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thriller-roundtable-logo5With regard to novels, when we use terms like “character-driven” does that mean the plot should be simpler or more complex? This week we’re joined by ITW Members August Norman, T R Kenneth, Cathy Ace, Caitlin Starling, Jerry Kennealy, Lisa Towles, Gary Haynes, Rachel Caine, Elisabeth Elo, Nicole Bross, Lynn Cahoon and Laurie Stevens. Scroll down to the “comments” section to follow along. You won’t want to miss it!


T R Kenneth has long been focused on the Nazi regime and Reinhard Heydrich in particular, who was a main architect of the Holocaust. In A ROOM FULL OF NIGHT, the author takes the reader from modern flyover America to deep inside the darkest reaches of the Third Reich where everyman hero Stag Maguire is forced to confront the shadowed corners of human infamy. She divides her time between London, Singapore and the U.S.


Lynn Cahoon is the award-winning author of several New York Times and USA Today best-selling cozy mystery series. The Tourist Trap series is set in central coastal California with six holiday novellas releasing in 2018-2019. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. Her newest series, the Farm to Fork mystery series, released in 2018. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies.


Cathy Ace’s latest novel, The Wrong Boy, is her thirteenth. Luckily for her it’s also her first ever Amazon #1 bestseller. Why not write a psychological suspense standalone, even though you’re known for an award-winning series of traditional whodunits, and another featuring cozy British PIs? She migrated from Wales to Canada at the age of forty, where she now lives on, and tends, five rural acres – aided by her green-fingered husband and green-pawed chocolate Labrador.


Gary Haynes studied law at university before becoming a commercial litigator. He is interested in history, philosophy and international relations. When he’s not writing best-selling thrillers or reading other people’s novels, he enjoys watching European films, traveling, hill walking and spending time with his family.



Nicole Bross is an author from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she lives with her husband, two children and one very large orange cat. When she’s not writing or working as the editor of a magazine, she can be found curled up with a book, messing around with her ever-expanding collection of manual typewriters or in the departures lounge of the airport at the beginning of another adventure. Past Presence is her debut novel.


Jerry Kennealy was the recipient of “The Eye,” the 2017 Life Achievement Award by the Private Eye Writers of America. Jerry has worked as a San Francisco policeman and as a licensed private investigator in the City by the Bay. He has written twenty-five novels, including a series on private eye Nick Polo, two of which were nominated for a Shamus Award. His books have been published in England, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Spain. Jerry lives in San Bruno, CA. with his wife and in-house editor, Shirley.


Originally from central Indiana, thriller and mystery author August Norman has called Los Angeles home for two decades, writing for and/or appearing in movies, television, stage productions, web series, and even, commercial advertising. A lover and champion of crime fiction, August is an active member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, and Sisters In Crime (National and LA), and regularly attends the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference.


Elisabeth Elo is the author of FINDING KATARINA M., just out from Polis Books and described by Booklist as a “heart-stopping saga,” and NORTH OF BOSTON, chosen by Booklist as a Best Crime Novel Debut: 2014. Elisabeth grew up in Boston, attended Brown University, and earned a PhD in English from Brandeis. She worked as a children’s magazine editor, a high-tech marketer and product manager, and a halfway house counselor before starting to write fiction.


Caitlin Starling is a writer of horror-tinged speculative fiction of all flavors. Her first novel, THE LUMINOUS DEAD, came out from HarperVoyager on April 2, 2019. Caitlin also works in narrative design for interactive theater and games, and is always on the lookout for new ways to inflict insomnia.


Laurie Stevens is the author of the Gabriel McRay psychological suspense series. The books have won twelve awards, among them Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011 and a Random House Editors’ Book of the Month. Kirkus calls her newly released THE MASK OF MIDNIGHT “A taut thriller with complex characters and an unforgettable villain.” Laurie is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime.


Rachel Caine is the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than 50 novels. She’s known for the Stillhouse Lake series in thrillers.




Lisa Towles is a crime novelist living in northern California. Her 2017 thriller, Choke, won a Distinguished Favorite IPPY award and a NYC Big Book Award in the thriller category in 2018. Her other books, under the name Lisa Polisar, include Knee Deep, Blackwater Tango, The Ghost of Mary Prairie, and Escape: Dark Mystery Tales. Her short stories have been widely published in literary journals and she was a journalist and art reviewer for many years.