Debut Authors 2016

 Authors are all part of the 2015/2016 Debut Author’s Program in 
International Thriller Writers

The Question: What are you most looking forward to as a debut author in 2016?

I’ve already achieved my first goal, which is to see my book next to my son’s book (Neighborhood Heroes: Life Lessons Learned from Maine’s Greatest Generation) and my father’s many books. Three generations of authors is pretty cool.

Next goal: world domination or the Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl, either one.

(As a Seahawks fan, I share Brendan’s pain on this one, at least about the Packers,                           I don’t have the energy for world domination!–Elena)

Abandoned by his father, orphaned by his drug-addled mother, and devastated by the murder of his sister, Michael McKeon was once a hardened “street dog who learned to play in traffic.” Years later, Michael is now a Bowdoin College professor with a wife and adopted daughter. When he creates a microbe that instantly cleans up any oil spill, no matter how large, by devouring the oil, that discovery should be the breakthrough that defines a career.

But the microbiologist’s life is ruined when The Global Group kidnaps his wife and daughter, forcing him to use his microbe to destroy all Saudi and Russian oil. As Michael races against the clock to save his family, he becomes a threat to the secret efforts of the American, Russian and Saudi governments to douse the flames in the Middle East by implementing a new Marshall Plan.


I look forward to connecting with readers of all ages. My book is YA, so I wrote it with the teen reader in mind. But people of all ages read YA these days (including me!) I’ve also had a blast connecting with other authors at conferences. I have a few more conferences in my lineup this year, including Thriller Fest. I am REALLY looking forward to that!

The Sea Side Strangler is on the loose in Beach Point, where fifteen-year-old Cathy Banks is spending the summer with her aunt (who happens to be mystery writer Roberta McCabe.) Although thrilled to be away from her psychotic, divorcing parents, with no cell phone or internet access, Cathy is positive that her summer is going to be wretched. 

Just when she begins to make friends, and even finds a crush to drool over, her new friend Lauren vanishes. When a body surfaces in Beach Point Bay, Cathy is forced to face the question: has the Sea Side Strangler struck again?


After several frantic months of book launch preparation, I’m really looking forward to connecting with readers in 2016. It makes me so happy when someone lets me know their thoughts about my book, and I’m eager to have lots of conversations with readers. I’m also looking forward to finding the time to work on my next novel.

Emily Ross, author of the YA thriller Half in Love with Death

It’s the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline’s life. Since her beautiful older sister Jess disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She’s invisible to her parents, who can’t stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister’s older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline’s desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her. 

Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess’s disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we’ll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again, in a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.

“Half in Love with Death … pulls you in with its beautiful prose, 
only to set you up for a thriller so true to life it will make you question 
how well you truly know your neighbors.” – Hypable


I look forward to meeting more fans of my first novel. I write for them. It’s a surreal experience to hear such enthusiasm over my work and it inspires me to write better and hopefully faster (snort). Book 2 is already done and I’m plotting book 3 in the series.  Thank you, readers!
DB Kennison, author of Still Life

Randi Lassiter, is twenty-nine, divorced, and remarkably content with her non-existent social life until the night she stumbles on a mutilated body. As she enters the investigation, first as a suspect then as amateur sleuth, can she stand up to the arrogant detective in charge and do what’s necessary to solve the murder of a young woman?
Not much happens in the microscopic town of Mt. Ouisco, Wisconsin. That’s what former Milwaukee homicide cop, Detective Jon Bricksen, counted on when he took a job at the local police department. But with the first murder the town has seen in forty years, he realizes his chance to escape the violence of the big city will have to wait.
As Randi uses the small town network to make critical progress before the officials can, Detective Bricksen is forced into an alliance with her. Can the combative pair fight attraction as they enter a dangerous world of disturbing performance art where murder is on display? What neither of them knows is the homicide they’re working is part of something much larger. Can they solve the mystery before one of them becomes a killer’s target?


Walking into a bookstore and seeing my book on the shelf. I’ve been dreaming of that moment nearly my entire life.

Katie Stillwell focuses on two things in her life: work and practicing for her Sommelier Certification with her blind tasting group. The exam was supposed to be the hardest part of her week, but that was before a body was found at an exclusive Napa Valley winery party. 
When all the evidence points to Katie’s best friend, the outspoken and independent Tessa, Katie drops everything to clear Tessa’s name. Using her deductive wine skills, she tries to track down the real killer. But when repeated attempts are made on her life, Katie discovers that everyone’s secrets must be uncorked — including her own.


Meeting readers, of course! And I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to connect with other ITW authors at Thrillerfest XI in July, and also to participate on a panel for the Palm Beach Peril event in Lake Worth, FL on January 29th. I’m super excited to meet the headliner for the event, author extraordinaire, Scott Turow.

