By Josie Brown
If A. J. Colucci’s latest novel, SEEDERS, is anything, it is timely, especially with scientists’ latest warnings that human-induced climate change will cause even further extinction of both animal and plant life as we know it.
Colucci uses this conclusion as the starting point for a scientific thriller that has the most unusual villains. Then again, if the goal is to stop the destruction of life on Earth, who is the “bad guy?”
Colluci’s answers will surprise you.
You are living proof that if a steady diet of horror movies and a career as a science journalist doesn’t prepare you for writing this kind of thriller, then nothing will. Still the premise of this book both surprises and horrifies. How did the concept of SEEDERS come to you?
As a small kid, I pulled an Alfred Hitchcock anthology off my mom’s shelf. It was a bunch of scary short stories that were not age appropriate, but my mom didn’t care what I read as long as there was a book in my hands. One of the stories was The Sound Machine by Roald Dahl, about an engineer who invents a device that allows him to hear high-frequency sounds, including the scream of a rose as its being cut by a neighbor. It was so damn frightening and changed the way I thought about nature. So a few years ago, while I was surfing the web and read about all the new breakthroughs in plant signaling, I knew that was going to be my next book.
By A.J. Colucci
Think science thriller, and you think Douglas Preston. His masterfully crafted, heart-pounding stories take readers slightly past the cutting-edge of science into terrifying “what if” scenarios that sometimes beg the question; do we really want to go there? The latest novel in his Wyman Ford series, THE KRAKEN PROJECT, delves into the world of Artificial Intelligence and the possible consequences of machines outsmarting humans.
Doug began his career as an editor at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which led to RELIC, his first best-selling novel with co-author Lincoln Child. Since then, Doug has authored twenty-six books, nonfiction and fiction, several of which have been #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers. He continues an active career in journalism, contributing to THE NEW YORKER, SMITHSONIAN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, HARPER’S and THE ATLANTIC. His most recent nonfiction book, THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE, is being made into a movie starring George Clooney.
In THE KRAKEN PROJECT, former CIA agent Wyman Ford becomes trapped in a technological nightmare after NASA builds a probe to be splashed down in the Kraken Mare, the largest sea on Saturn’s great moon, Titan. The probe has been outfitted with artificial intelligence software, but miscalculations lead to a catastrophe during testing and the software, nicknamed Dorothy, flees into the Internet. Ford gears up to track down Dorothy, but realizes that her horrific experiences in the wasteland of the Internet have changed her in ways he can barely imagine. Traumatized and angry, Dorothy devises a plan. As the pursuit of Dorothy converges on a deserted house on the coast of Northern California, Ford questions whether saving Dorothy is the right thing to do. Is the AI bent on saving the world—or on wiping out the cancer that is humankind?
DUALISM continues Bill De DeSmedt’s exploration of scary science and near-future developments in artificial intelligence and quantum computation. Author and futurist Vernor Vinge calls the book, “An exciting tale of another path to superintelligence.”
When the six-year-old daughter of a billionaire industrialist is kidnapped, ueber-consultant Jonathan Knox and counterterrorism agent Marianna Bonaventure must team up with an experimental artificial intelligence to rescue her, never suspecting the little girl is the key to a plot that could destroy the NSA’s most advanced cryptanalysis capability—and go on to kill every man, woman, and child in the United States.
Tell us something about DUALISM that isn’t mentioned in the publisher’s synopsis.
Okay here’s something almost nobody knew (till now): When I first started to write DUALISM, I had only two short scenes in mind. I knew they both had to be in the book, although I couldn’t figure out where in the book they should go. All the rest of the writing was really about trying to tie those two scenes together.
(Readers: you’re welcome to guess which two scenes those are, and what’s more to email your guesses to email@example.com. The first reader to write in and correctly name the chapters and scene numbers for those two literally seminal scenes will win a coveted ticket to join me at the FanFest party being held during this year’s ThrillerFest. For details, see my website.
By A.J. Colucci
Just try to take a breath while reading CODE ZERO, Jonathan Maberry’s latest novel in the Joe Ledger series, a high-octane suspense thriller that pulls you in from start to finish and never lets up on the action. Maberry is a master at weaving complex, yet tightly woven stories that are full of larger-than-life characters, fascinating science, and the vilest villains.
