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, January 29, 2010

Sleep No more by Susan Crandall - Sampling the Thrill

One of many great interviews with authors that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

In Sleep No More, Susan Crandall has crafted another suspenseful, intriguing romantic suspense epic. Imagine that you are a psychiatrist in a small South Carolina town, just escaped from a marriage to an alcoholic wife with a range of problems beyond your ability to control or cope with. Into your life comes an alluring woman who has innocently stepped into a nest of figurative vipers.

The night was always Abby Whitman's enemy. As a young girl she walked in her sleep, and one night, started a fire that scarred her sister for life and left Abby with unbearable guilt, and a loneliness that echoes within her.

Now Abby has begun blacking out again--with apparently fatal results. A car accident has killed the son of a prominent family. Even though the evidence seems to exonerate her, Abby is plagued by doubts--and soon by mysterious threats. A young psychiatrist, Dr. Jason Coble, is intrigued by Abby and offers to help her explore the dark recesses in her mind. Through this terrifying journey, Jason's interest turns to passion, and he yearns to give her the love she craves. But first, Abby must trust him--and shed light on secrets that will rock this Southern town and reveal a danger that threatens them both.

Sleep No More flows with rhythmic cadence, as the reader becomes immersed in the emotions of the Abby and Jason and the suspense of the fraud threatening to dispose of them before their love can ripen. This is a page-turner that demands your attention. Each of the twists and turns in the story, and the interconnections of the characters, draws you deeper into the story as it plays out on the original manor grounds, including family cemetery and lifeline of the river.

Congratulations Susan on another masterpiece!

I enjoyed reading Sleep No More, and asked Susan a few questions:

What do your find exciting?

I am a pretty calm person. I like excitement to come from vicarious experiences. I like suspense and mystery, which is why I write. In my writing, the suspense is personal to the characters, not police procedure. I am fascinated by what can happen to normal people. As writers, we can find the source materials for stories in the morning paper.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what one book would you like to have with you and why?

Diane Gabaldon's Outlander. I love her characters.

Romantic Times Book Review says Sleep No More is "A good cozy mystery wrapped in a solid romance... both an easy and riveting read."

You can read more about Susan and her books on her website.

Cym Lowell is an aspiring thriller writer. His next novel is in the hands of his agent (Brenden Daneen of Fineprint Literary in New York) and on its way to publishers. Cym is also an international tax lawyer with expertise in cross-border money movement, and a shelf full of professional treatises on these scintillating subjects.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Shattered by Joan Johnston - Sampling the Thrill

One of many great interviews with authors that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

Four Lives--Two Great Loves--Every Expectation Shattered. In Joan Johnston's new novel,
nine years ago Kate Grayhawk Pendleton walked into alleged killer Wyatt Shaw's life-and out of it again the next morning. Now Wyatt's back--and
has the power to shatter Kate's future with the man she loves.

"Johnston's characters struggle against seriously deranged foes and fac seeming
insourmountable obstacles to true love." BOOKLIST

"Johnston rivets the reader." Bookreporter.com

Joan Johnston is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of forty-nine novels and novellas with more than ten million copies of her books in print. Joan has been a director of theatre, drama critic, newspaper editor, college professor and attorney on her way to becoming a full-time writer. She has also raised two fairly normal children. Joan lives in Florida and Colorado

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Watchlist: A Serial Thriller by Jeffery Deaver - Sample the Thrill

One of many great interviews with authors that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

Imagine a literary jam session with 22 of your favorite masters of pulse-pounding fiction and you have WATCHLIST: Two Serial Thrillers in One Killer Book. Jeffrey Deaver conceived of the characters and put the plot into motion and Jim Fusilli leant a sharp editorial eye, finely orchestrating this chorus of suspense that includes such top writers as Lee Child, Joseph Finder, Lisa Scottoline, Gayle Lynds, P.J. Parrish and many others. Dramatic tension ties the novellas together as each thriller titan leads the reader down dark alleys and around blind corners, saving the fireworks for the climactic endings, also crafted by Jeffrey Deaver.

The Chopin Manuscript, the original unique collaboration by 15 of the world's greatest thriller writers launched the project. It introduces former war crimes investigator Harold Middleton, who is unaware that a forgotten work by Chopin in his possession contains a dark secret within its handwritten notes. His race to uncover the secret is obstructed by federal agents, assassins and a mysterious figure from the past known only as Faust.

Following closely on the gumshoe heals of The Chopin Manuscript, Harold Middleton returns in the explosive sequel, The Copper Bracelet. Suspense builds layer by layer as each deft teller of tales shifts the action by adding unexpected twists. Beginning with a day at the beach where all is not what it seems, an international terror plot sends Middleton careening from Nice to Moscow to Kashmir as he seeks to prevent nuclear war between India and Pakistan and the start of World War III.

