passionate about it. So I started waking up at five a.m. every morning and writing for an hour before getting the kids and myself ready for school and work. On weekends I would work for a bit longer and in this way managed to complete the book in about three years. It was very long at first so there was still a lot of re-writing and editing to do before it got whittled down to its final form. Thank the universe for all the people that insisted on the shortening and showed me how to do it!
Reviewers have called Orest Stelmach’s writing “brilliant, nuanced and deeply moving,” which is high praise for any author, but especially for one whose first language was not English. Born in Connecticut to parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine, his Nadia Tesla thriller series is deeply influenced by his Ukrainian heritage and the catastrophic consequences of the accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The series takes the reader from New York to Ukraine, Siberia, Alaska, and Japan. His upcoming release, THE ALTAR GIRL, brings this chilling series to its end.
Stelmach’s way with words is apparent before you even crack one of his books, however. Visit his website to read essays that are witty, inspiring, and emotive. You’ll find in these short writings, the hand of a master storyteller.
Orest sat down with The Big Thrill for this interview.
THE ALTAR GIRL is a prequel to the popular Nadia Tesla series. In what ways is Nadia different now than she would have been had the prequel been written first?
In fact, the prequel was written first. After the subsequent three books were published, I went back and rewrote the prequel years after I first imagined it. I ended up changing eighty to ninety percent of the book. As a result of writing the later books first, Nadia did change, just as you suggest. First, she became more mature for her age, with a voice that reflected her childhood hardships. And second, she became a woman with shame, the kind that defines humanity. In Nadia’s case, her shame is at the core of the plot and themes of THE ALTAR GIRL.
By E. A. Aymar
Suzanne Johnson enjoys keeping a foot in two worlds.
Her Sentinels series takes place both in contemporary New Orleans and an intricately developed paranormal universe that lies just beyond the city. Her characters battle both supernatural and human conflicts, but Johnson is too skilled a writer to let the physical fights overshadow the emotions that led to them. And although her books employ a number of fantasy conventions, Johnson uses actual historic incidents and figures (such as Hurricane Katrina, and the French pirate Jean Lafitte) in her work.
Additionally, she co-writes the Collectors’ series under the pseudonym Susannah Sandlin. Despite her busy schedule, Johnson took the time to discuss her writing and her latest book in the Sentinels series, PIRATE’S ALLEY.
What’s been your biggest challenge with maintaining the Sentinels series?
Building and sustaining a large multiverse—lots of species, each with different types of magic or powers—without drowning the reader in too many characters or complexity. I’ve introduced the major political players slowly, with the wizards and historical undead in the first book, Royal Street, then shifters and the water species in River Road, the elves and vampires in Elysian Fields, and now the fae in PIRATE’S ALLEY. As the series marches toward an interspecies war unless heroine DJ finds a way to prevent it, I hope introducing the species slowly in this way will help readers keep them straight!
Inspired by an event from her childhood, author SJI Holliday’s thrilling debut BLACK WOOD, hits the streets this month with a splash.
Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralyzed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story.
Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. At the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on an abandoned railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun.
But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. Can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?
Holliday is eager for you to find out!
Holliday grew up in East Lothian, Scotland. She works as a Pharmaceutical Statistician, and as a life-long bookworm has always dreamt of becoming a novelist. She has several crime and horror short stories published in anthologies and was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham Prize.
After travelling the world, she has now settled in London with her husband. She took some time to chat to The Big Thrill about her debut, the event that inspired this story, and a personal fact that may surprise you.
By John Darrin
Talking about bodice-ripper novels with a voluptuous women’s body from the neck down on the cover, Karen says, without guile: “The only time I’d want a headless character on a book cover is if the neck was gushing blood, her head having been chopped off in the story.”
Thus we begin my article on Karen Maitland and her latest medieval thriller, THE RAVEN’S HEAD.
What? Gushing blood? From this historian and member of a popular comedic speaker’s troupe?
When asked about this seeming contradiction, she says, “We go for ‘gallows humor.’ Years ago, when I worked in a hospital, I often had to go down to the morgue. The mortuary technicians were the funniest guys I’ve ever met before or since.” Maybe she should recruit some for a stand-up tour. They could call themselves “The Body Snickers” or “Embalmapalozza.”
To say I was taken aback would be an understatement. My research into this very knowledgeable and intelligent historian had led me to make a note that said, “She has a depth and intellect that seems to repel humor and sarcasm.”
Gerry Porter provides magical experiences for his granddaughter Maddie when a SuperKrafts manager takes them to New York City for a huge crafts fair.
Gerry and his granddaughter get to work on both making miniatures and solving crimes, the detecting duo’s favorite pastimes. All this, plus Rockefeller Center and Radio City, too.
But a crafty murderer wants to make sure they don’t make it safely home again to California.
What draws you to the mystery genre?
The darkness. Even the coziest mystery has an element of the darker side of life. I write light, but I read dark. I can’t stay in the light too long.
Your book cover has a snow globe on it, which attracted me right away as I collect snow globes. Tell us the significance of the snow globe with relation to the plot and/or characters.
I love snow globes, also. Maddie, Gerry Porter’s eleven-year-old granddaughter, is obsessed with souvenirs of New York City. She’s given this special one by an NYPD detective.
You might recognize J. Sydney Jones as the author of the Viennese Mystery series. Or you might know him from his nonfiction. Whether you are familiar with Jones or not, you’ll want to check out his latest stand-alone novel, BASIC LAW.
