By Thomas Pluck
Every summer three families take a trip together—this year it’s to a remote resort in the mountains of upstate New York. Scotty, a teenager who’s just come out, is nervous about how his friends will react to him. A late night visit to an old nearby cemetery seems like a great idea to the bored teens, but the old cemetery holds dark secrets hidden for almost a century—secrets that might have been better left undisturbed.
And what originally seemed like a boring week in the mountains gradually becomes a nightmare of terror for the teens and their families…
So begins LAKE THIRTEEN by Greg Herren, author of the Chanse MacLeod mysteries and the Scotty Bradley P.I. series.
Hi Greg. It sure sounds like thirteen will be an unlucky number for Scotty. Tell us a bit more about him and the dangers he’s about to uncover.
Scotty’s a good kid, an only child with parents who are slightly over-protective. He’s an athlete—plays tennis and runs track at his high school—and is dating another boy who lives down the street from him who has a really homophobic and abusive father. When Scotty and his friends go ghost-hunting at the cemetery near the lodge where they’re staying, Scotty has an experience there…well, he connects with the spirit of another boy who died over a hundred years earlier…and that’s when all the creepiness really starts.
By Jamie Rush
I’m sitting down with Amy Christine Parker to find out all the juicy details about her new YA romantic suspense, GATED.
Amy, how exciting it must be to see your debut novel come out! Congratulations! Tell us what this story is all about and what drove you to write it.
GATED follows a teenage girl named Lyla who has been living in a religious cult after the disappearance of her sister. While her parents are hopelessly under the sway of the group’s leader, Pioneer, Lyla is drawn into a dangerous situation when she begins to question Pioneer’s prophecy about the impending apocalypse.
At its heart, this story is about a girl who is beginning to realize that all she’s accepted as truth for most of her life may in fact be a lie. She has to decide what she believes in and what she’s willing to do to fight for her right to those beliefs. The story came to me as I was watching a TV show about extreme apocalyptic shelters. I was amazed at how elaborate they were and how many people around the world were beginning to build them. It got me thinking about how a person becomes convinced that the end is near and what they’re willing to do to ensure their own survival. When I combined this line of thought with my ongoing fascination with cults and their dynamics the story just grew from there.
By L.J. Sellers
Kirkus Reviews called DON’T TURN AROUND, the first book in the Persefone trilogy, “A pulse-pounding scary great read…Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for preteens and teens, a surefire hit.” Now readers of all ages anxiously await Michelle Gagnon’s second installment, DON’T LOOK NOW.
In this taut thriller, former foster kid Noa Torsen is on the run. Having outsmarted the sinister Project Persephone, Noa and her friend Zeke move stealthily across the country, rescuing runaways before they become test subjects for horrific experiments. Until the final explosive confrontation, where Noa and her team become trapped in the one place they thought was safe.
With cover copy like that, Gagnon’s new YA thriller should be another huge success! The bestselling author of novels such as THE TUNNELS and BONEYARD tells us how she keeps upping her game with each new story.
What motivated you to start writing YA thrillers? Is it working for you?
I was having lunch one day with a friend who’s also a book editor. She pointed out that in nearly all of my adult thrillers, there’s a teenager who not only has a POV, but plays a major role in the story (like Madison, the fifteen-year-old kidnapping victim in THE GATEKEEPER). This friend recommended that I take it a step further and narrate an entire book from a younger perspective. So I gave it a shot. And it was like a breath of fresh air; I ended up finishing the rough draft of DON’T TURN AROUND in eight weeks.
T.L. Costa’s first thriller PLAYING TYLER is released this month from Angry Robot Ltd as a trade paperback. Costa is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has a Masters of Teaching from Quinnipiac University. Author Sean Cummings, POLTERGEEKS, said, “Wildly original storytelling that is as authentic as it is engaging. PLAYING TYLER is one of the best YA books 2013.”
T.L. recently discussed her novel with the BigThrill:
Give us an elevator pitch about PLAYING TYLER.