In CODE ZERO, the Department of Military Sciences has been fighting for years to stop terrorists from using radical bioweapons—designer plagues, weaponized pathogens, genetically modified viruses, and even the zombie plague that first brought Ledger into the DMS. These terrible weapons have been locked away in the world’s most secure facility. Until now. Joe Ledger and Echo Team are scrambled when a highly elite team of killers breaks the unbreakable security and steals the world’s most dangerous weapons. Within days there are outbreaks of mass slaughter and murderous insanity across the American heartland. Can Joe Ledger stop a brilliant and devious master criminal from turning the Land of the Free into a land of the dead?
Switching gears has worked very well for Jonathan Maberry, who has written everything from plays to comic books to greeting cards. He’s a New York Times bestselling author of eighteen novels and a four-time Bram Stoker Award winner. Besides the Joe Ledger thrillers, he also writes the Rot & Ruin series, the Nightsiders series, the Dead of Night series, and the Watch Over Me series; as well as the monthly comics V-WARS and ROT & RUIN. Two of his novels are in development for film, and another for TV. He teaches Experimental Writing for Teens, is the founder of the Writers Coffeehouse, and co-founder of The Liars Club.
Jonathan took some time to talk about his latest book, CODE ZERO, and his prolific writing career.
By Ethan Cross
Bestselling author Jeremy Robinson has become one of the most prolific thriller writers in the world, publishing fourteen books in 2013 alone. His newest novel, XOM-B, has been described as “drawing on elements of The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies” and proceeding “at a nonstop pace as former slaves survive one cliffhanger after another.” From an author who effortlessly blends the worlds of action, adventure, sci-fi, and horror, XOM-B puts a “fresh twist on the zombie apocalypse.”
Freeman is a genius with an uncommon mixture of memory, intelligence, and creativity. He lives in a worldwide utopia, but it was not always so. There was a time known as the Grind—when Freeman’s people lived as slaves to another race referred to simply as “Master.” They were property. But a civil rights movement emerged. Change seemed near, but the Masters refused to bend. Instead, they declared war. And lost. Now, the freed world is threatened by a virus, spread through bites, sweeping through the population. Those infected change—they are propelled to violence, driven to disperse the virus. Uniquely suited to respond to this new threat, Freeman searches for a cure, but instead finds the source—the Masters, intent on reclaiming the world. Freeman must fight for his life, for his friends and for the truth, which is far more complex and dangerous than he ever imagined.
Tell us about XOM-B in one line.
In a near future, post-apocalyptic world populated by freed slaves, a man named Freeman must prevent the return of “the masters” while fending off hordes of zombies and killer robots.
A down-and-out thug meets a mysterious woman, and he finds himself dragged into a war between a society of ancient witches and a rebellious faction of assassins. At stake is a genetic secret that could alter the course of human history. Alpert’s newest thriller blends science, fantasy, and action into a high-octane must read.
THE FURIES had an intricate plot with a lot of characters with competing agendas. How did you keep track of so many parts?
The novel has an unusually large number of characters because the extended family at the center of the plot—the Furies—has been multiplying for centuries. The family is very ancient indeed, dating back to the Neolithic era, and over the millennia the family’s leaders—all women—have used their accumulated wisdom to steer civilization in the right direction during times of crisis. Four hundred years ago, however, the family was nearly annihilated by the witch-hunters in Europe, who recognized that the clan was different because all their women had red hair and green eyes—the classic signs of a witch in pre-modern times. The survivors fled to America and found a hiding place in the wilderness of what is now Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In the present day, almost two thousand Furies live in the hidden compound of the matriarchal clan, enough to populate a small town. They even have their own government and security force.
I thought it would be interesting to describe both the leaders and ordinary folks in this secret community, called Haven. And in any community this large, divisions are bound to emerge, which explains the competing agendas. But it wasn’t so difficult to keep track of all the moving parts because everything is described from the perspective of an outsider, John Rogers, the book’s narrator. John learns about the Furies in a step-by-step way; first he meets the mysterious Ariel in a Greenwich Village bar, then he and Ariel are nearly killed by the Fury named Sullivan and his band of sadistic rebels. Only later does John discover Haven and start to learn the family’s history and secrets. Structuring the plot this way made it easier to tell the story without bewildering readers.