According to Jones, “ex-pat American journalist Sam Kramer is burned out: too many dead bodies, too many wars covered, too little meaning in it all. He’s got a dead-end job at the Daily European as the correspondent in Vienna, where nothing happens now that the Cold War is over. And that’s exactly how Kramer likes it.
“But his private neutral zone is shattered with news of the suicide of Reni Müller, a German left-wing firebrand and Kramer’s long-estranged ex-girlfriend. To his surprise, Kramer suddenly finds himself the executor of Reni’s literary estate—but the damning memoir named in her will is nowhere to be found. Tracking down the manuscript will lead Kramer to the unsettling truth of Reni’s death, drawing him back into the days of the Cold War and showing him the dark side of the woman he loved.”
Jones reports that the idea for BASIC LAW is based on a personal real-life experience. As he tells it on his blog, Vienna in the late 1960s and early 1970s was a haven for spies. Not only were there the expected factions representing both East and West, Austria had a rather large intelligence service of its own. “It’s also vital to note Vienna had a lenient twenty-year statute of limitations against Nazi war criminals. Thus, as with one’s friends and spying, you never knew if your cheery landlord was a former SS or not.”
One day while writing at a “dive of a café,” he realized he wasn’t in Kansas anymore when a drunken man approached him, asking what he was writing. When told a short story about Vienna, the man sat himself down, bared his arm and whispered he had stories. It didn’t take Jones very long to realize the man was former SS.
ROSES ARE DEAD, MY LOVE is the second book featuring the ever-curious and entertaining sisters, Rose and Daisy Forrest. These cozy mysteries offer a host of plot twists, intrigue, and enjoyable characters, notable among this last group being the sisters’ feisty, quirky, yet insightful mother, Angela Forrest.
In this second instalment of the series, Daisy and Rose have enjoyed a quiet six months until strange things begin happening in Old Towne once again. With a local jogger engaged in obscene indiscretions, mysterious mail mishaps, and a host of other misfortunes, ROSES ARE DEAD, MY LOVE promises to lead the reader on another “Nancy Drew”–type investigation.
“The ladies do have quite a bit of fun breaking and entering, or ‘opening and entering’ as they see it,” says Penny Clover Petersen. “And Angela’s prowess with her new Super-Shooter is rather entertaining.”
Not to mention “the secret Rose’s new boyfriend, Peter Fleming, is hiding,” adds Petersen. “He appears to be a nice, regular sort of man, if a little pretentious, but not all is at it seems.”
Sounds like the start of an excellent adventure, worthy of a cozy chair and a good cocktail, right? Check out Petersen’s website for Forrest-approved recipes. The sisters appear to have a “drink” for everything.
An avid reader and lover of well-written, engaging books, Petersen admits that a run of “bad” books was the primary motivator for her putting pen to paper. “At one point about seven years ago, I had been reading a string of really awful books and complaining loudly that ‘I could write better than this.’ My husband suggested that instead of whining, I should just write one.”
What links a terror attack on Washington, D.C., missing girls, coded price lists, and a rogue Interpol operator? It’s up to FBI Special Agent Ellie Conway to figure that out in Cat Connor’s new novel ERASERBYTE, seventh in the “Byte” series. That’s if she can survive helicopter crashes and other threats.
It’s a tale that sets the U.S. capital on fire with a series of explosions, and Ellie has to reach out to controversial connections to try and stop further terrorist attacks and horrifying deaths.
It’s a great, page-turning challenge for the agent from the FBI’s Delta A, who has already won over fans in previous adventures and should earn new ones in this outing.
Connor, who is from Cantabria, New Zealand, saw databyte, Number 6 in the Ellie Conway series, long listed for the 2015 Ngaio Marsh best crime novel award. Amid that and other excitement including a fortnightly writing workshop, Connor is busy with the launch of ERASERBYTE and other travels. Happily she had time for a few questions with The Big Thrill.
A spy flits from shadow to shadow across Oxford-town, pausing at last to study the doorway of the main library, wherein a secret that could threaten all of England may be found. There are two guards there, guns at the ready, and the spy knows that a single misstep could prompt them to open fire and spill his blood onto the cobblestone streets.
In the plus column: The spy is invisible.
In the minus column: The guards are zombies.
Had you there for a minute, I bet. The passage above is a quick-and-dirty summary of a scene in my latest book, THE VENUSIAN GAMBIT. That first paragraph could describe any number of thrillers—the last two lines winnow the matter down considerably.
Let’s go a bit further. What if I told you the guards’ guns were muskets? That the zombies were part of Napoleon’s army in 1809, an army that had successfully invaded England? And that the secret was something guarded by diminutive lizard-men living on Venus? Now we’re talking historical fantasy and space opera. But we’re also still talking about a thriller.
There can be a certain “get your chocolate out of my peanut butter!” mentality when it comes to crossing genres, but that’s never stopped me. Some of the best thrillers I’ve ever read are outright science fiction—particularly the ones dealing with nanoviruses or high-tech perils. More plausible than Napoleon’s zombies? Sure. But not happening in the present day. They’re speculative—and speculation is at the heart of science fiction and fantasy.
Inspiration can come at a writer from any direction, but for Rachel Howzell Hall the stories that resonate most deeply are drawn from her own life and the lives of people close to her. SKIES OF ASH, her second thriller featuring Los Angeles Detective Elouise “Lou” Norton, reflects some of the turmoil she witnessed in her friends’ lives over the past few years.
