International Thriller Writers, Inc. Conference

Just wanted to mention first: I’m in the middle of reading Karin Slaughter’s newest novel, UNDONE that’s labeled as being apart of the Grant County series maybe even the last book in that series. The book blends both her Will Trent series and her Dr. Sara Linton series together. My review will be up next Tuesday.

International Thriller Writers, Inc [ITW]

The International Thriller Writers, Inc just wrapped us their @thrillerfest conference last week in New York. It’s the first I’d ever of heard of the organization. Thriller writers, readers and industry people meeting and socializing together. From reading the history, ITW held it’s very first conference back in 2004. Authors like @alafairburke and @joefinder were tweeting about the conference last week and it sounded like a lot of fun. I hope to attend one year. [Gayle Lynds and David Morrell are co-presidents]

The Bodies Left Behind coverITW awarded Jeffrey Deaver’s book, THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND [Simon & Schuster], the “Thriller of the Year” award [via Galleycat]. That news comes as no surprise because I use to read Deaver but stopped for no apparent reason. The last book I read by him was THE COFFIN DANCER which is apart of his Lincoln Rhyme series. Deaver writes such excellent suspense and the pacing of his novels are very kinetic. His stories are often riddled with plot twists and turns capped off with surprise endings. Anyway, THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND is available in ebook.

What Makes A Thriller?

I remember asking on Twitter: what designates a book as a thriller as opposed to being described as a mystery or suspense novel? Or does it overlap? Also, what authors would you classify as thriller writers? Is Karin Slaughter a thriller writer to you? Who I consider as thriller writers are Chelsea Cain and also, Michael Connelly and James Patterson to name a few. And yes, I got all kinds of answers but what is yours?


About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
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5 Responses to International Thriller Writers, Inc. Conference

  1. Tee says:

    Rather than give you answers, I think I just have more questions, because I wonder about that distinction between those words also – mystery, suspense, thriller. In my mind, as I’m reading a book, I know how to classify it for myself. I’m just not sure everyone else would agree. There are some who believe the light mystery in Nora Roberts’ books are great suspense. I disagree that they’re even suspense (with the exception of her very early ones shortly after she entered mainstream – ie, “Carnal Innocence,” “Sacred Sins,” etc). Ditto for Linda Howard and some of Sandra Brown’s works. So I guess it’s all in a person’s mind as to what they’re actually looking for, what types of books they’ve read by comparison and how they classify it. When one has truly read a thriller, no way can they go back and call some of that previous lighter stuff to be classified in the same category.

    I too feel Chelsea Cain would be classified as a suspense/thriller writer. I would include Joy Fielding, Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerritsen, Jilliane Hoffman, Tami Hoag, Cody McFadyen, Karen Rose, Karin Slaughter, along with others, in that classification too.

    Mystery writers, to me, would be the more tame of the three. Interesting stories, but perhaps not as graphic or gripping as a suspense and/or thriller would be. They even have a “cozy mystery” classification that probably is exactly what it says, which doesn’t entirely make sense to me; but then, there you go. That’s probably like a Charlie Chan book or film, which I loved as a kid when they showed all those old reruns. Very entertaining, by the way, but not exactly what I’m looking for.

    I personally enjoy a book that keeps me on the edge of my seat and am always looking for new authors who create that sensation. Thru the years, you’ve suggested more than a few whom I’ve thoroughly loved and have continued to pick up their books. I want to feel like I’ve been thru a ride when reading that thriller, rollercoasting up and down, but at the same time insisting on well-written stories along with great character development. Too much to ask? I don’t think so – because I’ve found many meeting that criteria.

    Added note: Totally jealous of your reading “Undone.” I hope to get it soon, but will be anxiously waiting to read your review of it.

  2. Avid Reader says:

    Excellent questions as I have them myself. I think it’s instinctual. Most thrillers to me read fast and are action packed feature serial killers and the like. Now, Julia Spencer-Fleming’s books are categorized as “cozy mysteries” which would be apt because they don’t feature serial killers, can’t recall them being gruesomely violent and those books – especially hers- tend to be more character driven than say, thrillers.

    Most thrillers are written to be fast paced with twists and turns. Characterization tends to not be as important but like you stated, there are some that do a good job at both. As for Nora Roberts books, I haven’t read any of her straight contemporary stuff that has the light suspense in them. Linda Howard – romantic suspense and doesn’t do a good of it at all.

    Here’s my down and dirty classifications of authors I’ve read:

    Irish Johansen – I loved Long After Midnight, which is straight suspense. I think she would be categorized as suspense.

    Karen Robards – romantic suspense or something or other. She doesn’t write suspense well at all. The romance in her books tend to be a little better developed than the suspense.

    Ed McBain’s work is more “mystery.” He doesn’t have a lot of shoot outs and serial killers.

    Sandra Brown – she flips from romantic suspense to suspense. I started reading her suspense books first – WITNESS, CHARADE were excellent reads at the time.

    Anne Frasier – straight suspense. No other word to categorize her stuff and she does it well.

    Alafair Burke – no surprise, writes thrillers, too. I really like her and her stories are so polished.

    I think the term “thriller” tends to overlap as some books are just not that easily defined by one category.

    Others I’ve yet to read but plan to real soon is Val McDermid. British author and I just obtained her series featuring Dr. Tony Hill. Glad some rec’s worked out for you, Tee. Have you read Ken Bruen or not interested? He writes hard boiled mysteries. *g* With the added touch of Irish noir. Excellent writer.

  3. Janet Y. Martel says:

    I think that characters make the story real. If the characters are true to life, the reader can’t help but get wrapped up in their struggle. Without believable characters, there is no story, no matter how excellent the plot.

    I agree that James Patterson writes superb suspense/thillers; I especially like his Alex Cross novels. Perhaps that’s because he has a family–a home life–that makes him real. I worry about them and want to know what happens to them.

    How would you classify Mary Higgins Clark? Her characters are always real and generate empathy for their plight.

    With regard to Nora Roberts, I like the lady’s style, and I always get involved with her characters. I think you must admit that there is a significant difference between Nora Roberts, the romance/mystery writer, and J.D. Robb, the suspense/mystery wiriter. I think she deserves credit for understanding the difference between the two.

    I am a new author, and aspire to writing novels that can’t be put down. That’s what I see as important; whether the book classifies as thriller, suspense, or just mystery (cozy or otherwise), doesn’t matter to me. I want to make my reader lose track of time, lose himself in my book, and want for the next adventure. I’d be interested to know what you think of my book, Taken in the Night.

  4. Avid Reader says:

    Janet Y. Martel: I am a new author, and aspire to writ­ing nov­els that can’t be put down. That’s what I see as impor­tant; whether the book clas­si­fies as thriller, sus­pense, or just mys­tery (cozy or oth­er­wise), doesn’t mat­ter to me. I want to make my reader lose track of time, lose him­self in my book, and want for the next adven­ture. I’d be inter­ested to know what you think of my book, Taken in the Night.

    I wouldn’t mind giving your book a look. Labels – in the end I guess they don’t really matter but it’s what guides me in my expectations. Nora, I haven’t read her in quite sometime. I loved her first five or six J.D. Robb novels until I got bored. I prefer character driven versus plot driven stories myself. Thanks.

  5. Janet Y. Martel says:

    Dear Avid Reader,

    If you’re interested in reading my new book, contact


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