Welcome to the Thrillerfest V Blog!

We hope you'll bookmark us, just as you bookmark so many of the hundreds of the International Thriller Writers that participate in our annual conference, held in New York City in July.

ITW is a youthful organization, always ready for a new way of looking at things. You'll find that dynamism here, in blog posts from authors, agents, editors and Thrillerfest attendees, past and present.

And that same excitement you feel from your favorite reads is evident in everything ITW does, and no wonder--the organization, staffing and publicity for ThrillerFest--including this new blog--is undertaken by volunteers, most of whom are ITW authors themselves.

So pull up a chair and stay awhile ... discover the latest news on what Thrillerfest V--the fifth anniversary of the conference--has to offer. Visit old friends, make new ones, ask questions, and hear about the remarkable things in store for the conference.

Whether or not you can come see us in New York--and we hope that you can!--please join us here. It's gonna be ... a thriller!

Kelli Stanley, Thrillerfest Publicity Committee Chair

Thrillerfest Publicity Committee:
Jeannie Holmes
CJ Lyons
Carla Buckley
Grant McKenzie

Friday, October 29, 2010

The FEAR Anthology with R.L. Stine Review




Looking for a fun read for your teens? Fan of mysteries and spooky stories? I recommend Fear… 13 stories of suspense and horror presented by R. L. Stine. Fear offers 13 original stories by 13 authors such as Meg Cabot, Heather Brewer and more!

My two teens loved the stories and found it hard to put the book down. I have to admit, it was hard for me to put down as well! Fear is an easy and fun read and will even appeal to the most reluctant reader.

This book is a real page turner and great for young adults who love stories that keep them on the edge of their seat. Filled with suspense, mystery, and some cliffhangers that leave the ending to the imagination, Fear is like The Twilight Zone for kids. So watch out for the monster under the bed or shadows in the dark! There is something slightly creepy around every corner! Myself and my teens agree that Fear is a must have book for this Halloween Season!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ITW Interview: The DeValera Deception - Michael and Patrick McMenamin

Every month ITW features authors and books. You can read more articles like this one when you visit www.thrillerwriters.org and/or subscribe to the newsletter easily by going to the homepage!
Here's a great example of just one of the many featured authors we're talking about at ITW this month!







Recently, I sat down with the father and son writing team of Michael and Patrick McMenamin to talk about their debut novel, The Valera Deception.


How did you come up with the idea of The De Valera Deception?

MICHAEL: I'm a Winston Churchill biographer and scholar, and I've always had an interest in Irish history as well. Patrick is a Phi Beta Kappa history major who specialized in 19th and 20th century European history, so we both have an interest in the period where our thrillers occur. For years, I had talked about writing a thriller series set in Churchill's "Wilderness Years" from 1929 to 1939. I wanted the first book, set in 1929, to revolve around two historical facts: Churchill's three-month holiday that summer in North America while at the same time the Graf Zeppelin was making its historical round the world airship flight sponsored by the Hearst media empire.




PATRICK: The rest we sort of pieced together over family dinners whenever we visited each other. (I think it's fair to say we became a bit of a nuisance at the dinner table for the rest of the family.) We were both familiar with Weimar Germany's secret military alliance with the USSR during the 1920s which enabled Germany to evade the Versailles Treaty's limits on arms. This is years before Hitler assumed power. Germany developed in Russia the most modern weapons systems in Europe--planes, tanks, artillery, poison gas--and the Allies were none the wiser. The goal of the alliance was to invade Poland and divide it between them. That's all historical fact.




MICHAEL: And that's how we were able to work in the Irish angle, which forms the core of our story. We created a conspiracy of arms makers and financiers backing this real-life military alliance. If there was an invasion of Poland, they would want to distract Britain from getting involved in a general European conflict. So, they determined to finance an IRA coup d'├ętat in the new Irish Free State which would inevitably lead to war with Northern Ireland and Britain. De Valera, for his own reasons, was happy to help.




How does Churchill fit in?

PATRICK: When MI-6 hears rumors of the IRA arms deal brewing in America as a necessary prelude to the coup d'├ętat, the new British Prime Minister asks the newly out-of-office Churchill to accompany a team of MI-6 agents to America and use the information they assemble to persuade President Hoover to stop the arms deal. Churchill agrees but he mistrusts MI-6 and assembles his own team which includes Bourke Cockran, Jr., a former US Army counterintelligence officer (and the fictional son of Churchill's real-life Irish-American political mentor) and Mattie McGary, a Hearst photojournalist (and Churchill's fictional god-daughter). While Churchill travels by private rail car across Canada, Cockran and Mattie travel across America--at first apart and then together--to gather at considerable peril the information Churchill needs to persuade President Hoover to intervene and stop the arms from reaching the IRA. And as they do that, the Graf Zeppelin, on its round the world flight, is drawing ever closer to California carrying gold bearer bonds to complete the IRA's arms purchase...




I myself have dozens of books by and about Churchill on my shelves at home. How do you get a new take on such a well-documented life?

MICHAEL: Well, the short answer is that we get a "new take" because we make it all up. The long answer is more complicated.




PATRICK: I'll take the short answer. My Dad enjoys the long ones. We try and do what Ken Follett did in The Man From St. Petersburg, where Churchill served as the catalyst who enlists the protagonists to foil an anarchist plot in 1914 to assassinate a Russian diplomat and disrupt a budding English-Russian alliance. We use Churchill the same way - launching the protagonists on their adventure and pulling strings along the way both behind the scenes and sometimes in them.




