Interview with Rebecca Cantrell & The Joe Tesla Thrillers




Welcome Rebecca!


Rebecca Cantrell’s Hannah Vogel mystery/thriller novels have won the Bruce Alexander and Macavity awards and been nominated for the Barry and RT Reviewers Choice awards; her critically-acclaimed cell phone novel, iDrakula, was nominated for the APPY award and listed on Booklist’s Top 10 Horror Fiction for Youth. She and her husband and son just left Hawaii’s sunny shores for adventures in Berlin. Find Rebecca Cantrell on Facebook, Twitter, and at

Story behind the stories…

A few years ago Rebecca Cantrell quit her job, sold her house, and moved to Hawaii to write a novel because, at seven, she decided that she would be a writer. She writes the Hannah Vogel mystery series set in Berlin in the 1930s, including A Trace of Smoke, A Night of Long Knives, A Game of Lies, and A City of Broken Glass.

She also writes the Order of the Sanguines series with New York Times bestselling thriller author James Rollins. The first in the series, The Blood Gospel, will appear in January 2013.

A faded pink triangle pasted on the wall of Dachau Concentration Camp and time in Berlin, Germany in the 1980s inspired the Hannah Vogel series. Fluent in German, she received her high school diploma from the John F. Kennedy Schule in Berlin and studied at the Freie Universität in Berlin and the Georg August Universität in Göttingen before graduating from Carnegie Mellon University.

When she visited Berlin in the summer of 2006, she was astounded to discover that many locations in her novel have been rebuilt and reopened in the last few years, including the gay bar El Dorado and the Mosse House publishing house.

Her short stories have appeared in the Missing and First Thrills anthologies.

Her screenplays The Humanitarian and A Taste for Blood were finalists at Shriekfest: The Los Angeles Horror/Sci-fi Film Festival.

As of this writing, she and her family just moved to Berlin to spend more time in Hannah’s world.








***Winner of International Thriller Writers’s Best Ebook Original Novel award!*** Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell drops you into a vast, dark world: 100 miles of living, breathing, tunnels that is the New York City underground. This subterranean labyrinth inhales three million bustling commuters every day. And every day, it breathes them all out again… except for one. Software millionaire Joe Tesla is set to ring the bell on Wall Street the morning his company goes public. On what should be the brightest day in his life, he is instead struck with severe agoraphobia. The sudden dread of the outside is so debilitating, he can’t leave his hotel at Grand Central Terminal, except to go underground. Bad luck for Joe, because in the tunnels lurk corpses and murderers, an underground Victorian mansion and a mysterious bricked-up 1940s presidential train car. Joe and his service dog, Edison, find themselves pursued by villains and police alike, their only salvation now is to unearth the mystery that started it all, a deadly, contagious madness on the brink of escaping The World Beneath.






My Rating









You’re going to love Joe Tesla! A brilliant programmer and millionaire debilitated by agoraphobia, a fear of crowds and public places. Throughout his journey to discover the truth about a hidden presidential train car hidden in the depths of New York’s tunnels, you’ll see his flaws and his strengths. Accompanied by his faithful dog Edison, they embark on a journey to discover the truth that might cost them their lives.

I found Joe to be a very compelling character. The mysterious settings and circumstances make this an intriguing adventure. I actually missed him when it was over. Can’t wait to read the next book in the series!


  • Characters 10/10
  • Story 10/10
  • Settings 10/10
  • Mystery 10/10
  • Emotional Resonance 9/10
  • Antagonist 8/10
  • Resolution 10/10




What happened at 7 years old that you wanted to be a writer?

That is when I realized that books had authors and that authors were people. I decided that I had my own stories to tell, and I’d better get cracking.

We’re glad you did!

Who were your early influences? 

That’s a tough question. I read voraciously as a kid, teenager, and young adult. I’ve slowed down some now that I’m writing so much, but I still read a couple of books a week. I go through phases. During my horror phase I read a lot of Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice. During my thriller phase I read a lot of Edgar winners, Michael Crichton, James Rollins, Lee Child. Right now I’m in a memoir phase and am reading The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald, and On the Move by Oliver Sacks.

Wow. Great group of authors. I’ll have to interview you regarding your voracious reading experience sometime. 

Which books or characters helped shape you into being who you are today?

Again, hard to say. I loved The Outsiders by SE Hinton and was thrilled to learn she wrote that book as a teenager. All those listed above, plus a thousand more. My influences change from week to week.

Very true. We’re a composition of positive influences.

What led you to Germany?

I made a bet with a friend. He applied to an exchange program in Japan and I applied for one in Germany.  I won and went. It was night and day from my little Alaskan town of Talkeetna to Berlin, Germany during the Cold War.

Oh cool! I didn’t know you grew up in Alaska. From there to Germany is quite a change. 




Glacier and beautiful nature of Alaska




















Do you have any favorite German books or Authors?

The first book I read in German was Die Unendliche Geshichte by Michael Ende (The Neverending Story), which I loved. Then Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo by Christiane F (Christiane F.: Autobiography of a Girl of the Streets and Heroin Addict). I read a lot of Christa Wolf before the wall came down. I love Hans Fallada and also lots of Weimar autobigraphers like Bella Fromm, Count Harry Kessler, and Victor Klemperer.

The Neverending Story! I saw the movie and loved it. 

What was your occupation before becoming a full time writer?

I was a full time technical writer writing about relational and multidimensional databases and Java for Sybase, Sun Microsystems and other companies that were all acquired by Oracle. Plus marketing stuff.

That definitely sounds pretty technical. 

What was the breaking point to quitting your job and pursuing writing?

I still do some tech writing now and then to keep my hand in and because I like thinking that way.

Great way to keep up your skills too. 

Which series has been the most fun to write?

They’re all fun in different ways. The funniest one was the easiest, so that’d be the Sofia Salgado series with Sean Black (A is for Actress, B is for Bad Girls, etc.).

I can’t wait to read these too. Haven’t read much comedy so it should be fun.

What’s your writing process like?

Sit in chair. Write words. Keep doing that. Beyond that I have weird process whereby I outline, write, discover the outline is wrong, revise the outline, write more and then keep on repeating that until the book is done. I don’t recommend that anyone do it that way.

I always find the writing process very interesting. Everyone is so different in their approach. 

What was it like writing a series with James Rollins?

Fun! He’s a talented writer and a funny guy, so we had a blast following vampires around the world.

Awesomesauce! Tell him I said hi. He he….The series The Order of Sanguines looks so mesmerizing!

What are you working on next?

I’m finishing up the next Joe Tesla book, The Steel Shark, and then I’ll be moving on to another collaboration but I can’t give any details out about it.

TESLA. YES. More Joe, please. That’s my buddy. Keep us posted on Steel Shark. Happy writing!

Connect with Rebecca Cantrell

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