Online Thriller School

ITW’s Eleventh Annual Online Thriller School!

Registration is Open!

Unlock the secrets of thriller writing with ITW’s Online Thriller School. Learn from the masters – nine sessions are taught by bestselling authors and industry professionals who keep readers on the edge of their seats. Gain insights into pacing, dialogue, character development, setting, twists, and more!

Learn from Sara DiVello, K.J. Howe, Steven James, Andrea Johnson, Angie Kim, Mary Kubica, Jean Kwok, Tosca Lee and Nina Sadowsky!

Bonus sessions include:

Spotlight interviews with: Lisa Gardner, Heather Graham, Charlaine Harris, Gregg Hurwitz, and Jerri Williams.

Bonus panel discussion: Jeneva Rose, Karen Dionne, and Wanda Morris, moderated by Sam Octavius

Classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2pm to 3:30pm Eastern.

Registration for the 7-week (13 sessions) online course is $495.

Unleash your potential: Whether you’re a seasoned author looking to refine your skills or a newcomer eager to embark on your writing journey, Online Thriller School provides the tools and support you need to succeed.

Each instructor will teach an aspect of craft during a live Zoom session ending with a Q&A. Sessions are recorded for easy access if you need to miss a class or simply want to rewatch.

Please note: if you are unable to attend any of the live classes they will all be recorded. The recordings are typically available within a few hours of the conclusion of the class, and you will also have access to the recordings for at least 1 year after the class is over.

The bestselling authors and industry experts will delve into the following topics:

Twists, protagonists, dialogue, high-concept thrillers, three-dimensional characters, pacing, polishing your manuscript, and point of view.

Attendance is limited, and we sell out every year, so please REGISTER TODAY!

Registration for the seven-week online course is $495.

Below you will find the full 2024 schedule, FAQ, and instructor bios.

Please note: All classes are recorded. The recordings are typically available within a few hours of the conclusion of the class, and we make those available to the students right away. You’ll also have access to the recordings for at least 1 year after the class is over.

Scroll down to read the entire FAQ and if you have any questions that are not addressed below please email ITW’s Technology Coordinator, Christopher Graham at

Advice From Past & Current Thriller School Instructors:

“To be satisfying, a twist needs to be more than merely shocking – it must be both surprising and believable with the reader saying at the end of the book: Ah, I should have seen that coming but I didn’t.” –Liv Constantine

“My advice to beginning authors: Write the type of fiction you love to read, plan each book or story ahead of time, don’t rush it to completion, rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, and remember: rejection is a speed bump, not a brick wall!” —Jeffery Deaver

“Writing is a journey, not a destination. Never forget to enjoy the ride.” —Lisa Gardner

“Writer’s Block is a malady borne of missing research. Learn more about your setting, character, or central conflict and it goes away.” –Cate Holahan

“Readers don’t want to read about nice characters doing nice things, they want to read about conflicted characters doing difficult things.” —Steven James

“No story will turn out exactly how you thought it would. It’s like raising kids.” —Tosca Lee

“Be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of another author.” —David Morrell

“What most people know about the FBI comes from books, TV, and movies. When authors of thrillers and police procedurals take the time to learn who the FBI is and what the FBI does, they make their stories as true to life as possible while capturing and engaging readers.” —Jerri Williams


Tuesday 9/10

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

Pulling the Rug Out:

How to Create Twists Your Readers Will Never See Coming

-Steven James-


Thursday 9/12

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

Spotlight Interview:

Lisa Gardner in Conversation with Jerri Williams


Tuesday 9/17

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

Bonus Panel Discussion:

Jeneva Rose, Karen Dionne, and Wanda Morris

with Sam Octavius (Moderator)


Thursday 9/19

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

Creating a Compelling Protagonist

 -Mary Kubica-


Tuesday 9/24

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

Crafting Killer Dialogue

-Andrea Johnson-


Thursday 9/26

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

Spotlight Interview:

Gregg Hurwitz in Conversation with K.J. Howe


Tuesday 10/1

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

Elements of a High Concept Thriller

-Jean Kwok-


Thursday 10/3

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

How to Craft Three Dimensional Characters

-Tosca Lee-


Tuesday 10/8

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

All About Your Author Platform

-Sara DiVello-


Thursday 10/10

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

All About Pacing

-Nina Sadowsky-


Tuesday 10/15

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

Polish Your Manuscript Until it Shines

-K.J. Howe-


Thursday 10/17

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

All About Point of View

-Angie Kim-


Thursday 10/24

2pm – 3:30pm (EDT)

Spotlight Interview:

Heather Graham and Charlaine Harris


How long is each class?