I like to describe it as SAY ANYTHING meets ENDER’S GAME. When gamer Tyler MacCandless gets the opportunity to beta-test a drone piloting game to try and win a spot in flight school, he takes it. But when the game seems too real, he teams up with the game’s designer to uncover the truth, questioning everything he knows about morality while having to fight for love in a world at war.
Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die — of “natural causes.” Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target.
But when he’s assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter seems so much like him; the mayor reminds him of his father. And when memories and questions surface, the Program is watching. Because somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the kid he once was, the teen who wants normal things like a real home and parents, a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s mission.
By Andrew Zack
I’ve written about a variety of different authors for the BIG THRILL, but was really intrigued to chat with Toby Tate, author of GOD PARTICLE: A CHLOE JOHANSSON THRILLER (CrossRoads).
We all know about traditional publishing and we all know about self-publishing, and even the hybrid, managed self-publishing that I provide via Author Coach and Endpapers Press. But Mr. Tate was the first to tell me about what I’m going to call publishing “by invitation only.”
Whereas traditional publishers look at a book as a business opportunity, CrossRoad Press, run by David Niall Wilson, operates more on an author-to-author, invite-only basis, Mr. Tate told me. I wonder if the term “co-op” might apply, as their website mentions, “We have a small army of folks working for us proofing and copy-editing, mostly for the love of books, or for free reading of the rest of our library.” I wonder if Mr. Tate has to copy-edit a book in exchange for someone copy-editing his. Then it really would be a co-op, I think.
Tate is without an agent and yet has found success publishing through small publishers. Perhaps the appropriate comparison is an indie filmmaker who has yet to find a major distributor? GOD PARTICLE is his third book and he told me he had tried about eighty-five agents on his first book and probably more on his second. He found his way to CrossRoad because it published the eBook of his first novel, which was published by Nightbird, but which did not publish eBooks.
By Thomas Pluck
“THE TESTING is a devious dystopian thriller that all fans of THE HUNGER GAMES will simply devour.” —Jonathan Maberry
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a poisoned wasteland. Humanity survives in the United Commonwealth, where the next generation’s chosen few rebuild civilization. But to enter this elite group, young candidates must first pass The Testing.
Cia Vale is proud to be among the chosen like her father before her. But his warning to Trust No One steels her for the toughest challenge, to decide who is her friend and who will do anything to pass The Testing.
I loved THE TESTING. It reminded me of ENDER’S GAME, the post-apocalyptic Fallout video games, and the Tripods series by John Christopher. Tell us a bit about the protagonist of THE TESTING, Cia Vale:
Wow! Thank you. As someone who read and loved ENDER’S GAME when I was just out of high school, I am stunned and amazed to be compared to that story.
Cia Vale is a young girl who has just finished her high school education. Despite the fact leaving home will mean leaving behind the family whom she loves, Cia wants nothing more than to be chosen for The Testing so she can sit for the examination that determines those who go to the University and become the next generation of leaders. Cia comes from the smallest colony of the newly recolonized United States (now United Commonwealth). She has pushed herself to learn as much as possible so she can help rebuild the world the way her father has. But though she is well-versed in physics and calculus, coming from a community where everyone wants the best for everyone has in many ways made her unprepared for the sometimes less than cooperative spirit than exists in other parts of the country.
By James Phelan
SURVIVOR is the second novel in my ALONE trilogy. It’s a YA thriller with a teenaged protagonist, set in a post-apocalyptic NYC. Some say it has zombies in it. Some call them vampires. I’ve termed them Chasers – they’re infected and it makes them really, really thirsty, pretty much for any liquid on offer. I guess it’s a little like THE WALKING DEAD, minus all the soap opera crap.
SURVIVOR is published this May by the good folk at Kensington. It’s published in the UK by Little Brown, and in Australia (my home) by Hachette. It’s been translated to several languages, which is pretty cool, and it seems to be doing well in Russia (who knew they’d enjoy a post-apocalyptic NYC?).
