Shots Ezine looks forward to a Killer Year 2007
Last summer while attending Thrillerfest in Phoenix, I met up with a gang of debut crime/thriller writers who had banded together and became a collective naming themselves Killer Year 2007.
These debut novels are being published in the US but many have been picked up by British Publishers – so methinks it’s time to look at these interesting writers. –Ali Karim
KILLER YEAR – The Class of 2007
Every best-selling author began as a debut novelist. But making the step from promising beginner to proven success can be tricky, which is why four online friends, Brett Battles, J.T. Ellison, Jason Pinter and Sandra Ruttan decided to start Killer Year.
Founded in May 2006, Killer Year is a now a collective of fourteen suspense novelists who have banded together, sharing promotion and marketing for their debut novels. "Fiction is a crowded market," said J.T. Ellison. "By working together, we hope to reach a larger audience than we could alone."
"We wanted to find a way to have equitable attention paid to all types of publication formats, from mass-market paperbacks to hardcovers," said Brett Battles. "One voice to promote fourteen authors seemed to be our best bet to sell our books."
"Only in the suspense genre can something this exciting, this cutting edge happen," Sandra Ruttan said. "We work as a team," added Jason Pinter. "We're here to support each other and make sure all of our members succeed in their first year as published authors."
Killer Year launched at ThrillerFest in Phoenix, Arizona in July of 2006. The buzz that was created caught the attention of the International Thriller Writers, who have joined forces with Killer Year, setting up a mentoring program for the debut authors with major forces in the industry, including authors Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, Gayle Lynds, Tess Gerritsen, Cornelia Read, Anne Frasier, Duane Swierczynski, Allison Brennan, Joe R. Landsdale, David Morrell, James Rollins, Harley Jane Kozak and Douglas Clegg.
One ITW member will mentor each Killer Year member, providing individual advice, blurbs and a short review of their book they can use in promotional material. They will also introduce Killer Year at a special breakfast during ThrillerFest 2007, the premier event for the thriller writing community. After 2007, Killer Year will remain an ongoing programme, with ITW welcoming a new class of debut novelists.
M.J. Rose, who heads up ITW's marketing committee says, "One of our mandates is to build a community of writers who can help each other. Another is to get serious attention for our authors and make them stand out from the crowd. Not just established authors, but debut authors as well. This program fits both those goals. And it helps us to do unto others as we wish others had done unto all of us when we got started."
"It's amazing," said Killer Year member Marcus Sakey. "I grew up on books these people wrote. I never dreamed they'd one day be helping with my own."
International Thriller Writers was created to celebrate the thriller, to enhance the prestige and raise the profile of thrillers, create creative marketing and press opportunities, to award prizes to outstanding thriller novels and authors, and to encourage collegiality within the thriller community. ITW members have more than 1.8 billion novels in print.
Killer Year has already been recognized by the crime fiction community, with offers for interviews, profiles and reviews from some of the biggest voices in the genre. Their publishers are already discussing ways to cross-promote Killer Year's work.
The authors of Killer Year represent a complete cross-section of the crime genre, from cozies to noir, from romantic suspense to thrillers. They live across the continent of North America, come from varied backgrounds, and during 2007 their first novels will be released by some of the largest publishing houses in the world.
Aside from the marketing and promotion of Killer Year, the class of 2007 has formed a deep bond that transcends the competitive publishing landscape. They are all pulling for one another, utilizing their friendships and love of reading and writing to get the word out to new readers. The experience has been humbling, the support they’ve received from the industry at times overwhelming, and they want to find ways to give that back to our writing community. They are paving the road for the Class of 2008 and beyond, and hope to one day be in a position to mentor new writers as they come through the ranks.
Visit the Killer Year website for more information on these authors. www.killeryear.com
So who are the Killer Year writers?
Brett Battles was born and raised in southern California. Though he still makes California his home, he has travelled extensively, including trips to Vietnam and Germany - two locations that play prominent parts in his debut thriller The Cleaner due out Autumn 2007.
THE CLEANER (Bantam Dell, October)
The Cleaner is an international spy thriller centered on Jonathan Quinn, a freelance professional "cleaner." When he takes on his latest job, it seemed simple enough – investigate a suspicious case of arson in Colorado. But the case takes a turn for the worse and soon Jonathan is leapfrogging continents, trying to find out why someone wants him dead – and if it's linked to a larger attempt to wipe out his employer. His only hope may be a woman from his past who's reluctant to help – but who may hold the key to solving the case.
“The Cleaner has it all: fast action, terrific characters, and exotic locations all combined in a roller-coaster plot that's guaranteed to keep you reading till the last page. Brett Battles might be a newcomer, but he writes like an old hand. This is one terrific book!”
