Steve Vincent's Top Five for Thriller Readers

This week we hear from my author mate Steve Vincent on his top five for thriller readers. Take it away Steve...

I’ve never been a ‘favourite’ kind of guy. I can’t name an absolute favourite movie or book or song or travel destination, but instead enjoy a wide variety of all of these (and other) things. This puts me at a natural disadvantage when trying to write blog posts on the topic.

My own writing is a good example of this. The themes my Jack Emery series covers vary widely in scope. The Foundation deals with the concentration of the media, the power that unelected individuals can wield, and the chaos both can cause in certain circumstances. State of Emergency deals with the extent to which laws can be enacted and freedoms curtailed in order to defeat terrorism, and the risks in doing so. The newest, Nations Divided (released 10 December), is about the lengths some individuals and groups will go to in order to win, and the potentially shattering consequences of their actions. Each theme is different, fun to write about and important to me.   

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PISTOLS AT DAWN

I've seen a lot of examples of great collaboration over the years, we all have: Lennon & McCartney, Holmes & Watson, Lois & Clark (a little nod to our Kate Stone there), Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor, Gin & Tonic. The list goes on. And the basis of all those successful collaborations is that each ingredient, person or otherwise, must seamlessly and willingly complement the other. 

Now, for every successful collaborative association I've ever witnessed there have been, unfortunately, almost as many absolute failures. And as I have a perverse fascination with the workplace as a petri dish for the fungi of social interaction, I thought I'd give some thought to some of those failures and what seems to be the common theme or themes behind them.

Relying on reflection as the substrate to my sociological observations I realised that I have witnessed numerous botched attempts at collaboration in the workplace all of which have, unsurprisingly, failed dismally. When I consider what the primary cause of those failures has been, the words misunderstanding and mistrust spring to mind, followed in quick succession by themes like suspicion, conspiracy and retribution. All of which ultimately result in, to varying degrees, damage. Sometimes irreparably so.

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UNSOCIAL MEDIA

Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think, that we’ve all seemingly gravitated towards this collective self-loathing over our obsession with social media to the point that we are now posting admonishing or other finger-pointing-type memes about the pitfalls of said obsession on our social media platforms? 

Seriously, we’re like moths to a flame with our smart phones, tablets, laptops or whatever. If it’s there we have to look at it, even if what we’re looking at is utter drivel, which it mostly is. I saw one today – yes, I know – that said ‘We’re swamped by information yet devoid of wisdom’. How true! I mean, how many times can you watch that clip of an athlete falling down hard on a race, getting up and continuing to run, with the video clip culminating in treacle about her inspiration and heroism? 

I don’t know how many times as schoolboys my friends and I hit to dirt hard during sporting events, lost bark, bled, got concussed, got up and got on with it. No one filmed it. It wasn’t inspirational. It wasn’t heroic. It was just life. You might have been lucky enough for one of the parents to call out from the sidelines, ‘Up you get mate.’ And, off you’d go again. Do we really need to see that over and over? No, we don’t.

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THE COMPLETE 180

There’s been a series of incredibly cool photos doing the rounds online this week featuring 31 year old Sean Connery and 26 year old Ursula Andress, shot between takes during the filming of the very first James Bond film, Dr No.

The pictures provide a ‘time and place’ snapshot of a barely known young Scottish actor clearly out to impress a stunningly beautiful, completely unknown Swiss actress, both totally at ease with each other while utterly oblivious to the international mega-stardom that was just weeks away.

Considering where that film took ultimately Connery and Ursula’s now iconic white bikini scene, what is so remarkable about the photos is the innocence of Connery’s adolescent displays of physical prowess while the clearly impressed Andress looks on. It suggests a time when life was much more simple.

Men were men. Women were women. Men wore the pants. Women hung around looking beautiful in bikinis and all it took to impress them were a few handstands. Good times. 

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TEN ELEMENTS OF A CRACKING THRILLER

The act of writing stories can be less than glamorous – it’s more endless cups of tea and crumbs piling up on the keyboard in a darkened room (aka my writing mancave) than back-to-back launches and book signings with pen poised and a glass of red by my side. 

Those days when I am holed up in the mancave, churning out chapters of the latest Alex Morgan espionage adventure as fast as my clumsy two-finger typing skills can manage, I’m not consciously thinking about what makes a cracking thriller. It’s creating my own mix of preferred reading and viewing tastes, past experiences, a reasonable dash of instinct, and an intense need to extract the story from my head and get it onto the page. Then, of course everything is honed during the editing process with my publisher.

Once the books are put out into the world, there does seem – on reflection – to be some shared elements I recognise between my work and those of the other thriller writers I have grown up enjoying.

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THE BEST OF INTREPID 2013

MOST POPULAR BLOG POSTS

With secret movie business underway, signed to Peony Literary Agency in Hong Kong, a trip to London & Los Angeles, and now to completing Avenger, my year’s been well and truly action-packed.

Around this time last year, I’d just re-released Defender and Hunter through Momentum.  

Soon, it’ll be the same for Avenger and I just hope that you'll enjoy this new story, featuring the first female Intrepid agent putting Alex Morgan through his paces as they track down the architects of human trafficking.

With the year that was, I'm looking forward to finishing Intrepid 3 and having a float around on the pool for a few hours, but this blog is a throwback to the posts you enjoyed the most.

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ARE WRITERS BORN OR MADE?

One of the blogs I enjoy reading on writing, marketing and publishing books in 2013 is by Joanna Penn: The Creative Penn. I first appeared on her blog writing on Paratrooping and Publishing after self-publishing Defender in 2011.

This week, I asked on The Creative Penn whether writers are born or made. It's a conversation I also had with some of the co-founding members of the Action Thriller Writers Association of Australia (soon to be thrilleredge.com) - namely Greg Barron and Luke Preston (Tony Park, the other founding member was excused as he is writing his latest tome in South Africa) - about their experiences of 'becoming' a published author.  You can read my full post on The Creative Penn blog here.

Our full interviews are published side-by-side, below, to show other aspiring and published writers an honest view of three other authors who are writing their way to, hopefully, the top.

My thanks to Greg and Luke for opening up about their experience, and I look forward to your comments on your own journey as a writer at the bottom of this post. 

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