By Don Helin
In NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author Daniel Suarez’s latest thriller, INFLUX, particle physicist Jon Grady is ecstatic when his team achieves what they’ve been working toward for years: a device that can reflect gravity. Their research will revolutionize the field of physics—the crowning achievement of a career. Grady expects widespread acclaim for his entire team. The Nobel Prize. Instead, his lab is locked down by a shadowy organization whose mission is to prevent at all costs the social upheaval sudden technological advances bring. This Bureau of Technology Control uses the advanced technologies they have harvested over the decades to fulfill their mission.
Presented with the opportunity to join the BTC and improve his own technology in secret, Grady resists, and is instead thrown into a nightmarish high-tech prison built to hold rebellious geniuses like himself. With so many great intellects confined together, can Grady and his fellow prisoners conceive of a way to usher humanity out of its artificial dark age? And can they hope to defeat an enemy who wields a technological advantage half a century in the making?
Daniel Suarez is also the author of DAEMON, FREEDOM™, and KILL DECISION. His fiction focuses on technology-driven change. He is a past speaker at TED Global, MIT Media Lab, NASA Ames, the Long Now Foundation, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Daniel and ask him a few questions.
By Nate Kenyon
Patrick Lee burst onto the thriller scene in 2009 with his explosive bestseller THE BREACH, which was billed as a cross between the T.V. shows 24 and X-FILES and was compared to the works of Dean Koontz and Michael Crichton. Bestselling author Lee Child called it “audacious and terrifying—and uncannily believable.”
After two sequels, Lee is back again this year with RUNNER, the first in a new thriller series—and this one promises to be his best yet:
Sam Dryden, ex-Special Forces, lives a quiet life in a small town on the coast of Southern California. Out for a run in the middle of the night, he encounters a young girl named Rachel, who is running for her life from a group of armed men. Dryden helps her escape, and soon learns that Rachel has an ability that should be impossible, and which makes her a target for people who can move heaven and earth to find her.
The Big Thrill sat down with Patrick to learn more about the new novel and his writing life.
RUNNER begins with one of the most compelling scenes in recent memory—a man out for a run at night who encounters a young girl trying to escape from men who want to kill her. Was that scene where this story first began in your mind—your “what if” moment—or did it come later during the writing process?
In the case of this book, it really did begin with this first scene, and at the time I didn’t know where else it was leading. As I got a few chapters further along, and came up with the premise of the book, I made changes in chapter one that would hint at it. But yeah, in the beginning I just had this opening, by itself. I usually try not to outline stories; I still get a sense of where they’re going, in my head, but I really don’t write anything down. I try to let the book go where it wants to, as I’m writing it. The important counterpart to that approach, though, is that I’m constantly going back and revising the earlier material to fit any twists and turns that show up later on. So it ends up looking like the result of a fairly involved outline. I guess you could call it retroactive outlining.
A series of unexplained phenomena create shock-waves across the globe – a huge religious statue moves its arm, and there’s a spate of floods and earthquakes. Many think it’s the end of the world…
Investigative journalist Alyssa Durham receives a call from an old friend claiming that these phenomena may not be entirely natural, but when he is assassinated in front of her, she finds herself on the run for her life.
Alyssa teams up with Jack Murray, a scientist from a secretive government research laboratory, to uncover the truth. But who wants them dead, and what are they trying to protect?
As chaos descends, Alyssa and Jack are drawn into a battle against an unknown enemy with the highest possible stakes, because one thing they’ve learnt is that nothing is safe from extinction…
By A.J. Colucci
Steven James is the bestselling author of the award-winning Patrick Bowers and Jevin Banks series. James has received wide critical acclaim for his work; including two PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY starred reviews and three Christy Awards for best suspense, and was a finalist for an International Thriller Award. His psychological thriller THE BISHOP was named SUSPENSE MAGAZINE’S book of the year.
Steven is an active member of International Thriller Writers and serves as a contributing editor for WRITER’S DIGEST. Steven lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee with his wife and three daughters. You can visit him on his website.
In SINGULARITY, illusionist Jevin Banks returns. This time to search for a killer – and answers to terrifying questions he never even thought to ask.
When his friend is murdered, Jevin is determined to find out what really happened. Drawn deep into a web of conspiracy and top-secret research on human consciousness, Jevin won’t stop digging until the truth is revealed. Soon he uncovers a dark secret that could change the very fabric – and future – of human life on the planet.
Based on frightening scientific realities and bristling with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, SINGULARITY is the riveting sequel to PLACEBO.