In a recent interview, Rachel said, “I remember having the realization about five years ago that my friends, and friends of friends, were starting to divide into two groups—still married (like me) or now divorcing. Everyone had hit those hard patches in life, late thirties, early forties, kids, private school bills, taxes owed, jobs, lay-offs, failing health, deaths.” At the same time, she noticed a stream of news stories about domestic violence. “Husbands killing their wives, moms killing their kids, and on and on. Everyone was pissed off and frustrated and broke and suicidal. And then, our economy tanked and all these smart bankers were outed as crooks.”
Rachel blended those elements into an intense tale that begins with Lou Norton responding to the scene of a house fire in which a woman named Juliet Chatman has perished with her two children. The grieving husband and father, Christopher Chatman, is hospitalized after supposedly trying to rescue his family. Neighbors and friends call the Chatmans a perfect family living a dream life. Lou doesn’t take long to uncover the sordid truth about Juliet and Christopher’s marriage and to suspect that one of their perfect children set the fatal fire. Lesson: People are never what they seem to be.
By Ian Walkley
J. L. Abramo was born in Brooklyn on Raymond Chandler’s fifty-ninth birthday. Abramo earned a BA in Sociology at the City College of New York and a master’s degree in social psychology at the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of Catching Water in a Net (2001), winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America prize for Best First Private Eye Novel; and the subsequent Jake Diamond mysteries Clutching at Straws and Counting to Infinity.
In CIRCLING THE RUNWAY, an Assistant District Attorney is murdered in his high-rise apartment building and Detective Sergeant Roxton (Rocky) Johnson suspects his lieutenant may have something to do with it. He can think of no one to turn to for help—no one he can trust—except Jake Diamond. If the mismatched duo can avoid stepping on each other’s toes long enough, they may be able to stop circling the runway and land on the villain’s doorstep.
Jake Diamond is back after a ten-year hiatus and his reappearance was well worth the wait. Why the wait, and why bring him back?
Before Jake Diamond popped up, I had been working on a novel set in Brooklyn. The attempt at writing a mystery novel was instigated by something I had stumbled across on the Internet, a contest sponsored by St. Martin’s Press and the Private Eye Writers of America appropriately called the Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. I set the novel in San Francisco and Los Angeles, inspired by those atmospheric locations so well employed by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Catching Water in a Net won the contest and was published by St. Martin’s.
By J. H. Bográn
In a world where private detectives risk their lives for what amounts to small change, it’s obvious they do it for more than the money. Liz Talbot is one such detective. However, she’s found a rather unusual partner in crime from the ethereal world—her long-dead friend Coleen keeps guard over her and her family. Just don’t go calling her a ghost, for she has a whole different name for her condition. Susan Boyer’s latest book, LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD is the third installment in the popular Liz Talbot series.
Boyer graciously took time out of her schedule to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill.
What is LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD about?
When a father hires PI Liz Talbot to find his heiress daughter, Liz suspects the most difficult part will be convincing the overbearing patriarch she left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes. But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Kent and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk. Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Kent, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.
Although he was born in Cumbria, England in 1968, author Mike Craven grew up in the northeast and attended the same school as Newcastle and England center-forward, Alan Shearer, before running away to join the circus army. He believes, but has no proof, that his little sister moved into his bedroom before the train had even left the station. He trained for two years as an armourer (that’s gunsmith to you and I) before spending the next ten being paid to travel the world and drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol.
In 1995, sick of writing postcards and having fun, he decided it might be time to do something a bit more sensible. And it doesn’t get more sensible than getting a law degree. So, he did social work instead. Two years later, he started working in Cumbria as a probation officer. Sixteen years, and a few promotions later, he is still there; although as a crime writer, he now has different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.
In between joining the army and securing a publishing deal, Mike found time to nurture a pet crocodile, survive cancer, get married, and buy a springer spaniel named Bracken. He wanted to call him Gimli, but was told to grow up. He lives in Carlisle where he tries to leave the house as little as possible and gets annoyed by people who say “it’s too cold to snow” and “watch that swan, its wings can break your arm”.”
Craven took time out of that busy schedule to talk to The Big Thrill about his new release, ASSUME NOTHING, BELIEVE NOBODY, CHALLENGE EVERYTHING, a collection of short stories that explores betrayals of trust, poker cheats, ambitious barristers, cyber bullies, lost diplomats and revenge.
By Ovidia Yu
First, would you tell us something about THE CAT SITTER’S WHISKERS?
Funny you should ask! It just came out last month. It’s the tenth book in The Dixie Hemingway Mystery Series, published by St. Martins/Minotaur and created by my mom, Blaize Clement. It’s my third book. I took over the series after my mom passed away in 2011, just after she’d put the finishing touches on Book #7. The books are all designed to stand alone on their own, but there’s an arc to Dixie’s personal life that started with the very first book, CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT SITTER, and is continuing even as we speak (I’m just now finishing up book #11, which will be out next year).
It’s fascinating how you came to continue the Cat Sitter series. In a previous interview you described your initial response to the suggestion: “I was horrified. My mother was thrilled.” What has been most difficult about taking on Blaize Clement’s legacy—and what most rewarding?
Yeah, I think that’s still a pretty good summation of my feelings at the time. My mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. She had chemotherapy early on, but eventually decided to end treatment, partially because it wasn’t working very well, but also because she wanted to be in control of her final days and enjoy them—to “die well” as she described it. That decision meant a couple of things: one, she knew with certainty what was going to happen, and two, she had time to plan. It was her long-time editor at St. Martins, Marcia Markland, that suggested I continue the series, and when my mom asked what I thought, I didn’t even hesitate. I said no. I think I might have said hell no. Honestly, I just didn’t think I was capable of writing a full-length book, let alone a series with new installments practically every year. At that point, the longest thing I’d published was a feature for The Chicago Sun Times, not much more than three or four thousand words, plus I didn’t think I could really do the series justice. And I didn’t think the readers would accept it. And blah blah blah. I had a million excuses. Eventually, though, I changed my mind, largely due to my mom’s not-so-subtle reminders that a good son doesn’t say no to his mother, especially at her deathbed.
