May 28 – June 3: What is the inspiration behind your story in the Love is Murder anthology?

This week join ITW Members William Simon, Laura Griffin, Jon Land, Alexandra Sokoloff, Jeff Ayers, Dianna Love, James Macomber, Pamela Callow and J. T. Ellison as they discuss the inspiration behind their story in the LOVE IS MURDER anthology.

Support ITW and its authors by clicking on the LOVE IS MURDER bookjacket to order your copy today!


Go on vacation with Allison Brennan’s Lucy Kincaid, where she saves a man from drowning, only to discover he is in far greater danger on land. Meet Roxanne St. Claire’s “bullet catcher”—bodyguard Donovan Rush—who may have met his match in the sexually charged “Diamond Drop.” Debut author William Simon shows us what happens when the granddaughter of the president of the United States is kidnapped. And Lee Child’s pitch-perfect “I Heard a Romantic Story” puts a whole new spin on Love Is Murder.

Bodyguards, vigilantes, stalkers, serial killers, women (and men!) in jeopardy, cops, thieves, P.I.s, killers—these all-new stories will keep you thrilled and chilled late into the night. You won’t want to miss it!



A member of the Nova Scotia bar, Pamela Callow is the internationally published author of the Kate Lange legal thriller series for MIRA Books. Her critically-acclaimed series has been compared to works by Robin Cook, Tess Gerritsen and John Grisham. TATTOOED, the third book of the series, releases on May 29th, 2012. Prior to making writing a career, Pamela worked as a Strategic Services manager for international consulting firm Accenture.

NYT bestseller Dianna Love spent her early years creating unusual marketing projects for Fortune 500 companies. Now she writes thrillers and urban fantasy, which includes collaborating with #1 NYT bestseller Sherrilyn Kenyon. Their Belador UF series debuted on the NYT, USA Today, PW and Walmart bestseller lists. THE CURSE (Book three) is available September 18, 2012. Dianna speaks at reader events and has taught the popular Break Into Fiction® program nationally and internationally.

Thriller award winner Alexandra Sokoloff’s supernatural thrillers have also been nominated for Anthony, Bram Stoker and Black Quill awards. She is a produced screenwriter and teaches a Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workshop, based on her internationally acclaimed workbook and blog. Alex is the author of THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, and THE SPACE BETWEEN, and co-author of the paranormal KEEPERS series with Heather Graham and Harley Jane Kozak.

J.T. Ellison is the international award-winning author of eight critically acclaimed novels, multiple short stories and has been published in over twenty countries. A former White House staffer, she has worked extensively with the Metro Nashville Police, the FBI and various other law enforcement organizations to research her novels. She lives in Nashville with her husband and a poorly trained cat, and is hard at work on her next novel. Visit for more insight into her wicked imagination, or follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick.

William Simon has worked as a computer forensic investigator for over ten years. His novel SPIDER’S DANCE (published under the pseudonym ‘Will Graham’) features Nicholas White from ‘Spider’s Tango’ in THRILLER 3: LOVE IS MURDER. Other works include SOMETIMES THERE REALLY *ARE* MONSTERS UNDER THE BED, PRODROMOS, and STREET HEAT.

New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin started her career in journalism before venturing into the world of romantic suspense. Her books have won numerous awards, including a 2010 RITA for WHISPER OF WARNING, and her latest novel, TWISTED, became an instant bestseller. Laura lives in Austin, where she is working on the next book in her Tracers series.

Jon Land is the bestselling author of thirty thrillers, most recently the Caitlin Strong series that includes STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE, STRONG JUSTICE and STRONG AT THE BREAK. The next entry, STRONG VENGEANCE, will be available just in time for ThrillerFest. He’s also bringing back his longtime action hero Blaine McCracken in PANDORA’S TEMPLE for Open Road Media this coming fall and this past year published his first ever nonfiction book, BETRAYAL.

James Macomber is the author of the international legal thrillers BARGAINED FOR EXCHANGE (terrorists in academia), ART & PART (assassinations during the trial of the Lockerbie bombers), A GRAVE BEACH (thriller set against the backdrop of the Bosnian war crimes trials), SOVEREIGN ORDER (Iranian-sponsored WMD attack on the Monaco Grand Prix), and EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION (disappearance of sitting justice threatens the balance of the United States Supreme Court).

