Online Thriller School

The Eighth Annual Online Thriller School has now concluded. To be put on a waiting list and be among the first to know when the schedule and list of instructors for ITW’s Ninth Annual Online Thriller School (2022) please email Christopher Graham at


Learn from the Masters:
Ten Weeks of Intensive Craft Lessons

Includes a Bonus “Ask Me Anything” Panel!

Join Liv Constantine, Jeffery Deaver, Lisa Gardner, Alexia Gordon, Adam Hamdy, Cate Holahan, Anthony Horowitz, Steven James, Tosca Lee, Jaime Levine, David Morrell, Samuel Octavius, Alex Segura, and Jerri Williams.

In this TEN-week program, which begins September 14, 2021, the craft of thriller writing will be front and center. Each instructor will teach an aspect of craft during a one-to-two-hour Live Zoom session, may provide written materials for further reading along with study suggestions, and will offer an entire week of online Q&A with the registered students. The goal is simple: To make each student a better writer.

Attendance is limited, and we sold out last year, so please register today!

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

The talented instructors will delve into the following topics: Pacing, World Building, Building Suspense, Villains – Beyond the Cardboard Cutout, How to Edit Like a Pro, Creating Depth of Character, The G-Woman: An Insider’s Look at the FBI, How to Write a Killer Twist, Creating Realistic Dialogue, and Developing and Honing Your Voice

Bonus Panel: “Ask me Anything” with Alexia Gordon, David Morrell & Alex Segura – Moderated by Samuel Octavius


Advice From Your Online 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


Last year’s Online Thriller School was a resounding success and students came away with many new skills for their writing toolbox. And this year will be another learning opportunity for writers of all skill levels.

Every writer knows that learning to write well is a life-long pursuit and writers must never cease improving their craft. There are many wonderful books, classes, and online sources that will help you improve your storytelling craft, but where can you learn directly from the best? From New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors?

Right here at ITW’s Eighth Annual Online Thriller School!

We have assembled a cadre of excellent teachers and topics so please join us and let us help you take your writing and storytelling to the next level.

SCHEDULE    |    HOW IT WORKS    |    REGISTRATION    |    CONTACT    |    FAQ    |    BIOS


September 14 – 18: Adam Hamdy | Full Bio
LIVE: Tuesday, September 14 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time

September 21 – 25: Tosca Lee | Full Bio
World Building
LIVE: Tuesday, September 21 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time

September 28 – October 2: Jeffery Deaver | Full Bio
Building Suspense

LIVE: Tuesday, September 28 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time

October 5 – 10: Steven James | Full Bio
Villains – How to Write Believable Antagonists

LIVE: Tuesday, October 5 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time

October 12 – 16: Jaime Levine | Full Bio
How to Edit Like a Pro

LIVE: Tuesday, October 12 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time

October 19 – 23: Lisa Gardner | Full Bio
Creating Depth of Character

LIVE: Tuesday, October 19 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time

October 26 – 30: Jerri Williams | Full Bio
The G-Woman – An Insider’s View of the FBI

LIVE: Tuesday, October 26 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time

November 2 – 6: Liv Constantine | Full Bio
Writing a Killer Twist

LIVE: Tuesday, November 2 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time

November 9 – 13: Anthony Horowitz | Full Bio
Creating Realistic Dialogue and Believable Characters

LIVE: Tuesday, November 9 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time

November 16 – 20: Cate Holahan  | Full Bio
Developing and Honing Your Voice

LIVE: Tuesday, November 16 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time


When: Thursday, October 21st at 2pm eastern
Where: Live Zoom Webinar

Please join Peter Hildick-Smith, the President and Founder of the Codex-Group LLC, a book audience research firm based in New York, with clients including Simon & Schuster, Little, Brown, Scribner, Grand Central Publishing, Macmillan, Harlequin, Penguin and many others. On October 21st, Peter will discuss “Judging a Book by Its Title,” where he will present extensive research his company has done with book buyers to determine what most appeals to consumers when they’re deciding what books to purchase.Peter will also evaluate the proposed title, any subtitle, jacket copy verbiage (no more than 200 words), and book cover (if available) as well as the target book category and audience reach of 15 student’s work during his presentation.



When: Thursday, November 11th at 2pm eastern
Where: Live Zoom Webinar

Moderator: Samuel Octavius (Full Bio)
Panelists: Alexia Gordon (Full Bio), David Morrell (Full Bio), Alex Segura (Full Bio)



This year’s ten-week program begins September 14, 2021, and as before the craft of thriller writing will be front and center. Each instructor will teach an aspect of the craft through a real-time, Live Zoom session that will be exclusively to the students who are registered for the Online Thriller School, at 2pm (Eastern). The session will be recorded so that if you’re unable to attend, you will still be able to access the content.

