Years ago, in the town of Saxon Falls, young Kelsey Willard disappeared and was presumed dead. The tragedy left her family with a fractured life—a mother out to numb the pain, a father losing a battle with his own private demons, and a sister desperate for closure. But now another teenage girl has gone missing. It’s ripping open old wounds for the Willards, dragging them back into a painful past, and leaving them unprepared for where it will take them next.
Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent Mark Foster has stumbled on uncanny parallels in the lives of the two missing girls that could unlock clues to a serial killer’s identity. That means breaking down the walls of the Willards’ long-guarded secrets and getting to a truth that is darker than he bargained for. Now, to rescue one missing girl, he must first solve the riddles that disappeared with another: Kelsey Willard herself. Dead or alive, she is his last hope.
Award-winning author Kylie Brant recently met with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest novel, PRETTY GIRLS DANCING:
By A.J. Colucci
Karen Ellis is the new pseudonym for Katia Leif, the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of crime novels, including the acclaimed book series featuring former detective Karin Schaeffer. In her latest novel, A MAP OF THE DARK, Ellis introduces Elsa Myers, an FBI agent whose unit specializes in child abduction cases.
In A MAP OF THE DARK, Elsa is pulled in two directions. Her father is dying in the hospital, stirring up emotions and a dark secret from her past. At the same time, she lands the case of a missing teenager named Ruby. It becomes a race against time for Elsa and her partner Lex Cole—who sometimes butt heads with each other—in their search for a man who may have been killing for years. As the hunt for Ruby intensifies, Elsa’s world collapses around her. Everything she has buried, from her self-destructive past to her mother’s death, threatens to resurface with devastating consequences.
As Ellis began writing the novel, she realized that A MAP OF THE DARK had three distinct storylines that needed to resonate against each other: the plight of the missing teens, Elsa’s search for the girls with Lex, and Elsa’s personal story in which her father’s terminal illness triggers devastating childhood memories. “It was a tricky balancing act,” Ellis says. So she tried something new—writing each storyline individually and then weaving them together. “I’d never approached a novel that way before and wasn’t sure if it would work, but I found that it allowed me to fully inhabit each distinctive voice before moving on to the next one.”
Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…
You’re not safe anywhere now.
As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.
Bestselling author Rachel Caine took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest, KILLMAN CREEK, with The Big Thrill:
When security expert Cody Samuels finds fugitive Viktoria Mateev in hiding, he can’t believe his luck. Turning her in will be the perfect revenge on the crime family who destroyed Cody’s DEA career. But to his surprise, Cody is just in time to rescue Viktoria from assassins. He soon finds himself tracking her son’s kidnappers.
To keep her son from ruthless in-laws, Viktoria went on the run. Now she’s teaming up with a man she can’t trust. Cody’s courage and bold gambits are a temptation Viktoria can’t resist– even as the risky sacrifice guarantees they might not survive to see another holiday.
Bestselling author Jennifer D. Bokal spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, HER ROCKY MOUNTAIN HERO:
When the Deringer pistol that shot Abraham Lincoln is stolen and ends up in the hands of a Russian military general, covert agent Blake Deco is tasked by the FBI to head to the Balkans to recover the historical weapon. Meanwhile, the United States media is abuzz with news of the mysterious disappearance of Hollywood movie star Goldie St. Helen.
After Blake’s return from overseas, he receives a tip from a Mexican friend that a drug lord, obsessed with the beautiful actress, is holding her captive in Tijuana. With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake mounts a daring rescue. What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for Goldie—or that a killer is hunting them.
By Terri Nolan
For his series featuring FBI Special Agent Angus Green, author Neil Plakcy participated in the FBI Citizens Academy. Talk about research. NOBODY RIDES FOR FREE is the second in the series. The novel opens with Angus recuperating from an on-duty injury and riding a desk but hungry to get back to investigations. He’s given the chance when a man overdoses on a dangerous street drug.