MICHAEL: The long answer is that while Churchill probably has the most-documented life of any historical figure, most people don't know much about him beyond his saving the world in 1940 when England stood alone against the Nazis.

Churchill is in many ways a perfect historical character around which to craft period thrillers. He had a remarkably adventure-filled life. He was a fencing champion in prep school, a championship polo player in the Army and a seaplane pilot in the early, peril-filled days of flight in 1910. In between, he was a much decorated war hero in bloody battles on the Afghan-Indian border and in the Sudan. In the Boer war in South Africa, he was nominated by his commanding officer for the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest military honor. He also escaped from a Boer prisoner of war camp and made his way to freedom over hundreds of miles of enemy territory. During the Great War, while other politicians safely abed sent millions of young men to their death, Winston was with his troops in the trenches in the bloody Ypres salient daily risking death himself.

So how we get a new take on Churchill is to create a plot based on something that might have happened in the 30s; toss him into the middle of it; and ask "What would Winston do?" Which, as Patrick noted, is just what Follett did in The Man From St. Petersburg.




Tolstoy, of course, seems to have done okay in blending historical and fictional characters. What are the challenges you found?

MICHAEL: Wow, Tolstoy? Keep in mind these are historical thrillers, not historical novels, so we try to keep the background accurate for our stories which otherwise never happened. One key way is to make sure your historical characters stay within themselves. To do this, I read biographies of all those with major speaking roles, e.g., Churchill, Hearst, Hitler, Hoover, De Valera, John Devoy etc. because we don't want the historical character to say or do something in a purely fictional scene that would be out of character. At the same time, we want to make sure he fills the role we have for him in the plot. Herbert Hoover, for example, would never swear, even in private, so he doesn't in our book. Similarly, the Irish revolutionary John Devoy damn well would have and his "colorful" descriptions of his arch foe De Valera are not out of character.




How do you handle Churchill's "black dog" in your book?

MICHAEL: We don't because it's a myth. Churchill did refer to periods when he was down in the dumps as a "black dog" but that was a common term in the late 19th century, one he probably first heard from his nanny. My wife (and Patrick's artist mother), Carol Breckenridge, a psychotherapist and an adjunct professor of Art Therapy, is glad you asked because she believes writers who do not understand mental illness have taken "black dog" to mean clinical depression, i.e., bi-polar disorder, which is simply not true of Churchill.

As Churchill's daughter Mary Soames once told Carol, she thinks a number of Churchill biographers "have made too big a meal" of Churchill's "black dog". When he was down, as all of us are from time to time, there was always something external as a cause, she said, and she suggest a person would have had to be almost inhuman not to have been down at these times.

In fact, Carol was so taken by my fascination with Churchill...




PATRICK: Mom would call it an obsession ...




MICHAEL: Which reminds me that Churchill hated having a monologue interrupted.... Anyway, Carol once prepared and delivered a peer-reviewed paper to the American Art Therapy Association on "The Use of Art as Therapy: How Churchill Coped" in which she demonstrates that Churchill was not bi-polar and diagnosed him in his youth as having ADD, attention-deficit disorder, which afflicts many bright young people (raise your hand, Patrick). If Churchill carried ADD into adulthood, Carol suggests that his painting (he was an undeniably gifted impressionist producing over 500 oil paintings after the age of 40) was one of his methods of coping with ADD.




Churchill's mother was born in Rochester, New York. Much of the action in The De Valera Deception takes place in the United States. Just how American was Churchill?

PATRICK: Very. To begin with, Churchill's only political and oratorical mentor was an American, Bourke Cockran, and my Dad has written a great book, Becoming Winston Churchill, about their relationship. Most of Churchill's detractors, of whom there was no shortage especially among Conservatives, referred to his American origins disparagingly, e.g., calling him a "half-breed adventurer." And Winston was a very pushy, self-promoting young man in an upper-class British culture that did not value and looked down on such traits. From WWII on, Churchill has been more revered in the US than in the UK. He still is.




Two terrific series have been written by "Charles Todd," who is in fact a mother and son writing together. What's it like for you two, father and son, to collaborate? Come on now, a straight, no-holds-barred answer.

MICHAEL: We also like the two "Charles Todd" series and I met the mother half of the team at the last ThrillerFest. More importantly, we're both big fans of the Indiana Jones films and Young Indiana Jones (a much under-rated TV series) so it's fun to write novels together in that era where Nazis are always the villains (but we have any number of good guy Germans too ) . We're having a great time. Really.


PATRICK: It's true. Honestly, we only write the books because it's fun to write them together.

MICHAEL: No-holds-barred, though. We come up with a book concept jointly...



PATRICK: Well, hang on. You said "no holds barred" and my dad is being uncharacteristically modest. I'd credit him with most of the initial inspiration for each book. I really like thrillers, but I don't read nearly as many as Dad. (Too many Sci-Fi/Fantasy books on my plate.) He really has a nose for this stuff. Once he has an idea, it gives me about five other ideas for plot lines and then we really start talking.




MICHAEL: And I try so hard not to be modest. But Patrick is correct in that I usually come up with what he calls "the initial inspiration" but I don't think we have an actual "concept" until after we bat it around. Anyway, I then do a first draft of a chapter by chapter outline, 100-130 pages. We pass it back and forth until we're satisfied. Then Patrick takes one of the major characters and drafts the chapters within that character's story arc while I do the other chapters.




