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thriller-roundtable-logo5It’s the first full week of summer and ThrillerFest is just around the corner! This week we’re joined by ITW Members D. P. Lyle, DiAnn Mills, Jen Conley, Hannah Mary McKinnon, Frank Zafiro, Timothy Jay Smith, Gerald Dean Rice, Tracy Clark and Lee Murray as they reminisce about the beginning of their writing journey. At what age did you realize writing suited you, and how did it happen? Scroll down to the “comments” section to follow along!


Tracy Clark is the author of the Cass Raines Chicago mystery series. Her debut “Broken Places” earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, was named Best New PI of 2018 by CrimeReads, and was listed as one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2018. She was also nominated for the 2018 Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel and the 2019 Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel.


D. P. Lyle is the Amazon #1 Bestselling; Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Award winning; and Edgar(2), Agatha, Anthony, Shamus, Scribe, Silver Falchion, and USA Today Best Book(2) Award nominated author of both non-fiction and fiction (the Samantha Cody, Dub Walker, and Jake Longly thriller series and the Royal Pains media tie-in series). Along with Jan Burke, he was the co-host of Crime and Science Radio and hosts the podcast series Criminal Mischief. He has served as story consultant to many novelists and the screenwriters of shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars.


Jen Conley has published many short stories in various crime fiction anthologies, magazines and ezines. Her short story collection, Cannibals: Stories from the Edge of the Pine Barrens, was nominated for an Anthony Award in 2017. She lives in Brick, NJ.



Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland, and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing. She now lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her 20-second commute.



Raised crisscrossing America pulling a small green trailer behind the family car, Timothy Jay Smith developed a ceaseless wanderlust that has taken him around the world many times. He’s won top honors for his screenplays, stage plays and novels in numerous prestigious competitions; among them, contests sponsored by the American Screenwriters Association, WriteMovies, Houston WorldFest, Rhode Island International Film Festival, StoryPros International, and the Hollywood Screenwriting Institute. He won the 2008 Paris Prize for Fiction, and his first stageplay, which went on to a successful NYC production, won the prestigious Stanley Drama Award.


Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning writer and editor of science fiction, fantasy, and horror (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows), and a two-time Bram Stoker nominee. Her works include the Taine McKenna military thriller series (Severed), and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra co-authored with Dan Rabarts (RDSP). Lee lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories from her office overlooking a cow paddock.


Gerald Dean Rice is hard at work on something right now. Whether it’s vampires, zombies, or something you’ve never seen before, he’s always dedicated to writing something unique. He’s the author of numerous short stories, including the Halloween eBook “The Best Night of the Year”, the YA book “Vamp-Hire,” the anthology Anything but Zombies, and the upcoming fantasy thriller The Bureau of Retired Spells and Broken Magic.


DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson, where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.


Frank Zafiro is a retired police captain who writes procedurals, hard-boiled crime, PI mysteries, and more. He has teamed up with other writers such as Eric Beetner, Colin Conway, Lawrence Kelter, B. R. Paulson, and Jim Wilsky. He hosts the podcast Wrong Place, Write Crime, which features mystery authors. He is a big fan of Bruce Springsteen, hockey, and The Wire. He currently lives in Oregon, where he is also a tortured guitarist.