January 28 to February 3: “What is your favorite sub-genre of thrillers?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5Domestic thrillers? Crime thrillers? Action thrillers? Historical thrillers? This week we ask ITW members Robert E. Kearns, Jess Montgomery, Larry Loftis, L. A. Starks, William L. Myers, Jr. and Keenan Powell to tell us your favorite sub-genre of thrillers and why? Scroll down to the “comments” section to follow along – you won’t want to miss this!


L. A. Starks is an energy investor and the author of the Lynn Dayton thriller series. Strike Price, the second in the series, won the Texas Association of Authors’ First Place Award for best mystery/thriller. She is also multi-published in nonfiction. Starks was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up in Oklahoma, went to school in New Orleans and Chicago, and now lives in Texas. Her favorite recent international destinations include Denmark, Spain, and Switzerland.


William L. Myers, Jr. is the No. 6 bestselling author for Amazon Kindle in 2017 for his debut. Once you pick up his legal thriller and bestselling novel, A Criminal Defense, it becomes obvious he is not new to the intricacies of the legal profession. Open A Criminal Defense and you’ll find yourself lost in a labyrinth of deceits and hidden agendas, a world where everyone has a secret. You never know what is going to happen next or when the plot is going to take another unexpected turn.


Jess Montgomery is the author of the Kinship Historical Mystery series, inspired by Ohio’s true first female sheriff and published by Minotaur Books. THE WIDOWS, the first book in the series, is set in 1920s Appalachia and follows two women who investigate murder and fight for their community. Jess is also a newspaper columnist, focusing on the literary life, authors and events of her native Dayton, Ohio for the Dayton Daily News.


Larry Loftis is the international bestselling author of the nonfiction spy thriller, INTO THE LION’S MOUTH: The True Story of Dusko Popov — World War II Spy, Patriot, and the True Life Inspiration for James Bond.



Keenan Powell illustrated the original Dungeons and Dragons, then ditched art for law school. The day after graduating, she moved to Alaska where she continues to practice. She is the author of the Maeve Malloy series set in contemporary Alaska. Her debut, Deadly Solution, was published in 2018. The second in the series, Hemlock Needle, is being published in January of 2019.


Robert E. Kearns was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1971. He held roles in accounting and finance for various multi national organisations in both Ireland and Texas, where he lived for nine years. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland. HY BRASIL, ISLAND OF ETERNITY is his first novel.




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  1. I grew up in an Oklahoma town where “women in STEM” was not some far-off aspiration but a given part of the working culture. My father was an Oklahoma-bred MIT-trained chemistry research PhD; his first and only foreign language was the German he needed to read scientific papers. Science has always been an international discipline, so despite growing up on the Great Plains it wasn’t unusual for me to meet Asian and European PhDs who were in town to discuss with my father a research breakthrough or an industrial process.

    As a natural extension of this global scientific environment, my favorite thriller sub-genres to read are those in the mix I write: international, science, and espionage. Among the male authors whose books in these sub-genres I have enjoyed are Alex Berenson, Dan Brown, Marc Cameron, Ben Coes, Michael Crichton, Daniel Silva, Brad Thor, Vince Flynn and now Kyle Mills writing for Vince Flynn. I found the entire Nexus trilogy by Ramez Naam amazingly creative and refreshingly global in scope, a perfect example.

    Women who pioneer anything encounter nay-sayers. I had the occasional professor and one elderly grandfather who thought women should not train or work as chemical engineers. I didn’t listen. I’ve also sensed the occasional reluctance—mainly from old-fashioned publishing pros—that women don’t write international thrillers. Again, I don’t listen.

    Thus, an even bigger pleasure is when I find books in these genres written by women: books by ITW co-founder Gayle Lynds and by this month’s cover author Taylor Stevens, Lisa Brackmann’s Chinese trilogy, Megan Abbott’s Give Me Your Hand, books by Stella Rimington (the first female Director General of MI5), Amy Rogers’ Petroplague, and Jamie Freveletti’s “Run” books. My most recent favorite is Turkey-set Liar’s Candle by August Thomas, who uses just enough Turkish to put readers right into Ankara.

    With each of these authors, I relish the international and cultural details that inform and transport. In my books, examples are the scene in 13 Days: The Pythagoras Conspiracy of being trapped in a cooling tower (yes, it happened to me); referencing Cherokee and Osage history in Strike Price to include the only known use of the Cherokee syllabary in a thriller; and applying Russian-US energy conflicts to inform the fictional attack on a Polish LNG terminal in The Second Law.

  2. I’m excited to have discovered several brilliant female Irish crime writers. Tana French is not alone. These women have a unique perspective on the dynamics and tensions ubiquitous during late 20th century seismic cultural shifts in Ireland and a talent for describing complicated workings of the mind:

    Liz Nugent, author of UNRAVELING OLIVER, LYING IN WAIT, and SKIN DEEP. These three powerful and creepy standalone psychological thrillers have won awards in Ireland for both in paper and audio forms. Told from first person point-of-view, the characters are highly complex and believable. I highly recommend the audiobooks.

    Dervla McTiernan, debut author of THE RUIN short-listed for the Limerick Literary Festival Kate O’Brien award. A traditional mystery with well-defined characters told in multiple third-person points-of view. The author has a talent for escalating stakes organically and for such vivid storytelling that third person feels like first person. Another great audiobook.

    Anna Burns, author of MILKMAN, winner of the Man Booker literary award. Told in first person, the narrator is a young woman living in a Northern Ireland in the 1970’s who is being stalked by the Milkman during a time when murder, suicide, assault and other heinous acts were the unquestioned norm. Another incredible audiobook.

    More female Irish crime writers I’m looking forward to reading include Fiona Davis, Alex Barclay, Jane Casey, Sinead Crowley, Jo Spain, Sam Blake, Louise Phillips, Niamh O’Connor, Claire McGowan, Arlene Hunt, Andrea Carter, Andrea Mara, Cat Hogan and Karen Gillece.

  3. I love a novel in the Suspense genre. When they are written well, they’re difficult to beat, and I tip my hat to the author who can pull it off.
    Not easy to get right, but when you come across a gem, you know it. The book which can do it from start to finish has to be admired.

  4. Of course, I must speak up for the historical thriller! I still remember reading The Key to Rebecca (Ken Follett) and being intrigued by not only the characters and plot line, but by the notion of combining historical events with a thriller plot. (Of course, as a friend of mine once said, one person’s epiphany is another person’s obvious. But for me, years ago, this combination was an epiphany.)

    There are so many great historical mysteries/historical thrillers to choose from. It’s a delight for me as a reader, and an honor as a writer to make my own contribution to the sub genre.

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