I’ve been thinking a lot about thrillers this week. You see, we’ve got a workshop full of professional writers being taught by Dean Wesley Smith how to refine their thriller-writing skills. So, that word keeps bouncing around in my head. Thrillers. Thriller. Michael Jackson. Characters from Disney’s Frozen doing Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance (no, I’m not making that up—check it out here).
As you can tell, I’m getting a little distracted. But in a good way. A thrilling way. OK, I’ve gone to far.
Seriously, though, workshop weeks are always fun. Disruptive to the work schedule, but fun. You can’t spend a week interacting with talented writers and not have a good time. At least, I can’t.
So, back to thrillers. Even if you don’t think you’re a thriller fan, you probably are. Thrillers come is a variety of shapes and sizes, from psychological thrillers to sf thrillers. Even if you haven’t read any, you’re probably familiar with them. The Da Vinci Code, Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, A Few Good Men, anything featuring Jack Ryan as a main character, even Jurassic Park: all thrillers.
Thrillers make our pulses race and our teeth clench. And they’re memorable. I remember Thriller vividly. It was my first record, in fact (and pretty much my last as cassette tapes took over right about then). And I’ll never forget seeing Jurassic Park in the movie theater. It was my first THX movie (yes, I’m dating myself with this paragraph). And I will never forget that scene where the Velociraptor jumps up to grab the kid from the HVAC vent or when another—Or the same one? They all look alike to me: terrifying.—runs for the girl and we don’t realize it’s a reflection (and neither does the Velociraptor….)
Good thrillers suck us in. They keep us at the edge of our seats or feverishly turning pages until the final, often satisfying, conclusion. And that’s why we’re inevitably drawn to them. In a world where reality often outstrips fiction in its potential horrors, thrillers generally give us resolution and a sense of order. The atrocity always has a reason, and good always battles evil. The good guy wins. The bad guys dies (or goes to jail, or both).
Reality is not so cut and dry. Here, the good guy is just as likely to die as the bad guy. And the bad guy sometimes gets away with the atrocity. Sometimes good fights evil, but sometimes good turns a blind eye on evil’s actions. Reality is far murkier.
Thank goodness we can have fiction vacations any time we want. And we’ve got plenty of thrillers for you if you need an escape right about now. Heck, we’ve released two frontlist novels in the past year alone: Snipers, an sf thriller, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dead Money, a poker thriller, by Dean Wesley Smith.
And to give you a little preview, we’ve got Fiction River: Pulse Pounders, edited by Kevin J. Anderson, and a slew of new Retrieval Artist novels (more Rusch sf thrillers) coming your way round about Christmas.
How’s that for thrilling?
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.