Traditional Publishing

Lisa Gardner: 10 Lessons I Learned in 30 Years of Suspense Writing – Wednesday March 13, 2024

When people first meet authors, they always ask the same question—how did you get started in this business? I’m a bit a rarity. Wrote my first novel at seventeen, sold it at twenty, hit the bestseller lists at twenty-eight. Trust me, if you’d told my 12-year old bookworm self, armed with a library pass and overactive imagination, that this would be my life, I never would’ve believed it. And yet, a sometimes heartbreaking, always incredible three decades later, here I am. Better yet, here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

1. Write from the Heart

Needless to say, I’ve sat through a lot of advice on trends over the years. Write whatever you want to write…but make it about vampires. Wait, domestic suspense is in…or is it international thrillers…unreliable narrators…books with the word girl/she/her in the title? These fads are all true and yet none of them matter. As writers, we think in story. Good news, so do readers. What is the best thing you can possibly be writing right now? The book that keeps knocking at your mental door. At seventeen, I had this scene I couldn’t get out of my head—a woman who ran a shelter for homeless youths, witnessing a murder one night, and the killer spotting her. Maybe other people dream of rainbows and fluffy bunnies, but clearly they were never meant for crime fiction.

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