John Gilstrap, author of Six Minutes to Freedom
Robert Gregory Browne
Born in California and raised in Honolulu, Robert Gregory Browne won the prestigious AMPAS sponsored Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting and spent the next several years riding the Hollywood rollercoaster. After a decade of development hell and a stint writing Saturday morning cartoons, severe motion sickness forced Browne's retirement from the business.
At the urging of a novelist friend, Browne tried his hand at long-form fiction and the result, a thriller called Kiss Her Goodbye, is the first of a two-book deal with St. Martin's Press. It's scheduled for release on February 6, 2007.
KISS HER GOODBYE (St. Martin’s Press, February)
Kiss Her Goodbye is a crime thriller with a supernatural twist focused on Jack Donovan, an ATF agent whose daughter is kidnapped and buried alive. When the kidnapper is shot dead, taking the secret of her location with him, Donovan must follow him into the darkness of death itself to save her.
“From rich characters to heart-pounding suspense, Kiss Her Goodbye explores not only the deadly terrain of murder but the nuances of the soul. It’s a first-rate novel that will glue you to your chair until you finish the last satisfying word.”
Gayle Lynds, author of The Last Spymaster
Bill Cameron lives with his wife and poodle in Portland, Oregon, where he also serves as staff to a charming, yet imperious cat. He is an eager traveller and avid bird-watcher, and likes to write near a window so he can meditate on whatever happens to fly by during intractable passages. Lost Dog, his first suspense novel, will be available from Midnight Ink Books in April 2007. He is currently at work on his second novel.
LOST DOG (Midnight Ink, April)
Peter McKrall, disaffected smart-ass and kleptomaniac, finds a dead hooker in the park while looking for his niece's lost toy dog. At the crime scene, he has a chance encounter with the killer, Jake, who panics and sets out to implicate Peter in the crime. The next thing Peter knows, the victim's frantic ex-con daughter is calling in the middle of the night and the police, misdirected by Jake and by Peter's own sordid past, have cast suspicious eyes his way.
“In the chill of Portland at Christmastime, Bill Cameron weaves a story of murder, human frailty and the frightening reality of coincidence. Peter McKrall is in the wrong place at the wrong time, searching for a lost dog. Instead, he finds a dead body, and it begins a chain of events that lead McKrall, weakened by circumstances, into a web of violence that will force him to find his strength. Bill writes a compelling, layered tale with graceful prose, realistic scenery and dead-on dialogue. I really enjoyed Lost Dog. Bill can add me to his list of fans.”
Julia Buckley, author of The Dark Backward
Toni McGee Causey
Toni McGee Causey lives in Baton Rouge with her husband and two sons; she is a lifelong Louisiana native (and Cajun), and is completing a double masters at LSU – an MFA in Writing and an MA in Philosophy of Film. She's placed in top tier screenwriting contests such as the AMPAS Nicholl competition, she's published many non-fiction articles as well as edited a popular regional magazine. She and her husband Carl are licensed general contractors, and in order to support her writing addiction, they run their own company, specializing in civil construction. Bobbie Faye is the first in the series of books signed in a three-book deal with St. Martin's press on a pre-empt based on three chapters and a synopsis; the chaotic, crazy, roller coaster thriller world of Bobbie Faye owes much to Toni having way more experience than she'd like to own up to in the world of trouble-shooting and disaster-prevention and survival.
BOBBIE FAYE’S VERY (very, very, very) BAD DAY (St. Martin’s Press, May)
Absolutely everything is
falling apart in Bobbie Faye's life when she wakes up the morning of the
Contraband Days Festival, where she is honorary Queen... from her trailer
flooding and falling apart, to her electricity getting turned off due to lack of
funds... to her brother being kidnapped. When she tries to get the family
heirloom demanded by the kidnappers (a thing she can't understand, since she
thought it had sentimental value only), the heirloom is stolen right out of her
hands. Bobbie Faye kidnaps a crazy driver to help her chase the thieves, avoid
the police (her ex-boyfriend with a big grudge) and the FBI in order to get the
object back and try to out-wit the kidnappers to save her brother's life,
blowing up and destroying half the state in her path in the process.
Allison Brennan, NY Times best-selling author of The Prey, The Hunt, and The Kill
"The story is tight, the voice self-assured, and the characters as hardboiled as they come. Chercover really delivers the goods here, in as solid a debut as I've seen in a long, long time."