On a more personal level, I’m looking forward to slowing down now that the whirlwind of my debut launch has settled and spending more time with my husband and kiddos. And I’ll be diving into edits on my second novel.

Jo has been hiding the truth about her role in her high school boyfriend’s drowning for sixteen years. Every summer, she drops her children off with her mother at the lakeside community where she spent summers growing up, but cannot bear to stay herself; everything about the lake reminds her of the guilt she feels. For her daughter Caroline, however, the lake is a precious world apart; its familiarity and sameness comforts her every year despite the changes in her life outside its bounds. At twelve years old and caught between childhood and adolescence, she longs to win her mother’s love and doesn’t understand why Jo keeps running away.

Then seven-year-old Sara Starr goes missing from the community beach. Rescue workers fail to uncover any sign of her–but instead dredge up the bones Jo hoped would never be discovered, shattering the quiet lakeside community’s tranquility. Caroline was one of the last people to see Sara alive on the beach, and feels responsible for her disappearance. She takes it upon herself to figure out what happened to the little girl. As Caroline searches for Sara, she uncovers the secrets her mother has been hiding, unraveling the very foundation of everything she knows about herself and her family. 

The Secrets of Lake Road by Karen Katchur is a riveting novel that is impossible 
to put down and hard to forget.


Writing a novel is such a solitary undertaking; I spent most of last year indoors, writing, rewriting and polishing my book. I’m excited about getting out and talking to readers and other writers. Also, Mission Hill is part of a three book series and I’m looking forward to finishing the second book.
Pamela Wechsler, author

Abby Endicott is chief of the District Attorney’s homicide unit in Boston, where she investigates and prosecutes the city’s most dangerous killers. She attended the elite Winsor school, graduated from Harvard Law School, and has been known to change into an evening gown amidst bodies in the morgue. She loves her job, and is committed to it. But among Abby’s many secrets is her longtime affair with fellow prosecutor Tim Mooney, a married father of one.
One night, Abby is awakened very late by a phone call from her favorite detective, who reports that there has been a horrific murder but is vague about the specifics. When she arrives at the crime scene and discovers the identity of the victim, she knows the terror and tragedy are only beginning.

Debut novelist Pamela Wechsler delivers a gripping and very human portrayal of a woman who will stop at nothing to find out the truth, even if it challenges everything she believes about justice.

“A fantastic series opener―authentic, gritty and romantic. 
Pam Wechsler delivers a thrill ride, crackling with suspense, wit and style.” 
―Billy Bob Thornton, Academy Award winning writer, actor, and director

Attending conferences as a published author.  I was once one of those in the audience who was searching for a way forward in this crazy business, but have since found my way.
Tim Washburn, author of Powerless

Nothing Can Prepare You. . .

It strikes without warning. A massive geomagnetic solar storm that destroys every power grid in the northern hemisphere. North America is without lights, electricity, phones, and navigation systems. 

In one week, the human race is flung back to the Dark Ages. 


It’s tough to choose one thing! But if I must, I think interacting with new readers would be at the top of my list. Meeting people who have taken the time to read my novel is heartening, thrilling and humbling. I love to answer their questions and to hear what about Nation of Enemies resonated with them, what kept them turning the page and what made them root for a character. I may have written a thriller, but this is the thrilling part for me. 
Holly Raynes, author

Turned away at London Heathrow Immigration because of his wife’s and unborn baby’s inferior DNA, Dr. Cole Fitzgerald returns to work in Boston’s Mass General hospital. He purchases ballistics skins for his wife and son, as well as himself, a bulletproof car and a pre-fab house in a Safe District. His family’s safety is paramount: with the War at Home, there are never enough precautions.
It is 2032. Legions of lone wolves and militias have struck fiercely since The Day the Planes Fell. For the ten years since that colossal attack, Cole has treated survivors of the terror in the ER. But his oath to Do No Harm gnaws at him as he updates the biochips that, by law, every citizen must wear. If their numbers dip below the “clean” benchmark of 75, he’s condemning them to a life without employment, without a home, a life of eternal struggle. After he loses another loved one in an attack, a seed of revolt is planted in Cole and he begins an underground revolution to restore civil liberties and wipe away the inequity of biology. Along the way he’ll risk his family, his career and his life when he discovers the U.S. government may pose a greater threat than the terrorists themselves


As a former broadcaster with Sirius XM Book Radio, I spent many hours with microphone in hand interviewing Thrillerfest attendees, and of course that included Debut Authors! I’m sort of beside myself that I get to be one of them this year.

Two worldsOn the war-ravaged demon world of Eriis, Hellne, the fierce young queen, fights to keep her people alive. On the green and gentle human world of Mistra, the demons have faded into myth. Only a handful of old men and children still guard The Door between the worlds.