H.W. “Buzz” Bernard’s new science thriller, SUPERCELL, is his third novel and comes out this month as a trade paperback from BelleBooks.
Can you give us an elevator pitch for SUPERCELL?
Sure. And you can have your choice of the second-floor and out-the-door “quickie” pitch, or the slow-ride-to-the-penthouse pitch.
Quickie: They’ll pay him a fortune to find a violent tornado for their movie. He knows the risks all too well, but he never imagined just how dangerous the perfect storm could get.
Slow Ride: Chuck Rittenburg was the most renown storm chaser in the country until a bad decision resulted in the death of a young couple who’d paid to ride along. A decade later, broke, divorced, and estranged from his college-age children, he’s got nothing left to lose. When a film producer offers Chuck one-million dollars to help find and photograph a devastating tornado in Oklahoma, Chuck sees a chance to earn his kids’ respect again—and maybe his own.
The situation quickly becomes about more than tracking a monster tornado for Hollywood. FBI Agent Gabi Medeiros insists on riding along. A burglary ring is targeting tornado-ravaged neighborhoods, and their tactics now include murder.
With the stage set for a major heist, a deadly supercell, and a confrontation between Man and Nature on an epic scale, Chuck and his crew will be lucky to escape in one piece.
You were a meteorologist before, does that background and knowledge of weather and how it really happens come through in your writing? Can the reader assume the technical “stuff” in SUPERCELL is correct?
Absolutely. In fact, a lot of people mentioned to me how much they learned about hurricanes and hurricane hunters in EYEWALL. The same will be true in SUPERCELL. It’s not science fiction, it’s science fact . . . stretched to the extreme, of course. The chase sequences in SUPERCELL are the real deal and—ah, I can see you’re champing at the bit to ask the next question.
In 1959, in an underground laboratory in a remote region of West Virginia, a secret government experiment went terribly awry. In desperation, President Eisenhower ordered the lab sealed shut and all records of its existence destroyed. Now, fifty-four years later, something from the lab has emerged.
When mysterious events begin occurring along the New River Valley in West Virginia, government agents Mike Califano and Ana Thorne are sent to investigate. What they discover will shake the foundations of science and religion and put both agents in the crosshairs of a deadly, worldwide conspiracy. A powerful and mysterious force has been unleashed, and it’s about to fall into the wrong hands. To prevent a global catastrophe, Califano and Thorne must work together to solve a biblical mystery that has confounded scholars for centuries. And they must do so quickly, before time runs out . . . forever.
By George Ebey
Author Nina Croft’s latest novel, THE DESCARTES LEGACY, blends science with thrills to bring you one of her most harrowing stories yet.
Lucas Grafton has spent the last ten years hunting the Conclave, a secret organization who took everything from him, his wife, his child, his very identity. Now he has a lead—an imminent terrorist attack on London—codenamed Descartes.
Born with a genetic illness, Jenna Young has always known she is different. Then the unexpected death of her father catapults her into a world of murder and terrorism. To stay alive, she must solve a twenty-five year old mystery—her only ally, a hard bitter man in search of retribution, her only clue—Descartes.
When Luke’s need for revenge collides with Jenna’s hunt for the past, together they must stand against the Conclave, and in doing so uncover the truth behind Jenna’s illness. A truth that will make Jenna question her very humanity.
I recently caught up with Nina to learn more about what she has in store for readers of THE DESCARTES LEGACY.
Your book is a thriller with science at its core. How did you approach blending both themes into one story?
I think thrillers and science blend together naturally. Advances in science, whether in medicine, bio-weapons, cloning or whatever can be a great source of suspense and conflict for a story and this is definitely the case with THE DESCARTES LEGACY. The book also has a hint of science-fiction, which means I had limitless possibilities. Once I’d decided on the central idea, then the hardest thing was deciding which of those possibilities to go with.
By AJ Colucci
Nate Kenyon brings us his latest novel, DAY ONE. A three-time Bram Stoker Award finalist and P&E Horror Novel of the Year award winner, Nate’s books have received starred reviews from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY and BOOKLIST. Two of his novels, THE REACH and SPARROW ROCK, have been optioned for film.