Jeff Ayers is the author of VOYAGES OF IMAGINATION: The Star Trek Fiction Companion (Pocket Books). He wrote a short story with Jon Land called LAST SHOT that can be found in Thriller 3: LOVE IS MURDER. Jeff reviews suspense thrillers for the Associated Press, Library Journal, and RT Bookreviews.

  1. My story in Love is Murder is “In Atlantis”, and the inspiration for the story was the deadline.

    Really. At least at first.

    The thing is, I so seldom write short stories that it takes an enormous external pressure (like, for example, ITW’s Liz Berry) to make me do it at all. For me it’s every bit as hard to come up for a good premise for a short story as it is to come up with a good premise for a novel, so once I have an idea I would much rather just buckle down and write a novel, or a script. But when Allison Brennan asked me to contribute to the anthology, how could I say no? I love Allison, I love ITW, I love the lineup of authors for this anthology, and I knew if I said yes the pressure of having to perform would be enough to make me come up with something worthy of the task. I didn’t spend all those years in theater for nothing.

    But when I actually had to sit down to write it, I was in a very difficult place emotionally and I wasn’t feeling very romantic. Suspense I can do in my sleep, but love wasn’t the first thing on my mind. So I asked myself what would be a romantic escape, the kind of fantasy setting that I think really helps deliver the experience of romantic suspense? And the first thing that came to mind was my first trip to the Bahamas. We Left Coasters don’t generally do the Bahamas – we tend to go to the far closer paradise of Hawaii if we’re in the mood for an island, so the first time I was in those other islands it was truly an overwhelming experience.

    I knew I could do the sensuality of that setting justice, and then I decided not to fight the emotional place that I was in, but rather use the experience of heartache and devastation as a jumping off point for the story. And once I’d put a wounded character into that lush setting, everything started coming alive – it’s just the magic of the process. I also took a huge hit of inspiration from the image of the Tarot Queen of Cups – that card was a touchstone for the main character, the Macguffin, and the whole story. I layered water imagery and the theme of Atlantis and precious objects and art throughout, to make a kind of modern fairy tale.

    And as always, once I’d actually WRITTEN the story, I was really glad I did.

    – Alex

  2. “Spider’s Tango” in THRILLER 3: LOVE IS MURDER is a previously undisclosed incident in the life of Nicholas White, the lead in SPIDER’S DANCE and PRODROMOS. The original concept for DANCE went through several incarnations over the years, but the lead character just would not come into focus. One day, sitting with a group of other writers and thrashing out our current WIP’s, the inspiration hit me: go Old School with your hero.

    The inspiration for Nicholas comes directly from the heroes I grew up with: Peter Gunn, Napoleon Solo, Jim West, Simon Templar.

    In today’s Politically Correct World of the New Millennium, Nicholas will have a martini once in a while, but it’s not an issue or a necessity. His taste in music pretty much stopped with the end of the Rat Pack Era. His movie collection is eclectic to an extreme, but he holds a special affection for old horror movies of the 1940’s (Universal Studios) and 50’s (Hammer Studios).

    He respects and values women for who they are and what they have accomplished, but he’s a shameless flirt and not averse to a casual relationship…. until he meets a certain Interpol Inspector who changes his world the moment he meets her. He battles a smoking habit, knowing he needs to stop altogether, but every once in a while, he lights up a good cigar and enjoys it. He’s trying to get through life like everyone else, but things keep happening in his world.

    In “Tango”, the poor guy can’t even go on vacation without getting a call from the FBI to assist them in a particularly sensitive matter.

    He’s a throwback, and a deliberate one. Back to a time when a man’s word was solid gold, and people could be confident without being cocky. Above the crowd, but not superior. Strong enough to be compassionate and caring, but more than capable of doing what has to be done when it needs to be done.

    Old School….

    1. Gee Will, your hero’s characteristics are exactly how I’d describe you!
      Good luck with sales and I’ll see you this Sunday, book signing at Murder By The Book!

