In 2004 two accomplished thriller writers harbored a dream. Their names: Gayle Lynds and David Morrell. To that point both Gayle and David had enjoyed long and successful careers. But something was missing. The ‘who-done-its’ had Mystery Writers of America. Those who specialize in fear, the Horror Writers Association. And the Romance Writers Association had long numbered thousands of members.
Every genre seemed to have a trade group.
Except thriller writers.
So Gayle and David decided to start one.
It began in Toronto on October 9, 2004, and from that small beginning sprang International Thriller Writers. Today over 2,500 men and women, from forty-nine countries around the world, hold membership. Eighty percent are working thriller writers. The rest are industry specialists, agents, editors, and fans. Every July the genre gathers in New York City for Thrillerfest. It’s quite literally
summer camp for thriller writers and thriller enthusiasts. The Thriller, awarded every year in a variety of categories, is now the prize thriller writers covet, since it was both created and bestowed by their peers.
From its beginning ITW strived to innovate. Doing what everyone else had done was never in its business plan. So, in 2007, when board member (and superb British thriller writer) David Hewson suggested that the organization not charge dues the idea was immediately embraced. If a writer is published by an ITW-recognized house (of which there are hundreds), then membership is free.
So how would the organization sustain itself? Pay its bills?
The answer came in another innovative way.
The organization would create its own books that would be sold to publishing houses, the revenue from which would generate operating capital.
Risky? You bet. Gutsy? Definitely.
But an idea right up ITW’s alley.
ITW’s first publication, Thriller (2006), was the first anthology of thriller short stories ever compiled (remember that precept about never doing what others had done). Thirty-three ITW members donated stories. James Patterson (an ITW member) agreed to serve as editor, and the result became one of the most popular anthologies of all time—selling over 500,000 copies worldwide. The revenue from that groundbreaking book not only provided ITW with initial operating money, it also endowed the organization. Thriller 2 (2009) and Love Is Murder (2012) followed. Keeping with this innovative theme ITW published the first audio book ever written only for the ear: The Chopin Manuscript, which became a resounding success. Edited by the incomparable Jeffery Deaver (an ITW member), Chopin was named the 2008 Audio Book of the Year. That was followed by another audio success, The Copper
Bracelet. A move into the world of nonfiction came with Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads, edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner, which continues to garner widespread critical acclaim. Another ITW board member, the legendary R. L. Stine (creator of Goosebumps), led the organization into the world of young adult fiction with Fear. Annually, ITW shepherds a class of writers through their challenging inaugural year in what is known as the Debut Author Program. First Thrills, edited by ITW founding member Lee Child, became an anthology of stories from the 2011 class.
What an impressive résumé.
All created by author-editors who volunteer their time and writers who donate their stories. Nearly every single penny earned from ITW’s publications has gone to the organization.
And that will be the case with this book.
I joined ITW early on. I agreed with Gayle and David. It was time for an organization of thriller writers. I’ve been waiting for a project where I could become more involved with the group, so when I was approached about editing FaceOff I immediately said yes.
The entire concept intrigued me.
Take iconic writers with iconic characters and face them off against each other. Normally, this could never happen. Each writer is under contract to his or her own respective publishing house. Teaming with another writer, from another house, and combining characters would contractually be impossible. Which house would publish the story? No way to make that call. And no way either house would allow the story to be published by a third company. Only with ITW’s model—that the stories are donated and the money goes to the organization—would this work.
So this volume is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.
All of the contributors are ITW members. All eagerly agreed
to participate. When I was told that ITW founding member Steve Berry, who worked with James Patterson on Thriller, would offer assistance as managing editor, I was thrilled. He’s the glue that held this project together. Thanks, Steve, for all you did.
And thanks to all of the contributors.
Where else will you be able to see Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme meet John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport? Or Patrick Kenzie entering the world of Harry Bosch? Fans of Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone and James Rollins’s Gray Pierce have clamored for years to see those characters together. Then there’s Lee Child’s Jack Reacher meeting up with Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller in a bar in Boston—and doing what Reacher does best. Plus Steve Martini’s Paul Madriani becoming entangled with Linda Fairstein’s Alex Cooper. And the ever-odd Aloysius Pendergast coming face-to-face with the scary world of R. L. Stine.
These are just a few examples of what lies in the pages ahead. All of the stories come with an introduction that describes the writers, their characters, and a bit about the story’s gestation. At the end of the book are contributor biographies—a way to learn more about each of these amazing talents.
You’re in for a real treat.
So let the face-offs begin.