Nate has written several novels for Blizzard Entertainment’s bestselling videogame franchises, including STARCRAFT GHOST: SPECTRES and DIABLO III: THE ORDER. He has had dozens of stories published in magazine and anthologies including SHROUD MAGAZINE, MONSTROUS, HORROR WORLD, DEAD LINES, THE HARROW, HORROR LIBRARY, THE MONSTER’S CORNER and the upcoming DARK DUETS. You can visit him on his website.
DAY ONE introduces us to scandal-plagued hacker journalist John Hawke, who is hot on the trail of the explosive story that might save his career. James Weller, the former CEO of giant technology company Eclipse, has founded a new start-up, and he’s agreed to let Hawke do a profile on him. But after he arrives in Weller’s office in New York City, a seemingly normal day quickly turns into a nightmare as anything with an Internet connection begins to malfunction. Soon Hawke and a small band of survivors are struggling for their very lives as they find themselves thrust into the middle of a war zone—with no obvious enemy in sight.
Erin Palmer had a devastating encounter with a psychopath as a child. Now a grad student and scientist, she’s devoting her life to studying these monsters. When her research catches the attention of Hugh Raborn, a brilliant neuroscientist who claims to have isolated the genes responsible for psychopathic behavior, Erin realizes it may be possible to reverse the condition, restoring souls to psychopaths. But to do so, she’ll not only have to operate outside the law, but violate her most cherished ethical principles.
As Erin becomes further involved with Raborn, she begins to suspect that he harbors dark secrets. Is he working for the good of society? Or is he intent on bringing humanity to its knees?
“THE CURE will keep you turning the pages all night long.”
–Douglas Preston, NEW YORK TIMES #1 bestselling author of IMPACT
“Richards is a tremendous new talent. THE CURE is an extraordinarily good novel that will keep you riveted . . . and thinking.”
–Stephen Coonts, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of PIRATE ALLEY
Douglas E. Richards is the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author of WIRED, its sequel, AMPED, and THE CURE. He has been widely praised for his ability to weave action, suspense, and science into riveting novels that straddle the thriller and science fiction genres. A former biotech executive, Richards earned a BS in microbiology from the Ohio State University, a master’s degree in genetic engineering from the University of Wisconsin (where he engineered mutant viruses now named after him), and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
To learn more about Douglas, please visit him on Facebook.
Debut ITW author Geoffrey Girard will have his first two novels published on the same dayas Simon and Schuster gets a little extra creative and releases both CAIN’S BLOOD (a dark techno thriller) and PROJECT CAIN (a Young Adult companion novel) simultaneously on September 3rd.
Both novels center around a secret Defense project to develop bioweapons built from the genetics of violence, a program which includes dozens of young men who are the clones of infamous serial killers. When the most dangerous teens are set free by their creator, former black ops soldier Shawn Castillo is hot on their trail and enlists the help of a boy who has just learned he is the clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. As this unlikely pair races across the country after the rampaging teens, Castillo must protect the boy who is the embodiment of his biggest fears, and who may also be his last hope.
Initially submitted as a standalone novel for teens, Girard’s agents — Peter McGuigan and Stephen Barbara, at Foundry Literary + Media — felt they could have two books on their hands and asked Girard to rework his story. The result was a dark thriller for adults told from multiple POVs and centered primarily on Castillo and also a YA novel told in first-person by teen Jeffrey Jacobson, the clone of Dahmer.
A gunfighter battles flesh-eating zombies and corruption in an 1897 Nevada mining town.
Coyote Flats, the Nevada desert 1897: the age of steam and gears and zombies. Ryan McBride has one of the richest gold mines in Nevada. But that’s not enough. He not only intends to own every gold claim in the area, he wants the town, too. And he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.
At night when the devil wind blows, a pack of flesh-hungry zombies descend on Coyote Flats. Townspeople are killed and Sheriff John Cable stands alone against the creatures. He steps into the night and disappears; but not before asking that a telegraph be sent to his friend Max Traver in San Francisco requesting his help. Now it’s up to Traver to stop McBride. But first he has to face McBride’s gunman Driscoll Pine and the zombies turned loose on the town to instill fear in the miners.
By Jeremy Burns
Steve Alten is a bestselling mainstay on the science thriller scene. His work has drawn laudatory comparisons to Crichton and Cussler, and his latest book, THE OMEGA PROJECT, looks to raise the already high bar that his fans have come to expect. Steve recently sat down with THE BIG THRILL to take readers behind the scenes of his latest high-octane adventure.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m fifty-three, been writing now for eighteen years. Twelve published thrillers, including four NEW YORK Times bestsellers and four international bestsellers… not bad for a Phys. Ed. Major from Penn State. But I have far to go and much to learn.