Angus discovers an email thread between the overdose patient and a fifteen-year-old boy who is being exploited in online pornography. Angus goes on a personal crusade to find the boy and any others like him. But he has to be careful. Saving lost boys is not the directive his boss gave him. He can’t mess up this opportunity to prove that he’s physically and mentally ready to resurrect his career, yet at the same time he is inexorably drawn toward rescuing the troubled youth.
How was the character of Angus born?
Back in 2011, I published a M/M romance novel called Mi Amor, and one of the walk-on characters was a cute, young, red-headed FBI agent named Angus Green. Though he had only a minor role there, he hung around in the back of my mind.
When I began to think about an FBI book, I wanted a young agent as my protagonist, so that as he learned how to do his job, readers would learn along with him. And I knew that my own knowledge wasn’t encyclopedic enough to support a more experienced agent as protagonist. At the same time, I was seeing young people coming out earlier and earlier, without much of the angst and rejection that previous generations suffered. I wondered how a young agent on his first assignment would feel about being openly gay in a macho environment. Angus fit the bill, and so he got the book (and eventually the series) that he’d been wanting.
A native of New York City, William Patrick Hackett took an unusual path to that of a novelist.
He attended St. Ann’s Academy high school before graduating from the City College of New York prior to a career in advertising as a copywriter, creative director, and CEO. Since then he’s published three books, The Satanic Gospel, A Dark Time, and his latest, LETHAL LOVE, a contemporary thriller from Solstice Publishing.
Certainly not the usual path most novelists take, but hey, if it works…
“I made the transition by working as a freelancer for income while I started writing novels and screenplays,” Hackett says. “I also became a cautious investor in equities.”
As for any formal training, he admits there really hasn’t been any.
“Initially, I did a lot of medical writing that gave me somewhat of a clinical style I’m still trying to shake loose. Other than being an English lit major at CCNY (City College of New York), I have just been involved in all kinds of communications—mostly non-literary,” he says.
On holiday in the Scottish Highlands, forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod joins a mountain rescue team on Cairngorm summit, where a mysterious plane has crash-landed on the frozen Loch A’an. Added to that, a nearby climbing expedition has left three young people dead, with a fourth still missing.
Meanwhile, in Glasgow, DS McNab’s raid on the Delta Club produces far more than just a massive haul of cocaine. Questioning one of the underage girls found partying with the city’s elite reveals she was smuggled into Scotland via Norway, and it seems the crashed plane in the Cairngorms may be linked to the club. But before McNab can discover more, the girl is abducted.
Joined by Norwegian detective Alvis Olsen, who harbors disturbing theories about how the two cases are connected with his homeland, Rhona searches for the missing link. What she uncovers is a dark underworld populated by ruthless people willing to do anything to ensure the investigation dies in the frozen wasteland of the Cairngorms…
Author Lin Anderson spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest novel, FOLLOW THE DEAD:
By Renee James
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Diane Capri released TRACE EVIDENCE, the second book in her Heir Hunter series in August, even as the first title in the series, Blood Trails, was achieving finalist status in the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards.
TRACE EVIDENCE finds heir hunter Michael Flint, a man who combines expertise in genealogy and clandestine operations, on the trail of an heir who is also being pursued by two relentless killers. Along the way, he uncovers new clues to a different case, a cold case that has haunted him all his life.
Diane Capri is one of the thriller genre’s most prolific authors. Jack the Reaper, the next book in her wildly popular Hunt for Jack Reacher series, will be released September 26. In all, Diane has authored five thriller series since her debut in 2011.
TRACE EVIDENCE follows the exploits of Michael Flint, a man who specializes in finding heirs. Where did this idea come from, and what do you like about featuring an heir finder?
Every story grows from backstory. What I love about the Heir Hunter concept is the ability to write stories set in the present with a simultaneously unfolding history. Michael Flint is the heir hunter of last resort. When he comes to the case, everyone else has already failed. But he’s new to the situation, while the other characters know the past. And so many people are interested in ancestry these days, I hope readers will find Flint’s job as fascinating as I do.