PATRICK: Then we edit each other's chapters so many times, that when you read the book, you aren't able to tell which chapters were initially drafted by whom unless we tell you.




MICHAEL: Which we won't.




PATRICK: Also, we're both libertarians. Dad is a contributing editor at Reason and I'm a producer for John Stossel at Fox, so we have similar views on politics, economics and history which helps keep us on the same page. Of course, we do have disagreements. And from my perspective, Dad's training as a lawyer can make some arguments especially tedious! But the fact we have a long history together and love each other helps smooth things out.




MICHAEL: Well, I was a media defense lawyer in my previous life and dealing with journalists is no walk in the park either. But, defending them was a decent living so I have no complaints. So that and living in different cities where Patrick and I can't see our facial expressions when we talk helps. When we can't persuade each other, we typically compromise along the lines of the one who did the initial draft of a chapter usually gets the last word.




Do readers have to remember who De Valera was for the title to make sense? 

MICHAEL: As opposed to the book? No, not at all. You learn all you need to know about the underlying Irish politics--the Treaty negotiated by Churchill and Michael Collins which created the Irish Free State in 1922, the Irish Civil War in 1922-23, the IRA and De Valera later in the 20s--from characters' dialogue and internal monologue.




PATRICK: But I don't think it affects the title, no more than a Steve Berry title or most other thrillers. Once you get into the book, the title will make sense. Dad is a big fan of Robert Ludlum titles and alliteration so our first three books in the Churchill series reflect that. Ludlum fans will recognize "Deception", "Parsifal" and "Gemini" as part of Ludlum titles. Sort of an homage.




MICHAEL: It is an homage and all thriller writers owe him a huge debt. Patrick is tolerant of my Ludlum title affectation and uses this to extract what he considers to be more important concessions when we disagree.




Enigma Books is publishing The De Valera Deception. How did you find them and what's it like working with them?

MICHAEL: Actually, Enigma found us when they bought the trade paperback rights from Greenwood, then a division of Harcourt, for my 2007 Becoming Winston Churchill, The Untold Story of Young Winston and His American Mentor ("BWC") which they published in July, 2009. As I like to say, it was critically acclaimed but, alas, not best selling. As we mentioned above, Bourke Cockran was Churchill's mentor (and his mother Jennie's lover) and his fictional son is our male protagonist in the Churchill Thriller series, Archie Goodwin to Winston's Nero Wolfe.

More to the point, Enigma is a small NYC publisher which specializes in 20th century history and biography and has published nearly 50 titles since its founding in 2000. In 2008, they started an Enigma Thriller line of historical novels with three out by the time they took on BWC. I became friends with Enigma's publisher, Robert Miller, after I came to NYC quite a few times to talk about the book for events that Enigma arranged. Publishers like that in a writer.




PATRICK: So when Robert learned we had written not one but three Winston Churchill thrillers (the first two of which our agents got read--and rejected--by many well-known publishers), he offered to publish all three in hard cover over an 18 month time frame, a trilogy which takes Winston through 1932 with Hitler on the cusp of power! Clearly, Robert is a very wise man. Talk about an offer you can't refuse...

Working with Enigma has been good so far. We have a great cover design team with Josh Beatman at Brainchild Studios in NYC. We just love the De Valera cover, with the zeppelin soaring over the 1930s NYC skyline and a 50-something Churchill hovering above. Brilliant!




MICHAEL: We're the lead book on Enigma's website and it's nice to be a big fish in a small pond. Plus we've got a brand beyond our unknown names (www.winstonchurchillthrillers.com) and if our books are good enough, we hope word-of-mouth will carry us.




What's next for the future prime minister and his friend Bourke Cockran, Jr.?

PATRICK: Don't forget Hearst's favorite photojournalist and Winston's fictional god-daughter Mattie McGary. She features prominently in the series as our female protagonist.




MICHAEL: Yes, don't forget her. Patrick hates it when I do this but I channel Maureen O'Hara, Katherine Hepburn, and Karen Allen when I write Mattie's chapters and you don't want to be on wrong side of women like that. Mattie's the main character in the next book in the series, The Parsifal Pursuit (Spring, 2011). It's a blatant cribbing of the plot in Wagner's opera Parsifal where Mattie takes the traditional male role of Parsifal. She's assigned to cover an expedition to recover the "Spear of Destiny" hidden in the Austrian Alps while minions of both the Kaiser and Hitler vie to find it first. (Yes, there really is a spear of destiny which Hitler finally seized in 1938 along with the rest of Austria. It's now safely back in Vienna where I saw it last year.) At the same time, Cockran tangles with an SS protection racket in Munich whose story line eventually converges with Mattie's.




PATRICK: The next Mattie-Bourke adventure after that is The Gemini Agenda (Fall,2011) where Cockran and Mattie expose the true horror of a Eugenics movement that saw 26 US states forcibly sterilize nearly 50,000 women to advance the cause of racial purity before a pre-Hitler Germany had yet to sterilize one. And the movement was substantially financed by American capitalists, e.g., the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institute. In fact, when Hitler came to power, he had Germany enact a eugenics law identical to the model US law. In Gemini, Mattie and Bourke uncover a conspiracy by Nazi scientists to kidnap and conduct lethal experiments upon American twins aided by elements in the Military Intelligence Division (the CIA of its day) of the US Army and funded by US industrialists.