Tell us about your new thriller, THE OMEGA PROJECT.
A quick description would be PLANET OF THE APES meets CASTAWAY as a scientist, on a 30-day training mission, is forcibly cryogenically frozen in a habitat submerged beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet and awakens…12 million years later. The story is sort of a nightmarish WIZARD OF OZ tale, and neither the hero nor the reader will know the outcome until the last page.
By Jeff Ayers
Jeff Carlson, international bestselling author of PLAGUE YEAR and THE FROZEN SKY, has seen his work translated into fifteen languages worldwide. PLAGUE YEAR was also optioned for film. His latest novel is INTERRUPT. He talked to The BIG THRILL about his work.
Why do “end of the world” novels have such appeal?
Great question. The funny part is I’m a happy guy. I have a fantastic family, and, in fact, I’m extremely boring and normal — wife, kids, mortgage, bleh — ha ha — except to say that I grew up fascinated with books like LUCIFER’S HAMMER and THE STAND.
We like to be scared because we have a huge capacity for fear. The most basic element of storytelling is conflict because we respond to it.
For me, writing apocalyptic novels isn’t so much about exploding helicopters and fifty megaton doomsday bombs as it’s about the pleasure of dealing with the best of everything that makes us human: cleverness, grit, loyalty, and sacrifice.
Ultimately, my novels boil down to the ability of some people — the greatest of us — to overcome any hurdle. I back my heroes into corners just to watch them wiggle free.
By Basil Sands
Howdy folks, we’re here with thriller writer Jeffrey Small, Jr. to chat about his recently released second novel, THE JERICHO DECEPTION. The book just won the Gold Medal for Best Suspense/Thriller by the 2013 IPPY Book Awards and is being lauded as “a ripping good novel” by #1 bestselling author Douglas Preston. And I have to say, having read it myself, Doug knows what he’s talking about.
Jeff, tell us about THE JERICHO DECEPTION.
THE JERICHO DECEPTION is a thriller that blends political intrigue, neuroscience, and spirituality. Yale professor Dr. Ethan Lightman has developed a device, the Logos Machine, that can induce powerful mystical experience in its subjects. He learns, however, that a flaw in his design may also produce madness in some subjects who experience demonic visions rather than religious ecstasy. After a colleague is murdered in his Yale lab, Ethan discovers an even darker side to his research when he descends into a web of treachery that takes him to the Egyptian desert and a secret CIA mind-control program known as Project Jericho. Ethan then must race to unlock the mystery of Jericho and his own research in order to stop a modern-day Holy War.
You graduated from Yale as an undergrad, then from Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctorate, then continued to Oxford for a Masters in the Study of Religions. That’s a lot of serious education. What drew you to such a lofty academic path?
I’ve always enjoyed learning. The discovery of ideas fills me with energy, and my fiction writing is an aspect of this passion. Creativity is about playing with concepts, and both my academic interests and my writing have this same quality. I love the research phase of my books because it’s an opportunity to delve into fascinating areas that I’d like to know more about. In the case of JERICHO, I had to delve into the psychology of mind control and the neuroscience of mystical experiences. For me, the writer’s maxim of “write what you know” is really “write what I want to know about.”
Jon McGoran is a novelist, editor and writing teacher with a brilliant new ecological thriller coming out this week from TOR/FORGE. His short fiction, nonfiction and satire have appeared in a variety of publications and anthologies.He’s a member of the Mystery Writers Association, and the International Thriller Writers, and a founding member of the Liars Club. As Communications Director at Weavers Way Co-op, he was the editor and publisher of the monthly newspaper, THE SHUTTLE. Jon is the new editor-in-chief of GRID Magazine. He is represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.
DRIFT (Forge) is due out next week. Tell us about the book.
DRIFT is a thriller about genetically modified foods and the blurring line between food and pharmaceuticals. Philadelphia narcotics detective Doyle Carrick loses his mother and stepfather within weeks of each other, and when he gets a twenty-day suspension for unprofessional behavior, he decides to lay low at the unfamiliar house he’s inherited in rural Pennsylvania.
