9 Mystery and Thriller Authors Tell All

9 Mystery and Thriller Authors Tell All

These 9 friends are all at the top of their game when it comes to fast-paced mystery and thrillers that veer toward the dark side.

Check out their original interview link, and what they’ve been up to since appearing on this blog and/or in the Mystery Ahead newsletter. Listed in alphabetical order

DV Berkom

mystery and thrillerStartling revelations from first #friends interview

2019 has been a whirlwind of activity for this author who juggles two thriller series. In January her octogenarian parents moved into the apartment in her backyard, lending an interesting (and happy) dynamic to the life she shares with partner Mark.

She also released Absolution, the 8th book in the Leine Basso thriller series. Readers had been waiting patiently (and some not so patiently) since the novel Dark Return to find out what happened between Leine and her arch-enemy, the French-born terrorist, Salome. Absolution is the page-turning wrap-up to the trilogy-within-the-series that started with The Last Deception. (The Leine Basso series is now exclusive to Amazon, allowing for members of Kindle Unlimited to access the books for free.) The 9th book in the series, titled Dakota Burn, will be shortly.

As for the Kate Jones series, due to reader demand she’s considering writing another installment in the series over the next year or so and is really looking forward to revisiting Kate and the other characters again!


DV Berkom books on Amazon

David Bruns

mystery and thriller #friends interview & writing about terrorism

Since being featured here in May 2016, David’s writing life has been bursting with activity. In 2017, he was selected for the prestigious Clarion West Writers Workshop, a six-week “summer camp” for professional short fiction writers. He’s also half of The Two Navy Guys thriller writing team of David + retired naval intelligence officer J.R. Olson.

Following the success of Weapons of Mass Deception and Jihadi Apprentice, their third national security thriller, Rules of Engagement, was published by St. Martin’s Press in June 2019. This novel of North Korean cyberwarfare was called an “utterly authentic portrayal of modern day combat that compares with the best of the timeless classics by Tom Clancy, Dale Brown, and Stephen Coonts,” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Marc Greaney.


David Bruns books on Amazon

Lynda L. Lock

mystery and thrillerMexico and mayhem from her #friends interview

Lynda lives on Mexico’s idyllic Isla Mujeres, where her mystery series is set. Between her books and her hugely popular blog, she is probably the best “author brand” around. It’s been a very productive year for Lynda with the publication of two new Isla Mujeres Mystery novels: Temptation Isla, Book #4, and Terror Isla, Book #5.

Her real-life beach mutt, Sparky, is one of the main characters in the novels. He typically manages to drag his imaginary human pal Jessica Sanderson through a jumble of murder, romance, revenge, and drug cartel drama. When Sparky isn’t busy tracking down the bad guys, he is usually pestering Lynda for a ride in her island golf cart.


Lynda Lock books on Amazon

Margaret Mizushima

mystery and thriller

Margaret’s interview was exclusive to the Mystery Ahead newsletter. Subscribe here.

Margaret’s 4th Timber Creek K-9 Mystery, Burning Ridge, won a Colorado Author’s League award for e-book fiction, Gold medal in the Next Generation Indies for action adventure, Silver in the Benjamin Franklins for mystery, and Bronze in the Foreword Indies for mystery. WOW! It was also listed as a Best Book of 2018 by King’s River Life and was named a finalist in the Colorado Book Awards, the Silver Falchion Awards, and the Women Writing the West 2019 Willa Awards for contemporary fiction.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Margaret was surprised and overwhelmed with gratitude when the membership of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers elected her 2019 Writer of the Year. Despite all this hoopla, the 5th Timber Creek K-9 mystery, Tracking Game, releases November 12, 2019, with a 6th book slated for next year.


Margaret Mizushima books on Amazon

Jim Nesbitt

Startling revelations from first #friends interview

mystery and thrillerI recently caught up with Jim at the Killer Nashville conference, where he was fresh off the success of his 3rd Ed Earl Burch novel, The Best Lousy Choice. My own review said “Raw, lusty, rough-edged — and yet, tremendously literary. Descriptions paint vibrant word pictures.” Burch, a cashiered Dallas vice and homicide detective, is an emotional wreck in this story, hosing down nightmares from his last case with self-prescribed doses of Percodan and bourbon.