By John Raab
Richard Mabry, MD has authored several medical thrillers, many of them having been nominated for various literary awards. He’s created a new genre within the genre by writing, what he calls, medical suspense—with a heart. Now, he’s back with his latest book FATAL TRAUMA.
Mabry has practiced medicine for thirty-six years, written more than a hundred papers, spoken around the world, penned several textbooks, served in the Armed Forces, and still has energy to write fantastic suspense books. His latest brings the same passion as his previous novels, giving fans exactly what they’ve come to expect.
In an exclusive interview with The Big Thrill, Mabry talks about the inspiration behind FATAL TRAUMA, the writing process, and what’s next for him.
Give us an inside look into your latest release, FATAL TRAUMA.
In the opening scene, a gun-wielding man bursts into the ER with a wounded patient in a wheelchair, saying that if the man dies, he’ll kill everyone in the room. The stakes get even higher for the ER doctor when he recognizes that the nurse pushing the wheelchair, a gun at her head, is the woman he’s been dating.
Can you tell us about Dr. Mark Baker—why was he the perfect person for this story?
Dr. Baker represents so many of us in the profession at some stage in our practice of medicine—we’re beset by self-doubt, we second guess our decisions and motivations, and it often takes someone like nurse Kelly Atkinson to shore us up and help us through these tough times.
By Basil Sands
Ladies and gents I present to you Robert Kidera, author of the awesome new release RED GOLD. A first-person crime thriller that felt like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Lawrence Block all rolled into one.
After an early fling in the motion picture industry and a long and successful career in academia, Kidera retired in 2010. With his desire to play major league baseball no longer a realistic dream, he chose to fulfill his other lifelong ambition and became a writer. He is a member of Southwest Writers, Sisters in Crime, and the International Thriller Writers organizations.
RED GOLD is his debut novel, the first installment in the McKenna Mystery series. He is currently working on its sequel, Get Lost, with a third book to follow.
Robert lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife and Otis the cat. He has two daughters, a grandson, and granddaughter.
Welcome Robert. Tell us about RED GOLD.
Red Gold is the first volume of the Gabe McKenna Mystery Series. It’s the story of a shattered man who finds himself swept up in a lethal struggle for a lost fortune in nineteenth-century gold. More than that, it’s about a lost soul resurrecting himself, getting up off the canvas of personal despair and self-pity, and continuing The Fight. And giving himself a second chance at life and love.
By Dan Levy
Odds are you know someone who is, or was, part of American age that former journalist/anchorman Tom Brokaw called The Greatest Generation. One of the many noteworthy characteristics of this generation is that, when its (mostly) men returned from World War II, they didn’t share their experience—didn’t want to burden their families with the pain they’d felt and the suffering they’d witnessed, didn’t want to glamorize war; they knew better. They were simply men, and women, who loved their country, and who answered the call when America needed defending. They did a job they would soon learn was dirty and ugly, but they did it—and then put it behind them.
New York Times bestselling author Ralph Pezzullo describes today’s Navy SEALs with the same adjectives and reverence saved for the Greatest Generation. “These are guys who want to do the right thing. They’re very patriotic, but they don’t go crazy (expressing it),” says Pezzullo. “They’re not superheroes. They bleed, they cry, and they suffer just like the rest of us.”
But the one thing the SEALs have that perhaps some of us lack, is an unwavering belief in each other. And that’s what makes Pezzullo’s Hunt series, including the latest installment, HUNT THE FOX, different from the military (or former military) protagonists you’ll find in other thrillers. According to Pezzullo, “The concept of ‘team’ is key. Their teammates are probably the closest people in their lives. They go through hell together. They have one another’s backs. And, they know that. They completely depend on one another. I try to underline that all the time.”
In HUNT THE FOX, written with former Navy SEAL Don Mann, Pezzullo’s lead protagonist, Captain Thomas Crocker, notices he’s being tailed. He suspects the men tracking his movements are members of Syria’s intelligence agency, the Mulhabarat—and their presence is a sign of the region’s increasing volatility.
Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy’s shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she’s chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy’s world.
When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy’s death and everyone’s grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy’s life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister’s life.
Welcome Trisha, it’s good to talk to you again.
Brian: Just reading the synopsis, it strikes me that this is a story that my youngest daughter (and interview partner) Ellie, would go wild for. Do you run your story ideas by your own children before you write them?
I do not. In fact, I rarely discuss my books with anyone, with the exception of my agent and editor, until they are complete. I am a bit superstitious that way. I do have a group of teen readers that I hand my finished drafts off to before I send them in, but no…my kids pretty much know very little about my books until they are done and shipped off.
If you prefer your suspense-driven mysteries solved without all of the high-tech CSI wizardry we see today, your next read should be STONE COLD DEAD.
The story starts in mid-winter. 1960. A fifteen-year-old junior high school student wanders away from her school bus for a few minutes. When the bus takes off, just a few minutes later, it leaves her behind and the girl is never seen again. On New Year’s Eve, the missing girl’s mother, Irene, turns to newspaper reporter Ellie Stone for help. The local police have told Irene that her daughter has just run off with some boy. Ellie’s stories in the paper on an earlier murder case convince Irene that Ellie is her last hope. A good choice for several reasons. Ellie Stone is the smartest person in the room, great with puzzles and detecting patterns; she’s a crossword whiz and a savant at identifying classical music pieces. But her author says there’s more to his sleuth.