  3. Nicholas is a hero after my own heart!
    Congratulations, William on your fabulous success,
    Cannot wait to read this..let the countdown begin!!

  4. Actually, the story grew out of the characters I’ve created in my novels. I write about a Washington DC-based international law firm with ties to the intelligence community…from which some of their lawyers are recruited. The central characters of John Cann and Katherine Price are two such individuals, highly competent and highly accomplished, both in their pasts and in their presents. They were colleagues for years but finally became a couple after the third novel, “A Grave Breach”. So when the call went out for ‘romantic thrillers’ for “Love is Murder”, it was a matter of setting the scene — I chose London — and creating a timely situation reflecting real issues in the world.

    So Katherine is in London representing a young American woman involved in a custody dispute with her Bengali husband who took their children and absconded with them under what he claimed to be a sharia order in his favor.

    But the man is intercepted at Heathrow before he can get the children completely away and the issue ends up in the UK courts. Katherine wins for her client and the thwarted husband seeks revenge. Not only on his wife but on the woman lawyer who bested him.

    After years as friends and colleagues, John and Katherine have now found the loves of their lives in each other. In my novels, and in “Execution Dock” I’ve looked at what I’ve called the redemptive value of retribution for its own sake. No high-falutin’ moralizations. So when Katherine goes missing, John will stop at nothing to get Katherine back. Is he evil for what he does to get information? What about Katherine’s own actions in trying to effect her own survival and that of her client? In another roundtable discussion earlier this month, I asked, can one do otherwise bad things for good reasons? Slippery slope but in the real world…

  5. When I read the submission call for Thriller 3: Love is Murder I knew I had the perfect short story to submit. I sent in “Hourglass” and waited. Right about the time I heard the bad news, I was talking to Jon Land, and he was struggling coming up with an idea for the anthology.

    The rejection I received for “Hourglass” was quite positive praising the writing, but I broke the cardinal rule in romantic suspense: I killed the hero. The plot wouldn’t work with the protagonist surviving unfortunately. I told Jon, and he suggested we write a story together. Our first conference call ended up being a discussion about our favorite Twilight Zone episodes! When we both realized how much Rod Serling influenced our lives, we both knew we had to write a story that would have made a great TV episode if the show were still on the air.

    We hammered out the details over a couple of conference calls, I drafted an outline, and we started writing. Jon would write some, I would rewrite and continue to a point, and send it back to him. When we had a draft finished, we gave it to several people for feedback. One person who teaches creative writing read it and supplied us with suggestions and comments longer than the story! His advice plus the other ones we received tightened the narrative and made it even stronger. The end result is “Last Shot,” a story that Jon and I are extremely proud of.

    It was a dream come true writing with one of my favorite authors, and I would love to work with him again someday. More importantly, he is now one of my best friends.

    I hope everyone enjoys “Last Shot.”

  6. My copy of Thriller 3 has been shipped! I can’t wait to read!
    Congrats to all!

  7. What was the inspiration for DEADLY PROMISES, my story in Love is Murder? The characters, who have been waiting to be introduced in the Belador series, then the setting got the story percolating.

    The Belador series is set in Atlanta, Georgia, but I love visiting Savannah and have always wanted to set a story there. The supernatural mystery that surrounds that city makes it a great location for a romantic thriller with paranormal elements.

    For DEADLY FIXATION, I wanted two people who would guarantee a volatile story with plenty of tension and high action. Devon (a modern-day Belador warrior) and Joleen (a bounty hunter who works for a mage) popped into my mind immediately. I’ve known these two characters for a long time, since early 2006 when I first envisioned the Belador series . But until this story, there hadn’t been an opportune place to introduce them. I’d also been thinking about Svart Trolls, because they play a role in THE CURSE (the third Belador novel, coming out this September ), and how the trolls could create a massive threat to Savannah. Svart Trolls are black-ops mercenaries who are supernatural predators, and to fulfill a contract, the Svart operation will threaten the lives of two hundred thousand adults and children–all humans. Beladors are sworn to defend humans at any cost , but Devon and Joleen stand at cross-purposes with high stakes and no time to negotiate . I was fascinated by the idea of writing a fast paced story with the classic conflict of two dogs, one bone and deadly consequences on both sides for losing. Then I added a thieving leprechaun who’s on no one’s side but his own and things got interesting real quick.