Eking out a living as a PI, he’s broke and forced to take on the type of job he loathes — divorce work, tracking down the wayward husband of a rich West Texas woman who sheds spouses like a rattlesnake sheds skin. When a prominent rancher dies in a suspicious barn fire, the man’s outlaw cousin asks Burch to investigate.

Jim had a lot of fun writing this one and is already plotting Book #4 in the Ed Earl Burch series. He says readers seem to like the boy — he’s a classic American anti-hero. Ornery, tough, lusty, profane and reckless. Agreed.


Jim Nesbitt books on Amazon

Sandra Nikolai

A favorite #friends interview

mystery and thrillerIt’s been a hectic year! Sandra published Cold Revenge, Book 6 in the Megan Scott/Michael Elliott Mystery series. As a psychological thriller, it marked her sleuths’ most thrilling challenge yet—and her own! To add to the daily ritual of keeping in touch on social media, she opened a new Instagram account. As part of a local authors group, Sandra visited libraries for Q & A sessions, held book-signing events in the Ottawa area last fall, including a 3-day tour.

Next on the agenda? Plotting more devious dilemmas for ghostwriter Megan Scott and crime reporter Michael Elliott in Book 7. Sandra’s blog posts offer lots of tidbits about those daring sleuths and their exploits. New subscribers can sign up for Inside My Writing World newsletter on Sandra’s website to receive her latest book news—PLUS free chapters and a short story!


Sandra Nikolai books on Amazon

Nicolas Obregon

mystery and thrillerMy take on Blue Light Yokohama

Set in modern Japan, Blue Light Yokohama, the first in the Inspector Iwata series, came out in 2017 and was published in 8 countries. The Book Nook (NPR Radio) said “Once in a great while, I’ll stumble upon a debut novel that is so freaking brilliant I just want to scream. Blue Light Yokohama is stunning.” The sequel, Sins As Scarlet, was released in 2018. Jeffery Deaver called it “a masterpiece” while AJ Finn said, “I’m awestruck” and the Associated Press labelled it “stunning.”

Nic can’t release too many details at this stage, but Sins As Scarlet has been optioned by a major Hollywood producer for TV adaptation. (!!) Meanwhile, the third (and final) Iwata book is slated for release on 28 Nov 2019. Nic’s next book will be a standalone novel published by Penguin Random House.


Nicolas Obregon books on Amazon

Dan Petrosini

 mystery and thriller Hard working advice from his #friends interview

Dan is one of the hardest working authors I know. In the last year he’s released five books in the Luca Mystery Series including A Cold Hard Case, Cop or Killer?, Silencing Salter, and A Killer Missteps. Four of the new books reached Amazon best seller status in their categories. In addition to a Luca Mystery Series boxed set, he’s wrapping up book 9, out in October.

As if all that activity wasn’t enough, Dan had new covers designed for two unrelated novels and an audio version of another produced.

He claims that while this much activity may seem “machine-like,” it’s the hours put in and learning from mistakes which make it possible.


Dan Petrosini books on Amazon

Khaled Talib

mystery and thrillerKhaled’s “Book Savor” interview

For nearly 2 years, the Singapore based thriller author of Smokescreen, Incognito, and Gun Kiss was the most popular #friend interview on this blog. The secret is in his answer to the interview question “You can invite any author living or dead to dinner. Who is your guest and what will you be serving?” Read the answer and your dinner party will never be the same.

Also the author of short stories and collections of wise sayings, Khaled recently completed a new crime novel set in South Australia. The story is different from previous thrillers as he wanted to invoke the Australian state’s social and cultural milieu. Khaled handled South Australia’s external public relations account for a decade, so is very familiar with the region. At the same time, he is writing the sequel to Gun Kiss and enjoying the flow of the story.


Khaled Talib books on Amazon

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Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.


Author to Author with Estelle Ryan

Author to Author with Estelle Ryan

I’ve been reading Estelle Ryan’s Dr. Genevieve Lenard mystery series, starting with THE GAUGUIN CONNECTION. The series is a fresh take on the usual whodunit, both in terms of style and characters. I’m delighted to host Estelle today for a short chat.

