by Chris Goff
It’s hard to believe it’s been half a decade since Gayle Lynds picked up the phone and reached out with the idea of starting Rogue Women Writers. Five years since what began as an idea to establish “a list of female spy thriller writers” morphed into this group of “kick-ass suspense writers.”
At our inception, writing contemporary spy novels was predominately male territory. In truth, it still is. Though we’ve made some inroads, forging strong bonds of friendship and building strong ties in the writing community. Through our efforts we have helped open doors for reviews from critics who would never have picked up our books, and built dedicated readers among many who had never considered reading a spy thriller written by a woman.
Over time, a few or our founding members moved on to focus their energies in other areas, and, in each case, someone new has joined the ranks. Over time, we’ve become a more eclectic mix of writers, yet the goal to level the playing field remains—as well as the desire to write great books!
What have we been doing the past five years?
Hard to believe, but 2016 marked the first Gardiner & Renner book, That Darkness, with five more to follow. Since then I’ve been to about ten conventions, obtained my Crime Scene Analyst certification, resurfaced the kitchen cabinets, and visited Puerto Rico, Tahiti, London, Paris, Scotland, and Washington DC. Oh, and was a finalist for the inaugural Sue Grafton Memorial Award. Time to begin a new series, and to hope the next five years will be as eventful as the last!
Karna Small Bodman
Since the founding of Rogue Women Writers in 2016, I was thrilled when a new publisher gave me a contract for my 5th thriller, Trust but Verify, which they brought out in hardback, e-book and audio versions. However, they also said that as a lead-in, they wanted to re-release my entire backlist with new covers. So, I edited/revised/updated those four books, Checkmate, Gambit, Final Finesse and Castle Bravo since there are continuing characters (and I also wanted to update the technology). I was happy to see them all displayed at Barnes & Noble. Buy links appear on my website: www.karnabodman.com.
From the sands of Dubai to the beaches of the Bahamas, I’ve enjoyed traversing the globe, meeting readers and fellow writers. The last five years have been peppered with adventure. I immersed myself in the shadowy world of kidnapping, attended the world’s biggest machine gun show in Arizona, rode a racing camel in Jordan, sampled the finest fare in Europe, swam with Great White Sharks in South Africa—all in the name of research. Another memorable moment was the absolute shock and joy of winning Best First Novel at the Thrillerfest Awards. Every day, I appreciate this life-changing opportunity to have people read my books. Thank you!
Having a publishing career is a little like having babies–or kittens. A span of five years takes one creature and transforms it into something else entirely. Five years ago, I had just learned that my first–and I thought forever–editor had been let go, necessitating a change in publishers. Being a married-for-life kind of person, this was not what I expected to happen, and it left me reeling. I swung in the breeze (or maybe a fierce wind) for a while until my agent found a home for my fourth novel at a woman-helmed publisher with which I fell rapidly in love. That book, about a honeymoon gone wrong, came out in 2018.
But now it’s 2021, and, well, kittens, remember? My career has reached another two-roads-diverged point. I finished a new novel recently, and it’s a blend of domestic suspense, wilderness thriller, social issues, and literary horror. This book breaks new ground for me…and so I am hoping to transform again. And of course I can’t forget one of the most exciting changes to have happened during this time–I became a Rogue Women Writer and now get to connect with all of you!
I’ve only been a “rogue” since October but I’ve enjoyed RWW since its start. Five years! I’ve had nine new releases in two series. I’m so grateful to everyone who made that possible, especially readers. I’ve traveled to visit family and friends, including my cousins in the Netherlands during tulip season. I took up distance running and have completed several half-marathons close to home in Vermont (with my daughter) and in Ireland, on the gorgeous Dingle Peninsula. There was heartbreaking loss, too, of family and friends, but also the immeasurable joy of welcoming a granddaughter, Niamh, who just turned five and holds her own quite nicely with her older brother and sister. I got run over by a speeding sled two winters ago and although badly bruised, didn’t break anything, and last summer I recovered from Lyme disease; neither helped with deadlines but all’s well that ends well. Now I’m looking forward to returning to Ireland late this summer, time with family, especially my ailing 86-year-old mother, new releases to come and writing. Lots and lots of writing. And reading. Of course. My TBR list grows, always.
There’s a wonderful old saying among novelists: Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. This means of course that first drafts pretty much always suck, but the more we work on the book, the better it gets until … after many infusions of coffee, of hope prevailing over despair that you ever thought you could write anything well including a Campbell’s soup can label, and then, with luck, of striking moments of joy when a sentence sings or a character comes to life … we have a finished story or book. Triumph!
So, in the past 5 years, the paperback of my thriller The Assassins was published. I coauthored “Rambo on Their Minds” with David Morrell in MatchUp, and coauthored “A Study in Sisyphus: Serving Time” with my husband, John C. Sheldon, in Anatomy of Innocence. Several of my books were optioned for film, and my essay on research appeared in MWA’s How To Write a Mystery. I have a manuscript box in which the first 100 pages of a new thriller set in Moscow lie, beckoning me. But at the top of my list of great stuff this past half decade has been my friendships with the Rogues, all such brainy, beautiful, remarkable women and writers. I’m looking forward to many more years ahead with them and with finished new books!
In the past five years, I have published two novels –A Parliament of Owls, the sixth in my Birdwatcher’s Mystery Series, and RED SKY, the sequel to DARK WATERS, my debut thriller. I have traveled to Russia, Antarctica and become a grandmother for the third time. I’ve judged several major writing competitions, helped to build the Sisters in Crime webinar programming, and spent two years coordinating the Colorado Book Awards. Now, encouraged by COVID, I am free of obligations for the first time in years and have started working on a new novel. A thriller. Working title, The Spy Who Worked from Home.
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