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thriller-roundtable-logo5We’ve got a full house this week here at the Roundtable, and we’re turning our focus to tone. Is tone linked more to the author’s or the character’s attitude? ITW Members Marty Wingate, Matthew Peters, Jeffrey B. Burton, Linda Lovely, Tim Waggoner, Terrence McCauley, Michael Sears, Pat Gussin, James Tucker and Kathy Valenti will be weighing in. Scroll down to the “comments” to see what they have to say!


Matthew Peters is a writer living in North Carolina. He is the author of THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS: A NICHOLAS BRANSON NOVEL–BOOK 1, and KILLING JOHN THE BAPTIST: A NICHOLAS BRANSON NOVEL–BOOK 2. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers.



Jeffrey B. Burton was born in Long Beach, California, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received his BA in Journalism at the University of Minnesota. Novels in Burton’s Agent Drew Cady mystery series include THE CHESSMAN, THE LYNCHPIN, and THE EULOGIST. His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines. Jeff is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, the International Association of Crime Writers, and the Horror Writers Association.


New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Patricia Gussin is a physician who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, practiced in Philadelphia, and now lives on Longboat Key, Florida, with her husband Robert Gussin. She is the author of seven novels including Shadow of Death, Thriller Award nominee for Best First Novel, and After the Fall, winner of the Florida Book Award.


Kathleen Valenti is the author of PROTOCOL, a medical thriller that examines the dangers of technology, the price of progress and the depths of greed to uncover what happens when the invisible among us disappears. PROTOCOL is the first of the Maggie O’Malley mystery series. The series’ second book will be released in Spring 2018. When Kathleen isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning advertising copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running.


Hundreds of mystery/thriller writers have met Linda Lovely at check-in for the annual Writers’ Police Academy, which she helps organize. Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and ad copy. Writing lets her “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her without the need to pester relatives for bail. Bones To Pick is her sixth mystery/thriller and the first in a new humorous mystery series.


Best-selling author Marty Wingate shares her love of Britain in two mystery series, the Potting Shed books, featuring Pru Parke, a middle-aged American gardener transplanted from Texas to England, and Birds of a Feather, following Julia Lanchester, bird lover, who runs a tourist office in a Suffolk village. Marty also leads garden tours to Britain, spending free moments deep in research for her books. Or in pubs.


Tim Waggoner has published close to forty novels and three collections of short stories. He writes original fiction, as well as media tie-ins, and his articles on writing have appeared in numerous publications. He’s won the Bram Stoker Award, been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Scribe Award, and his fiction has received numerous Honorable Mentions in volumes of Best Horror of the Year. He’s also a full-time tenured professor who teaches creative writing and composition at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio.


Terrence P. McCauley is an award-winning writer of crime fiction and thrillers. The third novel in his University Series – A CONSPIRACY OF RAVENS – was published by Polis Books in September 2017. The other novels in the series, Sympathy for the Devil and A Murder of Crows were also published by Polis Books. Terrence has also written two award-winning novels set in 1930 New York City – Prohibition and Slow Burn.In 2016, Down and Out Books also published Terrence’s World War I novella – The Devil Dogs of Belleau Wood. Proceeds from sales go directly to benefit the Semper Fi Fund.


Michael Sears writes with Stanley Trollip under the name Michael Stanley. Their novels, featuring Detective Kubu, are set in Botswana, a fascinating country with magnificent conservation areas and varied peoples. The mysteries are set against current southern Africa issues such as the plight of the Bushman peoples of the Kalahari (DEATH OF THE MANTIS, shortlisted for Edgar and Anthony awards, won a Barry award in 2011), the pervasive power of witch doctors (DEADLY HARVEST, shortlisted for an ITW Thriller award in 2014), blood diamonds, the growing Chinese influence, and biopiracy. The latest book in the series is DYING TO LIVE.


James Tucker has worked as an attorney at an international law firm and is currently an executive managing real estate strategy at a Fortune 500 company, where his work includes frequent travel throughout the United States. Fascinated by the crimes of those in power, he draws on these cases for his writing. He has a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and was one of four fiction writers awarded a position at a past Mentor Series at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He has attended the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop in Portland, where he was mentored by author Walter Kirn. He lives near Minneapolis with his wife, the painter Megan Rye, and their family. NEXT OF KIN is his first novel.