“She’s also got something to prove, to her father, to the men she works for, and even to herself,” James Ziskin says. “She’s also fearless. Well, perhaps ‘fearless’ isn’t quite right. She definitely experiences moments of fear, even terror. But she’s courageous, stands firm and fights through them. For instance, she will ask a suspect a pointed question, even when she fears a violent reaction. Then, when the suspect uses anger to deflect the question, she’ll ask it again, risking his wrath.”
Even more telling, Ellie just doesn’t give up. She proved that in Styx & Stone, when she was drawn into a murder investigation soon after moving upstate from her native New York City. In her second, No Stone Unturned, she helped out in another case in her adopted small town home. STONE COLD DEAD finds her still adapting to the culture and environment of New Holland, New York.
By Dawn Ius
Few eras inspire more passion—and controversy—than the Tudor Dynasty, a period of tumultuous change in England, and of course remembered for many of King Henry VIII’s exploits. Between denouncing his religion to marry Anne Boleyn and then beheading her, to his most well-known legacy of being somewhat of a (ruthless) womanizer, it’s no wonder the Tudors have front lined hundreds of books, TV shows and movies, and even today continue to feed the pop culture machine.
As an author entering the well-documented Tudor era, it might be easy to get lost in the milieu—but Nancy Bilyeau, author of the award-winning Joanna Stafford series, has carved out her own niche by writing thrilling plots set within the “real” time, while focusing not only on the more recognizable characters of the past, but also on some of the lesser knowns—like Sir Walter Hungerford, for instance, who was executed alongside Thomas Cromwell and, according to Bilyeau, may—or may not—have been a debauched madman.
“Almost everyone writes fiction in the Tudor era from the Protestant side of the Reformation,” she says. “I don’t. I have given a great deal of thought to how it felt to survive the Dissolution of the Monasteries when you were a committed Catholic. As a daughter of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, I know what it’s like to be divided—I am drawn to stories of religious strife. An English friend of mine said, ‘This is so interesting, to hear about history from the losers.’”
Bilyeau’s fascination with these historical characters stems from a deep-rooted love of English history. While her library is well-packed with non-fiction texts, this is only the beginning of her extensive fact-finding mission for each book. As a trained Journalist, whose editorial credentials include Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly, Bilyeau understands the value—and importance—of a well-researched novel. Particularly in the case of her Tudor-inspired thrillers.
But this is not a book set in a typically bleak cyberpunk dystopia. The setting may be financially ruthless but also affords its paying inhabitants sparkling entertainment, vast networks, and instantaneity. It could easily be imagined as an exaggerated view of today’s modern society, particularly in regard to an unhealthy obsession with money. CASH CRASH JUBILEE will certainly make you think about where we might be headed.
However, amidst all this cash and cyber-technology we still find vital sparks of humanity. This comes to light in the form of a moral dilemma faced by protagonist Amon, whose job it is to delete the online presence of those with no more credit. He is suddenly faced with the unpalatable task of doing the very same to someone he greatly admires, which results in him questioning the status quo, asking things that should never be asked, and taking him to places shrouded in digital darkness.
It is interesting how the novel occasionally employs phonetic spellings for some of its dialogue, such as in the apologetic “Aim sohry”. This reflects the setting where people resort to alternative versions of words to avoid the costs associated with official spellings. Initially, this took a little getting used to, but it successfully adds flavor to the world being described.
I had a chance to probe the mind of the author, Eli K.P. William. The following data was returned…
By David Healey
Long before there was the Walther PPK or the Glock—long, long before—there was the handgonne. In an age of swords, knights in armor, and pikes, the arrival of firearms was both world-changing and sinister.
Though primitive by today’s firearms standards—handgonnes resembled metal pipes attached to broom handles—and so unwieldy that two men were required to fire them; they were deadly nonetheless.
When several bodies are discovered in London with strange new gunshot wounds in the year 1386, it falls to “middling poet” and purveyor of secrets John Gower to investigate the case. What are these strange new weapons, who is wielding them, and what secrets are at stake?
This is the premise of Bruce Holsinger’s intriguing new historical novel, THE INVENTION OF FIRE, recently selected as an Amazon Best Book of the Month. The novel follows on the heels of 2014’s A Burnable Book, in which readers first met the main character.
Though fictionalized, Gower is based on a real person, a fourteenth-century man of law and letters who was a close friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. Much more is known about the author of The Canterbury Tales, of course; and Chaucer figures prominently in both books. To put these novels in historical context, it may help to know that they are set during the reign of Richard II, near the onset of the Hundred Years War.
By Stacy Mantle
Sexy shifters, savage villains, and exotic locales merge flawlessly in the action-packed suspense writing of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Paige Tyler. Her most recent release, HER WILD HERO, is the third book in the X-OPS Series, and it’s hit the stands with critical praise.
Her unique hybrid of genres combines the thrill of the chase with military-style action while incorporating enough sex to satisfy all readers. This week, we had the opportunity to talk with Tyler about her recent release and how she’s leveraged her storytelling ability to achieve international success across many audiences.
Tell us a bit about HER WILD HERO.