Students will have an opportunity to ask questions of each week’s instructor either during or immediately after the video presentation. You’ll also have time throughout the week to review the video lecture should you be unable to attend the live broadcast, as well as ask any follow-up questions that you may develop during the week. You will also be provided with course materials, handouts, and reading suggestions where applicable.

All videos and Q&As will be available throughout the entire course, and for approximately 6 months thereafter.


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



If you have any questions or if there is anything that is not clear about the online course, please do not hesitate to contact ITW’s Art Director and Website Administrator, Christopher Graham:


Phone: 732-267-6449


Do I have to have internet access to participate in the course?

Yes, online access is required. If you wish to post questions after the sessions, you’ll also need a Facebook account (which is free if you don’t already have one), along with the desire to learn from some of the publishing industry’s most successful authors and instructors.

What if I’m unable to attend some or all of the live broadcasts?

No problem, attendance for all ten weeks is not mandatory. If you are unable to attend each week you will still be able to view the video broadcasts and review the questions that were asked. If you are unable to attend an entire week you won’t be able to ask questions of that week’s instructor, as each instructor is only scheduled for one week, but you will be able to review the Q&A from the other students and that week’s instructor.

Can I attend if I live outside the US?

Yes! One of the reasons ITW offers online classes is so that more people can participate both inside and outside the US. We find it’s often difficult for people to travel to Manhattan in the summer to take part in ThrillerFest and CraftFest, so the online Career School and Thriller School are a great way for people to get the same level of instruction, but in a much more convenient way. The class is also spread out over ten weeks, fourteen instructors total, which makes it easy for people to participate at night, mornings and around their work schedules. Your time zone should not be a problem at all, since the instructional videos can be listened to and reviewed at your leisure. The online Q&A with each instructor will run all week, so there will be plenty of time to ask questions and have your questions answered.

What’s a Zoom Live Session?

Great question! Zoom is a service you can download for free and you will receive unique Zoom link for each class emailed to you. Simply click the link and you will be able to join the session.

Is the Online Thriller School Facebook Group Private?

Yes. We are using a Private Facebook group for the online course that is by invite only. The only people being invited are the instructors, administrators and registered students.

What if I’m not very technical?

No problem! As long as you have access to email, the Internet, and Facebook, we can help you participate in the class. ITW’s Website Administrator, Christopher Graham, will be available by email and phone (732-267-6449) to help you with any technical issues and even to walk you through connecting to the weekly video and discussion.

Will I be able to participate on my smartphone and/or tablet?

Yes, you certainly can. In fact, we recommend you use whatever device you are most comfortable with. Most students prefer to use their desktop or laptop computer, but if you are comfortable using a different device we encourage you to do so.

What is ITW? How can I join?

ITW, the International Thriller Writers, is the premier organization for thriller writers. It is an honorary society of authors, both fiction and nonfiction, who write books broadly classified as “thrillers.” This would include (but isn’t limited to) such subjects as murder mystery, detective, suspense, horror, supernatural, action, espionage, true crime, war, adventure, and myriad similar subject areas. READ MORE

Interested in joining? Just click on the following link: HOW TO JOIN ITW

What if I have more questions, or if my questions have not been answered?

No problem! Just reach out to ITW’s Website Administrator, Christopher Graham, by email or phone (732-267-6449).

Need more info? CLICK HERE to read a write-up leading up to last year’s Online Thriller School in



Liv Constantine

Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Together, they are the bestselling author of the Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick The Last Mrs. ParrishThe Last Time I Saw YouThe Wife Stalker, and The Stranger in the Mirror (coming July 2021). Their critically acclaimed books have been praised by USA TodayThe Sunday TimesPeople Magazine, and Good Morning America, among many others. Lynne and Valerie are national and international bestselling authors and their books have been translated into 28 languages, are available in 33 countries, and are in development for both television and film.

Back to Schedule

Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver is an international number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into twenty-five languages. He has served two terms as president of Mystery Writers of America, and was recently named a Grand Master of MWA, whose ranks include Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Mary Higgins Clark and Walter Mosley.

The author of forty-three novels, three collections of short stories and a nonfiction law book, and a lyricist of a country-western album, he’s received or been shortlisted for dozens of awards.

His The Bodies Left Behind was named Novel of the Year by the International Thriller Writers association, and his Lincoln Rhyme thriller The Broken Window and a stand-alone, Edge, were also nominated for that prize. The Garden of Beasts won the Steel Dagger from the Crime Writers Association in England. He’s also been nominated for eight Edgar Awards by the MWA.