  8. Hey, Jeff Ayers pretty much said it all very well about our story LAST SHOT. We went at this right from our first conversation from the standpoint of knowing we wouldn’t do something true to the great Twilight Zone tradition. It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of that series to the structure of the thriller, starting with the twist ending. And Rod Serling wrote so many of the best episodes himself, sometimes uncredited. People often forget he also wrote the screenplays for SEVEN DAYS IN MAY and PLANET OF THE APES along with the brilliant teleplay for REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT. But the thing that made THE TWILIGHT ZONE so special, something that Stephen King later picked up on n his great short stories, is that most of the stories involved ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. The heroine of LAST SHOT is kind of a homage to that, as well as the classic short story “The Monkey’s Paw.” It’s about the consequences of desperation, the fact that love doesn’t always conquer all, and sometimes people find themselves grasping at straws. In that respect, Jeff and I wanted to frame our story in the context of the economic downturn and its effects on middle class families. That’s also something Rod Serling inevitably did so well in fashioning wondrous morality plays that were often about how far people would go to improve their lives. The key for Jeff and I was to create a sympathetic hero the reader can relate to.

  9. I write the Kate Lange legal thriller series, and my inspiration usually comes from a criminal case. Similar to Alexandra Sokoloff, coming up for a premise for a short story is as difficult as brainstorming a premise a novel. And, in fact, the premise I used for BREAK EVEN was one that I had contemplated as the basis for a plot for one of my books.

    I loved writing BREAK EVEN because it gave me a chance to explore one of my favourite secondary characters in my series: criminal defence lawyer Eddie Bent, whom I introduced in INDEFENSIBLE (book #2 of my series). A recovering alcoholic, Eddie is trying to get his practice back on its feet when he acts as a mentor to Kate Lange in INDEFENSIBLE.

    Eddie is a guy who has seen too much of the underbelly of life, and yet he has preserved a sense of justice. His character was inspired by a person who mentored me early in my career — an extremely intelligent and kind man who battled an addiction that eventually cost him his life.

    And thus, when the invitation to write a story for LOVE IS MURDER came through my inbox, I knew that I had the perfect opportunity to tell Eddie’s story. BREAK EVEN takes place several years before we meet Eddie in INDEFENSIBLE, at the moment when his life is about to be derailed. The case that forms the catalyst for the crime in BREAK EVEN was quite fascinating — and it worked perfectly for this story. Because I knew that the case that broke Eddie would have to be one that hit him hard in the areas where he is most vulnerable: his wife and child.

    At the end of the day, this story is about compassion, revenge, and the lengths a person will go to protect those he loves.

  10. My story “Night Heat” was inspired by a party.

    Years ago, I was living in the Philippines writing magazine features when I was invited to a cocktail party at the American ambassador’s house. It was an evening I’ll never forget. Champagne flute in hand, I basked in the warm tropical breeze and ate hors d’oeuvres off of State Department china while chatting with fellow expatriates around the ambassador’s pool. The setting was so idyllic, but I couldn’t help but wonder how it would play out if something dramatic happened to (literally) crash the party.

    The opening scene of “Night Heat” takes place at a similar cocktail party, which comes to an abrupt halt when terrorists storm the compound to take the Ambassador and his guests hostage. As embassy employee Jill Whitfield lies injured on the patio, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs headed by Mike Dietz is called in for a daring rescue mission. The SEALs plan goes awry, and the lives of dozens of innocent people are left hanging in the balance as Mike and his SEAL teammates are forced to improvise.

    It was so much fun writing this short story for LOVE IS MURDER! Readers can follow more adventures of Mike Dietz and his SEAL teammates in my novella UNSTOPPABLE and my upcoming novel SCORCHED, which are part of my ongoing Tracers series.

