Author Provocateur Podcasts
Hank Phillippi Ryan - Her Perfect Life
Hank Phillippi Ryan’s latest thriller, HER PERFECT LIFE, Lily Atwood, is an award-winning on-air television reporter with a seemingly perfect life. A job she loves that earns her incredible celebrity status, a seven-year-old loving daughter, Rowen, who goes to a posh private school; and the perfect beautiful home in a safe neighborhood. But not everything is as perfect as it seems. Lily has several dark secrets—including the fact that her older sister disappeared when Lily was Rowen’s age.
This chilling psychological standalone has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, which called it "a superlative thriller." It has also garnered a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and is now nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Novel, and the iconic Mary Higgins Clark Award.
Like protagonist Lily, Hank is also a television news reporter. She and I discuss how the idea of this plot came to her; what about Lily’s on-air career mirrors her own; and how she overcomes the doubt every author faces: writing that next novel.
Liza Taylor Nash - In All Good Faith
In Liza Nash Taylor’s latest historical novel, IN ALL GOOD FAITH the lives of two women—May Marshall and Dorrit Sykes—intersect in the Great Depression: The era’s economic hardships turn both their lives turned upside down in heartbreaking ways. How they survive makes it worth revisiting one of the most tumultuous periods of the 20th Century America.
I talk to Liza about her research into bank failures, hobo life, and Hoovervilles. We also discuss how knitting kept her sane through the Covid lockdown, as well as how it inspired a future book. Liza and I also talk about why we must keep reinventing ourselves: something her heroines did not just to survive, but to thrive.
Kristin Contino - A House Full of Windsors
In Kristin Contino’s contemporary novel, A House full of Windsor, divorced mother Debbie has such an obsession of the British Royal Family to the point that her hoarding of Royal knickknacks leads her grown children to go to desperate measures. Their form of intervention: convincing her to partake in a reality television show that helps hoarders confront the underlying issues of their mania. By juxtaposing Debbie’s voice with that of her eldest daughter Sarah, Contino reveals the underlying sorrow about a young, hasty marriage and its overriding affects on Sarah and her siblings.
Through a heartfelt and humorous plot, all the players find a way to heal, move forward, and in the case of the novel’s two heroines, find the love that has eluded them.
Kristin and I discuss how she came up with the book’s plot, her own love of all things British, and how she found the inspiration to revisit this story after having set it aside.
CONTEST WINNER: CATHERINE O
After listening to this podcast, Catherine O correctly answered the question and won a digital copy of A FULL HOUSE OF WINDSOR.
Tess Gerritsen & Gary Braver- Choose Me
In the crime thriller, CHOOSE ME, prolific authors Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver have collaborated on a thriller that introduces Frankie Loomis, a tough-as-nails police detective whose investigation of a college student’s fatal plunge from a balcony is so finely layered with possible suspects that it will keep you guessing until the end if it was suicide or a murder.
Tess and Gary discuss why they enjoyed the collaboration; why it was great to see how each approached dialogue—both the men’s and women’s—from each other’s points of view; and why they chose to make Frankie a woman of a certain age.
We also discuss two very important issues specific to authors: when using a pen name works well; and why the laws that protect Intellectual Property need to be strengthened, especially in circumstances when novels are adapted to movies or television.
CONTEST WINNER: PHYLLIS RBC
After listening to this podcast, Phyllis RBC correctly answered the question and won a digital copy of CHOOSE ME.
Andrew Mayne - Black Coral
In Black Coral, master magician and prolific novelist Andrew Mayne’s second thriller of his Sloan McPherson series—Mayne’s take-no-prisoners detective, a diver with her police force’s newly formed Underwater Investigation Unit—stumbles across a submerged car in an alligator-infested canal. It turns out that the bodies inside belong four to missing persons—teenagers presumed runaways. This decades-long cold case is just one piece in a string of similar vanishings—and if Sloan’s team is correct, the work of a serial killer hiding in plain sight.
But Sloan will do anything to catch him—even if it means being his perfect victim.
Andrew and I discuss how Sloan’s unorthodox past makes her an unlikely albeit successful detective; and how he channels his Florida childhood to create stories about the secrets that lie beneath the water’s edge. We also talk about his own ties to law enforcement; and how his profession as a master illusionist has helped form his approach for writing tight, taut suspenseful novels.
CONTEST WINNER: Ann S
After listening to this podcast, Ann S correctly answered the question and won a digital copy of BLACK CORAL
Daniel Pyne - Water Memory
In prolific screenwriter Daniel Pyne’s latest thriller novel, WATER MEMORY—Black Ops specialist Aubrey Sentro may be one concussion away from death. But when pirates seize the cargo ship she’s on, she must decide whether to risk her life to save her fellow passengers.
