Science and thrillers have been companionable bedfellows at least since Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN was published almost two centuries ago, and maybe longer than that. When science takes a central role in a thriller, how accurate must the science be? I put that question to Debut Author Kira Peikoff, whose novel LIVING PROOF is due for release this month from Tor.
“I don’t have a background in hard science,” Peikoff said, “but my background and training as a journalist gave me the confidence to interview professionals to get the information I needed for the book. You need to know how to ask the right questions.”
Having asked the “right questions,” the NYU journalism graduate added, the next step is deciding how much to bend the rules without destroying the author’s credibility.
Nate Kenyon is a three-time Bram Stoker Award Finalist and award-winning author of Bloodstone, The Reach, The Bone Factory, Sparrow Rock, and Prime. Last month Kenyon released StarCraft Ghost: Spectres, a novelized version based on the StarCraft Ghost video game series through Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books.
It is the story of a world where dominion ghosts epitomize the height of terran evolution and physical conditioning. Augmented by technologies that harness their innate psionic potential, these lethal operatives use telepathy and other superhuman powers to isolate and destroy the enemies of the Dominion. But when the hunters become the hunted and ghosts start disappearing without a trace, even the most dangerous human soldiers in the Koprulu sector have something to fear…
By Ethan Cross
Publisher’s Weekly stated that author John C. Boland “excels in rendering epiphanies.” And his new novel, Hominid, is no exception as it explores evolution, genetics, archaeology, and a centuries-old mystery.
Evolution is Deadly. Archaeologist David Isaac joins a team excavating a crypt on a remote island where a colonial-era family lies buried. By local lore, the family were “devils.” The expedition’s leader hopes to revive his career by proving they were murdered by neighbors in a burst of religious hysteria. But these cadavers harbor an older and deadlier secret–evidence that a new humanoid species has emerged.
If you think CSI started the forensics craze, here’s the most enjoyable way to correct that misunderstanding. The original forensic super-sleuth, Temperance “Tempe” Brennan, is back in Kathy Reich’s latest bone chilling brain teaser Flash and Bones.
The story kicks off with a body discovered in a barrel of asphalt in a landfill. A stock car driver reads about the discovery in the news and contacts Tempe, fearing that the body is his sister who disappeared years earlier at age seventeen.Of course, since it’s Kathy Reichs, there are multiple storylines all spinning around the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Kathy Reichs is a real-life scientific investigator the police turn to for help with the tough cases. But even though her novels all center on the forensic sciences, no two are ever alike.
“One of the Top Thriller Writers Working Today” –Steve Berry, New York Times Bestselling author of The Jefferson Key.”
Emma stumbles across human traffickers and is caught and brought to the marijuana fields of Ciudad Juarez. Here the plants are dying from a disease that is eating away not only at them, but it is also being transmitted to humans, though no one can determine how or why. The cartel leader believes that the disease is caused by the massive amounts of herbicide that the US dusting planes dump on the marijuana fields almost daily in an attempt to kill the plants. The leader decides to send the tainted plants into the States along the drug route. Once transmitted to humans the disease kills in nine days. Emma needs to solve the puzzle and stop the shipment or she, and everyone else who comes in contact with it, will die on The Ninth Day.
By J.N. Duncan
I’d like to welcome J.E. Fishman to ITW this month, to talk about the upcoming release of his exciting new thriller, Primacy. J.E. Fishman is a former Doubleday editor, literary agent and ghostwriter. Primacy, his first novel in national distribution, will be published by Verbitrage in September 2011. When he isn’t writing fiction or blogging, J.E. Fishman works as an entrepreneur. He divides his time between Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and New York City. So, let’s get started.
What is the quick line on what Primacy is about in 25 words or less?
I like the first sentence of the Kirkus review on this: “A voluble primate threatens to bring down the animal-testing industry.” Eleven words.
By Andrew Zack
It’s an exciting new time in the publishing world. Authors without publishers are selling a million copies or more of eBooks on Amazon. Authors are direct publishing more and more and agents are often now falling into the role of publisher, helping clients exploit rights to their works when tradition markets don’t see the potential. Which leads us to PETROPLAGUE, a new thriller by Amy Rogers.
