Luci de Foix is an archeologist and artifact expert who travels extensively to country’s attempt to save their priceless treasures. On a trip to Greece, she discovers a clay shard with writings from an ancient society that disappeared during an earthquake on their island of Helike. When her best friend and adopted sister, Sarah, is kidnapped by a ruthless Russian oligarch determined to find the legendary treasure of Helike, they struggle to survive against terrifying odds, only to discover a secret that governments will kill for…even her own.
As a kid, I grew up in Inglewood, California, my mom worked as a waitress, my dad had left and we were very poor, so poor that the leftovers from others at the restaurant were given to us for food. It was a nice restaurant so we really did get pretty terrific food. This left me with my mom gone, hours to write. I was left alone most nights and for me, writing became an escape. I could be anyone, a wealthy person, an artist, or an actress. It was all in my imagination and I had big dreams.
Who has informed your writing the most over the years?
As a child, I read everything that my school library had in biographies. Women that were courageous, women of science, women who made a difference in other’s lives.
Can you tell us a little about archeologist Luci De Foix?
Luci de Foix was placed in an orphanage after her parent’s death. Little did she know that there was a group of men, The Order, that had been watching her family for hundreds of years, waiting for the opportunity to acquire a very important codex.
What is the relationship like between Luci and Sarah?
Luci met Sarah at the orphanage, two lonely little girls who found one another, helped each other, protected one another. Luci’s grandparents who lived in France, finally found Luci and came to take her home. They saw the friendship between Luci and Sarah and didn’t want to tear them away from each other, after many months, Sarah was adopted and came to live with Luci and her grandparents
What are they up against in Death Is an Illusion?
Sarah became an expert in computer science and was on a scientific expedition in Greece where the group came across evidence of an island that had long been forgotten, Helike. Some of the people survived and made they’re way across oceans to South America carrying with them a very special plant that could heal the sick forever. Many people that were on that expedition told others, namely the Russians who were out to acquire that plant. Sarah flew home to have Luci come with her to Greece and read shards of pottery pinpointing the location of the lost tribe of the Helike’s.
What are some interesting facts you discovered in your research?
Something I discovered in a BBC magazine was that there was an island, Helike that was destroyed by a volcano and a tsunami. Aristotle believed that this was Atlantis. Something that all of us know is that there are many plants in S America with healing properties, the land is being destroyed by loggers and others. Soon there will be no plants to help us as a people.
Have you ever been to Greece?
I’ve never been to Greece, had a missed opportunity on a sailboat. Maybe one day, I’d like to see what they’ve found of Helike.
What’s next for you?
A continuation of the adventures of Luci de Foix. I wrote her first book, The Black Madonna: A Popes Deadly Obsession, and I would like her and her friends to find the book John Dees was writing about Angels. His delving into alchemy and gold. That should be a fun mix.
About L Lee Kane
Linda L. Kane MA in Education, PPS, School Psychologist, and Learning Disability Specialist, is the author of Death on the Vine, Chilled to the Bones, Death Among Us, Non-Fiction with Nina Amir, The Black Madonna, A Popes Deadly Obsession, The Sorceress, and Death is Only An Illusion. She has written several children’s books, including Clyde to the Rescue, Matty’s Adventures in Numberland, Cowboy Jack and Buddy Save Santa, Katerina Ballerina, and Witch Number is Which. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and eight horses in California. Writers’ Associations: Sisters in Crime. The Open Book, A Novel Idea, 2nd Chance Romance, Make Mine Mystery, The Mystery Reader, Romance Writers, and Writer Unboxed. Articles written: Kings River Life, Make Mine Mystery, Woodward Lake Magazine, Audere, Master University with Nina Amir, and Dark Rose. Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and Youtube.
A detective and FBI agent join forces on what seems like an open-and-shut case—but a new rash of killings sends them on a pulse-pounding race against time in this intense thriller.
Michael and Megan Fitzgerald are siblings who share a terrifying past. Both adopted, and now grown—Michael is a long-haul truck driver, Megan a college student majoring in psychology—they trust each other before anyone else. They’ve had to. Their parents are public intellectuals, an Ivy League clinical psychologist and a renowned psychiatrist, and they brought up their adopted children in a rarefied, experimental environment. It sheltered them from the world’s harsh realities, but it also forced secrets upon them, secrets they keep at all costs.