Feeling restless and out of place, he is surprised to find himself falling for his new neighbor, Nola Watkins, who is under pressure to sell her organic farm to a large and mysterious development company. He’s more surprised to see high-powered drug dealers driving the small-town roads—dealers his bosses and the local police don’t want to hear about. But when the drug bust Doyle has been pushing for goes bad and threats against Nola turn violent, he begins to discover that what’s growing in the farmland around Philadelphia is much deadlier than anything he could have imagined.
Stricken with amnesia after a six-year coma, Jake Bronson is haunted by fleeting ghosts of his former life. When his hidden past finally rushes back, it’s accompanied by assassins, psychopathic world leaders, and an ancient order determined to unlock his dormant talents and use them to trigger the extinction of humankind.
Jake reclaims his life, but the reunion is bittersweet, placing long-lost friends and loved ones in harm’s way—as those hunting Jake will stop at nothing to force his participation in their atrocious scheme.
As a madman’s vision for the future nears its apocalyptic fruition, Jake and his allies must find a way to overcome impossible odds and unstoppable foes—or watch as the world burns into oblivion.
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.
During a trek to Loch Ness, Scotland, a young Charles Darwin encounters a mysterious and terrifying creature that provides a spark for his evolutionary theory.
Almost two hundred years later and across the Channel in Paris, the Eiffel Tower is under attack. Only through detective work, intuition, and a judicious application of high-tech weaponry does former Army combat engineer Tyler Locke prevent a massacre.
What Tyler doesn’t know is that the assault is just the beginning of a conspiracy so dark that it not only threatens the lives of those he loves, but could also ignite World War III. Racing against time to uncover Darwin’s centuries-old secret, he must solve a series of cryptic clues to find a manuscript that has been so cleverly hidden it hasn’t been seen since the Victorian age.
Tyler’s quest takes him from the bustling tourist hotspots of Seattle to the splendor of Versailles to the remote Highlands of Scotland in a battle to reveal the shocking truth behind the legend of the Loch Ness monster.
The Jericho Deception is a psychological adventure into the interplay of mind and spirit, science and religion, mystery and mysticism.
A mysterious death in a Yale lab, a secret facility hidden in the Egyptian desert, a desperate chase through the ruins of pharaohs: all linked together by a psychological experiment that promises to expose the innermost workings of the human mind and soul.
Ignoring the skepticism of his Yale colleagues, neuro-psychologist Dr. Ethan Lightman has dedicated his professional career to developing the Logos, a device that induces mystical experiences of the divine in his subjects through the use of electro-magnetic brain stimulation. After the mysterious death of his mentor in their Yale lab, Ethan is suspended from his research and teaching duties. Distraught, he uncovers a coded message written by his mentor on the night of his death that leads him to discover that the foundation funding their Logos project is a covert front for the CIA.
By Gary Kriss
It’s what some might call an “improbable pairing.”
She’s a self-described “hopeless nerd, science geek, history buff, major foodie” who “writes things” and is also able to balance a spoon on her nose while cross-eyed.
He’s a recovering drug addict, a telepath of the highest order, disgraced among his own kind and racked with guilt, who has been using his abilities to help cops solve homicides, a job he’s on the verge of losing.
She was the one who initiated the relationship and she’s the one determined to keep it going, a resolve in keeping with the Winston Churchill quote she favors as her motto: “Never give up. Never, never, never, never, never give up.”
And she hasn’t. Last month the world discovered that the two are still a hot item when Penguin/Putnam released SHARP, Alex Hughes’s second book in her Mindspace Investigations series featuring flawed, yet fascinating telepath Adam Ward. The first book, CLEAN, was published last year to critical acclaim for the author who’s about to turn thirty.
To say EXTINCTION MACHINE is a pulse-pounding page-turner would be to call World War Two a minor dust up. Jonathan Maberry proves himself the master storyteller in a tale that expertly weaves a hard-boiled body-slam narrative with deft artful prose. For those who love high-concept drama the story holds little back: honor; romance; vengeance; UFOs; alien technology; weird science; weapons that can wreck tectonic plates and swamp continents; spectral government assassins; black-hearted genius villains; and an ensemble of the most valiant and macho good guys since Achilles and his Myrmidons. Maberry confidentially demonstrates the writer chops that hook you in, hold you in place, and make you howl for more.
EXTINCTION MACHINE is a sprawling, complicated story with a plethora of big characters, yet you keep the plot tight and focused. How do you organize the plot? What’s your writing strategy than can encompass and streamline such an expansive story with so many moving parts?