In HER WILD HERO, DCO training officer/behavioral scientist Kendra Carlsen has been begging her boss to let her go into the field for years. When he finally agrees to send her along as an observer with a team on a training exercise in Costa Rica, she’s thrilled. But the team’s resident bear shifter Declan MacBride is anything but pleased. He’s been crushing on Kendra since he started working there seven years ago, only she doesn’t see him as anything other than a friend. He’s finally moved on—or thinks he has—and spending two weeks in the same jungle with her is going to put a serious strain on his resolve. But when they get to Costa Rica, things go bad quickly. Their team is ambushed by a large group of hybrids—twisted, man-made shifters the DCO has been dealing with on and off since Book 1 of the X-OPS Series (Her Perfect Mate). Kendra and Declan get separated from the rest of their team and must depend on each other to survive. But Declan soon discovers that fighting packs of bloodthirsty hybrids isn’t nearly as hard as fighting his attraction to the beautiful woman he’ll do anything to protect.
One of the most appealing aspects of the thriller genre is its sheer breadth. Thrillers can be modern or historical, grounded in gritty realism or cloaked in supernatural fantasy, or any range of flavor in between. For thriller lovers who at least occasionally like their thrills served with a western flare, The Big Thrill recently caught up with Linell Jeppsen, previously the author of several works of science fiction, paranormal romance, and fantasy, to talk about her latest novel, LUCKY CHANCE, and how it fits into her more recent fictional universe of western action-thrillers.
Thank you for taking the time to join us at The Big Thrill and congratulations on your newest novel! While your latest books are action-adventure thrillers, they’re also very much westerns in the classic sense. What made you pick that type of genre and setting for your stories after having been writing in the fantasy and science fiction realm?
I really don’t know-—except for the fact that the first of the Deadman series percolated in my head for many years. It took about three paragraphs to realize that writing historical fiction was a whole different kettle of fish from my usual fantasy and science fiction! The first book starts in 1864… I mentioned “barbed wire” and thought, “Wait! Was barbed wire even invented then?”
Since then, I have gone on to write many more books in the series, I am far more comfortable with the research aspects of historical writing-—although it can still be a pain.
Tell us about LUCKY CHANCE, your most recent release. What do you think readers of The Big Thrill would find most intriguing about the book and its characters?
LUCKY CHANCE is meant to serve as a bridge between the Deadman and the Chance series. Many of the characters are the same—only seven years have passed and the age and circumstances of the characters have evolved.
LUCKY CHANCE is about boxing during the turn of the century. Chance Wilcox was a heavy weight boxing champion in the Army, so he is uniquely qualified to determine whether or not the culprits in this tale are guilty of “loading” their gloves with plaster of Paris. This was a fun little story but again… called for a TON of research.
By Eyre Price
International man of action, Dominic Grey, has fought cults and criminals all over the globe. In his next escapade, he takes on THE SHADOW CARTEL. We recently sat down with Dominic’s creator, Layton Green, and asked the world-traveler-turned-bestseller about his journey to the top of the bestseller list and where he plans to go from here.
You have a diverse background, from intern for the United Nations to ESL teacher in Central America, from tending bar in London to selling knives on the streets of Brixton. How have your varied experiences across the globe influenced your writing?
In an irreplaceable way. Some writers claim to write better from their imagination (though conscious imagination is of course influenced if not dictated by experience), and I believe it was Graham Greene who famously said he didn’t need to visit a place to write about it. Every writer’s journey is different, but for me, yes, my life’s experiences are such stuff as novels are made of.
You have a legal background, as well. How did your training in the law influence you as a writer?
I started writing novels while I was working at my first law firm (many would argue that I had already written plenty of fiction), and in the beginning, I had to retrain my writing style to be creative rather than dry and linear. But my legal training has helped me tremendously with plotting and research.
By E. M. Powell
Of course I love thrillers (don’t we all?!), but I especially love a thriller that brings something new and different to the table. In DOUBLE VISION, Colby Marshall does just that. Her heroine, Dr. Jenna Ramey, is an FBI forensic psychiatrist whose brain is wired very differently to most of us. Jenna also comes to this book, the second in the series, with a heck of a backstory that I’m sure will bring new readers rushing to catch up on the first one too. DOUBLE VISION is a fast-moving, intriguing read that grabs the reader from the off and refuses to let go.
Marshall is a multi-talented creative: writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, and acting on stage when she has a spare moment. She lives in Georgia with her family and a collection of furry friends.
Exclusive to The Big Thrill, I caught up with Colby to find out more about her latest release.
This is the second outing for your heroine, Dr. Jenna Ramey, who debuted in the first book of the series, Color Blind. For readers coming new to her, there’s something that marks her out as very different: synesthesia. Can you explain what that is?
Different types of synesthesia manifest differently, so I can’t claim I know what every type is like to experience. In the case of grapheme-color synesthesia, the hardest aspect to describe is how the associations a synesthete makes are the same as those anyone makes in the way that they manifest. If a person hears the word “cake,” the image of a cake might flash in their mind. The difference is, their word/image reference was learned. Somewhere along the way, someone or something taught that person what cake is, showed him or her what it looks like, and so the association of the picture and word developed. Color associations are not limited to known things. Often a synesthete will lay eyes on something for the very first time, and immediately have a color association for it—that’s actually why it’s so useful to Jenna when she analyzes a crime scene.
By Dawn Ius
Wendy Tyson loves determined, gutsy women. Women who go after what they want. Women who aren’t afraid to speak up, to laugh, to fight for the underdog, to fall in love. Women, she says, who aren’t afraid to live. Tyson aspires to be that kind of woman every day. In the meantime, she writes about them.
Allison Campbell, an image consultant on the wealthy Main Line of Philadelphia, is one such woman. A complex character, Campbell grew up in a small town, born to an abusive father and a loving, but chronically ill mother. After a tragedy with a client during graduate school, Campbell is forced to find a new calling—and a new identity.