In Los Angeles, Detective Garrett Dobbs and FBI Agent Jessica Gimble have joined forces to work a murder that seems like a dead cinch. Their chief suspect is quickly identified and apprehended –but then there’s another killing just like the one they’ve been investigating. And another. And not just in Los Angeles—the spree spreads across the country. The Fitzgerald family comes to the investigators’ attention, but Dobbs and Gimble are at a loss—if one of the four is involved, which Fitzgerald might it be?
From coastal California to upstate New York, Dobbs and Gimble race against time and across state lines to stop an ingenious and deeply deranged killer—one whose dark and twisted appetites put them outside the range of logic or experience.
This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time! I mean, it begins with a BANG. And. Does. Not. Let. Up. The Coast to Coast Murders has a great hook to suck the reader deeply into the story. Michael Fitzgerald, has quite a surprise when he returns home from work, when he discovers an unknown woman in his bathtub. Dead. Except he has no idea how she got there! I loved the story concept behind this, plot, characters, villains, detectives and F.B.I. law enforcement officials. What a wild goose chase. James Patterson and J.D. Barker form quite a duo! Highly recommended.
James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author and most trusted storyteller. He has created more enduring fictional characters than any other novelist writing today, with his Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women’s Murder Club, Private, NYPD Red, Daniel X, Maximum Ride, and Middle School series. He has sold over 380 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. In addition to writing the thriller novels for which he is best known, among them The President Is Missing with President Bill Clinton, Patterson also writes fiction for young readers of all ages, including the Max Einstein series, produced in partnership with the Albert Einstein Estate. He is also the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on the New York Times adult and children’s bestseller lists.
J.D. Barker is the New York Times and international best-selling author of numerous novels, including DRACUL and THE FOURTH MONKEY. His latest, SHE HAS A BROKEN THING WHERE HER HEART SHOULD BE, released March 31. He is currently collaborating with James Patterson. His books have been translated into two dozen languages, sold in more than 150 countries, and optioned for both film and television. Barker resides in coastal New Hampshire with his wife, Dayna, and their daughter, Ember.
An exquisitely written and nuanced biography of an exceptional individual and writer who has created the # 1 international bestselling hero Jack Reacher, revered by dedicated and loyal readers worldwide.
Lee Child has a great public persona: he is gracious and generous with readers and fans. But Jim Grant is a reticent and very private man.
This rags-to-riches literary and social biography is based principally on disarmingly frank personal conversations and correspondence with the author since 2016 and privileged access to archival materials. It consists almost entirely of original material, and is the nearest thing the world is likely to get to the autobiography he does not intend to write.
There are a handful of great Lee Child/Reacher stories that have been recycled over and over again. They are so good that no one has bothered to look beyond them. This book revisits (and sometimes revises) those irresistible stories, but goes back further and digs deeper. The emphasis on chronology, accuracy and specificity is unprecedented.
The Lee Child origin myth is much loved. But mostly it sees him springing fully formed from the brow of Granada Television. There are glancing references to Aston Villa and the schoolyard, but no one has examined the social and historical detail or looked closely at where Lee really came from: the people, places and period.
This is the first time someone has described the Lee Child arc: from peaceful obscurity in the Yorkshire Dales and Upstate New York to cult figure, no. 1 in America, rock star, celebrity and publishing institution through to backlash, the changing zeitgeist, and intimations of retirement. The analysis of the emotional power and significance of Lee’s work in the final chapters—the themes of happiness, addiction, dependency, loneliness, and existential absurdity—and the first-hand retrospective accounts of his life and second-act career are all exclusive to this definitive biography.
Family. I was lucky. I clearly remember my father reading aloud to me at bedtime: The Wind in the Willows, The Magic Pudding, The Way of the Whirlwind, the highly coloured bush poetry of Henry Lawson. He sang a lot of songs to me, too, which are little stories in themselves. His parents had a houseful of books, including all the popular series of the day: the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, My Naughty Little Sister, What Katy Did, Anne of Green Gables. I would sit on the floor with our dog, reading, or take a book and disappear up the mulberry tree. This was in West Australia, not England where I live now!
What was your first impression of Lee Child after reading his books for the first time?