MICHAEL: The fourth book--working title The Berghof Betrayal--is set in February, 1933 and concerns the attempted assassinations of FDR ( it really happened) and Hitler where a fake assassination attempt (rumors of one were circulating then in Berlin) staged by the SS is hijacked and turned into a real one by Hitler's enemies, some of them inside the Nazi party (yes, he had them). It's the first book in a new trilogy. Where our first trilogy is set against the backdrop of Hitler's rise to power from 1929-1932, our second trilogy will take our heroes through the summer of 1934 and the "Night of the Long Knives" when Hitler rid himself of his enemies within the Nazi party and consolidated his power.



Keith Raffel has held a top secret clearance to watch over CIA activities and has founded an award-winning Internet software company. Steve Berry called Keith's latest book, Smasher: A Silicon Valley Thriller, "taut, tight, and suspenseful" and said it "skillfully carries the reader triumphantly from one climax to the next."


Thursday, August 19, 2010

ITW Social Media Committee welcomes volunteer, Stacey McShane!

Stacey will be working on the ITW Myspace and Debut Author's MySpace sites this year.


Stacey was asked to introduce herself so you can get to know her better, so here is a letter from Stacey! - S. English, Chair of ITW Social Media

Hello Fellow ITW members!

I am thrilled to be a part of ITW and look forward to the networking opportunities that bring us together as writers.  

I've recently volunteered for the Social Media Committee and Sheila asked me to introduce myself, so I will tell you a little about me. 

I live in Washington State and supervise a large 911 emergency dispatch center near Seattle.  When I am not working ridiculous hours, I am working on a thriller novel set in the Seattle area.   I am a voracious reader, which sometimes impinges on my writing since I have a really hard time putting down a good book.   I am married to a police officer and have two retired racing greyhounds to keep me company while I write.   For those of you needing to add some realism to the law enforcement or emergency response side of your writing, I am happy to answer questions and provide critique.  I have hundreds of law enforcement and firefighter contacts and if I can't answer your question, chances are I know someone, or can find someone who can.  

I am excited to be working on ITW's MySpace pages and I invite you to contact me if you have anything you would like to post specifically to MySpace or MySpace Debut Authors.  I can be reached via email at SLMcShane19(at)gmail.com.

Happy writing!
Stacey McShane

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

A ThrillerFest Blog by Jillian Abbott

If a successful thriller author were a character in a book, what words would you use to describe him or her? Is there a common thread in thriller authors’ journey to success? Is good writing enough?
Name the thriller/mystery/espionage/crime conference – Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, Crime Bake – and one thing is sure: I haven’t been to any of them. However, with one novel accepted for publication, but never published; a second falling though the gap when I changed agents; and another closing in on completion, now seemed like the time to answers those pressing questions, and ThrillerFest, with its all-star lineup, presented a likely source.

At the opening reception ThrillerFest revealed its character: young, dynamic, open to new faces and ideas, and rising. But I hadn’t come to analyze the conference, so I pressed on with my quest, stopping to chat to new and old friends, famous and not, readers, writers, and publishers.

On the way out I stumbled on Ken Follett, an entourage at his side, and a microphone in his face. He was hanging out with us, laughing, chatting and apparently delighted to make the acquaintance, and the day, of gushing fans like me. Charming. Generous.

The next day, trailblazing espionage writer and friend, Gayle Lynds, confirmed my suspicions about Follet, citing “sugar lips” as a key ingredient to success. For years Lynds published thrillers under male synonyms, work under her own name put on hold because, as the female president of a major publishing house put, “No woman could have written this book.” But Lynds persisted; Masquerade came out and quickly hit the best-seller list. Her tenacity paid off, and since then the awards and accolades have only grown. This piece is too short to list all Lynd’s acts of kindness and generosity, to me and other aspiring writers.

But back in 2005, Lynds had a run of luck that was all bad. Her step daughter fell into a coma following a serious accident and her husband died suddenly. Just one of these events might stop an ordinary mortal in their tracks, but Lynds keep up her stride, finishing The Book of Spies a month after Dennis’s death. Was that tenacity? Necessity? It was both, and it was more: larger-than-life heroism. The kind of quiet heroism that’s humbling.

Like looking up Allen Wyler, who I’d be working for on the ITW awards, and finding out about his staggering achievements. Orphaned as he approached college age, Wyler supported himself and went on to become an internationally renowned neurosurgeon, a best-selling thriller author and now he’s giving up his spare time to help foster other writers’ careers though the ITW awards. Tenacity, overcoming adversity, generosity, and larger-than-life heroism.

On the subway after day one my mind transformed the Hyatt into Mount Olympus and the authors, publishers, and agents stalking its halls, and meeting rooms became its Gods and Goddesses. ThrillerFest was a gathering of players, authors who were the best in the world at what has to be one of the toughest professions on the planet.

David Morrell won’t have heard of my hometown, Bendigo, situated a hundred miles inland from Melbourne, Australia, itself one of the most isolated western cities in the world. Although I read in the local paper that a boy who grew up 150 miles still further inland become a make-up artist for the movies and got to live in New York for a year, no one from Bendigo is famous.

