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thriller-roundtable-logo5Do day jobs get in the way of writing thrillers? And, while we’re at it, when might they help? This week we’re chatting with ITW members Joel Barrows, Dawn Ius, Susan Sleeman, Colleen Winter, Tom Wither, J. H. Bográn and Felix Francis. Whenever you’re ready just scroll down to the “comments” section to follow along!


Felix Francis took over writing the ‘Dick Francis’ novels from his father. He recently published his fourteenth novel Guilty Not Guilty. Felix lives in Oxfordshire, England with his wife, Debbie, and three dogs who are really in charge! He is a member of the International Thriller Writers as well as of the British Crime Writers Association. He was recently International Guest of Honor at Bouchercon 50 in Dallas, Texas, the world’s largest crime fiction convention.


Dawn Ius is a professional writer and editor with more than 20 years experience as a journalist, communications expert, and published author. She has edited numerous international publications and published upwards of 500 articles in a diverse spectrum of magazines and newspapers across North America. In her first professional assignment, she interviewed former Soviet politician Mikhail Gorbachev through a translator. In various communications and media relations roles, Dawn has spearheaded award-winning awareness campaigns for corporate and non-profit organizations. Dawn has published three young adult novels with Simon Pulse (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), the latest, Lizzie, being a modern re-imagining of the infamous Lizzie Borden hatchet murders. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband, two giant breed dogs, and three bearded dragons. Yes, sometimes she will respond to “Khaleesi.”


Susan Sleeman is the bestselling author of more than 35 romantic suspense novels with more than 1 million books sold. She has won several awards, including the ACFW Carol Award for Suspense for Fatal Mistake and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Thread of Suspicion. In addition to writing, Susan also hosts She has lived in nine states but now calls Portland, Oregon, home.


Tom Wither is a thirty-two-year Air Force intelligence professional and twenty-five-year affiliate of the National Security Agency.  A veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he has led the design and implementation of unique signals intelligence systems supporting Air Force space and cyber operations during Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, and INHERENT RESOLVE. Tom was most recently awarded the Exemplary Civilian Service Award for his contributions to the liberation of Raqqah, Syria from ISIS.


Colleen Winter is a science-fiction junkie and uses her electrical engineering degree to create stories that walk the line between what is real and what is possible. In a previous life, she worked as a journalist and now is a communications consultant in the Ontario electrical industry. She lives near Toronto, Canada and spends as much time as she can rock climbing and hiking the beautiful places of the world with her family and her dog.


J. H. Bográn is an international author of novels, short stories and scripts for television and film. He’s the son of a journalist, but ironically prefers to write fiction rather than facts. His genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. He currently divides his time as resource development manager for Habitat for Humanity Honduras, teaching classes at a local university, and writing his next project. He lives in San Pedro Sula, Honduras with his wife, three sons and a “Lucky” dog. His motto is “I never tell lies, I only write them!”


Joel Barrows is an Iowa district court judge who regularly oversees both criminal and civil trials. Prior to his appointment to the bench he was a practicing attorney for nearly twenty-three years; the last eighteen of those spent as a state, and then federal, prosecutor. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in History, a Law degree from Drake University Law School, and a Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law with distinction from Georgetown University Law Center. He has traveled extensively in Central America. He lives with his family in eastern Iowa along the banks of the Mississippi.