I had no impression of Lee Child after reading his books for the first time. I gave the writer no thought at all. It was Reacher who filled my mind. When I finished one Reacher book, all I thought about was where I was going to find the next one. Which Lee would entirely approve of. I only really started to think about the writer after I met the man. It was only then that my attention was drawn explicitly to the skill of his writing. But I suspect my willingness to submit to the power of the story without stopping to think where it came from (this despite my professional background in literary criticism) is itself testament to that skill. Very quickly, however, the writer became even more interesting to me than his creation – as the origin of Reacher, because he contained Reacher within him, but also in many ways exceeded him.
What fascinates you about why people love telling and hearing stories?
I notice you’ve adopted Lee’s preferred terminology, of ‘telling’ and ‘hearing’, which emphasises the aural, which reminds us that in one form or other storytelling goes right back to the beginning of human history, back before the invention of writing. I find his view compelling: that stories were, and remain, important because they encourage, embolden and empower us, by allowing us to see the world in new ways and glimpse new possibilities – different plot lines and alternative endings, if you like. An effective story takes us out of ourselves for the duration of our reading – like a song does, but for longer – while also inviting an intense connection, through empathy or identification, with the characters, and beyond them, even if we don’t realise it, the writer. For better or worse, we escape our own lives and live instead in the world of the book.
What do you appreciate about the way Lee Child tells a story?
Another big question! Presumably the fact that it feels like someone’s ‘telling’ me the story! What is commonly referred to as narrative ‘voice’. His voice has an effortless quality to it, which is down to his acute sense of rhythm and timing. But the appearance of effortlessness tends to be an effect of great artistry – the accomplishment of someone who is master of his craft. And mixed in with those musical qualities you have the sweeping historical vision, the unique mix of humour and pathos, and plenty of painterly and poetic touches too, especially in the depiction of weather and the evocation of landscape. I’m always surprised by the range and rhetoric of Lee’s discourse, and his idiosyncratic turn of phrase in both speech and writing. Contrary to popular opinion, I think his voice, while very distinctive, is almost impossible to imitate without lapsing into parody.
What was your initial reaction when Lee Child asked you to write his biography?
It wasn’t really like that. He never outright asked me. It was more an agreement we reached over the course of a long conversation. Whenever we met, which at first was a purely social thing, he would tell me stories about his life growing up in the Midlands, which was very different to mine growing up on the west coast of Australia. It was the same when we corresponded. I loved those stories in miniature, that teased and tantalised and left me wanting more. I guess I was always asking questions, with one question leading inexorably to the next, a form of research that was entirely organic, but when the idea of a biography took hold it proved impossible to shake off. It felt to me like the book I was meant to write, and I think Lee, in his empathetic way, sensed that too. But to be given formal permission to go ahead? That was a thrilling moment, and that’s for damn sure!
What was it like working with him?
Pure unalloyed pleasure. Because of the situation I’ve just described – the ongoing conversation. And we got to meet up in all sorts of places, many of them new to me. I’d try to catch him on the wing in the UK whenever I could, and then I had the great good fortune of spending a year in New York, which made it easier to fit in with his crazy schedule. It was there I did most of the writing, and had the chance to look through family photos, which was so illuminating. He was very generous with his time, and remarkably non-interventionist. Maybe I was just good at self-censorship, but despite this being an authorised biography there were very few things he asked me not to write. He never tried to tell me how to do things, but simply encouraged me to follow my own storytelling instinct. So yes, emboldening and empowering, without a doubt!
What were some of the challenges of writing?
The biggest challenge was structure. I wanted to tell the story in a broadly chronological way (and I did), but there was no escaping Reacher from page one. It was immediately obvious that anyone reading the book would already know that Lee Child was the author of a bestselling series, so to wait until his thirty-ninth year before introducing Reacher would be absurd. Instead I found myself telling the stories of Lee Child, Jack Reacher and Jim Grant (who created them both) all at once. But I tried not to overthink it. I just let Reacher pop up where the narrative journey took him, as is the case in the novels. And I conceived of each chapter as a self-contained story, governed by a single moment or idea or image, which I think helps the reader too. It’s a big book, but that approach makes it easy to dip in and out. If you were to ask Lee the same question, he would say the biggest problem was that of memory – how individual it is, and how different people often have differing recollections of the same event.
After writing his biography, how has your view of storytelling, the works of Lee Child, and his craft changed?