“Allison uses her education and her own haunting experiences to do her job—and to solve crimes,” Tyson says of her protagonist. “And while she helps others reinvent themselves, her best transformation was her own. Throughout the series, Allison never forgets her roots, and it’s the fact that she never quite fits in with the Main Line crowd that makes her so good at her job—and detective work.”
In DYING BRAND, the third of the Allison Campbell mysteries, Campbell attends an awards ceremony to honor a friend, but ends up investigating the brutal murder of her former boyfriend. Although Campbell hasn’t seen or spoken to him in years, damaging evidence begins to surface, making it appear as though she had more to do with him than she’s led everyone to believe.
Kat Martin, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the prestigious RT Book Review Magazine Career Achievement Award, is back with another novel in her popular Brodie series. Kat is a wonderful, cheerful individual. She loves to travel and research the locations she writes about. She has a talent for providing great imagery in her work, and her latest novel, AGAINST THE TIDE, is no exception.
Kat graciously agreed to answer a few questions.
AGAINST THE TIDE comes out May 26, 2015. Are you excited?
I’m particularly excited about this book because it’s one of my personal favorites. I let the plot run and realized I had something special going on, plus I love Rafe and Olivia, who are really smart and interesting people.
Please tell us a little about the book.
In AGAINST THE TIDE, Rafe Brodie is the captain of a charter fishing boat fleet in tiny Valdez, Alaska. It’s a beautiful but harsh and remote place to live. That the new owner of the Pelican Café seems out of place in such a world begins to intrigue Rafe. What is her story? Why would a beautiful woman like Olivia Chandler want to build a life in a place as far off the grid as Valdez? Unfortunately, when Rafe’s first mate, young Scotty Ferris, is murdered, Rafe has another, far more important mystery to solve. But as the clues unfold, Rafe begins to believe that Olivia’s mysterious past may lead him to the killer, which makes Liv equally determined to find the man who murdered their mutual friend.
How did you come up with the idea/plan for this novel?
I generally start with a concept that somehow pops into my head. In this case, I was visiting Valdez during my second, month-long trip to Alaska. As we drove out toward the pipeline, an element of the story began to take shape. Combining that element with solving a murder made it a compelling story to write.
By Cynthia Eden
I’ve got an addiction to danger. I love the kick of adrenaline, the wild ride that comes from solving a murder, the thrill of hunting a killer. I love to figure out how a murderer’s mind works. Is he crazy—or just brutally cold-blooded? How does the killer think? How does the killer feel? How does he choose his victims?
I’ve also got an addiction to romance. I enjoy it when two characters fall in love, when they are willing to face any obstacle to be together. The emotions pull me in, and I’m totally hooked. I truly can’t stop reading.
Danger. Romance. Is it any wonder that I love to combine these elements to write romantic suspense? This genre gives me the perfect balance of danger and devotion. I can do a fifty-fifty split in the story as I write about deadly action and the struggle to fall in love.
In romantic suspense novels, villains are dark and demented. The high stakes are clear. And the pressure to survive? It’s extreme. But in every romance novel, one thing is guaranteed—the ending will be happy. It’s a safe threat. Readers can fear the villains in those pages. They can enjoy the tense suspense, but they can also be secure in knowing that before that book closes, good will triumph. The hero and heroine will survive. Love will totally win.
MAYHEM IN MARGAUX, on sale this month, is the sixth in the Wine Detective series by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen. In this cozy series, wine expert Benjamin Cooker and his assistant Virgile become involved in helping solve wine-related mysteries throughout southern France. In MAYHEM the Bordeaux area is in the midst of a summer heat wave threatening the wine grapes when the brash new manager of a Margaux wine estate suffers a fatal accident. We were able to ask the translator, Sally Pane, about the latest volume and the Wine Detective series.
This is the sixth book, out of twenty-three published in France, to be published in English. It doesn’t seem necessary to read the earlier books to enjoy this one but could you give us some background on the earlier books?
Each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone, but they also each round out our understanding of the characters. In Treachery in Bordeaux, wine consultant Benjamin Cooker hires his assistant Virgile. After that, in Grand Cru Heist, Nightmare in Burgundy, Deadly Tasting, Cognac Conspiracies and MAYHEM IN MARGAUX the characters face different mysteries, and as readers we explore different wine regions.
A special charm of the series is the portrayal of quotidian life outside of Paris—in southwestern France—and the insider look at winemaking. In MAYHEM there are enjoyable digressions on summering at a rental villa in Cap Ferrat, the beautiful stones of the Medoc, and corks versus screw tops as well as a touching scene of Benjamin with his daughter visiting from New York. Do each of the books also touch on some current social issue such as gentrification or illegal immigrants?
The authors say themselves that each book is a special homage to a wine, its winemakers and its region, and with each they explore various aspects of everyday winemaking and its struggles: gentrification eating up vineyards, black market trafficking of grand crus, local superstitions, scars from World War II, foreign buyouts, and illegal immigrants being used to cut costs. At the same time, they remain light mysteries, much more about the detail and experience of that part of France.
Major Kit Bennings is an elite military intelligence agent working undercover in Moscow. When he is blackmailed by a brutal mafia don and former KGB general, he knows that his military career, if not his life, will soon be over. With little to lose, he goes rogue in the hope of saving his kidnapped sister and stopping a deadly, high-tech scheme directed against the lifeblood of America.
