Nonfiction

Under Cover of the Night by Diane Fanning

Under Cover of the Night by Diane FanningBy Jeff Ayers

It was planned to look like a suicide but even in the best-laid plans evidence is left behind…

Jocelyn Branham Earnest was found dead on the living room floor of her home in Forest, Virginia. By her side were a gun and a suicide note—typed, lacking in signature and with one fingerprint on it. A fingerprint belonging to her estranged husband.

Wesley Earnest was a respected high school administrator, poised to restart his life in a new community. An investigation into the life the couple once shared would reveal adultery, troubled finances, and shattered dreams—enough that one man with murder on his mind would travel hundreds of miles…Under Cover of the Night.

Diane Fanning is the author of eight mystery novels and thirteen true crime books including Edgar-nominated WRITTEN IN BLOOD and the national bestselling MOMMY’S LITTLE GIRL. She has been featured on a long list of television programs including the Today Show, 20/20, Forensic Files, and 48 Hours.

Diane chatted with THE BIG THRILL.

What drew you to the case that you cover in Under Cover of the Night?

I was drawn to the case that is the subject of Under Cover of the Night first of all because of the victim.  Jocelyn Earnest was a competent, well-loved, professional woman whose future looked very bright.  It seemed inconceivable that she would ever be a victim.  Then there was the perpetrator, Wesley Ernest, Jocelyn’s estranged husband and a high school administrator.  It’s hard to imagine that a man charged with watching over children every day would be capable of committing such a crime.  Finally, rumors of adultery, suspicions of homosexuality, a staged suicide and the $1.2 million lake house burnt to the ground added the spice to drive a story.
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The Clive Cussler Adventures: A Critical Review by Steven Philip Jones

ccBy Jeff Ayers

The author of more than fifty books—125 million copies in print—Clive Cussler is the current grandmaster of adventure literature. Dirk Pitt, the sea-loving protagonist of twenty-two of Cussler’s novels, remains among the most popular and influential adventure series heroes of the past half-century. In THE CLIVE CUSSLER ADVENTURES: A CRITICAL REVIEW, Steven Philip Jones explores and analyzes Cussler’s rich body of work—from the importance of Pitt to modern fiction to Cussler’s literary themes; from Cussler’s early influences to deconstructing the author’s classics, such as Raise the Titanic! and Iceberg. Cussler joins the pantheon of such acclaimed adventure writers as Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Ian Fleming, and this overdue volume demonstrates that beneath Cussler’s immense popularity lies a literary depth that well merits scholarly attention.

Steven chatted with THE BIG THRILL about this fascinating perspective and examination of Cussler’s work.

What prompted you to write the book?

Oh, goodness, that’s a long story. Let me give you the Reader’s Digest version.

Around 1989 I was selling a lot of freelance comic book scripts to Malibu Graphics. This included a four-issue adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that sold out its initial print run of twenty thousand and went back for a second printing, which got me thinking, if an adaptation of a classic public domain novel could sell that well, how much better would an adaptation of a recent bestseller sell? It would depend on the bestseller, of course, and Mr. Cussler’s novels came immediately to mind. They were extremely popular, but had only been adapted in a newspaper strip of RAISE THE TITANIC! and the 1980 movie of the same book. I wrote Mr. Cussler with my idea, he liked it, and Malibu, Mr. Cussler, and his agent Peter Lampack tried to work out a deal, but they couldn’t come to an agreement.
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Story Trumps Structure by Steven James

Story Trumps Structure by Steven James
All too often, following the “rules” of writing can constrict rather than inspire you. With Story Trumps Structure, you can shed those rules—about three-act structure, rising action, outlining, and more—to craft your most powerful, emotional, and gripping stories. Award-winning novelist Steven James explains how to trust the narrative process to make your story believable, compelling, and engaging, and debunks the common myths that hold writers back from creating their best work. When you focus on what lies at the heart of story—tension, desire, crisis, escalation, struggle, discovery—rather than plot templates and formulas, you’ll begin to break out of the box and write fiction that resonates with your readers.

