It is often said that the first chapter is the hardest to write. This week ITW members Brad Parks, Kay Kendall, Eileen Cook, Jacob Stone, Sherry Knowlton, Bonnie Kistler, Keith Dixon, Desiree Holt, Diana Rodriguez Wallach and Jerry Amernic share some insight on how they prepare to start a new book. Scroll down to the “comments” section to follow along – you don’t want to miss it!
International bestseller Brad Parks is the only author to have won the Shamus, Nero, and Lefty Awards, three of American crime fiction’s most prestigious prizes. His novels have been published in fifteen languages and have won critical acclaim across the globe, including stars from every major pre-publication review outlet. A former journalist with The Washington Post and The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, he lives in Virginia with his wife and two school-aged children.
Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. She’s an instructor/mentor with The Creative Academy and Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program where she loves helping other writers. Eileen lives in Vancouver with two very naughty dogs.
Before Kay Kendall began to write fiction, she was an award-winning international PR exec, working in the US, Canada, Russia, and Europe. Ask her about Moscow during the Cold War—and turning down a CIA job in order to attend Harvard. An avid fan of history, she chooses to set her books in times of turmoil and change—the Vietnam War, second wave feminism, Prohibition. After living in Canada’s frozen clime for some years, she and her Canadian husband have thawed out since 1990 in her ancestral home of Texas. They share their abode with three rescue rabbits and one bemused spaniel.
Jacob Stone is the pseudonym for Dave Zeltserman, an award winning crime, horror and mystery writer. As both Dave Zeltserman and Jacob Stone, he has published 22 novels and dozens of short stories, and his novels have been translated into six languages. His crime novel Small Crimes, which topped NPR’s best crime & mystery books in 2008, has been made into a Netflix original film starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Molly Parker, Gary Cole, Jacki Weaver, and Robert Forster. His crime and horror novels have been named by The Washington Post, NPR, American Library Association, WBUR, and Booklist as best books of the year, and his mystery short fiction has won the Shamus, Derringer and Ellery Queen’s Readers award (twice).
Sherry Knowlton, award-winning author of the Alexa Williams suspense novels, Dead of Autumn, Dead of Summer, Dead of Spring and DEAD OF WINTER, developed a lifelong passion for books as a child. She was that kid who would sneak a flashlight to bed at night so she could read beneath the covers. All the local librarians knew her by name. Now retired from executive positions in the health insurance industry, Sherry runs her own health care consulting business. She is also “rewriting retirement” by turning her passion for writing into a new career. She draws on her professional background and global travel experiences as inspiration for her novels. Sherry lives in the mountains of south central Pennsylvania, where the Alexa Williams suspense series is set.
Bonnie Kistler is a former Philadelphia trial lawyer. She spent her career in private practice with major law firms and successfully tried cases in federal and state courts across the country. She and her husband now live in Florida and the mountains of western North Carolina. They have two daughters.
Keith Dixon was born in Yorkshire and grew up in the Midlands. He’s been writing since he was 13-years-old in a number of different genres: thriller, espionage, science fiction, literary. He’s the author of seven novels in the Sam Dyke Investigations series and two other non-crime works, as well as two collections of blog posts on the craft of writing. When he’s not writing he enjoys reading, learning the guitar, watching movies and binge-inhaling great TV series. He’s currently spending more time in France than is probably good for him.
USA Today bestselling author Desiree Holt is a winner of the EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times and numerous other national and international publications.
Diana Rodriguez Wallach is the author of the Anastasia Phoenix Series, three young adult spy thrillers (Entangled Publishing, 2017, ’18, ‘19). The first book in the trilogy, Proof of Lies, was a finalist for the International Thriller Awards for best Young Adult Novel. It was also named by Paste Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Best Young Adult Books for March 2017.” Bustle also listed her as one of the “Top Nine Latinx Authors to Read for Women’s History Month 2017.” The second book in the series, Lies that Bind, debuted March 2018, and was named an Amazon “Hot New Release.” Diana is also the author of three award-winning young adult novels.
Jerry Amernic’s first novel was Gift of the Bambino, about a boy and his grandfather and how they’re bound by baseball. His research on Babe Ruth led to BABE RUTH – A Superstar’s Legacy, the first book ever about the legacy of the man. His novels include The Last Witness about the last living survivor of the Holocaust in the year 2039, and Qumran about an archaeologist who makes a dramatic discovery in the Holy Land.