Steve Hamilton, Edgar-Winning author of A Stolen Season
JT Ellison is a thriller writer based in Nashville, Tennessee. A graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman's College and The George Washington University, Ellison had a career in politics before turning to crime fiction full time. Her short stories have appeared in ‘Demolition Magazine’, ‘Flashing in the Gutters’, ‘Mouth Full of Bullets’ and ‘Spinetingler Magazine’. She blogs at www.Murderati.com and is a founding member of Killer Year, an organization promoting the best debut novelists of 2007. Her first novel, All The Pretty Girls, will be published by Mira Books in November 2007, with subsequent novels coming in May 2008 and November 2008.
ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS (Mira Books, November)
A vicious, highly mobile killer is terrorizing the Southeast. Showing no mercy to his victims, he leaves a trail of mutilated bodies faster than investigators can process the crime scenes. Nashville Homicide Detective Taylor Jackson, working with FBI profiler John Baldwin, must follow the killer along his devious path. How many will die if they don't succeed?
“JT Ellison bursts onto the thriller scene with a gripping story that you won't want to read close to bedtime. Ellison's talent is evident not only in her ability to create nail-biting suspense, but also in her vivid characters. Well-written and smart, All The Pretty Girls could well put Ellison and Taylor Jackson on the track to become to Nashville what Laura Lippman and Tess Monaghan are to Baltimore.”
Tasha Alexander, author of And Only To Deceive
Patry Francis has published stories in and poems in ‘The Ontario Review’, ‘Tampa Review’, ‘Antioch Review’, ‘Colorado Review’, ‘The American Poetry Review’, ‘Massachusetts Review’, and elsewhere. She is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and has been the recipient of a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council twice. The Liar’s Diary is her first novel.
THE LIAR’S DIARY (Dutton, February)
When a teenage boy is arrested for a particularly brutal murder, his mother seeks to learn the truth, and finds herself increasingly ensnared in a web of lies.
“Patry Francis's debut novel compels the reader to surrender to the horrible tension between a mother's loyalty and suspicion in the face of a terrible crime. The Liar’s Diary twists and turns, but never lets go."
Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean
Born in Mineola, Marc Lecard grew up in Massapequa, Long Island, New York. He gave up a promising career as a circular delivery person when he left the East Coast in 1976 for California. For more years than he cares to think about, he has worked in one form of publishing or another, on everything from computer manuals to environmental magazines. He now lives at an unspecified location in Northern California with his family. Vinnie’s Head is his first novel.
VINNIE’S HEAD (St Martin’s Minotaur, March)
In Vinnie’s Head, Long Island petty criminal Johnnie LoDuco snags his best friend’s head while fishing for flounder, and attracts the attention of some very unpleasant people. Is it the head they want, or Johnnie?
"If you want a blend of 'Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia' and 'The Sopranos,' but with dazzling writing and mesmerizing characters, this book is it and so much, much more, a dark diamond of that rarity, sheer readability. You don't realize how well crafted the writing is till you've read the novel in one straight sitting. Debuts don't come any better than this."
Ken Bruen, author of The Dramatist
Like his novel’s protagonist, Derek Nikitas was born on Saint Lucy’s Day, December Thirteenth. Raised in Manchester, NH, then Rochester, NY, he earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, then sought adventure in the Czech Republic, England, and Costa Rica. He is currently pursuing a PhD in English from Georgia State University, and has published stories in ‘The Ontario Review’, ‘Chelsea’, ‘Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine’, and ‘The Pedestal Magazine’. Joyce Carol Oates nominated him for a Pushcart Award in ’05, after she said his fiction was “subtly written, and quite touching and powerful.”
PYRES (St. Martin’s Minotaur, September)
When a folklore professor is shot dead in his car, the crime smashes together the lives of three disparate women: his anguished teenage daughter, a detective facing her own family’s collapse, and the pregnant former-junkie girlfriend of the killer. These three women must choose where to aim their last shots at redemption, even as they face a gang of barbaric thugs who torch homes and lives for a thrill.
New York Times best-selling author Gregg Olsen is the author of eight books, including the Western Writers of America Spur Award finalist and winner of the Idaho Book Award, The Deep Dark: Disaster and Redemption in America’s Richest Silver Mine (Crown Publishers). As a journalist and true crime author, Olsen has been a guest on Good Morning America, CBS Early Show, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, Fox News, 48 Hours, and other national and international programmes. The Seattle native lives in rural Washington with his wife, twin daughters, five chickens, and obedience school dropout cocker spaniel, Milo. A Wicked Snow is his fiction debut, coming from Kensington in March.
A WICKED SNOW (Kensington, March)
Southern California criminal investigator Hannah Griffin teams up with FBI agent Jeff Bauer to catch her mother, a notorious serial killer who pulled off the greatest vanishing act in history.
“As good as it gets.”