Story Trumps Structure will transform the way you think about stories and the way you write them, forever.

*****

“Steven James is the best teacher I’ve ever worked with. I’ve been keenly awaiting STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE since I first heard it was coming out. Like Steven’s lectures, the book is an invaluable resource for aspiring authors and published novelists alike.” ~Robert Dugoni, New York Times best-selling author of THE JURY MASTER
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Killer Nurse by John Foxjohn

Killer Nurse by John FoxjohnBy Azam Gill

KILLER NURSE, John Foxjohn’s first non-fiction work, is set to be as successful as his widely read fiction.

In 2012 a Texas court sentenced Nurse Kimberly Clark Saenz for the willful murder of five patients in her care. John Foxjohn–a former Army Airborne Ranger, policeman, homicide detective and a successful fiction writer–felt compelled to write about the case. He spent three years researching the facts behind KILLER NURSE, including “every second in the courtroom” during the voir dire process by which attorneys select / reject jurors before they are confirmed, “and every second in the courtroom for the four-week trial.”Hardly surprising. A nurse who kills her patients cannot be explained away by brushstrokes of penmanship alone, and John Foxjohn went the extra mile for his readers.

Kevin Flynn, coauthor of NOTES ON A KILLING, says KILLER NURSE is “A testament to show-leather journalism…The definitive tome on the case. A must read for true crime fanatics.”Joni Fisher calls it “Positively blood-chilling”

On April 28, 2008, two very frightened patients reported to a supervisor at the DaVita Lufkin Dialysis Center in Lufkin, East Texas, that they had witnessed 34-year old Nurse Kimberly Clark Saenz, a mother of two, inject bleach into two of her patients’ IV ports.
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End of Days by James L. Swanson

End of DaysHere, for the first time in decades, is a gripping, minute-by-minute account of the day President John F. Kennedy was shot, told by James Swanson, author of the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller MANHUNT, which so vividly brought the Lincoln assassination to life. In END OF DAYS, he reveals Lee Harvey Oswald’s bizarre history of violence and follows John and Jacqueline Kennedy’s wildly successful swing through Texas and their fateful Dallas motorcade ride. In the most riveting account ever written about the assassin’s shots, Swanson takes us to the sixth-floor Texas Book Depository window to look through Oswald’s rifle sights. Swanson also re-creates the last hours of the doomed assassin and the days of national mourning for the president that followed, culminating in a funeral that united the country in a tearful farewell to the fallen commander in chief.

In END OF DAYS, Swanson combines extensive research with his unparalleled storytelling abilities to turn the events of one of the darkest days of the twentieth century into a pulse-pounding thriller that will remain the definitive popular account of the assassination for years to come.
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Impossible Odds by Jessica Buchanan & Erik Landemalm with Anthony Flacco


In 2006, twenty-seven-year-old Jessica Buchanan stepped off a plane in Nairobi, Kenya, with a teaching degree and long-held dreams of helping to educate African children. By 2009, she had met and married a native Swede named Erik Landemalm, who worked to coordinate humanitarian aid with authorities in Africa. Together the two moved from Nairobi to Somalia, and with hopes of starting a family, their future couldn’t have been brighter. . . . But on October 25, 2011, Jessica and a colleague were kidnapped at gunpoint and held for ransom by a band of Somali pirates.

For the next three months, Jessica was terrorized by more than two dozen gangsters, held outdoors in filthy conditions, and kept on a starvation diet while her health steadily deteriorated. Negotiations for ransom dragged on, and as the ordeal stretched into its third month, the captors grew increasingly impatient. Every terrifying moment Jessica Buchanan spent suffering in captivity was matched by that of her adoring husband working behind the scenes to deal with her captors.

