Tag Archives: Creative Writing

November 10: Texas Writes in ATX

This weekend I’ll be speaking at Texas Writes in ATX. It’s going to be a great two days of presentations on writing, and I hope I’ll see some of you there.

Texas Writes in ATX
Sunday, November 10, 2019
ACC Riverside Campus
1020 Grove Boulevard, Austin, TX 

My schedule:

Sunday, 2:55-3:25pm: 
HARD CHOICES: PUTTING YOUR CHARACTERS TO THE TEST
How do you create compelling characters and put them in memorable conflict? Meg Gardiner, author of fourteen acclaimed thrillers, will talk about heroes, antagonists, and how, by forcing them to face hard choices, you can ramp up the suspense and tension in your story. 

Sunday, 4:10-4:55pm: 
Panel discussion

Come on down, y’all!

July 10 — 13: ThrillerFest 2019

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Next week I’ll be teaching and speaking at ThrillerFest in New York City. If you’re around, here’s my schedule:

ThrillerFest XIV
July 10 — 13, 2019
Grand Hyatt, NYC
New York City

  • Thursday, July 11 | CraftFest Instructor | PLOT TWISTS | 8:00 am – 8:50 am
  • Thursday, July 11 | CareerFest Panelist | DISCOVER THE ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD | 11:10 am – 12 pm
  • Friday, July 12 | ThrillerFest Panelist | FAULKNER, HEMINGWAY OR LUDLUM? Greatest Writing Influences | 9:00 am – 9:50 am
  • Saturday, July 12 | ThrillerFest Panelist | DARK, UPBEAT OR UNHINGED? Voice In Thrillers1:00 pm – 1:50 pm

I hope I’ll see some of you there!

My next novel: The Dark Corners of the Night

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At BookExpo America last week, my publisher, Blackstone, announced my upcoming novel in exciting fashion. That’s me, standing next to a banner at the entrance to the convention, at the Javits Center in New York City.

The Dark Corners of the Night is the third novel in the UNSUB series, featuring FBI agent Caitlin Hendrix. It will be published in early 2020. I’ll have plenty more to tell you about it in the coming months. For now, know that I’m thrilled you’ll be reading it next winter.

Pen, paper… writing

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Earlier this week, I posted this photo on Twitter, with the caption: “Today’s writing tools.”

Novelist and screenwriter Howard Michael Gould responded with a question. Are pen and paper “outside your usual MO?”

Here’s how I answered him, for anybody out there who’s interested in my writing process.

Maybe it’s quirky, but it works for me.

Deadly Ink: August 10-12

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The weekend of August 10-12 I’ll be at the Deadly Ink mystery conference in New Jersey. I’m delighted, and excited, to be this year’s Guest of Honor.

I’ll be speaking on several panels, talking about thriller writing, and generally hanging out with folks who adore crime novels as much as I do. And I’ll be crossing my fingers for UNSUB, which is nominated for Deadly Ink’s David Award along with a host of wonderful novels.

I hope I’ll see some of you there.

Thriller Time: New York Times Book Review & Book Podcast

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I’m pretty excited — okay, very excited — to be included in the New York Times Book Review and Book Podcast this week. When I was in NYC for Thrillerfest, I was interviewed by Tina Jordan about writing thrillers. It’s a joy to be included in the podcast with Lee Child, Megan Abbott, Lisa Gardner, and Lisa Scottoline. Check it out:

Making a Killing: Top Thriller Writers Talk about Their Craft

And this weekend’s NYT Book Review includes Into the Black Nowhere in “It’s Thriller Time / Lights Out!”

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The Times says: “We’re hereby calling the next title trend: thrillers that stoke our fear of the dark with titles that play on words like ‘black’ or ‘night.'”

Yeah, pretty excited.

Reminder: Writing requires more than inspiration

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Once, at a book event, a man asked me how long a novel takes to write.

I told him that for most of my career I’ve written one novel a year.

He stepped back like I’d hit him in the forehead with a spitball. “No way. A book every year? That’s impossible.”

I assured him it was extremely possible. “Deadlines are fantastically motivating.”

He frowned and shook his head. “You can’t write to a schedule.”

“Professional writers do it all the time.”

His expression shifted toward disdain. “But you can’t schedule inspiration.”

As I started to reply, he went on. Writing regularly? Ridiculous. “That’s not how inspiration works,” he said. The idea that I would deliberately sit down to write, when inspiration hadn’t driven me to the keyboard… His lips pursed.

I realized: He thinks I’m a hack.

He thought that to have imaginative value, every word an author writes must originate in an ineffable bolt of creative lightning. Unplanned. Uncontrollable. That crafting a piece of writing renders it crass and somehow inauthentic. He was a businessman, not a novelist; he admitted that the writing process was entirely foreign to him. But no matter how I explained it, he couldn’t abandon the idea that I was doing writing wrong.

I’d been invited to this event to give a speech. I’d been flown across half a continent, actually, to tell an audience of 500 people how I came to be an author with more than a dozen published novels to my credit. By pure coincidence my talk, which I gave shortly after this conversation, discussed the interplay between inspiration and craft. Inspiration is wonderful, I said. But when you’re in the trenches writing a novel, constant inspiration is neither necessary nor sufficient. Grab it when it strikes. But when it doesn’t? That’s when experience, and discipline, and a knowledge of dramatic structure, along with an understanding of plot and character and suspense — in other words, craft — will carry you across the finish line. Then you can recharge. And revise.

Inspiration, I said, looks a lot like work.

I don’t know if the man who challenged me heard the speech. Our conversation had wrapped up when he commented that he guessed publishing is a business, so he supposed that writers need to supply it with material. Then he shrugged.

“What do I know about it? I don’t read.”