Though all the words remain exactly the same, his books resonate with me now on a more personal level. And even as he has so spectacularly escaped his origins, as was always his wish, I see that his loyalty to the Midlands remains as fierce as ever. We’ve had some fascinating conversations since The Reacher Guy was published at the end of September, mostly in the context of all the brilliant digital festivals we’ve done in lieu of our planned live events (postponed, circumstances permitting, to next year). Reading the story of his own life has given even Lee new perspective on it, and brought certain moments and experiences more sharply into focus. At the same time, we’ve both become more conscious of the overlap between fiction and creative non-fiction – two variations on the storytelling theme.
Lee Child comments: “I met Heather Martin some years ago, and we started talking about why people love telling and hearing stories. To get more depth and detail we started talking about why I do. Eventually I said, ‘If you want to really get to the bottom of it, you’re going to have to write my biography.’ So she did. It was a fun and illuminating process. I had forgotten a lot, and it was fascinating to be reminded. Now it all makes sense.”
An insomnia pandemic is sweeping the globe, leaving people unable to function and society on the brink of collapse…
Dr. Cooper Delaney believes he has the answer: Noctural, a new sleep-aid—one with absolutely no side-effects—which in early testing shows 100% effectiveness.
The only problem is, it doesn’t work. With no warning. No explanation.
Unable to accept the drug’s inexplicable failure and unwilling to concede to the competition, lines are crossed, ethical boundaries are pushed to the breaking point, and disturbing realizations come to light that could completely unravel civilization as we know it… and throw into question humanity’s place in the universe.
A jetset medical thriller meets sci-fi adventure with an unforgettable cast of characters, Percivious Insomnia presents an alternate history so compelling that it could possibly be true. The first book in the Percivious Trilogy from husband-wife author duo JJ Cook & AJ Cook, MD, Percivious Insomnia sets a unique and original course for fiction of the future, and paints a timely, prescient portrait of today’s globalized society… and what may exist beyond the realm of our current understanding.
Behind the plot of Percivious Insomnia was a singular idea or more specifically a question. What would happen if someone or something could exploit your sleep hours for their own benefit? This question blossomed in a separate direction for each of us, likely from the beginning. For AJ Cook, the story was based in science fiction and for JJ Cook it involved exploring an idea never considered before and how it would impact people individually and society as a whole. In the first chapter the reader meets Dr. Cooper Delaney, a talented star at a leading pharmaceutical company. His place at the beginning of the novel is critical and his role is what fostered our first discussions about the storyline. What was at first a collection of ideas captured on paper, eventually became sentences, which were then fashioned into paragraphs, chapters and finally the novel itself.
Medical research is at the heart of the novel. AJ Cook’s expertise brought plausible medical science to life in what would otherwise be a story of strictly fiction. Both of us are life-long learners, always curious about the why behind the what, and the depth of the characters echoes this sentiment throughout this first book in the trilogy. Elements of science were added specifically to provide believable explanations for key elements such as the description of our ancient humanoid cousins as well as the plateau of our own evolution referred to as human pinnacle theory in the novel. As the story unfolded, the science gathered through our research continually lead and supported the story to the point where it became eerie as we found ourselves launching a novel about a pandemic in the midst of a real one.
Writing with a spouse, quite literally, is a double-edged sword; pushing for the very best from each other and simultaneously disagreeing about major facets of the plot certainly make for an interesting dialogue on many nights. What keeps us balanced is a genuine love for this story, the anticipation of where it will lead next and the exhilaration we both experience when making breakthroughs with the plot, the characters and the marriage of science and fiction. Nothing is more rewarding than creating paragraphs that scream to be believed despite not being true. Authoring something that could be possible is second only to writing those few sentences that refuse to be forgotten. The ones that stay in your head long after you have finished reading them, or writing them in our case. It is important to us both that we keep up the momentum in this next novel, the second in the trilogy, Percivious Origins. We want the reader to fall in love with a new cast of characters, a new setting and quite literally a new world that will be required to reach the depths of this story. The base line of the first novel was that question we mentioned – what if someone or something could exploit our sleep hours? In the second novel, the entire premise revolves around the exploitation of a prehistoric plant and how it changed the course history and the destiny of our ancient humanoid cousins. Percivious Origins will amplify our place within the environment and the importance of respect and stability between Homosapiens and nature.
The overarching theme of the trilogy remains intact, the definition of Percivious – the ultimate in altruism. Self-sacrifice in order to benefit others with no regard to reward or reciprocity. This is the soul of all three novels and is the true reason we as a couple are so dedicated and passionate about this adventure – about writing together. We quite literally could not have penned this novel without one another. Finishing each other’s thoughts and sentences have quite literally become, in our case – not only possible…but a dream come true.
