Friday, September 30, 2011

Thrillers, A History

This writing about writing thing is a new adventure for me, so I've found myself a bit lost as to what to tackle first. The more I thought about where to go next, the more I decided to tell you a little bit about what sort of thrillers I'm attracted to most.

I found out I was a thriller girl when I was pretty young. In elementary school, before I ever knew Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym used by various ghostwriters of Nancy Drew, I found out that the Nancy Drew Files line was my favorite series, because it always involved murders. (Creepy, huh?) I didn't want to hear about Nancy finding old clocks, dang it! I wanted more action, more danger, more intensity...more blood! It wasn't long before I started stealing Mary Higgins Clark's books off my mother's bookshelves. Mary Higgins Clark's character of the moment became the new Nancy for me, and I tore through everything of hers I could get my hands on.

Then, in college, I started reading James Patterson's Alex Cross series, and it's safe to say that my love affair with the thriller was in full force. I adored James' short chapter bursts, the high octane suspense he offered up, the deliciously insane killers. I also loved the strength of his characters, and I came to think of Nana Momma as nothing less than my own flesh and blood.

I'm not sure what drew me to my first Lisa Gardner novel, but she quickly became another staple in my thriller collection. This is when I realized one of my favorite staples of a thriller is when it's not necessarily a true series--you can pick up any book of the lot and read it and have it makes sense--but the characters are "running." I love knowing a character from the start, the trust I have in them. I love knowing their strengths and weaknesses from page one.

However, I have to say, for me, characters are a bonus, but when I pick up a book, be it thriller or otherwise, my reasoning has to do with plot, plot, and more plot. It's the same with my tastes in movies, actually. They can have a character I love or all the brilliant actors alive, but if the plot doesn't intrigue me, I won't pick it up. I'm usually not caught by buzz words like "shocking" or "secrets," and I can't stand vague plot pitches on the backs of books that promise "someone" doesn't want "someone" to learn "something" for "some reason." But when a book like one of my stand alone favorites, 24/7 by Jim Brown, promises a cool-concept story about a reality show that is high- jacked by a demented mastermind who kills the person voted off the island every few days, you better believe I'm going to blaze through that puppy!

What about you? What draws you to a story?

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