Online Thriller School

The 2023 Online Thriller School is now over.

To be put on the waiting list for the 2024 class, please email ITW’s Technology Coordinator, Christopher Graham, at

ITW’s Tenth Annual Online Thriller School!

Registration is Open!

In this TEN-week program, which begins September 12, 2023, the craft of thriller writing will be front and center. Each instructor will teach an aspect of craft during a live Zoom session, will provide written materials for further reading along with study suggestions (when applicable), and will offer live Q&A with the attending students. Classes will be held every Tuesday at 1:00pm Eastern, and will run for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours, including live Q&A.

Also includes two bonus panels:

Q&A with bestselling authors Clare Mackintosh and Ruth Ware

What Makes a Literary Agent Go “Wow” with Jenny Bent, Jeff Kleinman & Barbara Poelle

The goal is simple: To make each student a better writer.

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

Structure, Setting, Character, Villains, Conflict, the Pitch, Twists, Endings, Revision & Emotion.

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

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

Below you will find the full 2023 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



9/12 – 1pm Eastern

All About Structure

The Architecture of the Thriller


9/19 – 1pm Eastern

All About Setting

Creating Your Story World

Jeneva Rose


9/21 (Thursday) – 1pm Eastern

Bonus Session:

Q&A with Bestselling Authors

Ruth Ware and Clare Mackintosh


9/26 – 1pm Eastern

All About Character

How to Create Memorable Characters

Jean Kwok


10/3 – 1pm Eastern

All About Villians

How to Make Your Antagonist Three Dimensional

Gabino Iglesias


10/10 – 1pm Eastern

All About Conflict

How to Make Sure Every Scene Has Tension

Doug Preston


10/17 – 1pm Eastern

All About the Pitch

How to Write a Logline, Synopsis, and Elevator Pitch

Meryl Moss


10/19 (Thursday) – 1pm Eastern

Bonus Session:

What Makes a Literary Agent Go “Wow”

Jenny Bent, Barbara Poelle & Jeff Kleinman


10/24 – 1pm Eastern

All About Twists

How to Surprise Your Reader

Sarah Pekkanen


10/31 – 1pm Eastern

All About Endings

How to Make Yours Great

May Cobb


11/7 – 1pm Eastern

All About Revision

How to Make Your Manuscript Shine

Kimberly Belle


11/14 – 1pm Eastern

All About Emotion

Show Don’t Tell

Tips for Making Your Writing Sing

Lisa Unger


How long is each class?

Each class will run about 90 to 120 minutes (an hour and a half to about two hours each), but it does depend on the instructor and often on the topic as well. Some classes might be a little shorter, and some might actually be 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. Kimberly Belle

    Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author with over one million copies sold worldwide, with titles including The Personal AssistantThe Marriage Lie, a Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for Best Mystery & Thriller, and the co-authored #1 Audible Original, Young Rich Widows. Kimberly’s novels have been selected by LibraryReads and Amazon as Best Books of the Month and optioned for film and television. She divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

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  3. May Cobb

    May Cobb grew up in the piney woods of East Texas where My Summer Darlings, The Hunting Wives and Big Woods are set. After college, she moved to San Francisco where she studied Victorian Literature for her Master’s, and gravitated towards that era’s detective novels, known as “sensation novels”, such as Wilke Collins’ The Woman in White. She then lived in Los Angeles for a few years where she worked for filmmaker/writer Ron Shelton and his wife, the actress Lolita Davidovich.

    May currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and son where they enjoy traipsing around the area’s many beautiful parks. She also enjoys napping, staring into space, making to-do lists for her to-do lists, shoveling cookies down her throat when she’s writing a particularly difficult scene (and even when she’s not), wearing her PJ’s as often as she can get away with and collapsing into bed at the end of a day with a great book.

    She’s currently finishing a book about the late, jazz great, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, a project which has been in the works for twenty years. Kirk was a human phenomenon. During his brief life, he defied staggering odds—from blindness, to prejudice, to a paralyzing stroke—in order to play the music that came to him through dreams. His story is what made May want to become a writer.

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  5. Gabino Iglesias

    Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, Texas. He is the author of Zero Saints and Coyote Songs and the editor of Both Sides. the book reviews editor for PANK Magazine, and a columnist for LitReactor and CLASH Media. His work has been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and the Locus Award and won the Wonderland Book Award for Best Novel in 2019. He teaches at SNHU’s online MFA program. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Criminal Element, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other print and online venues. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.

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  7. 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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  9. Meryl Moss

    Meryl Moss is founder and president of Meryl Moss Media Group, a literary media relations and marketing firm that for 25 years has been promoting and branding authors and their books through media exposure, speaking engagements, social media and creative marketing solutions. The firm specializes in working with first-time authors, as well as those who are established and looking for a seasoned group of professionals to take them to the next level. Meryl Moss Media Group is proud to work with authors book after book, the best compliment there is.

    Like many new ideas, Meryl Moss created on a napkin. When traditional media outlets started reducing their coverage of books and authors, Meryl put a stake in the ground with a website featuring under-the-radar authors who deserved to be noticed, and that readers would enjoy discovering – whether debut writers, midlist or even occasional bestsellers. Rather than focus on the household names you read about everywhere,’s mantra is to give voice to those authors that really need to be heard – and read.

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  11. Sarah Pekkanen

    Sarah Pekkanen is the #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of four novels of suspense including The Golden Couple and The Wife Between Us, and the solo author of the thriller Gone Tonight. A passionate volunteer for rescue animals, she serves as an Ambassador for RRSA India and works hands-on in India to heal and vaccinate street dogs. She lives just outside of Washington, D.C., with her family.

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  13. Douglas Preston

    Douglas Preston has published 36 books of both nonfiction and fiction, of which 29 have been New York Times bestsellers. He is the co-author, with Lincoln Child, of the Pendergast series of thrillers. He writes about archaeology and anthropology for the New Yorker Magazine, and he worked as an editor at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University. He currently serves as President of the Authors Guild, the nation’s oldest and largest association of authors and journalists.

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  15. Jeneva Rose

    Jeneva Rose is the New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Marriage, The Girl I Was, One of Us is Dead, You Shouldn’t Have Come Here, and the Detective Kimberley King series. Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages and optioned for film/tv. Originally from Wisconsin, she currently lives in Chicago with her husband, Drew, and her English bulldog, Winston. When she’s not writing, you can find her on TikTok.

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  17. Lisa Unger

    Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of 20 novels, including her latest Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six. With books published in 33 languages and millions of copies sold worldwide, she is regarded as a master of suspense.

    Unger’s critically acclaimed novels have been featured on “Best Book” lists from the Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, People, Amazon, Goodreads, L.A. Times, The Boston Globe, Sun Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times and many others. She has been nominated for, or won, numerous awards including the Strand Critics, Audie, Hammett, Macavity, ITW Thriller, and Goodreads Choice. In 2019, she received two Edgar Award nominations, an honor held by only a few authors, including Agatha Christie. Her short fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Mystery and Suspense, and her non-fiction has appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Travel+Leisure. Lisa is the current co-President of the International Thriller Writers organization. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.

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