Lee Child, NY Times best-selling author of One Shot
THE MARK (Mira Books, July)
Henry Parker, a young
newspaper reporter moves to New York looking to usher in a new era of fearless
and ethical journalism. After being given his first assignment by legendary
newsman Jack O'Donnell, Henry stumbles into a bloodbath and ends up accused of
murder. On the run from both the authorities and a vicious assassin who wants
him dead for reasons more personal than he could have ever imagined, Henry must
rely on Amanda Davies, a headstrong young law student, to uncover a vast
conspiracy that could shatter a city...or control it.
James Patterson, New York Times best-selling author of Judge and Jury
Sandra Ruttan had her first newspaper column at the age of thirteen, later studying journalism and communication theory before focusing on special education. She has a creative writing diploma and her debut novel, Suspicious Circumstances, made the first cut in the Opening Pages competition with UK Press in 2005, going on to win Best Fiction from TICO, which led to her publishing contract.
Sandra is co-founder and submissions director for Spinetingler Magazine. Her work has appeared in ‘Crimespree Magazine’, ‘Fingerprints Online’, ‘Spinetingler’ and ‘The Cynic’. She lives in western Canada with her husband, two dogs and too many cats. Her website is www.sandraruttan.com.
SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES (Tico, January)
The video appears to show a woman falling to her death, but the cameraman says the police don’t want it. Reporter Lara Kelly is intrigued, but suspicious. She’s investigates and prints a story about an apparent suicide.
Detective Tymen Farraday, the newest detective in a precinct plagued by rumors of scandal and corruption, is sent to investigate. Before Farraday and Lara are sure they can trust each other, they discover a body. When Lara is attacked Farraday is forced to protect her. As they untangle a deadly web of corruption, murder and abduction, they find themselves in the path of a killer.
“Sandra Ruttan has graced the world of psychological thrillers with this fast-paced, absorbing tale, fraught with corruption, murder, mistrust, a number of unconscionable villains and two exceptionally likable protagonists, all craftily entangled in a delightfully twisted plot. Sit back and be prepared to get lost in this riveting story, because you won’t want to put it down until you’ve turned the very last page.”
J.B. Thompson, author of The Mozart Murders
Ten years in advertising gave Marcus Sakey the perfect background to write about criminals and killers. Sakey's debut novel, part of a major two-book deal, has drawn comparisons to Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard, and James Ellroy. The story of a retired thief turned respectable businessman who discovers that the more he has, the more he has to lose, The Blade Itself will be available in January 2007 from St. Martin’s Minotaur. Foreign rights have sold in seven countries to date.
THE BLADE ITSELF (St. Martin’s Minotaur, January)
For Danny Carter, retired thief turned respectable businessman, sharing a normal life with his loving girlfriend seems like the ultimate score – until his former partner comes looking for him. A hardened killer fresh out of Stateville, his partner wants to kidnap the son of Danny's millionaire boss, and needs help to pull it off. Doing the job could cost Danny his career, his relationship, and his freedom; refusing could cost him his life.
"A terrifically good debut--streetwise, heartfelt, and exciting. Sakey's portrait of a man about to lose everything makes for a powerful story. I loved this book."
T. Jefferson Parker, NY Times best-selling author of The Fallen
Dave White is an 8th grade
Language Arts teacher. His stories have appeared in several magazines and
anthologies. His first novel, When One Man Dies, is scheduled for release
in September 2007. He lives in New Jersey. You can visit his website at
WHEN ONE MAN DIES (Three Rivers Press, September)
When Gerry Figuroa is killed in a hit and run, his pal, Jersey P.I. Jackson Donne, is hired to investigate. Donne soon discovers that Figuroa may not have been quite the innocent he seemed. A second case leads Donne to a dead body on the steps of Drew University. As he digs deeper, Donne uncovers a drugs connection, and it quickly becomes clear that certain people would rather he dropped his investigation. Soon his ex-cop partner shows up bent on shattering everything, and Donne finds his past hurtling towards him with a vengeance.
"Everybody wins when a classic form, such as the private-eye novel, meets up with a class act, such as Dave White. In his remarkable debut novel, When One Man Dies, White manages the neat trick of respecting the genre's traditions while daring to nudge it toward something new and unexpected. And Jackson Donne is a wonderful character, someone with whom readers will happily share many beers in the Olde Towne Tavern for years to come. Lots of promise here – in Donne and White. I'm rooting for both of them."
Laura Lippman, Edgar Award-winning author of A Spider’s Thread
Killer Year Blog Launch – September 25, 2007
years ago International Thriller Writers was created at Bouchercon in Toronto.
Our goal was to celebrate the thriller, enhance the prestige and raise the
profile of thrillers, create a community that together could do more, much more,
than any one author or even any one publisher could for the genre.
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