The Creative Processes of 4 Best-Selling Thriller Writers

A few months ago at Book Expo America, I had the opportunity to interview four of the premier thriller writers today:

Brad Meltzer (The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, The Tenth Justice)

Michael Connelly (The Lincoln Lawyer, The Poet, Blood Work)

Michael Koryta (The Prophet, The Ridge, The Cypress House)

Nelson DeMille (The Gold Coast, Plumb Island, The General’s Daughter)

They have each sold millions of books and regularly top the bestseller lists.

We talked about a number of topics including:

  • Original careers and the transition to full-time writing
  • Authors who inspired them
  • The importance of setting
  • Preference of print or digital
  • The explosion of digital devices and its impact on writing
  • The use of social media to connect with readers
  • Who reads the first draft?
  • Audience questions (starting at approximately 31:30)
  • Do you outline the plot in advance?
  • Writing process
  • Goals for writing each day
  • Research methods
  • Favorite female writers in your genre (I personally recommended Karin Slaughter.)
  • Rapid questions inspired by James Lipton’s “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” (40:50)
  • Favorite character in history
  • Earliest memory
  • Most treasured possession
  • Trait you deplore in yourself

There were many memorable lines, but perhaps the most memorable was from Brad Meltzer.  His love for writing was so powerful it overcame early publisher rejection.  “I got twenty four rejection letters.  There were only twenty publishers.  I got twenty four rejection letters, which means some people were writing twice to make sure I got the point.”

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