A cabbie feels like he’s being pushed around by a thug, so he takes his story to the cops where Casey happens to be hanging out. Is the passenger a crook? Why would he be putting himself in a high profile, instead of laying low? Word comes in about the murder of a theater manager, and Casey joins the investigation. A suspect is quickly identified, and it’s the tough guy in the cab, who conveniently has set up his alibi. Do the cops have the right man or not? At the Blue Note, Casey reviews details of the case with Ethylbert and Ann. There’s something missing in the details so it’s back to the cops to figure out what doesn’t add up.
The tough guy in the cab, Morris, is clearly setting up an alibi for the real killer. Fortunately, Casey has a plan, a corny one to be sure, but it just might work. He lays out a plan to make the players think their partner is betraying the other. Will Morris crack first, or his gal Betty? In the Blue Note, Casey shares how love and jealousy can work for the cause of justice.
On opening day of the new baseball season a small model-kit airplane flies down from the stands and buzzes the mound, where a decorated veteran pilot is about to throw out the first ball. The toy plane is the exact replica of the one flown by the war hero. Everyone laughs, thinking it’s a prank or a publicity stunt. Until it explodes, killing dozens.
Seconds later a swarm of killer drones descend upon the picnicked crowd, each one carrying a powerful bomb. All across the country artificial intelligence drive systems in cars, commuter trains and even fighter planes go out of control. The death toll soars as the machines we depend upon every day are turned into engines of destruction.
Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences go on the hunt for whoever is controlling these machines, but the every step of the way they are met with traps and shocks that strike to the very heart of the DMS. No one is safe. Nowhere is safe. Enemies old and new rise as America burns.
Joe Ledger and his team begin a desperate search for the secret to this new technology and the madmen behind it. But before they can close in the enemy virus infects Air Force One. The president is trapped aboard as the jet heads toward the heart of New York City. It has become PREDATOR ONE.
Well, this one literally begins with a bang to set things off. Captain Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences are caught off guard for most of the book, until they can figure out what’s causing a widespread attack. I love how Jonathan Maberry has returning villains in his stories, but no spoilers here! I will say, though, that the DMS had their asses handed to them on a silver platter. YIKES. I had no idea how they were going to pull themselves out of this one. Maberry keeps his foot on the accelerator throughout the entirety of the story, so you’ll have to read it to find out what happens! Five stars of course.
JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, anthology editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. He was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries.
He writes in several genres. His young adult fiction includes ROT & RUIN (2011; was named in Booklist’s Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults, an American Library Association Top Pick, a Bram Stoker and Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading winner; winner of several state Teen Book Awards including the Cricket, Nutmeg and MASL; winner of the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards); DUST & DECAY (winner of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award; FLESH & BONE (winner of the Bram Stoker Award; 2012; and FIRE & ASH (August 2013). BROKEN LANDS, the first of a new spin-off series, debuts in 2018.
His thrillers include The Joe Ledger Thrillers from St. Martin’s Griffin (PATIENT ZERO, 2009, winner of the Black Quill and a Bram Stoker Award finalist for Best Novel; EXTINCTION MACHINE, (2013; now in development for TV by SONY); PREDATOR ONE, and others. His first middle grade novel, THE NIGHTSIDERS BOOK 1: THE ORPHAN ARMY, was named one the 100 Best Books for Children 2015, with a sequel, VAULT OF SHADOWS debuting this year from Simon & Schuster. His standalone teen science fiction novel, MARS ONE, is in development for film by Zucker Productions and Lone Tree Entertainment. His upcoming standalone suspense novel, GLIMPSE, has gotten advance praise from Clive Barker, Scott Smith, James Rollins, Heather Graham and Charlaine Harris.
His horror novels include The Pine Deep Trilogy from Pinnacle Books (GHOST ROAD BLUES, 2006, winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel and named one of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium; DEAD MAN’S SONG, 2007; and BAD MOON RISING, 2008), as well as DEAD OF NIGHT, 2011 (named one of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium) and its sequel, FALL OF NIGHT, 2014. He also wrote the movie novelization, THE WOLFMAN, 2010, winner of the Scribe Award for Best Adaptation; and DEADLANDS: GHOSTWALKERS, an original novel inspired by the million-copy-selling role-playing game. He has also written the foreword to a new annotated edition of DRACULA from Writers Digest Books.