As she plays their deadly game of cat and mouse, she pushes herself to survive by focusing on thoughts of her children. She’s never told them what she really does for a living, and now she might not get the chance.
While her memories make her vulnerable, motherhood makes her dangerous.
Daniel and I also discuss his process for writing the novel his first series, and the similarities and differences between writing for film and television as opposed to novels.
CONTEST WINNER: Kirstin B
After listening to this podcast, Kirstin B correctly answered the question and won a digital copy of WATER MEMORY..
Jason Pinter - A Stranger at the Door
There are tiger moms. And then there is Rachel Marin, Jason Pinter’s protagonist in the thriller series that bears her name. Pinter has given Rachel a very unique skill set: she has an uncanny ability to see clues that crime scene investigators may miss.
She is also a lethal killer.
In A STRANGER AT THE DOOR—the second book of series—when danger lands on Rachel’s doorstep with the threat of harming her young family, she has a vested interest in solving the heinous murder of a local high school teacher.
Jason and I discussed the twists and turns of this suspense-filled thriller. We also talk small towns and the evil that may lurk behind those perfect white picket fences.
CONTEST WINNER: LL
After listening to this podcast, LL correctly answered the question and won a digital copy of A STRANGER AT THE DOOR.
Lee Goldberg - Bone Canyon
In BONE CANYON—prolific author and television producer-writer Lee Goldberg’s second book in his Eve Ronin series—charred bones found in the aftermath of a devastating Santa Monica Mountains fire embroils his protagonist in a conspiracy that puts her hard-fought position on the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in jeopardy—not to mention her life.
Lee and I discuss how he approaches the research for his books, why he believes that making life for Eve, a rookie cop, complicated and messy, both in her personal and her professional relationships makes her a more satisfying heroine, and the most important thing he feels every author should do to be successful in their careers.
CONTEST WINNER: Suzy D
After listening to the podcast and correctly answering the contest question,
she won a digital copy of Lee Goldberg's BONE CANYON.
Julie Valerie - The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks
In the second novel in the Village of Primm series—The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks—novelist Julie Valerie turns up the heat in her satirical domestic comedy of a wife, mother, and aspiring filmmaker who clings to the pursuit of perfection, only to have fate play with her plan at every turn.
Julie and I discuss her heroine, Holly Banks, who soon discovers that her new neighborhood of über mommies have good reason to doubt that their highly coveted planned community is less than perfect—especially when a dark secret leads to some dire circumstances in their community.
We also talk about Julie's insights on those parents in the book whose mission is giving their families a perfect life and the pitfalls that make that impossible, even in a community that prides itself on premiere schools, perfect lawns—and in the case of the Village of Primm, the crowning glory of its topiary garden: a forty-foot peacock (peahen?) that turns out to be the ideal example of what can go wrong does go wrong.
CONTEST WINNER: Diane McA
After listening to the podcast and correctly answering the contest question,
she won a digital copy of Julie Valerie's HOLLY BANKS FULL OF ANGST.
Robert Dugoni - The Last Agent
Josie and her guest, Robert Dugoni, discuss his latest thriller, The Last Agent—the second book in his Charles Jenkins series.
The novel’s non-stop fast-paced plot revolves around the ultimate heist: the exfiltration of the undercover Russian Operative who once saved Jenkins’s life. Every step of the way—from Moscow to Scandinavia to the open ocean—Jenkins is hunted by a brutal Russian agent on a killer quest of his own.
You can order Robert Dugoni’s novel, The Last Agent, right now, through Amazon.
You can read an article including this interview in THE BIG THRILL: http://bit.ly/BigThrillLastAgent
Samantha M. Bailey - Woman on the Edge
In Samantha M. Bailey’s debut thriller WOMAN ON THE EDGE, a mother hands her infant daughter to a stranger before falling to her death in front of a subway train. That is, the woman given the child claims they've never met.
But there is enough evidence to prove otherwise. If she's lying, it's because she has a lot to gain: the child she's always wanted, AND access to the fortune the child will one day inherit.
In other words, WOMAN ON THE EDGE has all the right elements for a taut, breakneck domestic thriller.
Sam and I discuss how the concept for her novel came to her, and why the book's plot hits home with so women. And having personally known Sam since WOMAN ON THE EDGE began it’s journey to publication, if your an aspiring author seeking insights and inspiration, our discussion on that process is one you won’t want to miss.
David Baldacci - Long Road to Mercy
According to internationally bestselling author David Baldacci, when you’ve written as many books as he has—ten series, or a total of thirty books, and counting; and another twelve stand-alone novels—there is one way to keep his writing razor-sharp: “Start from Square One: create a new character, a new series—a new world.”