But the people of Bendigo know David Morrell. Growing up, I can remember discussing what Rambo meant to America and to masculinity with my brother, a T.V./radio journalist and news anchor. The very idea that I would one day meet Morrell in person was about as likely to my teenage mind as abduction by aliens. And yet here I was, in the audience, having already met him, listening to his life story.

Describing himself as a mild mannered professor on the surface, a seething gangster underneath, Morrell’s journey to Mount Olympus was mind-boggling. As a child he had to sleep under his bed, his pillow over him to protect him from his step-father’s violence. Heart wrenching. To still be standing after such a childhood takes larger-than-life heroism.

And then there was Ken Follet. He wrote his first novel because his car broke down and he couldn’t afford to fix it. He needed 200 pounds, and his friend had just earned 200 pounds from writing a thriller. Full of generous, practical advice (If you have to tell your reader something that takes away from the drama and action keep it to a paragraph. If the story requires a conference between several characters, to keep your reader on board, you must make sure each character present has already been introduced in their own chapter.) And self depreciating, I had to constantly refer to the line of books arranged on the stage to remind myself that this quiet man was one of a handful. He attributed most of his success to luck, timing and necessity, although another glance at his works and I added hard work, persistence and genius.

When encapsulating these authors one phase came back time and again: larger-than-life heroism. Hearing these authors’ stories convinced me they’re able to create such larger-than-life heroes because they are themselves larger-than-life heroes. They pick themselves up from adversity, and through some mysterious combination of tenacity, hard work, generosity, persistence, sugar-lipped charm, necessity, luck, timing and genius they go on succeeding on a scale ordinary people can only dream of. It’s because of what they are that their leading men and women never give failure a second thought.

And so, dizzy from breathing the rarefied air on Mount Olympus, I headed home with a deeper understanding of what separated them up there from us down here, and hoped beyond hope that proximity to these Gods meant some, even if just a little bit of magic would rub off on me.

Jillian Abbott is a former Vice President of MWA/ New York chapter. She is the 2010 Hammett Award Reading Committee Chair and a Thriller Awards judge. She is working on an historical novel set in the 1850s gold rush in Bendigo, Australia.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The 2010 Thriller Awards

During a gala banquet and celebration held on Saturday, July 10 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, the International Thriller Writers announced the winners of the 2010 Thriller Awards.


They are:

Best Hard Cover Novel:
THE NEIGHBOR, Lisa Gardner

Best Paperback Original Novel:
THE COLDEST MILE, Tom Piccirilli

Best First Novel:
RUNNING FROM THE DEVIL, Jamie Freveletti

Best Short Story:
A STAB IN THE HEART, Twist Phelan


Also receiving special recognition during the ThrillerFest V Awards Banquet:

Ken Follett, ThrillerMaster
in recognition of his legendary career and outstanding contributions to the thriller genre

Mark Bowden, True Thriller Award

Linda Fairstein, Silver Bullet Award

US Airways, Silver Bullet Award (Corporate)


The board of directors and members of the International Thriller Writers wish to congratulates all the winners and nominees of the 2010 Thriller Awards.

Thrillerfest Saturday July 10th Schedule!!

THRILLERFEST SATURDAY, JULY 10, 2010 Registration 7:30 am - 11:00 am Awards Banquet Ticket Sales 5 pm - 6:45 pm, Ballroom Foyer Barnes & Noble Bookstore, open 9 am- 6 pm, Booth-Plymouth Room


ROOM : URIS/JILLIARD

8:00 am - 9:20 am BREAKFAST WITH 2009 SILVER BULLET AWARD WINNER BRAD MELTZER, THE DEBUT AUTHOR CLASS OF 2010: Introductions by Andrew Gross (Ballroom III),Graham Brown, Ryan Brown, Carla Buckley, Teresa Burrell, Pamela Callow, JJ Cooper, Reece Hirsch, Jeannie Holmes, Brett King, Sophie Littlefield, Boyd Morrison, Alan Orloff, Brad Parks, Sharon Potts, James Rubart, Stephen Jaw Schwartz, Norb Vonnegut

9:30 am - 10:20 am WILL YOU SIGN BRA?: Funny stories from the road - Doug M. Cummings, Panel Master, Linwood Barclay, Robert Dugoni, Heather Graham, Alan Jacobson, Jon Land, William Lashner

10:30 am- 11:50 am THRILLERMASTER PRESENTATION (Ballroom I)
2010 Thrillermaster Ken Follett, Interviewed by STeve Berry
2009 Thrillermaster David Morrell, Interviewed by Douglas Preston

11:50 pm - 12:20 pm ThrillerMasters Ken Follett, David Morrell, Sandra Brown, Clive Cussler; Debut Authors, and morning panelists will sign in the bookstore

12:45 pm - 2:15 pm AFTERNOON SOFT DRINKS Hosted by KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP. (Ballroom I Foyer)

12:15 pm - 1:00 pm BONUS SESSION 2 True Thriller Award Recipient Mark Bowden interviews by Peter James

1:00 pm - 1:50 pm Spotlight Guest Lisa Scottoline interviews by Jon Land (Ballroom I)

2:00 pm - 2:50 pm IS SCIENCE THRILLING?: Where thrillers and the scientific frontier meet - Hans Watford, Panel Master, Steve Alten, Lori Andrews, Karen Dionne, Michael Palmer, William B. Scott

3:00 pm - 3:50 pm HOW DO YOU CROSS CONTINENTS?: Thrillers in the International Market - David Hewson, Panel Master, R.J. Ellory, Sebastian Fitzek, Maria Gustafsson, Peter James, Camilla Lackberg