Jonathan and colleague #1 NY Times bestseller Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures) each wrote an X-FILES ORIGINS novel for teens; with Kami focusing on Fox Mulder in AGENT OF CHAOS; and Jonathan telling the backstory of young Dana Scully in DEVIL’S ADVOCATE.
Jonathan is the creator, editor and co-author of V-WARS, a shared-world vampire anthology from IDW, and its sequels, V-WARS: BLOOD AND FIRE, V-WARS: NIGHT TERRORS, and V-WARS. And he writes a best-selling monthly V-WARS comic. A board game version of V-Wars was released in 2017; and the series is in development for TV by IDW Media.
He is also the editor of the dark fantasy anthology series, OUT OF TUNE (JournalStone), a series of THE X-FILES anthologies which launched in 2015; SCARY OUT THERE, an anthology of horror for teens; and the anthologies ALIENS: BUG HUNT, NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD (with George Romero), JOE LEDGER UNSTOPPABLE (with Bryan Thomas Schmidt) and two volumes of mysteries: ALTERNATE SHERLOCKS and THE GAME’S AFOOT (with Michael Ventrella).
Jonathan was an expert on the History Channel documentary series, ZOMBIES: A Living History and TRUE MONSTERS. And he was participated in the commentary tracks for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: REANIMATED.
Alex Segura is a novelist and comic book and podcast writer. He is the author of the Anthony Award-nominated Pete Fernandez Miami Mystery series, which includes SILENT CITY, DOWN THE DARKEST STREET, DANGEROUS ENDS, BLACKOUT, and the upcoming MIAMI MIDNIGHT, all via Polis Books. He has also written a number of comic books, including the best-selling and critically acclaimed ARCHIE MEETS KISS storyline, the “Occupy Riverdale” story, ARCHIE MEETS RAMONES and THE ARCHIES one-shot and monthly series. He also co-created and co-wrote the LETHAL LIT podcast for Einhorn’s Epic Productions and iHeart Radio, which was named one of the Five Best Podcasts of 2018 by The New York Times. He lives in New York with his wife and son. He is a Miami native.
Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.
His latest novel, SYNAPSE, a near-future thriller, is set to release on October 8, 2019.
Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book EVERY WICKED MAN one of their “Best Books of 2018,” says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game,” and RT Book Reviews promises that “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.”
Steven deftly weaves intense stories of psychological suspense with deep philosophical insights. As critically-acclaimed novelist Ann Tatlock put it, “Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart.”
Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, he has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades and has spoken more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.
Steven’s groundbreaking books on the art of fiction writing, STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE and TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR NOVEL, have both won Storytelling World Awards. Widely recognized for his story-crafting expertise, he teaches regularly as a Master Class instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers. He also hosts the biweekly podcast, The Story Blender.
When Steven isn’t writing or speaking, you’ll find him trail running, rock climbing, or drinking dark roast coffee near his home in East Tennessee.
Murder is a shocking and terrifying taboo. The very word sends an icy frisson slithering down one’s spine. And yet, it is an occupational hazard for a crime writer. On a cerebral level, the taking of a human life is fascinating. It is a serious business, requiring cunning and sangfroid mingled with passion, anger or fear. A certain degree of luck is necessary to pull off a murder without getting caught. The faint of heart would be riddled with remorse and horror at this deadly transgression.
Setting aside the moral considerations, I find it deliciously thrilling to plot a murder. The omnipotent power to kill is a dizzying prospect. Murder is an art form, if one thinks about it. The killer must be creative. But how does an author choose from the plethora of methods available? Your character is the key to unlocking this mystery. Therefore, an author must first delve into the murderer’s psyche to thoroughly understand why he or she came to make the fatal decision. Is he or she an assassin, a spurned lover, a business partner who has been swindled, or an average individual pushed to the brink in an extraordinary situation? Once the author has sketched this character profile, the pieces will fall into place and the story will begin to flow. The author must have absolute trust in the murderer. He or she will guide you down the evil path and determine if the victim expires quickly or suffers a slow, lingering death.