From New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Overall No. 1 Bestselling Thriller and Shamus Award winning author Vincent Zandri comes a brand new private detective series that combines wry humor with some serious hard-boiled action, adventure, and romance. For fans of Don Winslow, Charlie Huston, Vince Gilligan and cable TV series like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
You might think that a guy with the name of Steve Jobz would be one lucky man. That he’d be rich and have the world at his fingertips. But instead, Jobz is barely making ends meet at the New York State Department of Unemployment Insurance Fraud. A former cop who was forced to retire early after shooting a young man of color during a convenience store holdup, Jobz has since resigned himself to wasting away his days in a four-by-four cubicle inside an office space that’s more boring than watching the paint dry.
When his overbearing boss calls him in on a job that the Albany Police Department is heading up, Jobz has a chance to get out of the office for a while. But what he doesn’t realize is that he’s about to come face to face with a serial killer who embalms his victims alive. What he is also about to face down is his own worst nightmare come true when that serial killer turns out not to be a stranger.
Author Vincent Zandri took some time out of his busy writing schedule to discuss his latest release, THE EMBALMER, with The Big Thrill:
In his new release, BAD APPLE, author Barry Ozeroff skillfully combines action, suspense, and complex characters to create a tightly-written, fast-paced police thriller—with a thought-provoking twist. The talented author of four published novels, Ozeroff recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest release, his own exciting career in law enforcement, and his advice for aspiring crime authors.
Congratulations on the recent release of BAD APPLE. No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
There are really two stories being told in BAD APPLE: the current story of DJ Appleby’s fall from grace and flight from justice, and the heartbreaking backstory of his childhood, which explains exactly why he is the way he is. I intentionally blurred the lines between good guy and bad guy in order to create either a bad guy you hate to love, or a good guy you love to hate, depending on your point of view.
FATAL FORGERIES is the fourth installment in the Bodies of Art mystery series by USA Today bestselling author Ritter Ames.
In this new release, art recovery expert Laurel Beacham steals stolen art and returns it to the rightful owners—and Ames wastes no time getting into the ation. The first scene is an anxiety fueled mash-up complete with a sexy blonde (Laurel), Lycra cat suit, dimly lit quarter moon night, crossbow, five-hundred-year-old-golden-stone balustrade, night-vision goggles, rappelling, a single isolated gun shot, human security patrols, and dangerous security dogs.
FATAL FORGERIES is about art recovery—but it’s about much more than risking your life to return stolen property. It’s about the challenges and joys of being a team member. It’s also about the anxiety of being a team leader in a world where there is never enough accurate intel and where no good theft goes unpunished. The tension ratchets up when Laurel’s personal and professional worlds collide. Her overtaxed team is divided, but must set aside their differences and perform at peak capacity—or they could become the next fatalities.
Thanks to The Big Thrill, I had the opportunity to ask Ames questions I’m sure both writers and readers will find enlightening.
Award-winning author, Pamela Crane, juggles four kids, a book-editing career, rescuing horses, and a writing addiction. With that chaotic combination, she lives and writes on the edge. Her latest novel, THE ART OF FEAR, has been termed, “An intricate literary thriller that will twist your brain and leave you breathless.”
Ari Wilburn’s life ended long ago—the day she let her little sister die in a tragic accident. Crippled with self-blame and resented by her parents, Ari stumbles through life…and into an unlikely clue that casts doubt on whether the death was accidental. A psychological wreck, Ari joins a suicide support group where she meets Tina, a woman who escaped from the sex-trade—and has her own inner demons. Suspecting foul play in her father’s death, Tina drags Ari into a dangerous game with the killer. Faced with a murderous wake-up call, and desperate to salve her conscience, Ari’s investigation fuels the killer’s desire to see her dead.
THE ART OF FEAR delves deeply into the psyche of the characters. I caught up with Ms. Crane and dug for the motivation behind her compulsion to dissect the characters and bring them—especially her villains—to life. “I grew up a wallflower,” Crane says. “A shy girl who spent more time people watching than talking.” In observing others, she became fascinated with what makes people choose certain behaviors. “What makes people from similar backgrounds grow up with such severe differences in how they think? A child predator, for example. While the rest of the world groans and grimaces at what he finds appealing, somewhere along the line his urges became ‘normal’ for him. It’s those types of psychological influences that intrigue me, because behind every villain is a human.”
