What is it About Thrillers?

Stephen Hunter and Marta Sprout at ThrillerFest

They are obviously designed to be high-action and draw us to the edge of our seats. However, there is much more to them than flying fists and crazy car chases, which brings me to why I write thrillers.

Many of us have experienced moments when things didn’t go well—hurricanes, floods, and life’s upheavals. Some of us have faced things that were truly terrifying. One of those moments shaped the course of my life.

I grew up in Southern California, surfing the coastal waves when hanging ten was a big deal, and helping others whenever I had the opportunity. As a teen, earthquakes, a war, protests, and riots had already taught me to be cautious. Before dawn, I had driven toward Hollywood and got lost. I pulled off into a neighborhood nestled in the hills above a canyon. The dark sky was just starting to lighten as I parked near a driveway and checked my map. Later that evening when I returned home, I saw that same driveway on the News. It was Sharon Tate’s home. I had been there just before the bodies were discovered.

Terrified doesn’t begin to describe how I felt, but it also ignited a burning curiosity. How could someone do something that horrific? How could a man convince others to harm total strangers on his behalf? Today, after a career in medicine and Ski Patrol, I write thrillers, teach at the police academy, do training scenarios with cadets and SWAT, and will soon start a new true crime series so that we all can put ourselves in the shoes of a hero.

Good thrillers need more than blazing bullets and spectacular explosions. We, the readers, need a compelling reason for it all. Within those reasons lies our fundamental need to right wrongs, which includes a thirst for a just conclusion that we don’t always see in real life. We want to effect meaningful change, to be heard, to make a difference, and feel as though our lives matter. Life doesn’t always offer us satisfying conclusions but in a thriller, we get both the hard-charging, rollercoaster ride and a satisfying resolution. That combined with high-stakes, fast-action, and characters like us—regular people in extraordinary situations—are what makes these stories so darn compelling.

Lee Child and Marta Sprout at ThrillerFest

At ThrillerFest, I’ve met many top authors who’ve been wonderful supporters: Sandra Brown, Robert Dugoni, Jonathan Maberry, Karin Slaughter, Stephen Hunter, and Steve Berry. David Morrell and Lee Child have had a significant impact on my writing. Each summer we all gather in New York and discuss the dynamics of writing. John Lescroart and I have talked about nuances of craft. Some of the most influential authors who have inspired me are Dave Farland, Kevin J. Anderson, and Michael Connelly, who’s known for his terrific Bosch Series. Michael is a smart man and is the one who encouraged me to get into the trenches with law enforcement, so I could understand the challenges, risks, and what being a cop demands of a person. It all led to telling a story worth your time.

Michael’s newest Bosch and Ballard novel, THE DARK HOURS, will be out on November 9, 2021 and I’m launching The Bowers Thrillers Series. The first book, KILL NOTICE, is available now in Ebook on Amazon and will soon be in Paperback, Hardback, and Audiobooks! The second book, ISLAND OF BONES, is on Pre-Order will launch on December 26, 2021 in all four formats and by next summer, you’ll see 31 BRAVO hit the shelves. It’s going to be a great year. Join the thrill-ride! If you haven’t already joined MARTA’S VIP READERS GROUP, please do so for the latest behind-the-scenes info.

Sandra Brown at ThrillerFest

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