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thriller-roundtable-logo5This week we’re talking characters with ITW Members Kate Kessler, Patricia Rosemoor, Ralph Pezzullo, Jean Heller, Lisa Preston, Jennifer Soosar and William Lashner. When developing characters, do you start from scratch or use models (like real people or movie stars) to build from?




hellerMost of Jean Heller’s career was as an investigative and projects reporter and editor in New York City, Washington, D.C. and St. Petersburg Florida. Her career as a novelist began in the 1990s with the publication of the thrillers, Maximum Impact and Handyman by St. Martin’s Press. Then life intervened and postponed her new book, The Someday File, to publication in late 2014. Jean has won the Worth Bingham Prize, the Polk Award, and is an eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.



OrchidsLisa Preston turned to writing after careers as a fire department paramedic and a city police officer. Experience in her earlier professions enhance the medical and legal passages of her fiction and non-fiction. Her debut novel, Orchids and Stone, was released by Thomas & Mercer in April 2016, and has been described both as a thriller and as domestic noir. Her published work includes non-fiction books and articles on animals, particularly the care and training of dogs and horses. Away from her desk, she spends hours on backcountry trails as a runner and rider, sometimes combining her two outdoor pursuits via the obscure sport of Ride and Tie.


his deceptionNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Patricia Rosemoor has had 98 novels with 8 publishers and more than 7 million books in print. Her novels are romantic suspense or paranormal romantic thrillers. Patricia won a Golden Heart from Romance Writers of America and two Reviewers Choice and two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times BOOKreviews; she taught Suspense-Thriller Writing at Columbia College Chicago.



Hunt the DragonRalph Pezzullo is a New York Times bestselling author, and an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. His books have been published in over twenty languages and include Jawbreaker (with CIA operative Gary Berntsen), Inside SEAL Team Six (with Don Mann), The Walk-In, At the Fall of Somoza, Plunging Into Haiti (winner of the 2006 Douglas Dillon Prize for American Diplomacy), Eve Missing, Blood of My Blood, Most Evil (with Steve Hodel), the SEAL Team Six thrillers Hunt the Wolf, Hunt the Scorpion, Hunt the Falcon, Hunt the Jackal, Hunt the Fox, and The Navy SEAL Survival Handbook (also with Don Mann), and most recently Zero Footprint.


it takes oneKate Kessler is a former juvenile delinquent who went from reading Nancy Drew to Sidney Sheldon by age eleven. A peculiar addiction to soap operas at a young age, and an overblown sense of curiosity often resulted in landing her in trouble, an affliction that continued into her teens. These days. She lives in New England with her patient and supportive husband and four cats, who provide all the external drama her life needs.



four night runWilliam Lashner is the author of the Edgar-Award nominated novel The Barkeep, as well as the Victor Carl series. A graduate of the New York University school of Law and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Lashner lives outside of Philadelphia with his wife and three children. The Four-Night Run is his latest novel.



PTA_SoosarJennifer Soosar watched too much ‘America’s Most Wanted’ growing up and has been writing about the criminal mind ever since. She has written dozens of screenplays and her short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (May 2016). Her debut novel, PARENT TEACHER ASSOCIATION, will be published by Black Opal Books in early 2017. A native of Toronto, she has a degree in anthropology from York University and is a member of ITW, and Crime Writers of Canada.