Eight years ago, Kathy Kely’s husband and two children were killed in a plane crash. She has struggled to rebuild her life, but then wreckage of his plane is found in the wilderness of Great Smoky Mountain National Park—hundreds of miles from where it should have been. Evidence suggests that her family survived, but there is no sign of her husband, Jack or the children. Where have they been all this time? Why did they disappear?
As Kathy searches for any clue, the FBI investigation uncovers some unsettling evidence—and she soon learns that others have been looking for the wreckage and its occupants for a long time. Others who are determined to make sure she never finds her family and that they remain dead. Shadowy, powerful people who will kill for a secret her husband was the keeper of.
A secret so powerful it will open a Pandora’s box of bloody revenge—one that reaches back into the past and into the highest echelons of wealth and power, all the way to the White House.
The Big Thrill was lucky to catch author Glenn Meade this month, to discuss his latest thriller, UNQUIET GHOSTS:
Robin can’t leave her house. A complete shut-in, she spends her days spying on her neighbors, subtly meddling in their lives. But she can’t keep her demons out forever.
Sarah will do anything to get her daughter back, but she’s unraveling under the mounting pressure of concealing the dark secrets of her past. And her lies are catching up to her.
The novel takes readers back in time to witness the complex family dynamics that formed Robin and Sarah into the emotionally damaged, estranged young women they’ve become. As the gripping and intricate layers of their shared past are slowly peeled away, the shocks and twists will keep readers breathless long after the final page.
Here, DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES author Holly Seddon discusses her latest book with The Big Thrill:
Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.
A community comes together when threatened by someone with a thirst for revenge in this stunningly intricate, tautly plotted novel of rich psychological suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mary Russell mysteries.
Career Day at Guadalupe Middle School: A day given to innocent hopes and youthful dreams. A day no one in attendance will ever forget.
A year ago, Principal Linda McDonald arrived at Guadalupe determined to overturn the school’s reputation for truancy, gang violence, and neglect. One of her initiatives is Career Day—bringing together children, teachers, and community presenters in a celebration of the future. But there are some in attendance who reject McDonald’s bright vision.
A principal with a secret. A husband with a murky past. A cop with too many questions. A kid under pressure to prove himself. A girl struggling to escape a mother’s history. A young basketball player with an affection for guns.
Even the school janitor has a story he dare not reveal.
But no one at the gathering anticipates the shocking turn of events that will transform a day of possibilities into an explosive confrontation.
Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct…
Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help. Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found?
It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons—because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.
International bestselling author Kathy Reichs took time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest novel, TWO NIGHTS, with The Big Thrill:
After twenty years as an enforcer for the Vice family mob, Nicholas Pierce shouldn’t bat an eye at seeing a guy get worked over and tossed in the river. But there’s something about the suspected police mole, Miles, that has Pierce second guessing himself. The kid is just trying to look out for his brother anyway he knows how, and the altruistic motive sparks an uncharacteristic act of mercy that involves Pierce taking Miles under his wing.
When Miles wants to repay Pierce for saving his life, Pierce shouldn’t see him as anything but a convenient hookup…. And he sure as hell shouldn’t get involved in Miles’s doomed quest to get his brother out of a rival street gang, the Cobras. He shouldn’t do a lot of things, but life on the streets isn’t about following the rules. Besides, he’s sick of being abused by the Vice family, especially Mr. Vice and his power-hungry goon of a son that treats his underlings like playthings.
So Pierce does the absolute last thing he should do if he wants to keep breathing—he decides to leave the Vice family in the middle of a turf war.