After ninety-three days of fruitless negotiations, and with Jessica’s medical state becoming a life-or-death issue, President Barack Obama ordered Navy SEAL Team Six to attempt a rescue operation. On January 25, 2012, just before the president delivered his State of the Union speech, the team of twenty-four SEALs, under the cover of darkness, attacked the heavily armed hostiles. They killed all nine with no harm to the hostages, who were quickly airlifted out on a military rescue helicopter.
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The Dark Tower Companion by Bev Vincent 

By Ian Walkley

Aficionados of the epic fantasy series THE DARK TOWER will be delighted at the April release (from NAL) of THE DARK TOWER COMPANION by Bev Vincent, the foremost authority on Stephen King’s evolving magnum opus. Whether you are a fan who has followed Roland’s journey or are discovering it for the first time, THE DARK TOWER COMPANION gives a fascinating overview of the series and an inside look at the creative process of one of the world’s most popular authors.

Featuring interviews with Stephen King, Ron Howard, DARK TOWER expert Robin Furth and others, Bev Vincent reveals THE DARK TOWER’s influential literary origins, examines its connections to the vast majority of King’s other novels, explores the expanded universe, catalogs the major characters, locations and concepts, and includes a travel guide to the story’s real-world locations.

This ultimate compendium has been described by the master Stephen King himself as: “…a valuable tool for exploring the series. Both newcomers and frequent visitors to Mid-World will be informed and delighted.”
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Special to the Big Thrill: Reconnaissance as a True Profession by Kathleen Sharp

By Kathleen Sharp

It was going to be difficult, if not impossible, to get into the Black Tower.  I had no crampons, harness or rope, and security on the top floor was tighter than that inside a Swizz bank. I considered going the traditional route: up the elevator, through the gauntlet and into the lion’s den. But that way was madness. Lew Wasserman was the legendary creator of Universal Studios, the long-reining king of Hollywood, friend of Cleveland’s Silent Syndicate, and he hadn’t gotten that far by being nice and open.

So, I swallowed hard and did what every non-fiction suspense author does: I requested an interview.

And I was summarily rejected.

That was about 13 lucky years ago, after I signed a deal with a New York publisher to write Lew’s biography called MR. AND MRS. HOLLYWOOD: EDIE AND LEW WASSERMAN AND THEIR ENTERTAINMENT EMPIREWho knew that the kingpin never gave interviews?

Like many movie legends, aspects of Lew’s reputation turned out to be false. I eventually interviewed the man in his Tower, but only after several years and 450 interviews. Hollywood has an arcane pecking order with all the intrigue and betrayal of a Borgia Court. But I wasn’t a thriller fan for nothing. As a reporter, I turned to the tactics I’d read about in the nail-biting novels penned by so many ITW friends. To wit:
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Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer by J.C. Carleson

By Michael F. Stewart

TOP SECRET

Do not read further—classified materials. Reading this interview may improve your writing and help you land that next big advance due to the clandestine techniques learned herein.

Please join me in welcoming former CIA agent, J.C. Carleson in her interview tell-all.

J.C. Carleson has written WORK LIKE A SPY, a business advice book that is as applicable to the publishing world and thriller writing as it is to Wall Street.

In Work Like a Spy, author J.C. Carleson applies lessons learned from her years as an undercover CIA officer to the business world. Quite simply, the techniques used in the clandestine world are broadly applicable, universal methods for getting what you want from other people.

In the business setting, you may be seeking a new job, a promotion, a big sale, or a regulatory ruling in your company’s favor. Whatever it is that you seek, someone has the power to give, and this book will teach you new strategies to get it. Broken into three parts, WORK LIKE A SPY includes an introduction to the basic skill sets used by CIA officers, clandestine methods that can be applied at the organizational level, and techniques that can be applied to specific business situations.
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Make Your Story a Movie: Adapting Your Book or Idea for Hollywood by John Robert Marlow


Have you ever wondered why some books are adapted into movies, and others aren’t? Or wished you could sit down and talk to the people whose stories have been adapted–and pick the brains of the people who adapted them?