4:00 pm - 4:50 pm DO YOU ENJOY WRITING YOUR VILLAIN A LITTLE TOO MUCH? Steve James, Panel Master, Jay Brandon, Meg Gardiner, Gar Haywood, C.E. Lawrence, F. Paul Wilson

5:00 pm- 5:30 pm All authors from afternoon breakout session will sign inside bookstore

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm PRE-BANQUET COCKTAIL PARTY Hosted by OCEANVIEW PUBLISHING (Ballroom III & IV Foyer)

7:00 pm ITW 5th ANNUAL THRILLER AWARDS BANQUET (Ballroom III & IV)
2010 THRILLERMASTER KEN FOLLETT, Award Presented by 2009 ThrillerMaster DAVID MORRELL
2010 SILVER BULLET AWARD RECIPIENT LINDA FAIRSTEIN, Award presented by 2009 Silver Bullet Recipient Brad Meltzer
2010 True Thriller Award Recipient MARK BOWDEN
Presentation of THE THRILLER AWARDS
Table Win Serviced hosted by Tor/Forge

THRILLERMASTER AFTERPARTY Hosted by VANGUARD PRESS - Manhattan Ballroom



ROOM : BROADWAY

8:00 am - 9:20 am BREAKFAST WITH 2009 SILVER BULLET AWARD WINNER BRAD MELTZER, THE DEBUT AUTHOR CLASS OF 2010: Introductions by Andrew Gross (Ballroom III),Graham Brown, Ryan Brown, Carla Buckley, Teresa Burrell, Pamela Callow, JJ Cooper, Reece Hirsch, Jeannie Holmes, Brett King, Sophie Littlefield, Boyd Morrison, Alan Orloff, Brad Parks, Sharon Potts, James Rubart, Stephen Jaw Schwartz, Norb Vonnegut

9:30 am - 10:20 am IS YOUR HEROINE A BITCH? IS YOUR HERO A WIMP?: Where's the line between strong women and sensitive men? - Christine Kling, Panel Master, C.J. Carver, Stephen Coonts, Brandt Dodson, J.T. Ellison, Paul Kemprecos, Terry Watkins

10:30 am- 11:50 am THRILLERMASTER PRESENTATION (Ballroom I)
2010 Thrillermaster Ken Follett, Interviewed by STeve Berry
2009 Thrillermaster David Morrell, Interviewed by Douglas Preston

11:50 pm - 12:20 pm ThrillerMasters Ken Follett, David Morrell, Sandra Brown, Clive Cussler; Debut Authors, and morning panelists will sign in the bookstore

12:45 pm - 2:15 pm AFTERNOON SOFT DRINKS Hosted by KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP. (Ballroom I Foyer)

1:00 pm - 1:50 pm Spotlight Guest Lisa Scottoline interviews by Jon Land (Ballroom I)

2:00 pm - 2:50 pm WHERE ARE THE SECRETS OF THE LOST ART? Steve Berry, Panel Master, Glenn Cooper, Brian D'Amato, David Hewson, David Hosp, Raymond Khoury, M.J. Rose

3:00 pm - 3:50 pm WHAT IN GOD'S NAME ARE YOU DOING? Religion in thrillers - Katherine Neville, Panel Master, Kathleen O'Neal Gear, W. Michael Gear, Tom Grace, Tosca Lee, Joe Moore

4:00 pm - 4:50 pm WHO'S MORE THRILLING? Cop or Con? - Harry Hunsicker, Panel Master, Lorenzo Carcaterra, Steve Forman, Mark Greany, Matt Hilton, Paul Lindsay

5:00 pm- 5:30 pm All authors from afternoon breakout session will sign inside bookstore

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm PRE-BANQUET COCKTAIL PARTY Hosted by OCEANVIEW PUBLISHING (Ballroom III & IV Foyer)

7:00 pm ITW 5th ANNUAL THRILLER AWARDS BANQUET (Ballroom III & IV)
2010 THRILLERMASTER KEN FOLLETT, Award Presented by 2009 ThrillerMaster DAVID MORRELL
2010 SILVER BULLET AWARD RECIPIENT LINDA FAIRSTEIN, Award presented by 2009 Silver Bullet Recipient Brad Meltzer
2010 True Thriller Award Recipient MARK BOWDEN
Presentation of THE THRILLER AWARDS
Table Win Serviced hosted by Tor/Forge

THRILLERMASTER AFTERPARTY Hosted by VANGUARD PRESS - Manhattan Ballroom


ROOM : CARNEGIE/ALVIN

8:00 am - 9:20 am BREAKFAST WITH 2009 SILVER BULLET AWARD WINNER BRAD MELTZER, THE DEBUT AUTHOR CLASS OF 2010: Introductions by Andrew Gross (Ballroom III),Graham Brown, Ryan Brown, Carla Buckley, Teresa Burrell, Pamela Callow, JJ Cooper, Reece Hirsch, Jeannie Holmes, Brett King, Sophie Littlefield, Boyd Morrison, Alan Orloff, Brad Parks, Sharon Potts, James Rubart, Stephen Jaw Schwartz, Norb Vonnegut

9:30 am - 10:20 am DO JOURNALISTS THRILL? Mereditch Anthony, Panel Master, Clem Chambers, Lawrence Light, Rick Mofina, Milt Toby, Paula Tutman