The trilogy came about in 2008. My life as a professional, full-time novelist had started three years earlier, aged 25, when I signed with Hachette to write two adult thrillers. I’d worked at a broadsheet newspaper for five years, while doing my MFA, always with the goal to being a novelist.. The novels did well, and I signed on for two more. When I delivered the 3rd international thriller in my Lachlan Fox series, I knew I needed a break from that world. Titled BLOOD OIL, it was a dark and angry novel. It had taken me 6 months to write and edit, I was earning good money, and had book 4 due a year away; I had time to kill. I wanted a new writing challenge, a different head-space, to fill that time. I turned to YA. Writing more than one book a year made business sense to me – it’s the kind of perpetual production that you need to do these days, to keep in the minds of book buyers amid the huge amount of volume being published.
By Ethan Cross
When an ordinary kid learns he’s the heir to a secret agent dynasty, F.A.L.C.O.N. puts him on a case to protect a famous rock group and find a missing journalist. Before he knows it, Colt Shore has gone from body guard to rock star to full-fledged agent when he learns that a human trafficking ring plans to kidnap a group of teenage girls. It will take more than his ingenuity and skills and a couple of cool gadgets to protect his new friends and rescue the captured girls before it’s too late.
Tell us about Agent COLT SHORE: DOMINO 29 in one line.
Teenage Colt Shore, who works for a humanitarian NGO, saves a group of girls from a trafficking ring using his sense of purpose and sense of humor, some fast cars, faster planes and nifty gadgets, and a gorgeous rock star sidekick. Does that still count as one line?
Tell us a bit about F.A.L.C.O.N.
FALCON is an international humanitarian organization that is part think tank and part world-saving agents. It has four elite schools that train kids to think for themselves, try to understand the world around them, the underlying root of many problems, and what can be done to begin to solve them. The kids are also taught how to drive fast cars and usually by high school, they’re third degree black belts across multiple martial arts disciplines.
By J. H. Bográn
Seventeen-year-old Veerle is frustrated with life in suburban Brussels. But a chance encounter with a hidden society, whose members illegally break into unoccupied buildings around the city, soon opens up a whole new world of excitement—and danger.
When one of the society’s founding members disappears, Veerle suspects foul play. But nothing can prepare her for the horror that is about to unfold when an old foe emerges from the shadows… No one is safe, and The Hunter will strike again…
What inspired the premise SILENT SATURDAY?
I lived in Flanders (the Dutch speaking part of Belgium) from 2008 to 2011 and I took Dutch lessons to help me integrate. My Dutch teacher told the class the tradition of Silent Saturday, the day after Good Friday. All the church bells in Flanders fall silent on that day, and the children are told that it is because the bells have flown away to Rome to collect Easter eggs from the Pope! I remember hearing this story and thinking that if I were a little Flemish kid, I would be desperate to get into the church bell-tower and see whether the bells have really flown away or not. And that is how my book starts – with the heroine Veerle (then aged 7) and her friend Kris climbing the bell-tower to see if the bell is there or not. Of course it is right there where it always is, but then they look out of the window and see something horrific happening in their village…everything that happens later on somehow stems from that moment.
By Ethan Cross
Barry Lyga’s novel GAME, the sequel to I HUNT KILLERS, has been described by BOOKLIST as “the most serious (and bloodiest) crime series yet for teen readers.” What if your father was the world’s most notorious serial killer? In the first book, readers met Jazz and watched as he used the skills taught to him by his father to track down a brutal serial killer. Now, in GAME, Jazz’s father Billy has escaped prison and is on the loose. Plus, a new killer has New York City terrified. Can Jazz help New York’s Finest and also find his father, without losing his soul in the process?
Tell us about GAME in one line.
I think the first sentence of the book sort of sums up its mood and intent: “She screamed, but she did not cry.”
Describe your typical writing day. How do you balance your writing with marketing, editing, plotting, and all other commitments?