In this book, author John Robert Marlow has done it for you–interviewing book authors, playwrights, comic book creators and publishers, as well as the Hollywood screenwriters, producers, and directors responsible for adapting fictional and true-life stories into Emmy-winning TV shows, Oscar-winning films, billion-dollar megahits and smaller independents. Then he talked to the entertainment attorneys who made the deals.

He came away with a unique understanding of adaptations, which he shares in this book: which stories make good source material (and why); what Hollywood wants (and doesn’t); what you can (and can’t) get in a movie deal; how to write and pitch your story to maximize the chances of a Hollywood adaptation; and how much (and when) you can expect to be paid.

MAKE YOUR STORY A MOVIE contains the distilled experience of storytellers whose works have earned over $50 billion worldwide.
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Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure by Leslie Budewitz

By Amy Shojai

In a former life/day job I worked as a legal secretary and have the utmost respect for attorneys. So I was delighted to interview author and attorney Leslie Budewitz about her award-winning nonfiction book designed to help fiction authors “get it right.” Her BOOKS, CROOKS & COUNSELORS was the 2011 Agatha Winner for Best Nonfiction and 2012 Anthony and Macavity Nominee.

Leslie has tried cases before judges and juries, resolved cases in mediation and arbitration and has experience in everything from personal injury and child abuse litigation to multi-million dollar corporation issues. Leslie also writes mysteries and understands what fiction authors need to know about the law to effectively incorporate these details in the story.

Thriller novelists get to make stuff up, but it needs to ring true and include enough real world details to engage the reader. So I asked Leslie about her writing process and how her work can help authors of thriller fiction.
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More Forensics and Fiction by D. P. Lyle, MD

By Selena Robins

In D.P. Lyle’s new release, MORE FORENSICS AND FICTION the reader will discover answers to questions such as: How do hallucinogenic drugs affect a blind person? If snake venom is injected into fruit, would that cause death? How would you perform CPR in a helicopter? What happens when someone swallows razor blades? How long does it take blood to dry? Can DNA be obtained from a half-eaten bagel?
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Her Deadly Web by Diane Fanning

By Gary Kriss

OK, here’s the question: whadda you get when you mix together a death by cattle stampede, a three-shot suicide, a love child, a secret city and two medical examiners threatening law enforcement with firearms?

Get it right and there’s a bonus.

Hint: it’s not an episode of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”

But the latest episode of “Keeping Up With Diane Fanning,” called by some “the Queen of Real Life Crime Writing”—ah, that’s a different story, one that’s darkly detailed in HER DEADLY WEB just out from St. Martins.
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Betrayal by Jon Land

By Diane Holmes

An Interview with thriller master, Jon Land, about his latest book, BETRAYAL.

Jon Land’s BETRAYAL (Forge, January 3, 2012) is a stunning, true-life thriller that pits a lone, fearless FBI agent against the gangster who betrayed the mafia, fooled the FBI, and got away with murder… all while under the FBI’s protection.

…What “untouchable” agent Elliot Ness did to Chicago gangster Al Capone…

…What FBI agent Melvin Purvis did to notorious bank robber John Dillinger…
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Many Genres, One Craft by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller

by Jeff Ayers

MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT: LESSONS IN WRITING POPULAR FICTION features 65 essays on writing genre novels for success in the mass market. All the contributors have taught or studied at Seton Hill University’s unique MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program, including such award winning thriller and suspense writers as Tess Gerrittsen, David Morrell, Michael Arnzen, Gary Braunbeck, Victoria Thompson, David Shifren, Pat Picciarelli and many more. Divided into sections on “Craft” “Genre” and “The Writer’s Life,” the book covers the entire range of the profession.
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Winged Obsession by Jessica Speart

by Selena Robins

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Speart to discuss her real-life thriller, WINGED OBSESSION, as she shares her personal experience—going under cover—to successfully tackle the intrigue, mystique and seedy world of illegal butterfly trading.
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Prostitution in the Digital Age: Selling Sex from the Suite to the Street by R. Barri Flowers

by Janice Gable Bashman

Bestselling criminologist R. Barri Flowers delves into the dark world of prostitution in his latest book, Prostitution in the Digital Age: Selling Sex from the Suite to the Street, where he tackles the commercial sex trade industry and its influence on society. Flowers is known for exploring crime and legal issues in his work, covering topics such as murder, female crime, sex crimes, and more. He also writes crime fiction (Murder in Maui and Justice Served), teen mysteries (Danger in Time and Ghost Girl in Shadow Bay), and true crime (The Sex Slave Murders).
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The Left Side of the Screen: Communist and Left-Wing Ideology in Hollywood, 1929-2009 by Bob Herzberg