S. A. Stovall was gracious enough to spend some time with The Big Thrill discussing her novel, VICE CITY:
Five days ago, aspiring crime novelist Jason Swike awoke chained to the wall of a run-down horse stable, convinced he would soon die at the hands of Crackerjack, the infamous serial killer who had terrorized the residents of Massachusetts for the past year—capturing and tormenting men, painting whimsical designs on their faces before shattering their bones and ending their lives. Just when death seems inevitable, Jason, with the help of another captive, manages to kill the madman and escape.
Hailed as a hero, Jason reaps the benefits of his newfound fame: a book deal, a possible reconciliation with his estranged wife, and reward money he can use to pay for his son’s costly medical treatments. But he soon realizes the nightmare that began in the deserted stable is far from over, as he is drawn into a twisted game where the darkest terror may not be the psychopath manipulating his every move, but what Jason may have to do to survive…
Author James Hankins recently discussed his latest novel, THE INSIDE DARK, with The Big Thrill:
Roxanne MacFarlane is the Extractor—a former CIA agent who specializes in rescuing people from dangerous situations. She lives on the edge and works outside the law, but desperate families know she’s the only operative who can bring their missing loved ones home. Driven by guilt over the loss of her sister to a polygamous cult, she will stop at nothing to save her clients.
When Dave and Jenny Carson ask her to find their daughter, Emma, and extract her from a charismatic cult leader who preys on young women with guilt issues, Rox is eager to help them. But the experimental treatment she just started in order to improve her atypical brain patterns forces her to face conflicting newfound emotions while working feverishly to find the secret compound and craft a strategy to get Emma out.
When the bodies of young women who match Emma’s description turn up, Rox must fast-forward her plans. But the situation is more complicated and dangerous than she realizes, and her own life is soon in jeopardy. Can Rox save Emma and bring down a ruthless predator before more young women fall victim?
The Big Thrill recently spent some time with prolific author L.J. Sellers discussing her latest thriller, GUILT GAME:
John Farrow is the pen name of Trevor Ferguson, a literary legend in his native country of Canada. Writing as John Farrow, he’s the author of the Storm Murders trilogy. PERISH THE DAY is the third in the trilogy, a novel about which Lee Child stated, “The best yet in one of my favorite series —I love Émile Cinq-Mars.”
PERISH THE DAY opens with a co-ed found murdered on campus. Coincidentally (or not), a college custodian is also dead. While an epic rainstorm assails the Holyoake, New Hampshire campus, a third crime scene is revealed: a professor, formerly a spy, is found shot in his home along with a mysterious note warning him to run. Coming up against campus secrets, Émile Cinq-Mars must quickly uncover the links between disparate groups before the next victim is selected for an elaborate initiation into murder.
I caught up with Farrow recently and asked him about the world—and protagonist—of PERISH THE DAY. The lead detective, Émile Cinq-Mars, appeared in two novels prior to the Storm Murder trilogy, one with him toiling in mid-career, and another with him as a young beat cop. In the Storm Murders, Cinq-Mars has retired from the force, although not, as it turns out, from investigating murder. Retirement has offered Cinq-Mars the freewheeling latitude of an amateur sleuth, yet provided the background and contacts of a professional investigator. While he was never a homicide detective—he still solved murders—his continued investigative activity in retirement isn’t a stretch.
A new life stage, however, has brought new challenges. His younger wife wants to change her career, and other questions dog them: Will they move? Will they remain a couple? The weather has also turned adverse. The “storms” of the Storm trilogy harness the atmosphere of the various locales: blizzards in Quebec, Louisiana hurricanes, storms at sea, a mountain tempest in New Hampshire.
By Wendy Tyson
A DEEPER GRAVE is USA Today bestselling author Debra Webb’s third novel in the popular Shades of Death series. In this latest installment, Montgomery detective Bobbie Gentry joins forces with serial killer Nick Shade to pursue a copycat murderer.
Webb writes thrillers, romantic suspense, mysteries, and romance, and she’s the recipient of a number of awards, including the prestigious Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense. I recently had the pleasure of talking with Webb about A DEEPER GRAVE, thriller-writing, and her inspiring journey to publication.
