By Jeremy Burns
An incredibly prolific up-and-coming thriller author, Michael McBride integrates elements of science-fiction and horror into his books. His latest, SUNBLIND, continues that trend while delving into one of today’s most controversial topics and completely turning it on its head. Michael sat down with THE BIG THRILL to take readers behind the scenes of his latest gripping adventure.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a third-generation Coloradan, born and raised in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. My wife and I have a whole slew of beautiful children ranging in age from four to twenty-two, three dogs, and several iguanas. When I’m not writing, I’m shivering in an ice rink, examining patients in a radiology department, or immersed in all things football and hockey. My dream is to one day create a serial character as beloved as Jack Reacher or Harry Bosch, through whose exploits I can vicariously live out my days.
Tell us about your new book, SUNBLIND.
SUNBLIND is about a group of undocumented aliens who set out across one of the deadliest regions on the planet in search of a new life in America. It’s about their suffering at the hands of the merciless desert and something else…something that’s survived in complete geographic isolation. Mostly, though, it’s a story about hope and the triumph of the human spirit. It’s about learning how far we can physically push ourselves and to what lengths we are willing to go to survive.
How is this book different from other books you’ve written?
SUNBLIND is my first story told from the female perspective. Writing Mayra’s part was challenging because it forced me to work outside my comfort zone and make choices I might not have otherwise made. And the book’s better for it. I believe the reader will be able to identify with her suffering and appreciate the sacrifices she makes in order to survive.
A remote military research station sends out a frantic distress call, ending with a chilling final command: Kill us all! Personnel from the neighboring base rush in to discover everyone already dead-and not just the scientists, but every living thing for fifty square miles is annihilated: every animal, plant, and insect, even bacteria.
The land is entirely sterile-and the blight is spreading.
To halt the inevitable, Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma must unravel a threat that rises out of the distant past, to a time when Antarctica was green and all life on Earth balanced upon the blade of a knife. Following clues from an ancient map rescued from the lost Library of Alexandria, Sigma will discover the truth about an ancient continent, about a new form of death buried under miles of ice.
From millennia-old secrets out of the frozen past to mysteries buried deep in the darkest jungles of today, Sigma will face its greatest challenge to date: stopping the coming extinction of mankind.
By James Ziskin
This month, I interview Gregg Hurwitz, the New York Times best-selling author of fourteen thrillers and several comic books. If that’s not enough, he also has written and produced television shows for major networks, and is currently developing his Tim Rackley series for TNT/Sony. His latest thriller, DON’T LOOK BACK, hits bookstores this month.
You write strong, fascinating female characters in all your books. I’m thinking of Cameron Kates, both Evelyn and Cristina Brasher, Janey Overbay… They’re at turns smart, sassy, brave, controlling, and have great conscience and soul. But DON’T LOOK BACK is the first time you’ve put a woman, Eve Hardaway, at the center of one of your thrillers. It’s a fantastically terrorizing story. Why, do you think, are so few thrillers about women?
I do think there’s a perception bias that books about women tend to be more “literary” (whatever that means)—or that within genre, female protagonists appear in mysteries rather than thrillers. But there are more thrillers about women than people tend to be aware of. If we look at contemporary writers alone, Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, Laura Lippman, Chelsea Cain, Karin Slaughter, Lisa Unger, Alafair Burke, Meg Gardiner, Megan Abbott and many more write thrillers (or books with strong thriller elements). Connelly and Crais have chosen female protagonists for certain books (and interestingly, for those books closer to the thriller end of the spectrum for their respective bodies of work). And of course, Thomas Harris placed Clarice Starling at the center of one of the benchmark thrillers of all time.
DON’T LOOK BACK demanded a female lead character. I wanted to tell the story of a woman who was a single mother, freshly off a divorce, struggling to find herself and to reestablish her voice in the world. Leaving her son in the care of his beloved nanny for a week, Eve Hardaway finds herself in a small ecolodge way up in the jungles of Oaxaca. On her first day, she strays from the group into the jungle and sees something she’s not supposed to see. Which involves a Very Bad Man. He clues in to the fact that she saw him. And just as he starts to zero in on her and this small band of tourists, a tropical storm blows in. So Eve, single mother and nurse from Calabasas, finds herself being pursued through the jungle in the middle of a storm by a brutal man who can outflank, out-fight, and overpower her. And she realizes that if she ever hopes to get back home and see her son again, she is going to have to find that unbreakable part of herself, outlast, and prevail.