Each class will run about 90 minutes, but it does depend on the instructor and often on the topic as well. Some classes might be a little shorter, and some might be a little longer.

Will the lectures/classes be recorded?

Yes, all of the sessions will be recorded. They are typically available within a few hours of the conclusion of the class, and we make those available to the students right away. You’ll also have access to the recordings for at least 1 year after the class is over.

Do you provide Closed Captioning for each class?

Yes, we’re excited to be able to offer Closed Captioning for this year’s Online Thriller School. During the live class students will be able to turn CC on or off depending upon their preferences. Closed Captioning will always be on during the recordings.

Since I have very little writing experience, is there anything I should do to help me be better prepared for the classes?

The best thing(s) you can do to prepare would be to become familiar with each instructors’ work. That does not mean that you have to read everything they’ve written, but it is helpful to know what they write, how they write, etc. Often the instructors will use examples from other authors work, but then there is usually a good deal of discussion regarding what that author writes him or herself, as well, and if you’re familiar with their work it can certainly help you to not only understand what they write, but how they use the topics being discussed in their own writing. It can also be very helpful for you in formulating questions for that author.

Instructor Bios

  1. Sara DiVello

    Sara is passionate about all things books (especially mysteries and thrillers), the craft of writing, and connecting readers to their favorite authors, as well as introducing them to their new discoveries. She is the author of, Broadway Butterfly: A Thriller, which was a CBS NY Book Club Pick, and earned starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal. She is also the host of Mystery and Thriller Mavens, a popular author interview series, and the co-chair of the Nantucket Book Festival. While creative and active on her own social media platforms, DiVello also serves as the director of social media strategy for the International Thriller Writers association. Sara has appeared on CBS, ABC, and CNBC, as well as in the New York Times, Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, and more. Her articles have been published in Marie Claire, Elle, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and Woman’s Day, among others.

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  3. KJ Howe

    Born in Toronto, Canada, KJ Howe enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle during her early years, living in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Caribbean, which gave her an insider’s view into many different cultures. While abroad, she read every book she could find, which triggered in her a desire to create her own stories.

    She attended Salzburg International Preparatory School, Neuchâtel Junior College, and Albert College before earning a Specialists Degree in Business from the University of Toronto. KJ found success in the corporate world, but her passion for travel, adventure, and stories drew her back to school where she earned a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She is a Thriller and Barry Award nominee, and she has won several writing awards, including three Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellent in Mystery and Suspense.

    While honing her fiction skills, KJ worked as a medical, health, and fitness writer. She then became involved with the International Thriller Writers as the Executive Director of ThrillerFest, the organization’s annual conference held every July in New York City.

    In preparation for writing THE FREEDOM BROKER series, which focuses on elite kidnap negotiator Thea Paris, KJ spent extensive time researching the dark world of kidnapping. She has interviewed former hostages, negotiators, hostage reintegration experts, special forces operatives, and K&R insurance executives.

    KJ is an avid tennis player, cyclist, and swimmer. Travel and adventure still rank high on her priority list. She has had the pleasure of riding racing camels in Jordan, surfing in Hawaii, ziplining in the Costa Rican jungle, diving alongside Great White Sharks in South Africa, studying modern combat in the Arizona desert, and working with elephants in Botswana. Home is in Toronto, Canada, but she is often missing in action.

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  5. Steven James

    Steven James is the bestselling, critically acclaimed author of eighteen novels that have won or been shortlisted for more than a dozen national and international awards. His thrillers have been praised by Suspense Magazine, Booklist, and the New York Journal of Books and received starred reviews from both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, who called his work “thought-provoking” and “riveting.” When he’s not writing, he teaches storytelling at events around the globe and hosts the weekly podcast, The Story Blender.

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  7. Andrea J. Johnson

    Andrea J. Johnson is a former court reporter turned freelance entertainment writer for the women’s lifestyle website Popsugar. This love for insider gossip has inspired her to take real-life headlines and turn them into mind-bending mysteries. Poetic Justice is a perfect example of this dynamic because it uses Andrea’s legal background to explore what would happen if a trial stenographer took the law into her own hands. Set on the Delmarva Peninsula near the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, fans of shows like Murder, She Wrote and films like The Pelican Brief will love the cozy mystery and legal thriller mashup.