Congratulations on the upcoming release of A DEEPER GRAVE! No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
Detective Gentry’s story of survival and determination to keep being a cop is based a bit on my recovery and determination to continue writing after a serious accident.
Farley Black, Kit’s friend and former radio co-host, is missing. He was supposed to be surfing but he never arrived at his Malibu Beach destination. As the last person to hear from him, Kit is determined to find out what’s happened.
But when Kit searches Farley’s home, a surprising discovery makes it clear that Farley has been lying to her—and everyone else. As she heads north in search of the truth, a series of menacing incidents convinces Kit that she’s being watched. Someone is tracking her every move. As her unknown pursuer grows bolder and more reckless, Kit realizes she isn’t just looking for her friend—but running from a killer.
Author Bonnie Hearn Hill took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest book, I WISH YOU MISSED ME, with The Big Thrill:
A freelance hacker uncovers top secret files about a government cover-up surrounding the 1967 Six-Day War and triggers a murderous rampage at a resort town in Central Oregon. When the files inadvertently land in the possession of Peter Savage, he is targeted by assassins from both sides of the Atlantic and implicated in murders he didn’t commit. As the body count rises and with nowhere to turn, Savage makes a desperate decision: he draws his pursuers to the Cascade Mountains, where he plans to leverage the harsh terrain to his advantage. Doggedly trailed by both law enforcement and a small army of battle-hardened assassins, Savage becomes both hunter and prey. With his own fate uncertain, Peter Savage fights overwhelming odds to reveal the truth before full-scale war engulfs the Middle East.
The Big Thrill recently interviewed author Dave Edlund about his latest thriller, HUNTING SAVAGE:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
First and foremost, hours of riveting entertainment. Second, I hope certain plot elements provoke an interest to carefully, and perhaps more fully, examine the political theatre leading up to major elections. And third, to raise awareness of the tragic loss of life during the USS Liberty incident in 1967.
As tense and fast-paced as an episode of Headbanger’s Ball, HEAVY METAL is a gripping, nostalgi- riddled story that urges you to shovel this short book into your eyes. Dealing with family, and mental and societal pressures that we all face, Danny sheds light on the inner thought process of a struggling freshman living in his brother’s shadow.
But first, Danny must overcome Bourelle’s version of the 1980s without the campy TV, heartwarming movies or colorful outfits. Though I grew up in a later decade, this accurately depicts what high school kids were dealing with on some level. We were just punching walls and faces to a different soundtrack.
Here, The Big Thrill chats with Bourelle about getting into character and taking readers on a trip down memory lane.
The protagonist Danny is a depiction of 1980s youth and the book starts with a first person present, angsty voice and a literal gun in his mouth. Did you have to do anything to get into character while writing this, from playing with small firearms or blasting metal on a cassette player?
I tapped mostly into my own experiences: shooting a pistol years ago, listening to hard rock music as a kid (and still today), remembering cold walks on winter days growing up in Ohio. The novel is not autobiographical, but I did grow up in a small town in the 1980s. Setting the story in a familiar world helped me capture the tone. HEAVY METAL actually began as a short story with the same title that was published by the literary journal, Jabberwock Review. When I decided to try writing a novel, I thought there was more of Danny’s story to tell. Writing in his voice felt natural because I was already familiar with the character.
THE STOLEN CHILD is a different take on a thriller. There is no violence in the first few pages. No swearing. No explicit sex. And still, Kay manages to create a high level of gotta-turn-the-page-and-find-out-what-happens-next tension.
Kay’s thriller influences.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a favorite. In Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, Kay loves the plot, the chillingly Machiavellian characters and the pitch-perfect prose. She thinks Flynn’s previous novel, Sharp Objects—another favorite—is edgier with a searing twist: perfect Southern gothic-noir. Other influences are Peter Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing, Jane Shemilt’s Daughter and Gilly MacMillian’s Burnt Paper Sky.
If you are a fan of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn you should find both of Kay’s books an outstanding reason to read all night.
An example of her style.
