November 7 – 13: “Describe some of your favorite symbolism detected in recent thrillers.”

thriller-roundtable-logo5This week we’re talking symbolism with ITW Members Hank Phillippi Ryan, J. T. Rogers and J. H. Bográn. Describe some of your favorite symbolism detected in recent thrillers.


say-no-moreHank Phillippi Ryan is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate. She’s won 33 EMMYs, 14 Edward R. Murrow awards and dozens of other honors for her groundbreaking journalism. A bestselling author of nine mystery novels, Ryan has won multiple prestigious awards for her crime fiction: five Agathas, two Anthonys, the Daphne, two Macavitys, and for THE OTHER WOMAN, the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award.



in-from-the-coldJ.T. Rogers grew up wanting to be either a superhero or a spy—but rather than pick one over the other, she chose to become a writer instead so she could be both in her spare time. Her fiction reflects her childhood obsessions, blending together the distrustful, cloak-and-dagger world of spies with the high-octane action and camaraderie of her favorite superheroes. The product of a bilingual education and an alumna of a handful of universities, J.T.’s passions include history, comic books, and Shakespeare. She has lived all over North America and loves to weave threads of authentic local color into her stories. Just ask her about Lucy the Elephant. Currently, she’s living the dream of being overworked and underpaid. She writes to stay sane—or that’s the story she likes to tell, at least.



Firefall_Proof2J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. His debut novel TREASURE HUNT, which The Celebrity Café hails as an intriguing novel that provides interesting insight of architecture and the life of a fictional thief, has also been selected as the Top Ten in Preditors & Editor’s Reader Poll. FIREFALL, his second novel, was released in 2013 by Rebel ePublishers. Coffee Time Romance calls it “a taut, compelling mystery with a complex, well-drawn main character.” He’s a member of the Short Fiction Writers Guild, Crime Writer’s Association, and the International Thriller Writers. He lives in Honduras with his family and one “Lucky” dog.


  1. Work has kept me away from most leisure reading this year, though I’ve really been loving what J.K. Rowling–ahem, Robert Galbraith–has been doing with the Cormoran Strike novels. That said, one key component that I do watch out for in both literature and film in the past few years is the way technology is used or excised from events, especially in thrillers and crime stories. My own novel, the historical thriller IN FROM THE COLD, is limited by the year in which it’s set, but thrillers set in the modern day have this new hurdle of how to use technology that can work both for and against a sense of suspense, or isolation, or feeling hunted. I find it intensely interesting to see how writers frame technology in the world of their story, their characters’ attitudes toward it and how it helps or hinders those characters’ journeys.

    1. Speaking of technology, I think it moves way faster than the average book industry. And I don’t mean this as a complaint, but I found it interesting a couple of years ago when I read two books where characters used Blackberry devices representing the peak of cellular technology, but the company had already been shadowed by Samsung and iPhone.
      I guess Blackberry was at the top while writing and editing, but had lost terrain by the time the story hit the stores. So even in a couple of years things can change dramatically.

  2. For some reason I associate “symbolism” with Dan Brown’s novels, but I know the question goes beyond that series.

    I’m a recent fan of the Pendergast series by Preston & Child and they use a lot of symbolism, even some elevated language and they are just plain fun to read.

    Another recent one was The Minoan Cypher by Paul Kemprekos that I had the privilege to interview for The Big Thrill. The combination of ancient traditions weaved into the present day was interesting, and one thing I liked was how in one point a character explains how some traditions–specially bloody initiation trials–had to be updated to fit the modern world (e.g. not able to just abduct people and offer them on an altar)

    Now, for J.T. Roger’s question about a time set limiting the technology I must agree. My debut novel is set 1998, although published until 2011, so certain aspects–like renting cellular devices instead of using roaming services or switching a simcard was just one issue. The fun part was that it wasn’t intentional on my part. 1998 was the year when I wrote the first draft! 🙂

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