There really is no “typical” day, despite my best efforts! I try to have some kind of schedule or routine, but it’s usually interrupted. But on a good day, I tend to get up, eat breakfast, then spend a couple of hours focused completely on writing. Then I hit the gym, eat lunch, and spend some time on e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Basically, whatever needs to be done in those realms. Then I usually jump back into writing until dinner or — depending on where I am in a project — spend the afternoon doing research.
By Jeremy Burns
Though she might be a new name to some in our readership, Starr Gardinier Reina is no stranger to suspense. An executive editor of SUSPENSE MAGAZINE and author of five hit mysteries, she takes readers on a paranormal twist in her new book, THE OTHER SIDE: MELINDA’S STORY. And though she’s marketing this one as a young adult novel, that’s no reason for readers of any age to pass by this gripping tale that Jon Land praises as “the best exploration of paranoia and insular terror since Ira Levin’s classic ROSEMARY’S BABY.” Starr sat down with THE BIG THRILL recently to tell readers about her new book.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I started writing when I was about fourteen. I was influenced by Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys series. I read just about every book I could get my hands on at that time. I was intrigued. I thought that perhaps I could write like that. So, I tried. I felt that my father, being the avid reader of the family, would be the right person to ‘critique’ my new found career path. I had him read the first four chapters I anguished over and put on paper. After reading it, he sat me down and gave me a half hour lecture on plagiarism. To a fourteen year old, that’s devastating. Those were my words, but I thought if my father didn’t have the faith in me, it wasn’t something I should consider doing.
Then I grew up. As an adult, the influence my father had over me dimmed a bit. I thought I should give writing another whirl. So, I did. I now have five books published. Ironically, the first book to see the light of the world was released on Father’s Day. Appropriate, at least to me. I started out with ‘early’ young adult books. I say ‘early’ because they were done early on in my writing career. Since that time, I’ve learned and adopted so much. Following, I published the Ivanovich series: IN THE NAME OF REVENGE, DEADLY DECISIONS, and ONE MAJOR MISTAKE, which were all of the crime/suspense genre. However, an idea called to me. One I couldn’t ignore. THE OTHER SIDE: MELINDA’S STORY was born from that idea. Many have told me, and I do believe it, that I finally found my voice and style with this young adult paranormal.
By Karen Harper
Because of what you are, the Believers will hunt you down.
Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.
A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all.
They are our future—if they survive…
While Hurricane Sandy was taking a bite out of the East Coast, Dixie and I were trying to decide what exactly the Chinese buffet at San Francisco’s Hong Kong Phooey Buffet was trying to pass off as chicken. Chewing vigorously, Dixie was thinking a genetic cross between octopus and hamster — gamey with lots of little legs — while I was thinking it might be better to just pick around it. We were soon joined by thriller writer Kelley York who took one look and decided whatever it was, it couldn’t be any more dangerous than the glow-in-the-dark sauce. We couldn’t argue with that logic, but to take our minds off the squeamish possibilities, we quizzed Kelley about her new YA thriller HUSHED.
What can you tell us about HUSHED?
HUSHED is about a guy named Archer Pond making his way through a hit list, of sorts, compiled of people who hurt his childhood best friend/love when they were kids. It’s a dark book, and falls into that weird little category between young adult and adult fiction. (“New adult,” if you want to call it that.)
By Virna DePaul
About FINDERS KEEPERS: Thirteen-year-old James Richard McNulty has problems. His mother has just divorced his father. His grades are plummeting. Bullies are menacing him on the school bus. The coach is threatening to kick him off the basketball team. And his smart and lovely “girlfriend” thinks he’s gone insane. Then he finds a suitcase filled with cash – and thinks all his problems are over.
Recently, I interviewed author David Housewright. Here’s what Mr. Housewright had to say about his writing journey and upcoming release.
At what age did you realize that you wanted to be a writer? Was the transition difficult for you?
I’ve always wanted to write. Always. Well, except for a brief period when I thought I might make it as a professional baseball player, but that only lasted until I saw my first breaking ball. It took awhile before I started writing books, yet every job I held prior to that was a writing job.