In most cases, murder stems from a rupture in an intimate relationship. This personal animus is likely fueled by emotion and an overwhelming thirst for revenge. Consequently, this means inflicting pain. The thrust of a knife into the heart, stomach or between the ribs would do the job nicely. With stabbing, the murderer and victim must be at close range. Generally, stabbing ensures that the killer’s face is the last thing the victim sees in this world, satisfying a desire to mete out punishment. For this reason, the murderer in one of the books in my series featuring journalist Emmeline Kirby and jewel thief/insurance investigator Gregory Longdon slashed the throat of an unscrupulous man, who had derived malicious glee from ruining other people’s lives.
Meanwhile, shooting also would induce pain. With this method, the author has the option of killing someone instantly, forcing the culprit to hastily cover his or her tracks. This provides an opportunity to sprinkle red herrings through the story. Conversely, the dark deed can rattle the murderer to the point that he or she is no longer thinking clearly and makes mistakes. Another possibility is that the gunshot does not kill the victim outright. It may cause a grave wound, presenting the murderer with a chance to finish off the victim another way. Let’s say by poison, for example.
Ah, poison. To me, it’s so sinister and tantalizing. I believe I share this view with my hero Agatha Christie, who masterfully eliminated dozens with a soupçon of poison. Some poisons are tasteless and odorless. Then there is cyanide, which smells like bitter almonds, while arsenic, when heated, gives off an odor resembling garlic. Depending on what your story dictates, poison can work instantaneously or the victim can waste away little by little. Russian spies, and Putin in particular as a former head of the KGB, have a penchant for using poison to dispatch enemies, defectors and anyone who dares to oppose them. As a result, poison was my weapon of choice in another novel. The story dealt with a defector who recklessly pitted Putin against Russian mafia boss Igor Bronowski. At the same time, both had unsavory entanglements with a ruthless British entrepreneur. All were obsessed with a flawless blue diamond. I will confess that two victims succumbed to poison in the book. However, poison is not the exclusive domain of the assassin. An author can wield it perfectly well among those who have a personal score to settle. On this point of the professional versus the amateur (for want of a better word) killer, an assassin can employ stabbing or shooting in a pinch for expediency’s sake.
A lethal arsenal would not be complete without strangulation, drowning and smothering. But all three may prove troublesome because they require a degree of strength and the victim will most certainly put up a struggle. A murderer wants death to come swiftly with a minimum of fuss to have time to disappear before the body is discovered. On the same token, bludgeoning someone to death with a heavy object could prove messy, since several blows would likely be needed thus causing a good deal of blood to be shed. Of course, an author may want to employ bludgeoning for precisely this reason to set the stage for the murderer’s ultimate undoing. For in the haste to flee, he or she may miss a trace of blood.
Allow these diabolical musings to steep in your mind. After a while, you’ll come to realize that it’s criminally good fun to acquire a literary taste for murder.
Daniella Bernett is a member of the Mystery Writers of America NY Chapter and the International Thriller Writers. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Journalism from St. John’s University. Lead Me Into Danger, Deadly Legacy, From Beyond The Grave, A Checkered Past and When Blood Runs Cold are the books in the Emmeline Kirby-Gregory Longdon mystery series. She also is the author of two poetry collections, Timeless Allure and Silken Reflections. In her professional life, she is the research manager for a nationally prominent engineering, architectural and construction management firm. Daniella is currently working on Emmeline and Gregory’s next adventure. Visit www.daniellabernett.com or follow her on Facebook or on Goodreads. Old Sins Never Die, the sixth book in her series, was released in September.
In the thirteenth book in Mike Lawson’s celebrated series, Joe DeMarco finds himself on the wrong side of an investigation—in the wake of a political assassination, he’s been framed as the killer.
As the fixer for Congressman John Mahoney in Washington, D.C., Joe DeMarco has had to bend and break the law more than a few times. But when Representative Lyle Canton, House Majority Whip, is found shot dead in his office in the U.S. Capitol and DeMarco is arrested for the murder, DeMarco knows he’s been framed. Locked up in the Alexandria Jail awaiting trial, he calls on his enigmatic friend Emma, an ex-DIA agent, to search for the true killer.
Emma’s investigation leads her to Sebastian Spear, the ruthless and competitive CEO of the multi-billion-dollar Spear Industries. Spear had a motive for killing Lyle Canton: Canton’s wife, Jean, had once been Spear’s high school sweetheart and the one true love of his life—until Canton won her over. Now Jean was dead, killed in a car crash while driving drunk, and Spear blamed Canton for the accident. But the case the F.B.I. has built against DeMarco is airtight, and not a single piece of evidence points to the grieving CEO. Using her cunning and her D.C. connections, Emma sets out to prove that Spear has been using some fixers of his own.