Carmen Amato: Estelle, your absolutely compelling mystery series featuring Dr. Genevieve Lenard now spans 9 novels. Dr. Lenard is a self-described “non-neurotypical” personality with touches of Asperger’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in her makeup, all of which both help and hinder her efforts to solve crimes that incorporate an art element. Between the complexity of the character and the mysteries solved, how do you maintain continuity across the series while also keeping things fresh?

Estelle Ryan booksEstelle Ryan: Firstly, thank you so much for having me and also for your kind words. When I developed the series, I spent a lot of time getting to know my characters before I even wrote the first book. I wrote out comprehensive personality and professional profiles on each of them. No matter what crazy crime challenge gets thrown their way or how much each of them grow throughout the series, at their core they’re still true to their personalities. Plot points are easy and hard to find. Technology evolves at such an alarming rate, it’s not difficult to find new things to include in the mysteries. The difficult part comes in avoiding the very strong temptation of repeating the progression of a mystery in one of the previous books. But that challenge is fun to take on.

CA: Accompanied by her observations of body language, discussions between a group of characters in Genevieve’s apartment or her work place drive much of the storyline in your books. What are the pros and cons of so much dialogue?

ER: The pros of dialogue-heavy story telling are numerous, one of which is that it is more dynamic. It gives the reader the opportunity to get to know the characters through their speech and not through lengthy descriptions. It is a great way to reveal conflict between characters as well as giving each character a very distinct voice. The cons would be the lack of detailed description. We are venturing into a very subjective topic. Some readers love detailed descriptions of places, emotions, actions, as well as lengthy internal dialogue, where others find that boring and skip over those parts. Both have their place and finding a balance is another challenge for every writer. 

CA: One of the reasons I love your books is that our writing styles are very similar. We both feature strong yet flawed female characters and write from their deep point of view. What is the most difficult thing you have faced writing the character of Dr. Genevieve Lenard?

ER: I wanted the readers to experience the challenges people on the spectrum face every day. I wanted to make Genevieve difficult, but I didn’t want to make her impossible to relate to or unlikable. Striking that balance has been and still is something I pay close attention to. People who don’t know someone on the spectrum might find a character like Genevieve unbelievable and it’s my job to draw them into her world, into her mind in a way they can relate to her – even if it’s only in a small way.

CA: I found Genevieve to be very relatable! Part of what makes her endearing is that she struggles with all the changes in her life, but never loses that well-crafted and unique persona.

Transition is a huge part of a mystery or thriller novel. Change amps up tension and forces characters to adapt in order to keep moving forward. Can you share a significant transition that you experienced or that you wrote for a character?

gauguinER: The catalyst for Genevieve’s most significant growth/transition was when Colin and the other friends entered her life in the first book. She was forced out of her comfort zone of isolation and had to learn to trust and share. Adding the presence of Nikki, the student who elicits very strong protective tendencies in Genevieve also shook her to her core. I think all of us have experienced such events that took us to uncharted emotional territories and forced us to grow and often face our own fears.

CA: Can you leave us with a quote, a place, or a concept from a book that inspired you?

ER: Everything about ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ touched me. This quote is something I hold dear: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Estelle, thank you for stopping by!

If you haven’t read the terrific Dr. Genevieve Lenard series yet, check out Estelle’s website and find the Dr. Genevieve Lenard books on Amazon

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Estelle Ryan


Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.


Estelle Ryan

Author to Author: DV Berkom and Carmen Amato

Author to Author: DV Berkom and Carmen Amato

I love swapping ideas and stories with other mystery authors and this week I had the opportunity to chat with DV Berkom. Her Leine Basso and Kate Jones thrillers have been topping Amazon’s mystery and thriller genre charts of late, possibly because the author is as interesting as her books.

author DV Berkom

Carmen Amato: DV, thanks so much for stopping by. I confess to discovering you as an author when Amazon’s ticker said that people who bought my books also bought yours! As a result, I find myself in very good company.

DV Berkom: I’d have to say the same thing. Your character, Detective Emilia Cruz, is fantastic. Good company, indeed.

CA: You write both the Leine Basso crime thriller series and the Kate Jones adventure thriller series. Juggling two series at once is impressive. How do you maintain continuity? Do you have a process for each series?

