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A List of Thrillers About Thrillers (and the People Who Write Them)


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Every writer inevitably gets asked where their ideas come from. And every writer has stared into the abyss of the blank computer screen or the empty notebook and wondered in the cold grip of panic—What on earth can I write about this time? 

And it would be easy—oh so easy—to say, I know! I’m going to write a book about a writer writing a book. After all, I don’t really know about much else. And I spend most of my life thinking about and then actually writing books.

I’ve dealt with this issue myself. My newest book, Kill All Your Darlings, is about a writer who has written—okay, actually stolen—a thriller about a murder that turns out to be frighteningly true. And the publication of that book leads to more murders and mayhem.

But can a book about writing a book really be that exciting? Is there anything dynamic about an overcaffeinated, nearsighted person who sits at a desk all day in pajama pants tapping at a keyboard while staving off the temptations of the internet and social media?

I’m here to tell you the answer is yes—a thriller about writing a thriller can be riveting. And this is a list of books that will help you pass the time this summer. Enjoy!

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Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

We all know Edgar Allen Poe helped create the modern detective story, but what about the women around him? Based on real events in the life of the famous writer, this book has something for everyone. It’s a unique combination of historical mystery, Gothic thriller, and bizarre love triangle with two writers and an ailing wife at the center.

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Killer Thriller by Lee Goldberg

What if you’re a popular spy novelist, and as you’re researching and writing your next thriller—about a global conspiracy—the Chinese government is trying to bring it to life—and thinks you’re going to foil their plan? This one is dizzying and suspenseful as a writer gets trapped in his wildest scenario come to life.

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‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

What would this list be without an entry by the master? Sure, King’s second novel is about vampires showing up in a small town in Maine, but its protagonist is a writer who has returned home to write a book about the house that the vampires have moved into. It’s almost impossible to say which novel by King is his best…but could this one be it? Certainly one of his scariest.

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Sex Murder and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis

Not every thriller has to be heavy and dark. This series by Kyra Davis has murder and mayhem, but also refreshing doses of humor, romance, and wonderful excerpts from the thrillers being written by Davis’ protagonist. A perfect series to devour at the beach.

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Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell

Is there anything David Morell, one of the greatest thriller writers alive, can’t write? Spy, western, suspense, horror, he’s done it all and done it masterfully. So why not a historical mystery about an opium addict who writes an essay about murder…and then becomes a suspect himself. And engages in a cat-and-mouse battle of wits with the real murderer in the foggy streets of London. And it’s just the first in the series.

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Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz

With Koontz, like so many other legendary writers, it’s hard to pick just one. But in Mr. Murder, Koontz writes about a bestselling author whose life is turned upside down when a guy who looks an awful lot like he does starts murdering people around the country. A master class in blending genres and scaring the bejesus out of the reader.

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Emily’s Ghost by Denise Giardina

Not as wedded to the facts about the life of Emily Bronte, this one imagines what might have inspired her to write Wuthering Heights. It has family drama, tragic romance, lonely walks on the moors, and plenty of death. And it’s easy to believe this is really how one of the world’s great Gothic novels came into existence.

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Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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