  11. Happy Release Day, everyone!

    My short int he anthology is called THE NUMBER OF MAN. There’s nothing I love more than an anthology, it’s such a wonderful way for readers to have a chance to sample multiple authors, multiple styles, and multiple takes not he same premise. Romantic Suspense is such a broad category, and the stories in LOVE IS MURDER reflect that.

    Julie Kramer (Stalking Susan) and I did a brief interview about my short, so I thought I’d share that with y’all.

    JK: I’m a sucker for a good TV anchor stalking story….where did you get the inspiration for “The Number of Man”?

    JT: I was in my stalker phase – they kept popping up in my stories. It all came from a creep called The Wooded Rapist here in Nashville. We’d just moved to a house that backed to the woods – and I was warned about him. He only struck on rainy nights, at houses that backed to the woods. Freaked me right out, and variations of his character began to work their way into my stories.

    JK: What were the biggest challenges in writing it?

    JT: Not being a good enough writer to pull off the multiple points of view, how to up the creep factor, and finding a way to make Michael appealing. I wrote a version of it in 2006 and just couldn’t make it come together, so I shelved it for six years. When the chance came to write a story for LOVE IS MURDER, I immediately pulled it out. What could be more romantic than a stalker, really?

    JK: Does this incorporate characters from your other work, or is it a stand alone?

    JT: A standalone, completely. My short fiction is my place to experiment, to play. I’ve only done one with series characters – a trend I may buck again.

    JK: Anything else you want to share about creating the story?

    JT: Just a quick shout-out to Tribe, Bryon Quertermous and the writers of Flashing in the Gutters. Their support early on in my career gave me the courage to try a longer form short story, and Tribe was brave enough to tell me the first iteration of this one wasn’t ready for prime time. We all need truth tellers, don’t we? Without that good advice, this variation of that story would never be.

  12. Hi, Dianna! Hi, Alexandra! Hi, JT! WOW. What a stellar line-up of authors. I can’t wait to read all your stories in LIM. Hi, Jon! I owe you a e-mail. I won three of your books and got the nicest e-mail from you. We moved from VA (where I met Dianna and Alexandra) to TX so I didn’t have a chance to write. Will do that when the lambs stop screaming!
    Pamela, I’m looking forward to TATTOOED. It intrigues me. I have approx. 25 tattoos.
    To all of you….I wish you well and please know I’ll be reading all your stories and enjoying them immensely! 🙂 Hi, Allison! We met at RT in Daytona. Hello, Roxanne! I used to live in RI and you sent me a book that took place there. 🙂

    Mel K.
    Meljprincess AT aol DOT com

  13. What a great “take on vacation” book. I’m really enjoying the Thriller anthologies because it gives me the opportunity to read stories by authors I haven’t read before without the commitment of an entire book.

  14. I can’t wait to get this. Some stories by my favorite authors and some new ones to try out. Sounds great !!

  15. These anthologies are great reads. I always keep a book in my purse for any minutes I get a chance to read, and these are perfect. And with some of my favorite authors too!!

  16. Hey Mel! You know everyone, don’t you? You must feel about the same way I do about this anthology – so many people I love to read, all in the same book. I really can’t wait to sit down with it!

  17. Going on a cruise this summer and taking this book along. It’s a great way to add to my favorite authors list.

  18. I enjoy short stories just as much as novels and novellas. A story is best when it is the right lenght to get everythong important said. I have had the misfortune to read stuff that was padded to get to a certain page/word count, and it shows. I have also read stories where I turned the page and wondered where the story went, because it didnt feel finished. Give me a story with all the words needed, no more and no less, and I am in reading heaven.

  19. Karen, Lisa, Mary, Susan – thanks for checking the book out, and it’s SO good to hear people are still reading shorts! I grew up devouring the fantastic anthologies on my dad’s shelf: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, collections of Poe and Shirley Jackson and Ray Bradbury, Daphne DuMaurier’s extraordinary shorts, and Stephen King, of course, always, you could just kill him.

    There was a golden age of short stories when magazines actually paid a living wage for this form of writing. No more. But it’s like writing poetry or a song… sometimes it’s just the only way to tell a story, and you have to do it.