DVB: Continuity can be tricky. Unfortunately, I don’t compile story bibles. That would take too much planning. I’ve been writing each character for so long now that I remember most if not all of what I need. It’s like accessing each character’s memories, if that makes sense. If I get stuck, I’ll re-read sections of previous books just to make sure I’m not mis-remembering. A Killing Truth was the trickiest, by far. As a prequel, I had to make sure to adhere to what I’d written before about Leine’s early life, which made things tricky. Especially the ending. I re-read Serial Date and Bad Traffick and then did a search for certain character’s names to refresh my memory about what I’d written. From reader comments and emails, it seems to have worked, thank goodness.

Related: Meet David Bruns, thriller author of JIHADI APPRENTICE and WEAPONS OF MASS DECEPTION

CA: Your main characters are strong, multi-dimensional women. But they aren’t perfect. Where did you look for inspiration when creating these women?

DVB: Perfect characters are {yawn} so boring. I don’t want to invest my precious time reading about someone who can’t do any wrong. How is that compelling? Strong, flawed women are all around us—you just have to look. And let’s face it—nobody’s actually “perfect.” A bit closer to home, my mother is one of the most fearless women I know, as is my sister. I believe that we’ve all got that strength inside us, and I love to tap into the character’s reserves to find out what she’ll fight for and what she won’t. It’s a deep well.

CA: Setting can drive the tone and tempo of a mystery. Tell us about a favorite setting you have used in a novel and why did you choose it.

DVB: Mexico is one of my favorite settings. I’m sure you can relate  Even though I lived there for a time and traveled there extensively, it’s still mysterious and I keep going back. Take your pick: jungles, deserts, ruins, cosmopolitan and rural areas, resorts, etc. The country is so diverse, I doubt I’d ever exhaust the possibilities. Of course, the same could be said for the US, and I’ve set books in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington State. I’ve lived in most of the places I write about, or at least have visited them, and enjoy writing about the ones that made an impression.

Related: The Insider’s Guide to the Best of Mexico

CA: Transition is a huge part of a mystery or thriller novel. Change amps up tension and forces characters to adapt in order to keep moving forward. Can you share a significant transition that you experienced or that you wrote for a character?

DVB: Life is change. If you lack that basic element in your novel (especially in thrillers or mysteries) you will lose 99.9% of your readers. My own life transitions have taught me so much. For instance, my family moved a lot when I was young, forcing me to adapt to change: new location, new school, new friends, new cultures. At the time it sucked, but now I’m grateful. Having to adapt to new situations taught me the art of observation. When you’re the new kid on the block, you avoid a lot of unpleasantness if you first observe how others react. As a result of moving so much as a kid, for several years after I graduated college I changed addresses every 6 months or so. I loved being on the move. It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I settled down (more or less). Needless to say, during that time I had a lot of adventures—great fodder for novels.

CA: What is the first grown-up mystery you remember reading? Was it the one that inspired you to write that genre yourself or did another?

DVB: I’d read other spy novels before him, but Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle had the greatest impact. What a master. It was the first novel I’d read with a strong, realistic female character who fought back without making excuses. I also was inspired by Carl Hiaasen. His books showed me that you could write about social issues and still be highly entertaining.

CA: What can we expect next from Leine Basso and Kate Jones?

DVB: I’m currently in the middle of the first draft of the next Kate Jones thriller. I’m taking her in a slightly different direction, and it’s been a lot of fun. I don’t have the title yet, but I assume it will appear when it’s ready. Then, on to the next Leine Basso. I can’t get enough of either of them. If that does happen, or a high percentage of readers tell me I should kill one or the other of them off, I’ll know it’s time to start something new.

CA: Can you leave us with a quote, a place, or a concept from a book that inspired you?

DVB: “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” ― Jack Kerouac

Thanks for allowing me to be part of your world today, Carmen. I appreciate it.

Want to know more about fellow mystery author DV Berkom? Here’s her official bio:

DV Berkom is the award-winning author of two action-packed thriller series featuring strong female leads (Leine Basso and Kate Jones). Her love of creating resilient, kick-ass women characters stems from a lifelong addiction to reading spy novels, mysteries, and thrillers, and longing to find the female equivalent within those pages. She makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Mark, and several imaginary characters who like to tell her what to do.

Find her across your digital devices!








Amazon Author Page: US, UK

A Killing Truth by DV Berkom

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DV Berkom


Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.


DV Berkom

Author Carmen Amato

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