I’m a structure guy when it comes to writing. I write an outline and then use Post-its on presentation boards to storyboard the novel. That story often changes as I’m writing, of course, because you can’t expect to have all of your best ideas on the day you cook up your plot. But the outline allows me to stay focused on the story and its component parts. I build it on three acts and then look for the best balance of action, exposition, character development and so on to tell the story.
I also love complex and layered stories, and I tend to favor ensemble casts even in a tale largely driven by a first-person narrative. With thrillers you don’t want to have the story cover too long a time-period, so I intercut the hero’s storyline with brief flashbacks and third-person side-scenes that allow readers to have insight into how these events play out across a broad canvas. Also, this allows me to dig into the motivations and machinations of the villains. We want the bad guys to be as three-dimensional as the heroes.
By J. H. Bográn
Author Mark de Castrique takes us to a not-so-distant future for a roller coaster ride that is unbelievably plausible in DOUBLE CROSS OF TIME.
The year is 2030. Scientist Jonathan Singer stands on the verge of achieving his two greatest dreams: marriage to his soul mate and the launch of his life’s work, The American Super Collider. But when an old man shows up at his apartment claiming to be Dr. Jonathan Singer from 40 years in the future, Jonathan’s world spins out of control. Is he his own worst enemy or will he heed the old man’s plea – “To Thine Own Self Be True.”
One thing is certain, while Jonathan races time to save the Future, someone is trying to kill him in the Present.
What inspired the premise for DOUBLE CROSS OF TIME?
The premise for DOUBLE CROSS OF TIME is quite different from my previous eleven novels, and is actually two-fold. I was interested in the scientific frontier of particle physics, not because I comprehend it, but because it explores the very nature of our existence and might unleash forces more strange, powerful, and unforeseen than Einstein’s E=MC2. The second part of the premise came from the inherent conflict of two well-known sayings: Polonius’s advice to Laertes – “This above all: to thine own self be true,” and the statement, “He’s his own worst enemy.” How would a character react if confronted by himself from the future, especially if that future self told him to destroy everything he was working on?
“It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for their crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”
In other words, eugenics—improving a species by eliminating “undesirable” individuals. Most people, asked who wrote those words, would cite Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin. Actually, it was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. writing for the 8-1 majority in the Supreme Court’s 1927 decision enthusiastically legitimizing eugenics in America. That was part of eugenics’ first great wave. The Nazis, of course, carried out the second. There has not been a third—yet.
So what on earth is eugenics doing in a thriller? Three things distinguish my novels: real threats to the planet, plausible science, and extreme environments. Thus the planetary threat in FROZEN SOLID is overpopulation and eugenics, writ very large, is the plausible science that rogue scientists will use to eliminate earth’s human overload.
By George Ebey
A malevolent life form created by military scientists threatens to destroy humanity in this provocative novel by Mark Alpert, master of the high-concept techno-thriller. Following up on the international success of his first two novels, FINAL THEORY and THE OMEGA THEORY, Alpert now delivers EXTINCTION, a science thriller about the emergence of a deadly new species, a hybrid organism that combines man and machine. Based on real technologies being developed right now to connect human brains to motors, sensors and microchips, EXTINCTION is a fast-paced, high-stakes adventure in the spirit of Isaac Asimov and Michael Crichton.
I recently caught up with Mark who had much to say about this exciting new story as well as the fact-based science that inspired it.
EXTINCTION deals with the existence of emerging technologies such as the linking of the human mind to microchips, among others. Can you tell us more about the science behind EXTINCTION and why you chose to write about these specific technological advances?
Before I started writing science thrillers I was an editor at SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN for ten years. I was always on the lookout for interesting technology stories, and one day I came across a news item about researchers who’d created “cyborg insects” by implanting electrodes into the brains and flight muscles of flying beetles and moths. The researchers could control the bugs by sending radio signals to the implanted electronics; one signal would command the bugs to start flying, another would steer them to the right, another to the left, and so on. DARPA, the Pentagon’s R&D arm, was funding this research because it had obvious military applications — remote-controlled insects carrying miniaturized cameras could serve as micro drones that would conduct up-close surveillance of battlefields and terrorist hideouts. The idea seemed incredibly creepy and terrifying. In other words, it was a perfect subject for a science thriller.