UCLA graduate student Christina Gonzalez wanted to use biotechnology to free America from its dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Her genetically-altered bacteria will extract energy from the vast, inaccessible tar sands of the western hemisphere. But an environmental extremist sabotages her work by blowing up a field test. Soon after, an eruption at the La Brea Tar Pits makes Christina wonder if there’s a connection. When burning cars choke the freeways and jets departing LAX fall from the sky, Christina realizes her oil-degrading bacteria have escaped–and they’re eating LA’s gas.
At a prison in Nebraska, the government is experimenting with time travel, but their supercomputers are accidentally cross-wired with a new electric chair. Curtis Beckett, a condemned, yet innocent man, is sent to 1957. In the past, he solves the murders and meets the love of his life.
Just last month, the United States flew its last shuttle mission. The event, besides finding its place in the history books, raised questions about the future of space exploration. This sequence of events serves to highlight David L. Goleman’s sixth book in the Event Group Series, Legacy.
Legacy opens with NASA on a mission to discover water on the moon. A robotic probe goes over the edge of a crate to have its fall stopped by a buried object – a spacesuit complete with a humanoid skeleton. In short order an investigation determines the remains are millions of years old. Before the reality of that can sink in, a closer look at the crater reveals weaponry “the likes of which our world has never seen.”
And the race is on.
Journalist Nat Idle is nearly gunned down in Golden Gate Park. He quickly learns it was no random attack. Suddenly, in pursuit of the truth, he’s running for his life through the shadows of Silicon Valley, a human lab animal caught in a deadly maze of neurotechnology and institutional paranoia. And his survival rests entirely in the hands of his eighty-five-year old grandmother, Lane, who’s suffering from dementia, and can’t remember the secret at the heart of the world-changing conspiracy.
The world drawn by James Jaros is parched, the future bleak. Many describe his writing as dark; I prefer searing. As I finished the first chapters I had a deep unsettling sense of hopelessness. The comparison to the Mad Max series is both apt and undersells the emotional depth here. One of the great benefits of being an interviewer is that you often read works that you likely would not have otherwise discovered. I’m thirsty for more. And I’m not the only one…
An outspoken TV weathercaster is the first to realize the threat, but is fired from his job before he can issue a warning.
Unaware of the hurricane’s sudden strengthening, a family vacationing on a barrier island in the storm’s path finds itself cut off from escape.
And an Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft, severely crippled after it penetrates the storm, is trapped in its eye.
The chess teams I knew played chess and were pretty boring – that is until I met up with Jeremy Robinson’s Chess Team. Boring is definitely not a word in their vocabulary.
This month marks the publication of the third novel in Jeremy’s Chess Team saga, Threshold. And if it meets the author’s own criteria of raising the thrill level in each subsequent novel, then we are in for a treat.
The Chess Team made its debut in Pulse. It’s a rip-roaring adventure that ties genetic engineering with the myth of the many-headed monster Hydra and the ancient hero Hercules. Pulse was followed by Instinct where the team is tasked to protect a scientist who needs to find the source (and the cure) for a weaponized strain of a genetic disease that strikes without warning. The solution is tied to an ancient secret found in the wilds of Viet Nam.
And now we have Threshold.
By Nate Kenyon
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Walter Greatshell to discuss his latest thriller, his writing process and more.
What is Xombies: Apocalypso about?
It’s the climactic book of my Xombies trilogy, after Xombies: Apocalypse Blues (originally released as Xombies) and Xombies: Apocalypticon. The first two books told the story of how human civilization was destroyed by a secret society of powerful tycoons—the Moguls. These men financed the invention of an artificial virus called Agent X, which was supposed to be their private Fountain of Youth, but instead it got loose and turned almost every woman on Earth into an unkillable blue killing machine—a Xombie. The women then spread the disease to the men they killed, and that would have been that, except for a teenage girl named Lulu Pangloss, who managed to escape the plague aboard a decommissioned nuclear submarine converted to a refugee ship. In the second book, Apocalypticon, there was a mutiny and the plague infected the sub, making all its passengers carriers of the disease.
by Julie Kramer
Consumer advocate Erin Brockovich and pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons have both lived the lives they write about. Now they team up to pen a series of science thrillers. Their debut, ROCK BOTTOM, features heroine Angela Joy Palladino, an environmental activist returning to her West Virginia hometown to work for a lawyer fighting to stop mountain top removal mining. He ends up murdered and she ends up facing a troubled past and a dangerous future.
