Early Morning Thrills: The Thriller Panel At The BEA

This morning at BEA, authors Lee Child, Karen Slaughter and Justin Cronin chatted with blogger Sarah Weinman, of Confessions of an Idosyncratic Mind, about the evolution of their thrillers.

They spoke about the influence of their audience on their writing:

Slaughter said that she satisfies herself first, "I write what I want to be writing, not what I think fans want."

Cronin thought of himself as a reader while he was writing The Passage. "I was feeling nostalgic for the great big fat stories ... plot driven stories" that he loves reading, so he took that mindset to his writing.

In order to control the quality of his work, Child writes every story "as if it is my first book and my last book."

They also discussed the nature of expanding a series:

Child cautioned, "with a series the huge danger is getting lazy ... or falling in love with a character" as these two sins ineviably kill a series.

Cronin knew he needed three books to tell this story, but it was "just an idea - this wonderful toy I could play with and see what happened."

Slaughter spoke of the business aspect of being known for her series, when books are contracted "it's not going to be the next Jack Reacher or the next The Passage, it is 'untitled, Slaughter' because you're such a brand."

They also talked about their series expansion in more concrete terms:

Slaughter spoke how the expansion of her series as logical, "I didn't want to be the Jessica Fletcher of Grant County ... In my small towns people do horrible things ... why would people live there?" With that in mind, she felt she had to expand to nearby towns and cities.

Child talked candidly about the evolution of Jack Reacher, "I try not to chance him, I base everything in my writing on what I like as a reader. [Fans] don't want to open up my next book and Reacher is suddenly a vegan pacifist." Instead, he works to keep Reacher a constant, "I just put myself in Reacher's head and we go wandering and see what happens."

Cronin authored two very un-thriller stories, The Summer Guest and Mary and O'Neil, before starting The Passage. So he says, "my career makes no sense ... [With The Passage] I would just say 'yes' if there was something interesting in the story, I could just go there."

These are just some of the highlights from the Thriller panel on Thursday morning at BEA. The latest releases from these three authors are Lee Child's 61Hours (May), Justin Cronin's The Passage (June) and Karin Slaughter's Broken (July).