Two years ago International Thriller Writers - ITW for short - was created at Bouchercon in Toronto. Our goal was to celebrate the thriller, enhance the prestige and raise the profile of thrillers, create a community that together could do more – much more – than any one author or even any one publisher - could for the genre.
But the mandate that mattered the most to me personally, and the one that made me accept a board position was the goal of creating creative marketing opportunities.
This past spring, when I first read about Killer Year 2007 on Jason Lee Pinter’s blog, I recognized our same spirit and drive behind that effort: a group of writers willing to band together and help each other rather than view each other as competition. To do something different. And to do it right.
I wanted to help – not just because I was so damned impressed with the creativity of the idea but also because when I was starting out I would have killed to be part of a program like this. And I saw the potential synergy between ITW and KillerYear.
Once upon a time – be it twenty-five years ago or last year - each and every one of ITW’s more than 400 members was debut novelist.
And most of us remember every single difficult step of that process.
For some of us that means remembering the people who helped us.
And how hard it was to ask for help.
For some of us that means remembering that there was no one to help us.
And how isolating that was.
Wouldn’t it be great if ITW as an organization could help the debut authors who are going to be the future of our genre?
I was thrilled when this summer the full ITW board of directors approved the idea to adopt Killer Year 2007 and take some of the tough work out of being a debut.
Instead of the classmates asking for blurbs we’re asking for them. So if someone says no, it stings a little less. We’re also getting one of our stars to review each of the debuts and we’ll be publishing them in the ITW Thriller Reader’s Newsletter. And an ITW author has volunteered to mentor each of the fifteen members of the Class of 2007 through their baptism by fire into the publishing world.
Lee Child, Jeff Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, Gayle Lynds, David Morrell, Jim Rollins, Anne Frasier, Douglas Clegg, Duane Swierczynski, Cornelia Read, Harley Jane Kozak, Allison Brennan, Ken Bruen and Joe R. Lansdale have all signed on.
In addition, ITW will sponsor a Killer Year breakfast at ThrillerFest ’07 where each of the debut novelists will be presented by his or her mentor to readers, reviewers and the press.
After 2007, Killer Year will remain an ongoing program, with ITW welcoming a new class of debut novelists.
In the words of one of the founders - J.T. Ellison - "With our official launch today, Killer Year is no longer just an idea four friends thought might be a nice experiment. We have morphed into a strong organization with the best of the best under our mantle. Having ITW in our corner means we've begun a different journey. We plan to bring you the best debut novels of 2007, and beyond. Get ready... it's gonna be a Killer Year!"
The members of the class of 2007 are: Brett Battles, J.T. Ellison, Jason Pinter, Sandra Ruttan, Robert Gregory Browne, Bill Cameron, Toni McGee Causey, Sean Chercover, Patry Francis, Marc Lecard, Derek Nikitas, Gregg Olsen, Marcus Sakey and Dave Whit.