By Basil Sands
This month we introduce to you author John Donohue’s latest novel ENZAN: THE FAR MOUNTAIN, an awesome thrill ride of martial arts action that goes deeper than mere fists.
From his home near New Haven, Connecticut, Donohue is an expert on the study of martial arts. He holds a Ph.D. in anthropology, researches and trains in the martial arts, and has been banging around the dojo for more than thirty years. He is the author of ten books, including the award-winning Connor Burke martial arts thrillers SENSEI, DESHI, TENGU, KAGE, and now ENZAN: THE FAR MOUNTAIN.
Tell us about ENZAN: THE FAR MOUNTAIN.
ENZAN is the fifth book in the thriller series that features Connor Burke and his master teacher Yamashita. While a thriller, it’s also a story that explores relationships in families, between teachers and disciples, and the toll our commitment to each other sometime takes.
But if somewhat reflective it’s also action packed. It features both a modern-day adventure for the main character in the series, Connor Burke, as well as the back story of his teacher. The plot revolves around a young woman named Chie Miyazaki. She is wild and spoiled—the pampered child of a cadet line of the Imperial House of Japan. When she disappears in the United States accompanied by a slick Korean boyfriend, it sets off alarms among elite officials in Japan’s security apparatus.
The Japanese want the problem solved quietly, so they seek out Connor, who is the prize student of Yamashita Sensei. Burke suspects that he’s being used, but he accepts the assignment out of honor for his revered teacher.
A covert search-and-rescue operation turns into a confrontation with a North Korean sleeper cell, and Burke finally discovers the secret that drove Yamashita from Japan so many years ago and the power behind the decades-old connections that pull Yamashita and Burke back into danger in the service of the imperial family.
David Salkin is what some would call a renaissance man. He’s an award-winning author, the Mayor of Freehold Township, New Jersey, and a Master Graduate Gemologist. His books have spanned military espionage, action-adventure, horror, mystery, and science fiction. In his latest, DEEP BLACK SEA, a crew of seven aboard a specially designed research submarine sit three miles down in the dark world beneath the sea. When they bring aboard the bacteria that enables certain animals to survive in the seven-hundred degree poisonous water of the black smoker, they have no idea that one of the researchers plans on using them as his test subjects.
Salkin recently answered a few questions about his fascinating new novel for THE BIG THRILL.
What can readers expect from DEEP BLACK SEA?
Nightmares. (smile.) I gave the rough draft to my brother, who told me he had nightmares after he read it. That’s perhaps the highest compliment I could ever receive when writing a sci-fi horror story. DEEP BLACK SEA is an adventure into a world which is still so undiscovered. The real science of the book makes the terrifying story believable to some extent. I mean, it’s a horror story and it’s fiction, but there’s enough hard science to make things plausible—hence the nightmares. I watched the story in my head as I wrote it. If I succeeded, the reader will be seeing the movie in their head as well, and it will stay in there for a few days making them think twice before their next snorkelling trip…
You set the novel in a submarine. What do you find intriguing about the environment?
Life on a submarine isn’t for everyone. It’s claustrophobic, dangerous, and remote. Because of the size and comfort level of this particular research vessel, it’s not as bad as a military submarine, but even so, the crew is three miles down in the black, near-frozen ocean. No one can quickly come to their rescue if they have a problem—they’ll need to figure out ways to help themselves. To have a small cast of characters in this isolated environment, surrounded by danger, creates a tension and constant stress that hopefully the reader can sense as they go through the journey.
Some writers receive their calling in childhood and chart their course from there. Kim Foster had multiple callings. She grew up reading and writing fiction—her first love. Dissections in biology class prompted her second calling—medical school. Medicine won out. How could it not with the encouragement showered upon her by guidance counselors, teachers, parents, and random street people?