    Andrea holds a certified shorthand reporter certification in the State of California and is a member of the National Court Reporters Association, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Mystery Writers of America. Moreover, she’s earned a copyediting certification from UC San Diego and an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

    Andrea is also the author of a set of genre-based guidebooks for fiction authors known as the Writer Productivity series–the first of which, How to Craft a Killer Cozy Mystery is on sale now. In addition, she’s written several articles on the craft of writing for websites such as LitReactorSubmittable, Funds for Writers, and DIY MFA. When she isn’t developing her stories, Andrea enjoys cuddling up with a piping hot mug of ginger tea and poring over the latest supermarket tabloids.

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  9. Angie Angie Kim

    Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore. After graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy, she studied philosophy at Stanford University and attended Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her debut novel, Miracle Creek, won the Edgar Award and the ITW Thriller Award, and was named one of the 100 best mysteries and thrillers of all time by Time, and one of the best books of the year by Time, The Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews, and the Today show. Happiness Falls, her second novel, was an instant New York Times bestseller and a book club pick for Good Morning America, Barnes & Noble, Belletrist, and Book of the Month Club.

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  11. Mary Kubica

    Mary Kubica is a New York Times bestselling author of suspense thrillers including The Good Girl, The Other Mrs., and Local Woman Missing. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller” (Kirkus) and “a writer of vice-like control” (Chicago Tribune), and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “illuminating” (L.A. Times). She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and children.

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  13. Jean Kwok

    Jean Kwok is the award-winning, New York Times and international bestselling author of The Leftover Woman (coming Oct 10, 2023), Searching for Sylvie Lee, Girl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown. Her work has been published in twenty countries and taught in universities, colleges and high schools across the world.

    An instant New York Times bestseller, Searching for Sylvie Lee was selected for the Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club and featured in The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, CNN, The New York Post, The Washington Post, O Magazine, People, Entertainment Weekly and more. Jean has been chosen for numerous honors including the American Library Association Alex Award, the Chinese American Librarians Association Best Book Award, an Orange New Writers title and the Sunday Times Short Story Award international shortlist. She was one of twelve authors asked by the Agatha Christie estate to write an original, authorized Miss Marple story for Marple: Twelve New Mysteries.

    She has appeared on The Today Show and Good Morning America, and spoken at many schools and venues including Harvard University, Columbia University, Talks at Google and the Tucson Festival of Books.  A television documentary was filmed about Jean and her work.

    Jean immigrated from Hong Kong to Brooklyn when she was five and worked in a Chinatown clothing factory for much of her childhood while living in an unheated, roach-infested apartment. In between her undergraduate degree at Harvard and MFA in fiction at Columbia, she worked for three years as a professional ballroom dancer. Jean is trilingual, fluent in Dutch, Chinese and English, and studied Latin for seven years. She divides her time between the Netherlands and New York City.

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  15. Tosca Lee

    Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of eleven novels including A Single Light, The Line Between, The Progeny, The Legend of Sheba, Iscariot, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages and been optioned for TV and film. She is the recipient of two International Book Awards, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion (beating another of her books in the same category for the win), and ECPA Fiction Book of the Year—among others. A notorious night-owl, she loves movies, playing football with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband. You can find Tosca on social media or hanging around the snack table.

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  17. Nina Sadowsky

    Nina Sadowsky’s thrillers JUST FALL, THE BURIAL SOCIETY, THE EMPTY BED, CONVINCE ME, and PRIVACY have all been published by Penguin Random House. Her books have been translated into German, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, French, Turkish and Serbian. THE BURIAL SOCIETY and THE EMPTY BED are in development for television.

    Nina Sadowsky serves as the founding Director for NYU Los Angeles, a study away program for advanced students interested in pursuing careers in the film, television, broadcast, music and tech industries. In her time at NYULA she’s overseen the creation of multiple professional development initiatives designed to support the students’ academic experience. Sadowsky is particularly proud of NYULA’s role in launching the now annual Hollywood Climate Summit, designed to increase sustainability across all facets of the entertainment industry.

    Sadowsky joined NYU after more than a decade at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she taught producing and writing on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Student films created under her guidance have enjoyed numerous accolades including winning the Student Emmy, the Student Oscar, and being featured in the Shorts Corner at Cannes.

    Sadowsky served as President of Production for Signpost Films, a film financier and foreign distributor, where she worked on such projects as the Academy Award nominated “The House of Sand and Fog,” starring Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley.

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