This two-fisted tome has the chills, breakneck pacing, and diabolical switchbacks that thriller lovers have come to expect. Reading into the wee, small hours is practically guaranteed.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Impact, by Douglas Preston - Sampling the Thrill

One of many great interviews with authors that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

Perhaps best known for his collaborations with Lincoln Child, Douglas Preston is also the author of a series of bestselling thrillers that he writes by himself. His latest one, Impact, begins with an amateur astronomer watching a meteorite fall off the coast of Maine and deciding to try and find it on one of the barrier islands. Throw in Preston's recurring character, Wyman Ford, hired by the government to travel to Cambodia in search of some apparently not-from-earth gemstones, and you have all the makings of another fascinating thriller.

Preston pulls his ideas from disparate sources. "I got the idea many years ago when I was listening to an NPR report about the U.S.'s worldwide network of seismic sensors." They were mostly used to test for clandestine nuclear bomb tests; about twenty years ago they picked up the seismic signature of what looked like a nuclear test in the Australian Outback. "The interesting thing about the seismic signature of a nuclear test is it looks a lot like a meteorite impact." They didn't find anything, but what made everyone nervous at the time was that the site of the seismic event took place on an enormous ranch owned by the Aum Shinrikyo cult best known for releasing sarin gas on the Tokyo subway.Preston took that idea and combined it with a story he'd read in Scientific Americanabout "two unusual seismic events in late 2001 or early 2002. It appeared to scientists that it might have been caused by a particle striking the earth, passing through it, and coming out the other side. They thought this particle might be what is called a 'strangelet' or strange matter, or quark matter--a very strange kind of matter."

In addition, Preston had traveled to Cambodia in the 1990s for a story for National Geographic in search of undiscovered temples that had been uncovered by foliage-penetrating radar on the space shuttle. "I went along, but the problem was, the temple was in Khmer Rouge-held territory. Not only was it very difficult to get to--there were no roads or anything like that--but we had to bring an army with us. It was very exciting."

When asked how his writing process is different when writing novels by himself versus his collaborations with Lincoln Child, Preston says, "It's very different. It's a much lonelier process. As a writer you feel kind of isolated, you have no one to bounce ideas off, really; you are unsure whether you're going in the right direction or not. I would say it's stressful and lonely, but at the same time it's rewarding because it's your own work, for better or worse."

But fear not, Preston/Child fans, the next collaboration featuring Special Agent Pendergast, Fever Dream, is scheduled for May 11, 2010. Of their partnership, Preston says, "Of course, Linc and I complain together. We complain about everything and we congratulate ourselves on what fine fellows we are. It's nice to have a partnership like that."

He described their mutual process as basically one person writing something, then the other person saying how bad it is, then the two of them getting into fights until the publisher demands the manuscript. "When he calls me up and says this chapter really sucks, after I cool off and stop telling him what an idiot he is, I think, this is why we have a writing partnership, to speak the truth to each other. He rewrites and makes me furious, and I rewrite him, and that makes him furious. So he rewrites me and we go back and forth like that getting madder and madder at each other until the publisher starts demanding the manuscript. But for some reason that process works. We end up with something that's better than each of us could have written solo."
To which this writer says, "Mmmmm, maybe." Because both writers' solo novels are awfully damned good. And Impact will demonstrate that, no doubt.

Mark Terry is the author of the Derek Stillwater thriller series. His newest thriller, THE SERPENT'S KISS, is available in stores and online.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Celebrate Craft! - It's in the Details

Celebrate Craft: from the blog of Kathryn Johnson, Write by You

What turns words on a page into a vivid scene? What magic do some authors perform that convinces readers a story is real and characters are people they might actually run into on the street?

Details do the trick!

Does that seem too simple an answer? Common sense or not, it's one element of fiction that is so often overlooked that editors and agents declare it's one of the most frequent reasons they turn down manuscripts. Yet this is such an easy problem for writers to fix, if they are just aware of it.

The trouble begins when the author—you, me, anyone regardless of experience—envisions their story and characters. To us, as creators, the people leap from our imagination with fully developed personalities. Our settings glow in our minds, complete with flora, fauna, and furniture! We "see" each scene as complete even as we polish our final draft, working on dialogue, plot, pacing, character development and consistency.

But what does the reader see? Only what we put on the page. Therefore, it's important to weave in enough physical details for the reader to work with in her own imagination, allowing her to come up with a fictional world that is, if not exactly the same as the one we envision when we wrote the scene, at least similar and as vivid in its own way. Stories that take place in a muddy void aren't convincing. Stories that give us only generic details—flowers instead of iris, roses, and lilacs; buildings instead of chic condos, Georgian mansions, or mud-daub huts—leave the reader unconvinced that this world on the page actually exists.

Some writers shy away from using the most obvious details—locations that are available to anyone who walks through a specific city or town. Is it fair game to set a scene in the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan, to fly on U.S. Air, to allow your characters to stroll down Connecticut Avenue in D.C. or work for the World Bank? Absolutely. In fact, a sense of recognition plays a very strong role in making your story come to life. A good general rule is: as long as you're not saying anything libelous about a business or place, you're safe.

Take the time to play with details in your story, adding just enough to bring your scenes and characters fully to life. Coloring your story brings it from tonal grays to vibrant color…and may make the difference between a near miss and an offer on your next book. Happy Writing! --Kathryn

You can celebrate craft with us at CraftFest in New York in July!