With his latest novel, LONG ROAD TO MERCY, Baldacci has done just that. His new protagonist, female FBI agent Atlee Pine, must cover a desolate Far West outpost on her own. And although its size is intimidating—it includes Grand Canyon National Park—Atlee is strongly motivated to succeed. She sees it as a way to avenge the tragic death of her twin sister, Mercy, who was abducted by a serial killer when the girls were only six years old.
David and I talked about his process in creating new, complex characters and weaving real-time geopolitical incidents into a heart-pounding plot.
Lee Child - Past Tense
The iconic loner anti-hero, Jack Reacher, has made thriller writer Lee Child an internationally renowned author. Child’s debut novel, Killing Floor—the first of 23 Reach books—won both the Anthony and the Barry awards for Best First Mystery. The 9th novel, THE ENEMY, won both the Barry and the Nero awards for Best Novel and became a film starring Tom Cruise.
I interviewed Lee about the latest book in the series, PAST TENSE, in which a turn in the road takes Jack to his long-deceased father’s hometown, where the ghosts of his past aren’t necessarily dead and buried.
Kristin Higgins - Good Luck with That
New York Times best-selling author Kristan Higgins’ eighteenth novel, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, follows three women—best pals Emerson, Marley, and Georgia—whose lifetime battles with obesity were the bonds that brought them together.
The death of one provides the catalyst for self discovery, change, and acceptance for the other two.
Hank Phllippi Ryan - Trust Me
If you’re a novelist, the best way to make lemonade from a lemon of a non-fiction book deal gone awry is to repurpose it into a thriller that garners numerous enthusiastic reviews and a slot several best-sellers’ lists.
With her latest stand-alone novel, TRUST ME, Five-time Agatha award-winner Hank Phillippi Ryan has done exactly that. I talked to her about this latest thriller as well as how she varies her process when writing a stand-alone novel as opposed to her Jane Ryland series.
James Rollins - Crucible
James Rollins has written enough bestselling novels to fill a tall bookcase. In most of them, a historical event, or artifact, is the catalyst for a modern-day catastrophe.
Sometimes Rollins will find the perfect plot concept from reading an article. Sometimes it’s sparked from his travels. For his latest novel, CRUCIBLE, it came from a place that even surprised him. (You'll have to hear the interview to find out where.)
In CRUCIBLE, the Spanish Inquisition is the catalyst for a religious cult's modern-day witch hunt in the not-too-distant-future. Fair warning: Should the events depicted in this novel come to pass and scientists soon develop an artificial intelligence capable of warp-speed learning capacity, fact will be much scarier than fiction.
Debra Webb - The Secrets We Bury
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The latest novel of prolific suspense novelist Debra Webb—a USA-Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author with over one hundred and fifty books to her name—is THE SECRETS WE BURY:. It is the first in a new romantic suspense series whose protagonist, Dr. Rowan Dupont—formally Nashville Police Department’s forensic psychologist—also happens to be an undertaker’s daughter.
Rowan, who comes from the small town of Winchester Tennessee, is haunted by the mysterious drowning death of her twin sister. Between her mother’s subsequent suicide and the recent murder of her father, returning to Winchester to run the funeral home feels fitting—even if it leaves her vulnerable to an obsessive serial killer.
Debra and I not only discussed her plotting and how her own past affects her writing, but she also has sage advice to authors just starting out: “If what you write is what readers want to read, don't deviate from what works best for them—and for you.”
Josie's Other Interviews
Before becoming a full-time novelist, Josie also worked in advertising (JWT, DDB/Needham, BBM&B) and radio (WPLO-AM, Atlanta; WZGC-FM, Atlanta).
As a journalist, Josie has interviewed Maya Angelou, Brenda Blethyn, Julian Bond, Kenneth Branagh, Jackie Collins, Costa-Gavras, Craig Ferguson, John Gray, Derek Jacobi, Debbie Reynolds, and John Woo.
Her celebrity interviews and relationship trends articles have been featured in Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, Redbook, and Complete Woman, as well as AOL, Yahoo, AskMen.com, Divorce360.com, and SingleMindedWomen.com, where she serves as the Relationships Channel editor.
Josie's interviews for her podcast, Author Provocateur, and for the International Thriller Writers magazine THE BIG THRILL include such notable authors as Samantha M. Bailey, David Baldacci, C.J. Box, Allison Brennan, Lee Child, Deborah Coonts, Robert Dugoni, Barry Eisler, JT Ellison, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, Tess Gerritsen, Andrew Gross, Kristan Higgins, Jon Land, John Lescroart, John Lutz, James Rollins, Jason Pinter, Daniel Pyne, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Brad Thor, and Debra Webb.