10 Authors Who Write Captivating Thrillers
There's nothing quite like curling up with a suspenseful novel, gripping your blanket in terror as the tension rises leading up to a shocking climax. And when you're done, you want to start another one. Luckily, these authors seem to never sleep, reliably producing multiple titles that will have you staying up all night because you just have to know what happens next. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.
10 Writers Churning Out Suspenseful Thrillers
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The History of the Thriller
Some of the world's oldest known stories used the same elements that make modern thrillers so enticing. Homer's famous epic poem The Odyssey is something of a prototype of the genre. The hero's life is in constant danger as he uses his cunning to overcome his enemies. But the genre isn't exclusive to Western culture. One of the stories in One Thousand and One Nights (commonly known as Arabian Nights) is considered to be the oldest known murder mystery. This tale, The Three Apples, is full of plot twists and revolves around a mysterious death. Centuries later, the 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo popularized the action thriller with it's swashbuckling revenge plot. Eventually, of course, the genre made its way from the pages of books to the big screen. Some of the most famous of these movies were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who directed several classics throughout his career, including Psycho, Vertigo, and Rear Window.
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Popular Thriller Sub-Genres
- Psychological Thriller
- Spy Novel
- Crime Thriller
- Police Procedural
- Paranormal Thriller
- Horror Thriller
- YA Thriller
An Interview with Jessica Strawser
People turn to the world of literature for all sorts of reasons: to learn about human behavior, to gain access to new emotions, and, sometimes, to read stories about the darker side of life. If you want to learn more about some of the authors at work in this genre, then here are, in no particular order, ten writers who publish page-turning thrillers.
Coming in at #1 is Todd Moss. A graduate of Tufts University and the University of London, this writer lives in Maryland. Previously employed as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, he uses his government work experience to inform his fiction. He began writing his first thriller, "The Golden Hour," after being sent by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Mauritania to negotiate during the coup of August 2008.
Following the success of his first novel, Moss has continued to publish books that follow Judd Ryker, the protagonist of these stories, as he navigates the modern-day world of American foreign policy-making. Later titles of the series include "Minute Zero," "Ghosts of Havana," and "The Shadow List." In addition to writing these novels, Moss, as of 2019, serves as Executive Director of the Energy for Growth Hub in Washington, D.C.
Following the success of his first novel, Moss has continued to publish books that follow Judd Ryker, the protagonist of these stories, as he navigates the modern-day world of American foreign policy-making.
In the #2 spot is Matty Dalrymple. Based in Chester County, Pennsylvania, which lends its setting to some of her books, this author pens the Lizzy Ballard thrillers, which follow a protagonist with psychic abilities that cause harm, and the Ann Kinnear suspense novels and shorts, about a woman with the power to sense spirits. Dalrymple is a member of several writing organizations as well, such as Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers.
Dalrymple's first three Lizzy Ballard thrillers are "Rock Paper Scissors," "Snakes and Ladders," and "The Iron Ring," while full-length works in the Ann Kinnear series include "The Sense of Death" and "The Sense of Reckoning." Dalrymple enjoys traveling around the United States, particularly to Mount Desert Island, Maine, and Sedona, Arizona, both of which have appeared as settings in her writing. She also makes occasional appearances at book stores, workshops, and other events.
At #3 is Alafair Burke. An author of numerous novels, she was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and grew up in Wichita, Kansas, where the existence of an active serial killer led her to seek solace in the world of crime fiction. A graduate of Reed College and Stanford Law School, Burke turned to a career working in law enforcement and criminal justice. For her first novel, "Judgment Calls," she drew extensively on her own experiences as a Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon.
A graduate of Reed College and Stanford Law School, Burke turned to a career working in law enforcement and criminal justice.
After her debut novel, Burke continued to write books following protagonist Samantha Kincaid, including "Missing Justice" and "Close Case." She has also published stand-alone novels, such as "The Wife," a domestic thriller in which a woman grapples with the difficulties of defending her husband in court, and "If You Were Here," which follows a journalist's search for a missing woman. Furthermore, Burke maintains a blog for fans of her work, with updates on new novels, movie adaptations, and award nominations.
At #4 is Timothy S. Johnston. A long-time fan of the suspense and science-fiction genres, this author writes works that are inspired by the television shows and movies of his youth, such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Star Wars," and authors like Agatha Christie and Michael Crichton. He enjoys incorporating twists and turns and technological elements into the plots of his books.
A member of Crime Writers of Canada and SF Canada, Johnston, as of 2019, has published three books in "The Tanner Sequence," which follows a homicide detective as he tries to solve cases in dangerous, claustrophobic settings. He has also written books in another series. This saga, entitled "The Rise of Oceania" and set underwater, includes "The War Beneath" and "The Savage Deeps." His works have won and been nominated for numerous awards, and he posts updates on his life and his writing on his blog.