But fortunately for thriller readers everywhere, Foster just couldn’t stop writing. After thirteen years of stitching up people’s lacerations, treating their sore throats, and checking their blood pressure, she signed a three-book deal with Kensington Books. Her first e-book, A BEAUTIFUL HEIST, hit the digital waves in 2013 with A MAGNIFICENT CRIME scheduled for release in June 2014.
As her protagonist Cat Montgomery knows, everyone has a talent. Some are just more legal than others.
A natural-born thief, Cat has a special talent for stealth—or at least she thought so. Years ago, she stole from the diamond-hording businessman Albert Faulkner III, but he somehow figured out she was responsible. Now he wants revenge, and dares her to swipe the elusive Hope Diamond. If she fails the mission, he’ll wreak bloody havoc on her loved ones. But the stakes are raised even higher when Cat discovers that stealing the Hope is not only an impossible task, it’s a cursed one.
Always a sucker for a good adventure story, THE BIG THRILL recently caught up with Foster to ask her a few questions:
We’re very lucky to have Amy Lignor with us to chat about her writing and THE CHARLATAN’S CROWN, the latest release in her successful Tallent & Lowery series. Amy writes not only young adult and adventure/suspense stories, but also is Editor-in-Chief of Hallowed Ink Press, a new publishing house. She’s also a reviewer and ghost writer.
The daughter of research librarians, Amy has a love for books and information and claims that “if the New York Public Library would let me live in their basement, that’s where I would be.” She has put that love to use in creating books that meld historical locations with detailed puzzles.
Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us, Amy.
Prior to your writing career in action/adventure, you also wrote historical romance and young adult. What made you make the jump into the world of mysteries and thrillers?
Although I definitely had something to say in the YA arena, I have always been extremely passionate about stories that are true “thrill rides”; stories that cause readers so much interest that they literally can NOT put the book down until they have completed that journey of excitement and adrenaline. Puzzles and historical data merged with thrills and chills is a formula I have always loved as a reader, so writing that formula is a whole lot of fun. Tallent & Lowery came about when a puzzle, of sorts, arrived in the most mundane way, but one small fact grew to mammoth proportions. Pouring over data and research, attempting to connect locations to others that readers would not have even thought could be connected in any way possible, is truly thrilling for me, which means the passion of the writing is incredibly strong.
THE CHARLATAN’S CROWN is the latest in the successful Tallent & Lowery series. Can you tell us a little bit about the novel?
The journeys that Tallent & Lowery have gone through have been so strange, with each new story completely different from the last. With THE CHARLATAN’S CROWN, Book #4, a new puzzle arrives that, again, is based on truth but readers will never have thought of it or seen it before. Here, the duo end up going to Paderborn, to a very famous and infamous locale that has been lived in by everyone from Charlemagne to Hitler’s “second,” Himmler. This is a castle that’s seen witches, gods, as well as being the “centerpiece” for a perfect world that some in the Nazi party wanted to build. Leah Tallent & Gareth Lowery head to Paderborn from Athens to retrieve something historical (once again, something very real, yet most people do not know about it). They must travel halfway around the world, become prisoners of some fairly nasty charlatan’s who want a very specific “crown” that only a very few have ever heard about. Leah also comes across a secret in her own life that she never even knew existed, which opens a brand new door to her past. So while the thrill ride is commencing, readers will also find out facts about their favorite headstrong librarian that will truly shock them.
By Ethan Cross
Matt Rowley hasn’t been human for years. A commando for the International Council on Augmented Phenomena, he hunts down superhuman monsters the military can’t handle. But his abilities come with a price: bloodthirsty whispers that urge him to acts of terrible violence.
An encounter with a giant, angelic being with wings of smoke and shadow casts him into a world of inhuman brutality, demonic possession, and madness, where he must choose between his family and his soul.
Tell us about JADE SKY in one line.
To hunt monsters, the UN needed monsters.
Do you have any marketing advice for your fellow authors? Any techniques that you feel have worked especially well for you?
Build relationships. If your only interaction with people is to shill your books, then you’re not a “friend” and you’re not fun, you’re an annoying salesman. On social media, talk about what interests you, share things you find interesting with no regard as to whether or not it can be tied back to your work. Be gracious and polite.
