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This week we dig into character and try to answer the question: “Which determines character behavior the most – cultural background, education or wealth?” Join ITW members David Morrell, Taylor Stevens, L. A. Starks, Cat Connor, Axel Avian, Paul D’Ambrosio, Deborah Coonts, Gary Williams and Wilf Nussey for this can’t-miss discussion!


David Morrell created Rambo in his novel, First Blood. His bestsellers include the classic spy novel The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only mini-series to premier after a Super Bowl. An Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominee, Morrell has received three Bram Stoker awards and ITW’s Thriller Master award. His latest novel is a Victorian thriller, Murder as a Fine Art.

Taylor Stevens is the New York Times bestselling author of The Informationist and The Innocent. Both featuring Vanessa Michael Munroe, they received critical acclaim and have been published in seventeen languages. Raised in communes across the globe and denied an education beyond the sixth grade, Stevens broke free of the Children of God and now lives in Texas. Her third book in the Munroe series, The Doll, will be published by Crown in June 2013.

L. A. Starks was born in Massachusetts, grew up in Oklahoma, and lives in Texas. She earned an engineering bachelor’s from Tulane and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Working for energy companies prepared her to write thrillers. Strike Price, published by L&L Dreamspell, is her second. Her first, 13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy, received five-star reviews. Starks consults on energy economics, is on the Dallas Public Library volunteer board, and has run seven half-marathons.

Cat Connor lives in the Wellington Region of New Zealand. Drinks too much espresso and spends her days writing thrillers (the _byte series) accompanied by her greyhound, Romeo. She loves wine, hanging out with friends, and believes music and laughter are essential. Also, Cat knows where you hid the body.

Paul D’Ambrosio spent a good part of his youth traveling the world, working in Washington and then settling down in New Jersey to start a career in investigative journalism. He was one of two finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer in Public Service, and has won numerous national awards for his work in uncovering corruption, political high-jinx and government waste. When he is not writing novels about Sister Maris and various plots to undermine the government, he works as the director of news and investigations at a large daily newspaper.

Gary Williams lives in St. Augustine, Florida. He attended Florida State University and has a bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing from University of North Florida. Once a corporate manager, he now writes full time with co-writer, Vicky Knerly. Their fourth e-novel, Indisputable Proof, released in the fall of 2012 was listed as one of the “Best Fiction Books of 2012” by Rosa St. Claire of the Miami Examiner. Manipulation will be available on May 16th.

Axel Avian grew up in an organization not unlike F.A.L.C.O.N in a town not unlike Springfield, Missouri. He has traveled the world for his work. To relax, he enjoys sky and scuba diving, hang gliding, rock climbing, and snowboarding. He reads whenever he can and routinely trounces opponents on video games.

Deborah Coonts‘s mother tells her she was born in Texas a very long time ago, though she’s not totally sure—her mother can’t be trusted. But she was definitely raised in Texas on barbecue, Mexican food, and beer. She currently resides in Las Vegas, where family and friends tell her she can’t get into too much trouble. Silly people. Coonts has built her own business, practiced law, flown airplanes, written a humor column for a national magazine, and survived a teenager.

Wilf Nussey retired after 40 years in newspapers, mostly as a foreign correspondent and editor in Africa during its metamorphosis from colonialism to independence. He has since written seven books, four of them documentaries and two e-novels, the latest being The Hidden Third, a saga of rebellion in the new South Africa.