His works have won and been nominated for numerous awards, and he posts updates on his life and his writing on his blog.
Coming in at #5 is Zoe Sharp. Hailing from England, this writer spent most of her youth living on the country's northwest coast. Following an atypical education involving correspondence courses, Sharp turned to freelance writing and photography, traveling around Europe, Japan, and the United States. In 2001, she published "Killer Instinct," her first novel featuring heroine Charlie Fox, a self-defense teacher with a military background.
Since then, Sharp has released a number of additional books in the Charlie Fox series, such as "Road Kill" and "Third Strike." Furthermore, she has penned short stories and stand-alone works, including "The Blood Whisperer" and a collaboration with fellow crime writer John Lawton entitled "An Italian Job." An avid writer, she posts on a wide range of topics on her blog, covering everything from flooding in the UK to eliminating wasted food.
In the #6 spot is Lee Gimenez. Based in the Atlanta area, he studied at Georgia Tech before serving in the U.S. Army and working for several companies in business management. Outside this professional career, Gimenez has also published more than a dozen novels, many of which feature J.T. Ryan, a former Special Forces operative introduced in "The Washington Ultimatum."
Based in the Atlanta area, he studied at Georgia Tech before serving in the U.S. Army and working for several companies in business management.
Later thrillers focusing on this protagonist include "The Media Murders," which centers on the suspicious deaths of some well-known reporters, and "FBI Code Red," in which a dangerous conspiracy threatens Ryan's reputation and life. A member of a number of writing groups, like the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Gimenez also publishes his own newsletter to keep his readers up to date and maintains an active Twitter presence.
At #7 is C. Kevin Thompson. Hailing from Central Florida, Thompson is an ordained minister, having studied at numerous institutions such as Houghton College and Wesley Biblical Seminary. As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Christian Authors Network, he incorporates a lot of religious themes into his works; he draws inspiration from the powerful storytelling that appears in the Bible and counts himself as a fan of series such as "Star Trek" and "Criminal Minds."
"The Serpent's Grasp," his debut novel, follows a marine biologist whose life begins to unravel after her husband's mysterious death at sea. It won the 2013 Selah Award for First Fiction. Elsewhere, Thompson has written a series focusing on Blake Meyer, an experienced FBI agent who finds himself drawn into a world of danger and terrorism; the first book in this series is titled "30 Days Hath Revenge." To complement his fiction, Thompson runs his own blog, featuring interviews with other authors.
It won the 2013 Selah Award for First Fiction.
Coming in at #8 is Jessica Strawser. Born in Pittsburgh, Strawser immersed herself in the world of reading and writing from a young age. After studying journalism at Ohio University, she worked in a number of positions in editing and public relations. As of 2019, she works as editor-at-large for "Writer's Digest," where she has interviewed such figures as Alice Walker, David Sedaris, and Anne Tyler.
Strawser ventured into the world of fiction with the publication of "Almost Missed You," a novel centering on a mother betrayed by her husband. She has continued exploring themes at the intersection of women's fiction and suspense in later books like "Not That I Could Tell" and "Forget You Know Me." Elsewhere, she has written articles and essays that have appeared in "The New York Times," "Publishers Weekly," and "CrimeReads."
At #9 is Carter Wilson. Born in New Mexico, Wilson later moved to Los Angeles before studying at Cornell University. He began writing in 2003, and since then has penned a number of novels and contributed stories to various publications and anthologies. His debut novel, "Final Crossing," was published in 2012 and features a soulless killer compelled to murder those around him.
Born in New Mexico, Wilson later moved to Los Angeles before studying at Cornell University.
Other psychological thrillers written by this author include "The Dead Girl in 2A," "The Boy in the Woods," and "Revelation." Wilson's novels have received positive feedback from critics, garnering three Colorado Book Awards, among other accolades. In addition to his writing, he enjoys photography and traveling, two activities which provide inspiration for the fictional worlds he creates.
Last but not least, at #10 is Sanjida Kay, the pseudonym of a writer who holds a PhD in the study of chimpanzees. Published in 2016 and set in Bristol in the UK, her first psychological thriller, "Bone by Bone," deals with a mother's response when her daughter is bullied. Kay's other titles in this genre range from "The Stolen Child," about an adoption gone wrong, and "My Mother's Secret," which weaves the stories of three different women together.
When not penning thrillers, this author keeps busy by writing about science and the environment, directing documentaries, and publishing nonfiction and fiction under her actual name. She also makes frequent posts on her website, detailing everything from her work with charities to the lack of diversity in publishing.