By L.J. Sellers
KIRKUS REVEWS says, “Roz is an enormously appealing narrator, her tangled emotions about everything from needing to ask for help to navigating friendships are both believable and sympathetic.”
The protagonist, Roswell Hart, is an Alaskan teenager with macular degeneration, accused of a murder that happened six months earlier, and the author writes from her own experience.
“I knew the heart of this story had to be about growing up with this condition,” Laura says. “But more important, I wanted it to be an exciting thriller.” Her biggest challenge she says was separating herself from the character and finding the balance between showing readers how Roz really sees the world and crafting a believable plot. Based on the reviews and cover copy, it seems she found that balance.
When a truck plunges through the thinning ice of Alaska’s Birch River, Tricia’s body floats to the surface—dead since the night she disappeared six months earlier. The night Roswell Hart fought with her. The night Roz can’t remember. Missing things is nothing new to sixteen-year-old Roz. She has macular degeneration, an eye disease that robs her central vision. She’s constantly piecing together what she sees—or thinks she sees—but this time her memory needs piecing together. How can Roz be sure of the truth if her own memory has betrayed her? Can she clear her name of a murder that she believes she didn’t commit?
By Andrew Zack
One of the best things about being a dad is that I get to read kids’ books. If I read kids’ books as a kid, I have to confess, I don’t really remember them. I vaguely recall a bunch of books from the Scholastic Library on the shelf, but not actually reading them. I remember a rainy day and reading THE FINCHES FABULOUS FURNACE in one sitting (a book that made such an impression I bought it used and have now read it to my own son). And I remember reading every Hardy Boys, the Three Investigators, and Encyclopedia Brown novel in print. But there are so many more—many classics!—that I never read. And now I get to read them to my four-year-old. It’s a neat perk.
But getting kids to read is harder in this day and age. There are so many more TV shows and video games and the entire Internet to explore. Kids today are overscheduled and distracted. Is it any wonder they may not like to read? There’s even a term for it, “reluctant readers,” and now there are even books just to target them.
By Gary Kriss
Dear Dr. Phil:
Please help me! I’m desperate!
No matter how hard I try I can’t break my addiction to a solitary vice. The urge can overtake me at any time, but usually I’m able to keep it under control until I’m in bed, under the covers, clutching a device.
And, oh, the images that enter my mind when I do it! I know it’s fantasy, but it seems so real! The other night it was the bayou and horses. What pleasure! What indescribable pleasure! Even now I get all tingly just thinking about it.
But I feel so guilty. I know lots of people do what I do and that I shouldn’t be ashamed. Maybe it’s because of my upbringing. I mean, sure, I did it when I was a teen, but I always believed that when I was older there would be other outlets. And there are, but I still come back to this.
By J. H. Bográn
When an ancient demon targets Redgrave High, Eryn and her crew of hunters must face their innermost fears to prevent the Harvest Moon Dance from becoming one serious Monster Mash. Loyalties are tested and temptations abound. With questions ever brewing, can Eryn share a future with the brooding, noble, human Alec—the hunter after her heart? Or will she succumb to her enemy’s son, Wade, a seductive predator as bloodthirsty as she is? What happens when you’re both the beauty and the beast?
Sixteen-year-old Callie lost her parents when the genocide spore wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first–the very young and very old. With no grandparents to claim Callie and her little brother, they go on the run, living as squatters, and fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie.
Hope comes via Prime Destinations, run by a mysterious figure known only as The Old Man. He hires teens to rent their bodies to seniors, known as Enders, who get to be young again. Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her rich renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, even dating Blake, the grandson of a senator. It’s a fairy-tale new life . . . until she uncovers the Body Bank’s horrible plan…
By Nate Kenyon
Ever feel like someone’s watching you? Me, too. But lately it’s been happening in my room.
When I’m alone.