Bound by magicRhuun, the Prince of Eriis, uncovers a sultry book written by a human, sparking an obsession with the other world. When he is forced to flee Eriis he must escape through The Door or pay the price in blood.

Divided by a doorThe humans of Mistra are not what Rhuun was expecting—and one insufferable young woman in particular is about to find out that the demons of Eriis are not mythological after all… 

“In Kim Alexander’s debut novel she weaves a witty, epic fantasy brimming with 
diverse characters and plenty of intrigue.”


Getting to meet my readers!
K. L. Hallam, author of The Unmoving Sky

The Unmoving Sky: There is nothing darker than the woods until you meet your worst fear.
Jackson Bower has a lot on his mind lately. His younger brother hasn’t been the same since his mother’s death. His father’s drinking is out of control. Then there’s Jackson’s girlfriend and the grief that ties them together even as it threatens to drive them apart.
He distances himself, hoping for a little perspective at the family lodge. But when their father gets drunk and dangerous, he and his brother escape into the woods.
Night creeps in, and the rains come fast. Artie slips down a ravine. He’s wounded and the brothers seek shelter in a cave, only to find someone else already taking refuge there.
A desperate man with plans to destroy their town.

Jackson must get him and his wounded brother out of the cave and over the mountain to warn everyone in time. Without getting them both killed first.

Check back Jan 25th for the cover reveal!

It’s such a hoot to walk into a bookstore and see To Brew Or Not To Brew on the shelf, so it’s kind of hard to beat that. I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing readers reactions to the book. The variations of what people like and what they don’t like is really interesting to me. And I’m really looking forward to attending Malice Domestic as a published author. It will be so much fun! And of course, I’m looking forward to the second book in the series (Tangled Up In Brew) coming out in October.

Joyce Tremel

The Allegheny Brew House is a dream come true for Maxine “Max” O’Hara, who went all the way to Germany for her brewmaster certification, and is now preparing to open her own craft brew pub in a newly revitalized section of Pittsburgh. But before she can start pouring stouts and lagers to thirsty throngs, there’s trouble on tap. Suspicious acts of sabotage culminate in Max finding her assistant brewmaster and chef Kurt Schmidt strangled in one of the vats.

Between rescuing a stray gray tabby she names Hops and considering a handsome ex hockey player as her new chef, Max doesn’t have a lot of time to solve a murder. But with a homicide detective for a dad, she comes to criminal investigation naturally. And if someone is desperate enough to kill to stop her from opening, Max needs to act fast—before her brand-new brew biz totally tanks…

Nominated for the 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award 
for best amateur sleuth by RT Book Reviews!


Meeting people actually reading all these words I’ve written…

J. Todd Scott, author of The Big Empty

Seventeen-year-old Caleb Ross is adrift in the wake of the sudden disappearance of his mother more than a year ago, and is struggling to find his way out of the small Texas border town of Murfee. Chris Cherry is a newly minted sheriff’s deputy, a high school football hero who has reluctantly returned to his hometown. When skeletal remains are discovered in the surrounding badlands, the two are inexorably drawn together as their efforts to uncover Murfee’s darkest secrets lead them to the same terrifying suspect: Caleb’s father and Chris’s boss, the charismatic and feared Sheriff Standford “Judge” Ross. Dark, elegiac, and violent, THE FAR EMPTY is a modern Western, a story of loss and escape set along the sharp edge of the Texas border. Told by a longtime federal agent who knows the region, it’s a debut novel you won’t soon forget.

“J. Todd Scott’s The Far Empty is so good I wish I’d written it. The poetic and bloody ground of west Texas has given birth to a powerful new voice in contemporary western crime fiction.” 
Craig Johnson, New York Times–bestselling author of the Walt Longmire series

I’m most looking forward to seeing what happens to my baby debut as it releases in foreign markets.
Shannon Kirk, author of the award winning Method 15/33

Imagine a helpless, pregnant 16-year-old who’s just been yanked from the serenity of her home and shoved in a dirty van. Kidnapped. Alone. Terrified.  Now forget her.

Picture instead a pregnant, 16-year-old, manipulative prodigy. She is shoved in a dirty van and, from the first moment of her kidnapping, feels a calm desire for two things: to save her unborn son and to exact merciless revenge.
She is methodical. She is calculating, scientific in her plotting. She might be a clinical sociopath. Method 15/33 is what happens when the victim is just as cold as the captors.
Accolades: School Library Journal Best Adult Books for Teens List, Winner: 2015 National Indie Excellence Award for Suspense, Finalist: Best New Fiction, USA Best Book Award, 2013 Finalist in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.

Elena Hartwell

Author and developmental editor.