In examining the careers of communist and liberal actors, screenwriters, playwrights, and directors in Hollywood from the late 1920s to the present, this book uses studio and PCA correspondence, FBI files, film and theater reviews, and other sources to reveal how all of these artists were concerned with and active in the cinema of social protest.
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Long Way Home: A Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him by Laura Caldwell

By Mark Terrylong-way-home.JPG

Laura Caldwell has written chick-lit, international suspense, and romantic suspense, but now she’s turned her considerable talents to the book she believes she was “mean to write,” a nonfiction story about a young man who was wrongly imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

In the book Long Way Home, Caldwell tells the story of Jovan Mosley, a Chicago kid who in 1999 was falsely accused of and arrested for taking part in a fight that resulted in a death. Even though he claimed innocence, the Chicago police bullied the 19-year-old into a confession. Then, says Caldwell, “They sent him off to a jail that’s probably the worst in the country. It’s basically a holding cell where you wait for trial. You just wait around and try not to get killed. The system lost him and he spent five years and ten months without trial.”
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WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE: Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil by Jonathan Maberry & Janice Gable Bashman

By Dennis Tafoyawanted-undead-or-alive.jpg

Janice Gable Bashman and Jonathan Maberry have unleashed a torrent of terror in their new nonfiction release, Wanted Undead or Alive: Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil, from Citadel. The book is a far-ranging investigation into the nature of evil and a fascinating history of our preoccupation with the struggle between light and darkness. Publisher’s Weekly calls it a “fantastic and inventive approach to the world’s oldest war (and) a gripping and informative work.”
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Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner

100 must readsThe most riveting reads in history meet today’s biggest thriller writers in Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads.

Edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner, Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads examines 100 seminal works of suspense through essays contributed by such esteemed modern thriller writers as: David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, Heather Graham, John Lescroart, Gayle Lynds, Katherine Neville, Michael Palmer, James Rollins, R. L. Stine, and many more.
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THE MEASURE OF MADNESS-Inside the Disturbed and Disturbing Criminal Mind by Cheryl Paradis

the-measure-of-madness.JPGIn the new book THE MEASURE OF MADNESS-Inside the Disturbed and Disturbing Criminal Mind (Citadel Press/July 2010), forensic psychologist Dr. Cheryl Paradis draws back the curtain on that fascinating world and revisits twenty-one of the most intriguing, puzzling, and challenging cases she has handled in her multifaceted, twenty-five year career including that of a battered woman, a psychotic arsonist, an accused cannibal and a wide range of liars. Paradis relays these real-life whodunits with much of the dialogue relayed verbatim from her records and presents a compelling account of the relationships between mental illness and violence, innocence and guilt, criminal and victim, and individual and society.
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The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel by Tom Monteleone

idiots-guideto-writing-a-novel.jpgby Austin Camacho

It has happened to all of us.  You’ve read hundreds of thrillers and finally you decide you could write one as good as that last one.  You’re ready to try your hand at creating a bestseller, but you don’t know where to start.  The answer may be to pick up a copy of the newly-published second edition of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel by Tom Monteleone.
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Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner

 

100 must readsThe most riveting reads in history meet today’s biggest thriller writers in Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads.

Edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner, Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads examines 100 seminal works of suspense through essays contributed by such esteemed modern thriller writers as: David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, Heather Graham, John Lescroart, Gayle Lynds, Katherine Neville, Michael Palmer, James Rollins, R. L. Stine, and many more.
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