What kind of research did you conduct for JADE SKY?
The ideas for JADE SKY have been bouncing around in my head for the better part of two decades, and they encompass ancient religion and modern medicine in some odd and unconventional ways. I did a lot of digging into the nephilim, the Nazi deutsch physik programs, and what UN and NATO conventions regarding extra-national threats might be, taking into account everything from actual documented facts to conspiracy theories and myths surrounding all of the above.
I obsessed a lot over little details—where is the best place in the world for a multibillion-dollar drug lord’s center of operations? What death camp fits the needs of Frau Gerstner’s back story? Then I took what I wanted from each and changed what I wanted to. For example, there is no secret reichs bunker system under Dresden, but the death camp at Sobibor was closed shortly after a mass prisoner escape.
By Dan Levy
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.”
It is exciting to be on the ground floor of a brash new thriller series featuring the Internet Tough Guys. And that’s exactly what you get in Bernard Maestas’s debut novel, SAY THAT TO MY FACE.
SAY THAT TO MY FACE is the story of how two unlikely friends, Ted Reagan and Alex Kirwan, become international mercenaries and end up with their own business so they can pick and choose the jobs they want, when they want.
We first meet the friends when they are teenagers and follow them to young adulthood. Ted is a good-looking high school student who is a computer whiz. We soon learn that he does not always put these skills to good use. Alex on the other hand is far more physical in his approach to the world and we learn the parkour expert spent three years with the French Foreign Legion.
Both young men have issues they are working out as they progress from teenage troublemakers to world-class mercenaries. The vignettes that make up SAY THAT TO MY FACE chronicle their journey, covering about five years.
Maestas admits he has an unusual writing style: He writes totally out of sequence. But he says his editing process is more of what one would expect. He went through the novel from start to finish over and over.
By Stacy Mantle
A global comet approaching Earth. Apocalyptic visions. Ancient meetings between powerful men. A mysterious package arriving at the Vatican, sent by a man gone missing nearly two decades earlier.
In his newest thriller, THE EYE OF GOD (William Morrow, June 25, 2013), bestselling author James Rollins once again masterfully takes seemingly unrelated events and weaves a complex and thrilling tale filled with history, science, religion and archaeology.
Commander Gray Pierce returns with the elite Sigma force and together journey to Mongolia in search of a code-black physics project that holds dark energy – the matter tied to our earth’s beginnings. The team is joined by a pair of Vatican historians as they launch an investigation to uncover a truth tied to the fall of the Roman Empire and bound to the roots of Christianity.
Our favorite characters reappear and new plots are uncovered as the team races against the Guild. Rollins approaches an apocalyptic vision of the future by explaining the mysteries of our past in what is sure to be another blockbuster hit as he does what he does so well: combine fact with fiction to create a wire-taut, fast-moving plot with complex, engaging characters who are each heroes in their own right.
We sat down to talk books, pets and biohacking, as well as Mongolian empires, near-earth objects, and how all of those things impact us in this day and age.
In Crescent Dawn , Dirk Pitt returns, in the extraordinary new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.
In A.D. 327, a Roman galley barely escapes a pirate attack with its extraordinary cargo. In 1916, a British warship mysteriously explodes in the middle of the North Sea. In the present day, a cluster of important mosques in Turkey and Egypt are wracked by explosions. Does anything tie them together?
NUMA director Dirk Pitt is about to find out, as Roman artifacts discovered in Turkey and Israel unnervingly connect to the rise of a fundamentalist movement determined to restore the glory of the Ottoman Empire, and to the existence of a mysterious “manifest,” lost long ago, which if discovered again…just may change the history of the world as we know it.
Cussler began writing novels in 1965 and published his first work featuring his continuous series hero, Dirk Pitt, in 1973. His first non-fiction, The Sea Hunters, was released in 1996. The Board of Governors of the Maritime College, State University of New York, considered The Sea Hunters in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis and awarded Cussler a Doctor of Letters degree in May, 1997. It was the first time since the College was founded in 1874 that such a degree was bestowed.