Featuring crimes of passion, corporate corruption, and partisan feuds, House Arrest is a gripping, timely political thriller, and one of Lawson’s best books yet.
This book was utterly amazing. What took me so long to read a Joe DeMarco thriller! Yes I know, I jumped in at book #13, but it still was amazing. Mike Lawson stands out among the crowded field of thriller writers. His brand of storytelling puts you right into the heart of D.C. political intrigue, corruption, and backdoor maneuvering. This time Joe DeMarco, the fixer for Congressman John Mahoney is completely vulnerable when he’s framed for the murder of U.S. Representative Lyle Canton. The way this book unravels is just a masterpiece. There’s good writing, and then there’s great storytelling that goes above and beyond your expectations. You get hopelessly lost into the story. Exceptional! I’m moving on to Joe DeMarco book #14, House Privilege.
Michael Lawson was raised in Pueblo, Colorado and attended college at Seattle University, receiving a degree in engineering. On leaving college he went to work for the US Navy as a nuclear engineer, spending approximately thirty years working for the Navy’s nuclear power program. Some of this time was spent in Washington D.C. but most was spent at a large naval shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.
At the shipyard he managed a number of different organizations related to overhauling nuclear powered submarines, cruisers, and aircraft carriers, ending up as a member of the government’s Senior Executive Service
To date he has published 12 books starring Joe DeMarco, a fixer for a corrupt politician and three books in his Kay Hamilton series under the name of M. A. Lawson: He has won the Friend of Mystery Award twice and is a five time nominee for the Barry Award.
Get ready for an event unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
All your favorite authors, one night, five-plus hours of LIVE streaming . . . and it’s all free!
Join us on November 3 for Night of a Thousand Authors, an evening of endless interviews and appearances from some of the biggest names on the thriller and mystery scene today. Co-hosting will be author K.J. Howe (ITW Executive Director) and The Real Book Spy’s Ryan Steck, with special help from The Crew Reviews‘ Michael Houtz, Sean Cameron, and Christopher Albanese.
David Brown, Deputy Director of Publicity at Atria Books and “driver” of the @AtriaMysteryBus twitter feed, has teamed up with the Executive Director of ITW and ThrillerFest, Kimberley Howe and influential book blogger Ryan “The Real Book Spy” Steck to create NIGHT OF A THOUSAND AUTHORS,election day counterprogramming for mystery, thriller and suspense fans to escape from the stress and anxiety of that day.
BEGINNING AT 3 PM ET ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3 — STREAMING LIVE BELOW
NIGHT OF A THOUSAND AUTHORS is being described as The Jerry Lewis Telethon meets Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with the biggest names in crime fiction and NO TALK OF POLITICS.
NIGHT OF A THOUSAND AUTHORS is a marathon of 10 minutes interviews hosted by Howe and Steck—the “special sauce” is that each author will share the first two minutes of their interview on the screen with the previous guest and the last two minutes of their interview with the next guest.
“How often do you get to see this many big name authors in one place over a short period of time?” Howe asked, “The magnitude of star power makes this program unique.”
“This is going to be wild!” Steck said, “Wall to wall and back to back, rapid fire interviews complete with potential odd pairings overlapping and doing it live? It can only go right!”
Bookstores, libraries and review websites will be contacted and encouraged to stream the program from their websites.
Jesse and Jonathan Kellerman
Rachel Howzell Hall
William Kent Krueger
Joel C. Rosenberg
Andrews & Wilson
Lisa Scottoline/Francesca Serritella
The star-studded event—which will live stream across a number of platforms—will serve as the show launch for THRILLER TALK, a brand new podcast from Howe and Steck, who’ve teamed up to bring fans of the genre a fresh, innovative new show that’ll cover the thriller genre in a way that’s unlike anything else available on the web.
Night of a Thousand Authors, produced by Jeff Ayers, will feature a pre and post-game show hosted by Mr. Atria Mystery Bus himself, David Brown. The full lineup of writers who’ll appear can be viewed below, though fans will have to tune in live on November 3 to find out more about author pairings and who will appear when.
While additional details (including more participating authors) will be made in the coming days, fans excited to tune in can now go “subscribe” to the THRILLER TALK YouTube channel here.