Summer Reads by “Special Authors”

by | Jun 23, 2019 | Karna Small Bodman | 9 comments

by Karna Small Bodman
Looking for a few great thrillers for beach reads over the summer? There are several well known authors who have consistently hit the Bestseller lists for decades.  Some of them have decided to search for special talented “co-authors” they could collaborate with and get more titles on the shelves.  Let me tell you about a few of the latest “coordinated efforts.” First, you should definitely check out the brand new thriller, The Oracle, by fellow Rogue, Robin Burcell, writing with Clive Cussler.

How do they work together? Robin explains that Clive usually decides on the basic plot and setting, but if she wants to visit a certain area,  he rarely objects as long as that location fits with the plot.  As the story comes together, they do bounce ideas around, compromise and even scrap ideas that “don’t work.” She adds that there’s a reason Clive Cussler is called the “Grandmaster of Adventure” since “he certainly can tell a rip-roaring story like no one else.”  This novel continues the series about husband-and-wife treasure hunters Sam and Remi Fargo who search for an ancient scroll, deal with a curse, stolen shipments and hostage situations.  Already on the bestseller list, don’t miss this one.

Next is the prolific writer, Stuart Woods.  While working in the advertising industry, he published his first novel back in 1981 which won the coveted Edgar Award. He now has produced 75 terrific stories.  An avid sailor and pilot himself, his protagonist, Stone Barrington, sails boats and flies his own planes to chase down various villains and protect any number of gorgeous ladies in the process. 

At an Edgar Awards dinner not long ago he met author Parnell Hall who had written some 40 novels — so far.  Woods was looking for a good co-author and had just one question for Parnell at that first meeting, “Can’t you write faster?”  

They decided to collaborate. Their  newest novel, just released two weeks ago, is Skin Game – centering on one of Stone Barrington’s “side kicks,” Teddy Fay, who becomes involved with “evildoers trading in money and power along with a global threat on an unprecedented scale.” With many scenes set in the gorgeous city of Paris, I can’t wait to read this one. 

Woods and Parnell have worked on several other great books together, including The Money Shot, Smooth Operator, and Barely Legal. 

With author Parnell Hall

A personal note here:  I had the pleasure of sitting with Parnell Hall at the Thrillerfest banquet last summer.  He regaled me with stories about his unique background first working as an actor/screen writer, singer/song writer, even a private investigator before turning to writing full time. It turned out to be a most delightful encounter. He will be attending Thrillerfest again in early July at the Grand Hyatt in New York where several of us Rogues will again be in attendance and will be conducting a panel on “Secrets and Privacy” the afternoon of July 12. It’s certain to be a great gathering of some 1,000 authors, agents and editors. If you’re in the New York area at that time, you are welcome to stop by to check out the books for sale by the Mysterious Bookstore which will be setting up right there in the hotel. You can meet some of the authors as well.

Rogue Women Writers at Thrillerfest last year

Next we have “the world’s bestselling author” James Patterson who is also often in attendance at this conference. A man who has donated over 3 million books to schoolkids and the military, donated over 70 million dollars to support education and endowed over 5,000 college scholarships for teachers — he also collaborates with a number of great writers to produce even more bestselling novels like newly released The First Lady – co-written with G. Brendan Dubois.  I just purchased it and can’t wait to read about the woman in charge of the Presidential Protection Division that is called in to investigate the disappearance of The First Lady which comes in the wake of a scandalous revelation just two months before the election of the President’s second term.

We see that Patterson has collaborated with many others, including former President Bill Clinton. With such a demanding schedule, you might think that Patterson wouldn’t have time to become involved with the details of every story being created under his name.  Not true. I had a (short) experience when I was invited to submit a story idea to him, then asked to write a few chapters. However, it turned out that Patterson later decided to take the story in an entirely different direction, so I never received the final contract. Oh well.

I’ve been focusing here on famous and “becoming famous” authors working together with books published under two bylines.  There is another category of “special writers” who have been retained by the estates of former authors so their “characters” can be continued for years.  When the wonderful Vince Flynn passed away a few years ago, his family tapped thriller writer Kyle Mills to carry on the adventures of secret agent Mitch Rapp.  The most recent of these is Red War about a Russian

President determined to cling to power and planning a war with the west.  It’s a great tale about the world of black ops.  I got to know Kyle when we both had homes in Jackson Hole, WY. I learned that his father was Deputy Director of the FBI, and Kyle had learned many secrets of the trade at the family dinner table.

Any article about “special co-authors” would be incomplete without telling you about two of our bestselling Rogues. One, our founder Gayle Lynds, who has been dubbed “the reining queen of espionage fiction and a “kick-ass thriller writer” (by the London Times!) collaborated with the famous Robert Ludlum to create the Covert One series and then wrote three of the books, The Hades Factor, The Altman Code and the Paris Option. You can get it here .The second fellow Rogue is Jamie Freveletti who continued the  Covert One series, after Robert Ludlum passed away, writing the riveting story, The Janus Reprisal. Check it out here .

Reviewing this list of “special authors” — it is easy to see how some of the best and most prolific authors of our time, along with estates working to keep series “alive,” have searched and found some of the best emerging authors to share a byline….and now you have found them too.

What are some of your favorite co-authors and your recommendations for great books to read this summer?

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Robin Burcell

    Thanks for the shout out, Karna! Personally, I was always intrigued by the whole concept of cowriters, and really wanted to try it. I don't know how the stars aligned, but somewhere out there, my desire and the opportunity came together at the right time!

  2. Chris Goff

    Wow! I had forgotten how many collaborators are Rogues. What makes this most interesting to me is how famous writers are using their names to market books written by other writers. That may speak to what the buying public is looking for–books where they know what they're getting. You pick up a Vince Flynn novel, you know what to expect. You pick up a Kyle Mills, you'll get a great book, but it will be different. It's also fascinating to me how the authors can learn how to modify their "voice" and write in the style of the headlined author. It goes to show what exceptional writers they are.

  3. Chris Goff

    It takes a great writer to make a collaboration successful. You rock it! I'm halfway through the Oracle and I just started it last night! Great read.

  4. Rogue Women Writers

    Robin – it would be great to know just how YOUR stars aligned to put you together with veteran author Clive Cussler….however it happened, you two certainly create terrific stories! Way to go!….Karna Bodman

  5. Rogue Women Writers

    Yes – about Kyle Mills being chosen to write a story continuing Vince Flynn's character, Mitch Rapp — Kyle tole me about receiving that first contract and being told that before he passed away Vince had "started" the next book – so Kyle just had to finish it. But when he received the "started part" – it was only a few pages! Talk about a challenge! But he certainly did a great job – and continue to churn the stories out….Karna Bodman

  6. Lisa Black

    Parnell Hall is exactly who you want to be seated next to! He will keep you laughing through any event!

  7. Gayle Lynds

    I really enjoyed your blog, Karna. It was a trip down memory lane and back to the present through all of the stages collaborations have gone through. There are so many good ones these days, and at the top of the list is Robin. Of course I'm waiting for the next Freveletti/Ludlum collaboration. Thanks for the shout-out!

  8. Jamie Freveletti

    Nice list Karna! Glad to see Robin's collaboration up there. Congrats Robin!

  9. Chris Goff

    Agreed. He is hilarious. Very entertaining!