Yulana Petkova is a gorgeous divorcee, devoted mother, and Russian weapons engineer. And maybe more. Spy? Mob assassin? The shotgun marriage to stranger Kit Bennings takes her on a life-or-death hopscotch from Moscow to Los Angeles, from secret US military bases to Las Vegas, where she uses her wiles at every turn to carry out her own hidden agenda.
Hunted by killers from both Russia and the United States, Bennings and Petkova forge an uneasy alliance as they struggle to stop the brilliant deception.. the maskirovka… that could make the mafia kingpin the richest person in the world, while decimating the very heart of America’s economic and intelligence institutions.
UGLY YOUNG THING brings readers back to the town of Grand Trespass, Louisiana where sixteen-year-old Allie is trying to piece her life back together after the death of her mother and only brother.
When the book opens, we meet Allie, a traumatized young girl forced to rely on her looks to survive. All she has left of her family are horrible memories from her traumatic upbringing, and disgrace from the infamy that now accompanies her name. That’s what happens when your mother and brother are both murderers, and you live in a small town.
Allie gets a break when a kindly older woman takes her in as a foster child. But is her new situation too good to be true, or does her new family have ulterior motives? This is a book that will keep you guessing right up until the shocking ending.
The Big Thrill caught up with author Jennifer James to talk about her new release.
You do a wonderful job portraying Allie as a sympathetic character despite her hard exterior. Was she a character that came to you fully formed, or did she take a while to develop?
Allie came to me fully formed. In fact, I’m a little surprised that I didn’t make her a bigger character in my first thriller, Never Smile at Strangers, where she first appeared. Although she was only a supporting character in the first book, she was very important to the overall story.
By Rob Brunet
While Stu Strumwasser researched and wrote THE ORGAN BROKER, the waiting list for organs in the U.S. grew by more than thirty-five per cent. For most people, that means years of anxiety, diminished health, or even death. Where wealth meets entitlement, however, there’s an alternative: the global black market for body parts.
Like any market, each transaction takes a buyer and a seller, and both are featured in Strumwasser’s debut thriller, THE ORGAN BROKER. Doctors and other health care professionals are part of the cost, of course, but the serious money is made by middle men with the seemingly innocuous title of “transplant tourism director.” Jack Trayner is one of them, and THE ORGAN BROKER is his story.
Stu took time out as his debut novel launches to talk to The Big Thrill about Jack’s reality, and what’s driving a growth industry most people wish had no need to exist.
Stu, your story sits astride the very real need for organs and the desperation of those who would sell theirs. How much moral ambiguity do you find there?
A tremendous amount! The organ shortage crisis in America and other wealthy nations, combined with the fact that selling an organ is illegal in almost every country in the world, has created a black market. It leads to the exploitation of poor people in many third-world countries. While brokers charge American and European buyers perhaps $150K for “transplant tourism” (all-inclusive trips to go overseas and come home with a new kidney) the sellers usually receive little more than a thousand dollars. The money helps, for a time, but is rarely transformative. However, the after-effects of surgery and little or no aftercare can be. Many are left sick, crippled, or shunned by their communities, and some even die of infection or other complications. Nancy Schepper Hughes, the professor from Cal Berkely who often writes about the black market for organs, calls it “neo-cannibalism” because the most common reason given for selling an organ is “to feed my family.”
By Carolyn Hart
I penned A Farewell to Death on Demand this spring, but a funny thing happened on the way to Life Without Annie and Max. A knock on my door. There stood Annie, a glint in her steady gray eyes, a determined tilt to her chin.
“What are you thinking?”
Max was right behind her, his usual easy-going smile absent. “No more island sunshine? No alligators basking on a bank? No more laughter?”
Annie and Max looked me in the eye and said, “We’re here to stay.”
Do I want to see the displays at Death on Demand, catch up on the new mysteries, talk about old favorites? Or drop into Confidential Commissions and have a slice of Barb’s lemon pie?
Oh, yes. The scent of the ocean, the rattle of magnolia leaves, the grace and elegance of Spanish moss, hot heavy summer days, windy walks on a chilly winter beach, all await on the small sea island of Broward’s Rock.
I’ll see everyone again, ebullient Annie, charming Max, curmudgeonly author Emma Clyde, mystery maven Henny Brawley, ditzy mother-in-law Laurel Darling Roethke, intense reporter Marian Kenyon, stalwart police chief Billy Cameron, observant officer Hyla Harrison . . .
By Amy Lignor
Romantic Suspense is the genre that this amazing author is a part of. With inspirational plots and extremely fast-moving action—with a touch of love thrown in—Lynette Eason writes the characters that readers love and want to see time and time again. But not only is this a great writer, she’s also a true inspiration in more ways than one. Now, let’s meet the lady who claims the title of “plantser.”
At the core of your writing, fans and readers can see that “inspirational” path you take. Is it important to you to make sure that your characters follow that path when telling their tales?
That’s an interesting question. I actually write for the inspirational market for a lot of different reasons. I try to write true-to-life characters; ones who are true to themselves and their personalities. Since I write “faith based” stories for a mostly faith-based audience, my characters reflect that. No matter what religion a person follows, I think he or she would agree that their faith is a big part of their lives. I simply try to show that in my characters by having them think about and react in ways that reflect their faith.
What is your favorite genre?
My favorite genre is the one I write in: Romantic Suspense. And, truthfully, I’m not really all that romantic. I have to work to get that part in. I’m more interested in the suspense/action part. It’s funny, because I have a lot of male readers. One of my FBI buddies who critiques my stuff even said: “You don’t write like a girl.” I still laugh at that.
Is there any genre you have not yet touched that you would like to try in the future?
I really don’t think so. I adore suspense/thrillers and will probably stay right where I am.