“The moor has always been part of my life. It’s like a muse: the colours of the heather and the sky; how you can see the savagery of the wind in the way the dwarf pine trees are bent double, the bleak lines of the landscape in winter when everything save the moss and the grass are dead, stones like bones, poking through a thin skin of bilberry bushes, rushes reflected in black bog water. “
A tragic twist of fate takes away everything that really matters to Peter Watson. After such a profound loss, he can’t make sense of his life anymore. So he takes to the road—alone—to put some time and distance between himself and what happened. He hopes the solitude will help him find a reason to go on, a way to heal.
When he stops to check in at the remote Quarry Resort, he expects to wrestle with painful, intense memories. He does not expect to spend the night fighting for his life.
No matter how far you travel, the darkness inside will find you…
The Big Thrill recently had the opportunity to discuss MOON OVER RUIN with Lisa Von Biela:
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
This book is a novella, so it’s a relatively short ride, but I hope my readers empathize with Peter Watson, his loss, and the way he tries to cope with it. Of course, he gets more than he bargained for, and that’s what makes this a thriller!
Katherine Ward is assigned the case, never expecting it to parallel her own kidnapping experience seventeen years before. In Skagway, Alaska, the usual crimes faced by the police department’s small force are DUIs and missing bikes. With the chief in the hospital and one officer missing, they’re not prepared for the kidnapping of a billionaire’s daughter.
Misty Morgan thought running off with a college boy would get her father’s attention. Now she and another teenager are praying for their lives. Stuck in China, Misty’s father knew his daughter was up to something, so he asked his longtime friend Vince Nanini to fly to Alaska and stop Misty. Problem is, Vince arrives too late. The college boy is dead, Misty is missing, and the police aren’t eager to let him help.
When Katherine realizes the same man who kidnapped and raped her years ago is the one holding Misty and the other teenager, the terror of those months resurfaces. Vince finds her drunk and in tears, and he’s with her when she realizes the kidnapper has struck again. Together they must figure out where this man has taken three people, and they must find him fast.
Maris Soule spent time with The Big Thrill this month to discuss her novel, ECHOES OF TERROR:
JOHNNY CASINO is a love story and a thriller. It’s about Old Vegas and gangsters, toddlers and in-laws and terrorists, and the heartbreak and joys of falling in love, getting married, and starting a family. About impossible choices and incredibly dark secrets. About finding courage and thus Ffnding yourself. About saving your family and maybe saving even the world. Or at least Las Vegas.
Johnny Caine is just twenty-three and a sweetheart of a guy. Happily married, he is a wonderful dad. He thinks he has a future in the hotel-casino industry, even if it is Mob-owned. But the glitzy, glamorous world he lives in no longer a safe place to raise a family.
Johnny Caine thought the violent shooting deaths of his father and other bystanders was a casually cruel byproduct of some turf war among San Francisco’s gangs. The drive-by killers didn’t care who died amid the gunfire. But that night when Johnny is ducking bullets for a second time, he realizes he was the real target.
Johnny suffers from synesthesia. A rare neurological “gift” where his senses are all screwed up and his “conclusions” are all jumbled up. Johnny always knows where the cops are. All of them. How many cops there are and how fast they’re approaching. A useless “gift” to anybody but the Mob. To the Bovadiglia family of Las Vegas, Johnny Caine is their secret weapon keeping the cops and Feds at arm’s length. Johnny Caine has been on their leash for nine years; he is also their Top Secret. Even as they have started taking him for granted.
Back in Vegas Johnny discovers the killings are here, too. The Bovadiglia familia is being taken out one-by-one in the most unusual ways. The Mob thinks it’s a turf war, too, that these killings just go with the territory, and “for now we got time to retaliate.” But Johnny learns he can identify, even trail the killers by their particular auras. Like following a pretty girl who uses too much perfume. Or hating the cloud a cigarette smoker leaves behind in an elevator. He learns how these killings are part of a very personal vendetta, a most vicious political payback for the family’s role with the CIA in Latin America. And he is terrified when he finds out why the killers have spotlighted him as one of them.