Tuesday, 9 November 2010

International Thriller Writers

by Matt Lynn

The International Thriller Writers website has started a series of online roundtable discussions about thriller writing – sort of like a conference panel, bit without all the travelling.
I’ll be taking part in a couple of the upcoming discussions. But I think the first in the series looks really good: ‘Why Do You Read/Write Thrillers’.
It’s a fascinating issue for any writer. I mean, obviously I love thrillers. But I don’t only love thrillers. There are loads of different kinds of books I really enjoy, and I would be just as happy to write.
In the discussion, I think Todd Ritter gives the best answer when he says: “Reading a thriller that makes my pulse race takes me briefly into a world of danger and fear and excitement that I won’t experience in real life. It’s an escape and, well, a thrill”.
Still, that is more of an answer to the question of why you read thrillers rather than why you write them.
For me, I think the answer is that the thriller is such a great canvass. They are widescreen stories. They have action, characters, jokes and drama, but they can also take in politics, economics, war, technology, and international relations. They are very outwards looking books, which weave stories out of current events, but which also, at their best, are timeless. Other genres tend to be much smaller scale, rooted in one place or time.
But I guess every thriller writer will have a different answer to the question.


  1. Fighting the corner for the crime genre - murder stories can also take in politics, economics, war, technology, and international relations. Look at Ian Rankin and Henning Mankell, to name just two. Within the Curzon Group Richard Jay Parker raises topical issues about technology in Stop Me and my psychological murder stories take a walk on the dark side of the human psyche - a small scale canvas but timeless in its own way.

  2. Well, not sure I agree. I find Ian Rankin too parochial to bother reading. I'm just not very interested in Edinburgh. Haven't read Henning Mankall so I can't commment pon his stuff. On the whole, I'd argue crime was more personal, and pyschological. That's not a criticism, but it is an explanation of why I write thrillers.

  3. I agree with you. I love reading thrillers for the scale. Reading some mysteries is like watching a television, while reading some (most) thrillers is similar to wating IMAX. Foreign travel, intriguing locales, far-away places that I might never be able to see. That's why I like reading thrillers.