ROCK BOTTOM has been praised by several New York Times bestselling authors for its storytelling. Steve Barry called it “ brilliant and feisty,” Lee Child lauded it with “action packed, authentic, and intense,” and Jeffrey Deaver gave it a “compelling” thumbs up.
How did Erin and CJ fare at working together as writing partners? Let’s get each of their take on their adventure.
By Ethan Cross
When Nobel laureate Liam Connor is found dead at the bottom of one of Ithaca, New York’s famous gorges, his research collaborator, Cornell professor of nanoscience Jake Sterling, refuses to believe it was suicide. Why would one of the world’s most eminent biologists, a eighty-six-year old man in good health who survived some of the darkest days of the Second World War, have chosen to throw himself off a bridge? And who was the mysterious woman caught on camera at the scene? Soon it becomes clear that a cache of supersophisticated nanorobots—each the size of a spider—has disappeared from the dead man’s laboratory.
Stunned by grief, Jake, Liam’s granddaughter, Maggie, and Maggie’s nine-year-old son, Dylan, try to put the pieces together. They uncover ingeniously coded messages Liam left behind pointing toward a devastating secret he gleaned off the shores of war-ravaged Japan and carried for more than sixty years.
What begins as a quest for answers soon leads to a horrifying series of revelations at the crossroads of biological warfare and nanoscience. At this dangerous intersection, a skilled and sadistic assassin, an infamous Japanese war criminal, and a ruthless U.S. government official are all players in a harrowing game of power, treachery, and intrigue—a game whose winner will hold the world’s fate literally in the palm of his hand.
By Lori Andrews
Mark Alpert is someone I’d want on my side in any number of treacherous situations—from being stranded in a desert with a megalomaniac who is about to end the world to being on the receiving end of a laser death saber. After all, if the Apocalypse were upon me, why not turn to someone whose Princeton study of Einstein might be able to help us alter the time-space continuum? Why not call upon someone who has written about particle physics and gadgets and human behavior for a wide range of publications? Who could resist someone who serves on Scientific American’s softball team, the Big Bangers?
Forget MacGyver. I want Alpert.
TO: Allison Brennan
FROM: Karen Dionne
Subject: Big Thrill interview
Hey, Allison! I see we both have books coming out in January – congrats! Boiling Point is my second, and Love Me to Death must be, what? Your 345th?
Anyway, since I’m the managing editor of The Big Thrill, and it’s my job to assign the feature stories for the authors who have new books coming out, and it feels a little odd to assign somebody to interview me, what do you say we interview each other? Are you up for it?
By Mike Stewart
This Seattle-based author, actor, and engineer started his career at Johnson Space Center, where he got the opportunity to fly on NASA’s Vomit Comet, the same plane used to train astronauts for zero gravity. He went on to earn a PhD from Virginia Tech, then used his training to develop eleven US patents at RCA and manage a video game testing group at Microsoft before becoming a full-time writer. His debut thriller, THE ARK, was sold in twenty foreign markets and became an international bestseller.
Walter Greatshell’s new book, Mad Skills, has been described as “a modern classic” and “top notch in every regard.” It is the story of a teenage girl who awakens from a coma to find that her brain has been interfaced with an experimental supercomputer, making her the smartest person on Earth…and possibly the most dangerous.
Unconscious for fourteen months after a debilitating accident, Maddy Grant awakens at the Braintree Institute, where scientists have successfully implanted her with a radical technology designed to correct her brain injury. But Maddy is more than cured. Her intellect has been enhanced to process information faster than a computer-an ability that’s sending her emotions into overdrive.
By J. H. Bográn
In The Flock, by James Robert Smith, a remote Florida wilderness has been targeted for theme-park development, and the swamp’s inhabitants are none too happy. It doesn’t help that the residents are a colony of intelligent, prehistoric, dinosaur-like birds. This flock of beasts has escaped the Pleistocene extinction, relying on stealth, cunning, and killer instinct. The creatures have been living in secret, just outside our developed world.