10:30 am- 11:50 am THRILLERMASTER PRESENTATION (Ballroom I)
2010 Thrillermaster Ken Follett, Interviewed by STeve Berry
2009 Thrillermaster David Morrell, Interviewed by Douglas Preston

11:50 pm - 12:20 pm ThrillerMasters Ken Follett, David Morrell, Sandra Brown, Clive Cussler; Debut Authors, and morning panelists will sign in the bookstore

12:45 pm - 2:15 pm AFTERNOON SOFT DRINKS Hosted by KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP. (Ballroom I Foyer)

1:00 pm - 1:50 pm Spotlight Guest Lisa Scottoline interviews by Jon Land (Ballroom I)

2:00 pm - 2:50 pm WOULD YOU VOTE FOR THIS BOOK? Politics and thrillers - David Ellis, Panel Master, Karna Small Bodman, Don Helin, Casey Moreton, Keith Raffel, Rick Robinson

3:00 pm - 3:50 pm WAS SHAKESPEARE RIGHT? Should we kill all the lawyers? - Jamie Freveletty, Panel Master, Barry Broad, John Dobbyn, H. Terrell Griffin, Barbar Levenson, Steve Martini

4:00 pm - 4:50 pm IS HISTORY HISTORY? How vital is Subgenre? - Rebecca Cantrell, Panel Master, William Dietrich, David Liss, Laura Joh Rowland, Kelli Stanley, Charles Todd

5:00 pm- 5:30 pm All authors from afternoon breakout session will sign inside bookstore

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm PRE-BANQUET COCKTAIL PARTY Hosted by OCEANVIEW PUBLISHING (Ballroom III & IV Foyer)

7:00 pm ITW 5th ANNUAL THRILLER AWARDS BANQUET (Ballroom III & IV)
2010 THRILLERMASTER KEN FOLLETT, Award Presented by 2009 ThrillerMaster DAVID MORRELL
2010 SILVER BULLET AWARD RECIPIENT LINDA FAIRSTEIN, Award presented by 2009 Silver Bullet Recipient Brad Meltzer
2010 True Thriller Award Recipient MARK BOWDEN
Presentation of THE THRILLER AWARDS
Table Win Serviced hosted by Tor/Forge

THRILLERMASTER AFTERPARTY Hosted by VANGUARD PRESS - Manhattan Ballroom


ROOM : BALLROOM I

8:00 am - 9:20 am BREAKFAST WITH 2009 SILVER BULLET AWARD WINNER BRAD MELTZER, THE DEBUT AUTHOR CLASS OF 2010: Introductions by Andrew Gross (Ballroom III),Graham Brown, Ryan Brown, Carla Buckley, Teresa Burrell, Pamela Callow, JJ Cooper, Reece Hirsch, Jeannie Holmes, Brett King, Sophie Littlefield, Boyd Morrison, Alan Orloff, Brad Parks, Sharon Potts, James Rubart, Stephen Jaw Schwartz, Norb Vonnegut

9:30 am - 10:20 am WHAT ARE THE 100 MUST-READ THRILLERS? David Morrel Panel Master, Raymond Benson, Tess Gerritsen, Bob Gussin, John Lescroart, Michael Palmer, Hank Wagner

10:30 am- 11:50 am THRILLERMASTER PRESENTATION (Ballroom I)
2010 Thrillermaster Ken Follett, Interviewed by STeve Berry
2009 Thrillermaster David Morrell, Interviewed by Douglas Preston

11:50 pm - 12:20 pm ThrillerMasters Ken Follett, David Morrell, Sandra Brown, Clive Cussler; Debut Authors, and morning panelists will sign in the bookstore

12:45 pm - 2:15 pm AFTERNOON SOFT DRINKS Hosted by KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP. (Ballroom I Foyer)

12:15 pm - 1:00 pm BONUS SESSION 1 INSIDE THE THRILLERMASTERS MIND: A Q&A with Sandra Brown and Clive Cussler - hosted by Shane Gericke 

1:00 pm - 1:50 pm Spotlight Guest Lisa Scottoline interviews by Jon Land (Ballroom I)

2:00 pm - 2:50 pm WHATS LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? Andrew Gross, Panel Master, Anna DeStefano, Shane Gericke, Dianna Love, Jennifer St. Giles, Erica Spindler, Rebecca York

3:00 pm - 3:50 pm HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR CAREER A THRILLER? Jeff Ayers, Panel Master, Laura Caldwell, Stephen Coonts, Linda Fairstein, Joseph Finder, John Gilstrap, Chris Kuzneski

4:00 pm - 4:50 pm IS NON-FICTION MORE THRILLING? Douglas Preston, Panel Master, Sean Michael Brailey, Emily Benedek, William Bernhardt, Mark Bowden, W. Craig Reed, Kathleen Sharp

5:00 pm- 5:30 pm All authors from afternoon breakout session will sign inside bookstore

6:00 pm - 7:00 pm PRE-BANQUET COCKTAIL PARTY Hosted by OCEANVIEW PUBLISHING (Ballroom III & IV Foyer)

7:00 pm ITW 5th ANNUAL THRILLER AWARDS BANQUET (Ballroom III & IV)
2010 THRILLERMASTER KEN FOLLETT, Award Presented by 2009 ThrillerMaster DAVID MORRELL
2010 SILVER BULLET AWARD RECIPIENT LINDA FAIRSTEIN, Award presented by 2009 Silver Bullet Recipient Brad Meltzer
2010 True Thriller Award Recipient MARK BOWDEN
Presentation of THE THRILLER AWARDS
Table Win Serviced hosted by Tor/Forge

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sample the Thrill : Carnal Sin, by Allison Brennan

One of many great articles that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

I love research.