  20. Hi Yvonne and Janice! I just had to say, it’s interesting to me how many people are thinking of this book as a vacation takealong. That makes total sense – bite sized reading that can be a short and satisfying experience in the chaos of travel.

  21. This sounds like another great ITW anthology. Some of the authors are familiar but I look forward to finding some new favorites. I am really looking forward to getting a copy and reading it!!!

  22. I’m glad all of you enjoy your work and seem to have fun doing it, because I truly enjoy your product. I am mostly an audio “reader” these days because I spend so much time on the road, and you guys manage to make 10 hours behind the wheel just disappear into the night. Thank all of you for that!
    These ITW anthologies are so great because I can get a quick fix of my favorites while waiting on their next novel and, at the same time, get clued in to all the great new writers I might have otherwise missed. I may need to buy a bigger iPod but so what? Please, all of you, keep them coming.

  23. Love is murder includes stories by authors and authoress you can’t bare to miss reading.

  24. Did a localized Book Launch last night at a favorite coffee shop here in Houston, and was thrilled that we sold completely out, including the audio editions of THRILLER 3!

    Alexandra mentioned Alfred Hitchcock collections, I grew up with “Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine”, and read it each month until the magazine was cancelled in ’84, if I remember right. Like clockwork, I’d hit the newsstand second Tuesday of the month. Seems like a lifetime ago!

  25. Very cool, Bill. Hope it’s not inappropriate to mention here that I’ll be at the famous “Murder on the Beach” bookstore in Delray Beach, Florida this coming Friday evening, June 1 @ 7:00PM for the “Thriller 3: Love is Murder” release. Hope I do as well.

  26. Hi Sarah, Marie, Francine and Janice – thanks for stopping by. I’m looking forward to my copy too as it will be the first time I’ll see the other stories. 🙂

  27. Hi Mel K – So nice to see you here. I’m on a trip across country (riding my motorcycle to Santa Fe and down to San Antonio) so I’m catching a minute here and there to chat online. Thanks for the shout out and hope to see you again in my travels. Thanks for stopping by!

  28. Hi Yvonne, Karen and Lisa – thanks for visiting this week (great week with the book being released!). I’ve got a lot of fave authors in this anthology, too, plus looking forward to reading new ones as well. Appreciate you stopping by.

  29. I hope mine is waiting when I get home, Nancy, and that you can hide somewhere and enjoy yours when it shows up. Joe – I have a friend who can’t read any more (eye issues) so he lives for audio. I’ve driven around an extra half hour to finish an audio before ending a long trip. 🙂 Thanks for coming by.2

  30. ah, Jean, what a nice post! And kudos to you William on a great signing event! Good luck with your event, James – I have friends in Del Ray I’ll have to email. I’ve been stock signing in different cities. The book came out on the week of my anniversary motorcycle trip with my husband so I didn’t want to plan an event, but the booksellers are so great.

  31. I absolutely love romantic suspence and all the authors who write it for my enjoyment! I enjoy anthologies because I can get more of my favorites between books and hopefully meet new authors I want to follow in the future. Sandra Brown is a name that means ‘read and love it’ to me!

  32. LOL! Yes! Alex, I know all of you! And it makes me very happy to say that. I can’t wait to read this book.

    Dianna, I’m in Austin!! Will you ride down here? I have a kitten for you!! lol! One of my outdoor kitties had 4 kittens. She brought them to me because she trusts me. They are precious. I have pics. in Facebook.

  33. Ah,Mel – wish I had time to stop in Austin for a day. We couldn’t squeeze it in on this trip but I plan to visit sometime soon and watch the bats fly out from under the bridge. Thanks for the offer of a sweet kitty, but I’ll have to pass. I’m on the road too much (like now) to have anything but that tank full of cantankerous saltwater fish and critters I write about on FB. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll find a good home for them. You’re nice to foster the kittens.

    Also, Thank You to everyone who came out this week to say hello and to those who shared a story inspiration.

  34. Thanks for your kind words about the cats, Dianna. Do you know we’ve been here almost 9 months and we’ve yet to go see the bats. Heck! Where I live you see bats anyway. You also see them when you’re driving 35. I do hope to see you again. Please let me know when you come to Austin!

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