A friend posted a video of me dancing online, and now I’m no longer Alicia Ruffino. I’m dancergirl. And suddenly it’s like me against the world—everyone’s got opinions.
My admirers want more, the haters hate, my best friend Jacy—even he’s acting weird. And some stalker isn’t content to just watch anymore.
Ali. Dancergirl. Whatever you know me as, however you’ve seen me online, I’ve trained my whole life to be the best dancer I can be. But if someone watching has their way, I could lose way more than just my love of dancing. I could lose my life.
By Virna DePaul
Prepare yourself for Jordan Dane’s incredible young adult novel, ON A DARK WING…
The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over. I would learn a lesson I wasn’t prepared for.
And Death would be my willing teacher.
Five years ago Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her lucky break came at the expense of her mother’s life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again.
by Ethan Cross
Katie Alender has set herself apart as a master of supernatural suspense for the young reader, earning comparisons to Stephen King. Her new book, From Bad to Cursed, continues the stories of two sisters plagued by paranormal happenings that she began with her debut novel, Bad Girls Don’t Die.
Alexis is the last girl you’d expect to sell her soul for beauty and popularity. After all, she already has everything she needs–an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a family that finally seems to be healing after her sister Kasey’s unfortunate possession by an evil spirit.
I recently had an opportunity to interview Jordan Dane about her writing career and her new Young Adult releases from Harlequin Teen, IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS (Apr 2011) and ON A DARK WING (TBA 2012). The move to young adult novels is something new for Jordan who launched her back-to-back debut suspense novels in 2008 after the 3-books sold in auction. Ripped from the headlines, Jordan’s gritty plots weave a tapestry of vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense pacing to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag—naming her debut book NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as one of the Best Books of 2008. When not writing, Jordan and her husband share their Texas residence with two cats and a rescue dog named Taco.
The hottest guy in school thought Weezy would be easy, but she wasn’t, so he got rough. And now he’s spreading stories about her. Jack’s first impulse is to apply his baseball bat to the guy’s knees, but no…in his inimitable way, he devises a punishment much worse than broken bones. But Jack’s revenge scheme takes a shocking and unexpectedly deadly turn.
In F. Paul Wilson’s third young adult novel, Jack: Secret Vengeance, the teenage Jack demonstrates the devious skills that will serve him later in life as the urban mercenary known as Repairman Jack.
In Bonnie Hearn Hill’s Gemini Night, third in the young adult Star Crossed series, high school junior Logan McRae wants to be the teen astrologer for CRUSH, the San Francisco-based magazine where she is an intern. All she has to do is figure out the astrological chart of one of the celebrity guests who will be attending the magazine’s Halloween launch party. The mystery celebrity–a Gemini–is in trouble, and Logan must try to stop the costume party before it is too late.
From the delightful mysteries of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series to the brooding love affair of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga, vampires have taken over the literary world in recent years, especially the young adult market. Why do these creatures fascinate us? Is the fangs? The immortality? The youth? And where did it all begin?
Jonathan Maberry is making the transition from bestselling thriller writer to brand name. He’s written a Stoker Award-winning Horror series (The Pine Deep Trilogy), the wildly-successful, genre-creating Joe Ledger thriller trilogy (Patient Zero, Dragon Factory and next year’s King of Plagues) which has been called “Michael Crichton meets 24,” and which has been snapped up by Sony Pictures for development as an ABC Television series. Along the way he’s also written dozens of short stories and essays and a string of nonfiction books, the last five dealing with myths and legends of the supernatural, such as the Stoker Award-winning Cryptopedia (2007). Comic book fans know him from his work onPunisher, DeadPool, Black Panther and many other popular Marvel series.
In debut author Kristina Schram’s The Chronicles of Anaedor: The Prophecies, strange things happen to fifteen-year-old Lavida Mors. Maybe that’s why her father sends her away to Portal Manor, a mysterious family estate she has never seen. Lavida quickly discovers that not everything at Portal Manor is as it seems when she stumbles across a secret passage to a hidden world–Anaedor.