I think this love of research stems from my tendency to procrastinate. In school, I was really good at cramming at the last minute--back then, it was hitting the library the day before a major paper was due, reading everything I could on the subject, then writing all night. The last-minute projects inevitably garnered me a B+ or A- (which, had I spent more time researching, editing, and revising would have been an A--but we work we our natural talents, right?)

Last week I finished writing one book; this week I started the next. I realized real quick that my knowledge of modern private investigators was slim, and the books on my shelf were woefully outdated. The book I have on Missing Persons was printed in 1993--before Facebook, before MySpace, and before Google. Needless to say, useless.

I emailed a P.I. friend of mine asking for two books she'd recommend on modern P.I. techniques, and wondered if there was a P.I. ride-along program . . .

We are truly blessed writers to have so many resources at our fingertips. In the past twelve months, I've participated in two SWAT training exercises, toured the FBI Academy at Quantico, visited FBI Headquarters in D.C., toured Folsom State Prison (with fellow ITW author James Rollins), and took a second trip to the Sacramento County Morgue to learn how they preserve evidence. If you really twist my arm, I'll admit being a non-ambulatory victim during SWAT training was probably the most fun I've had in a long, long time . . . which shows you what a boring life I lead!

ITW members are also invaluable resources. I have all of Dr. D.P. Lyle's books--medical books for writers; author C.J. Lyons has answered my most arcane medical questions--even questions related to my supernatural thriller series; and former cop and forensic artist Robin Burcell is always available to answer questions about being a cop. One of my favorite research books on the paranormal is THE CRYPTOPEDIA, written by ITW member Jonathan Mayberry (and David Kramer).

Some people may think that research for a paranormal book is strange, but I believe that the only way to sell a reader on the world you're creating is to base it in a world you (and they) understand. My Seven Deadly Sins series is a supernatural thriller (or urban fantasy or paranormal romance--whatever marketing wants to call it is fine with me,) based in our modern world. I have demons released from Hell by an evil occult bent on finding the key to eternal youth. This is nothing new--for thousands of years, the hope of eternal youth (or eternal life) has been a part of most, if not all, religions. It was important to me to understand the basic foundations of this quest and then the darkest aspects of what it means. And it's hard to write a book about demons without understanding exorcisms, the old Catholic church, Judaism, and witchcraft, including black magic.

While the series itself is built on a paranormal premise, I wanted it to have enough "real world" facts to make it even scarier.

I think this is why monsters don't really scare me (psychotic clowns living in the sewer excluded), but serial killers terrify me. Real people who look normal, even attractive (Ted Bundy anyone?) but are down to their core evil.

What I loved about writing the Seven Deadly Sins books, most recently CARNAL SIN (Ballantine, July 2010), is merging my forensic and crime fiction research with my paranormal research.

For example, in my series the Seven Deadly Sins are released from Hell as incarnate demons. If they touch you, your conscience is stripped away and you act on your deadliest sin. I have a sheriff in the series who, while she has seen the paranormal at work, believes that there is a scientific--and logical--explanation as to why some people are infected by this demonic virus. She, with the medical examiner, are looking at the autopsies to give them answers, and discover (thanks to C.J. Lyons!) an enlarged amygdala, a primitive part of the brain with a role in processing memory and emotional responses.

I've learned (the hard way!) that less is more when writing about something I know very little about. So I took the basic scientific information about the amygdala and brainstem, then made up the idea that the demonic virus changed this, that this is in fact a physical "conscience" that when damaged changes the behavior of the victim--and they act out their worst sin, to deadly results.

Why? Because I needed something I could buy into. I had to believe it could happen, otherwise I'd never be able to convince my readers to suspend disbelief and believe in the story.

After writing two books in my supernatural thriller series, I'm writing two romantic thrillers--no demons in sight (except for the very human evil that my protagonists face.)

Looking at my bookshelves, I realized I have nearly as many paranormal research books as I do forensic and crime research books. But nothing compares to on-hands research: shooting at the gun range with the FBI firearms instructor; "bleeding" during SWAT training that seemed so real my heart raced when the men in black came in with guns; being cuffed during a scenario, down on the ground, and immobile while the tactical team cleared a building.

Real people do this all the time with real bullets, real blood, and real bad guys. I don't. I just write about them. But the research trips have helped me, a boring mom of five who quit her equally boring job in the California State Legislature to write, tell stories with more confidence and truth.

I just hope I don't have to face a real demon--or a real bad guy--to write about them convincingly.

Allison Brennan is a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of fourteen books and four short stories, including Killing Fear, Sudden Death, Original Sin, and her latest release, the supernatural thriller Carnal Sin. She's also a contributor to "100 Must Read Thrillers" with her essay on Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca." Married with five children, she lives in northern California and is currently writing--and researching--book two in her Lucy Kincaid romantic thriller series which launches in January of 2011 with "Love Me to Death." Visit her at allisonbrennan.com or check out her Seven Deadly Sins series at sevendeadlysinsbooks.com.


Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!