Deaver has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, the Strand Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Raymond Chandler Lifetime Achievement Award in Italy.

His book A Maiden’s Grave was made into an HBO movie starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin, and his novel The Bone Collector was a feature release from Universal Pictures, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Lifetime aired an adaptation of his The Devil’s Teardrop. NBC television recently aired the nine-episode prime-time series, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector.

Back to Schedule

Lisa Gardner

New York Times bestselling novelist Lisa Gardner began her career in food service, but after catching her hair on fire, she took the hint and focused on writing instead. Her 2010 novel, The Neighbor, won Best Thriller of the year from the ITW. Most recently, she was honored with the Silver Bullet Award for her work with at-risk children and homeless animals. Lisa’s latest thriller, Before She Disappeared, is available now.


Back to Schedule

Alexia Gordon

Alexia Gordon is a physician by day, and award-winning #ownvoices crime novelist by night. Her achievements include:
2017 Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel
Suspense magazine “Best of 2016” selection in Debut Novel category
2016 Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel
Runner-Up, Lone Star Literary’s 2017 Bloggers’ Choice Awards, Best Mystery/Suspense
Short List, Lone Star Literary’s 2017 Bloggers’ Choice Awards, Best Series
Winner, Lone Star Literary’s 2018 Bloggers’ Choice Awards, Best Series
Winner, Lone Star Literary’s 2018 Bloggers’ Choice Awards, Best Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Winner, Lone Star Literary’s 2018 Bloggers’ Choice Awards, Best Fantasy/Paranormal/Alt History
Starred review, Publishers Weekly, January 29, 2018
2019 Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Mystery
Winner, Lone Star Literary’s 2019 Bloggers’ Choice Awards, The Perfect Five
Winner, Lone Star Literary’s 2019 Bloggers’ Choice Awards, Best Paranormal/Fantasy/Magical Realism
Honorable Mention, Lone Star Literary’s 2019 Bloggers’ Choice Awards, Best Series
The Gethsemane Brown Mysteries
Book 1, Murder in G Major
Book 2, Death in D Minor
Book 3, Killing in C Sharp
Book 4, Fatality in F
Book 5, Execution in E

Back to Schedule

Adam Hamdy

Adam Hamdy is a Sunday Times, Kindle and international bestselling author and screenwriter. In addition to his own Pendulum and Scott Pearce series, Adam has co-written Private Moscow and Private Rogue with James Patterson. Adam co-founded the Capital Crime literary festival and book club, and is on the board of ITW.



Back to Schedule

Cate Holahan

Cate Holahan is the USA Today Bestselling author of domestic suspense novels Her Three Lives, The Widower’s Wife, One Little Secret, Lies She Told, and Dark Turns. In a former life, she was an award-winning journalist, writing for The Record, The Boston Globe, and BusinessWeek, among others. She was also the lead singer of Leaving Kinzley, an original rock band in NYC. A biracial author of Jamaican and Irish-American descent, she is a member of Crime Writers of Color, The Author’s Guild, and Sisters-in-Crime. She lives in NJ with her husband and two daughters, and spends a disturbing amount of time highly-caffeinated, mining her own anxieties for material.

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

Back to Schedule

Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz is one of the most prolific and successful writers working in the UK – and is unique for working across so many media. Anthony is a born polymath; juggling writing books, TV series, films, plays and journalism.

Anthony has written over 40 books including the bestselling teen spy series Alex Rider, which he adapted into a movie that was released worldwide in 2006. The Alex Rider series is estimated to have sold 19 million copies worldwide. His highly anticipated novel, Oblivion, the epic conclusion to the Power of Five series, was published in October 2012. Anthony is also an acclaimed writer for adults and was commissioned by the Conan Doyle Estate and Orion Books to write two new Sherlock Holmes novels. The House of Silk was published in November 2011 and was internationally lauded as the top title of the autumn. The sequel, Moriarty, was published in October 2014 with similar success. Most recently he was commissioned by the Ian Fleming Estate to write the James Bond novel Trigger Mortis, which was published on 8th September 2015.

Anthony is responsible for creating and writing some of the UK’s most beloved and successful television series, producing the first seven episodes (and the title) of Midsomer Murders. He is the writer and creator of award-winning drama series Foyle’s War, which was the Winner of the Lew Grade Audience award for BAFTA. DCS Foyle was voted the nation’s favourite detective in 2011. Anthony has also written other original complex dramas for ITV, particularly thrillers. Collision, a major five part “state of the nation” piece was transmitted on ITV1 in November 2009 to seven million viewers a night. He followed this with the equally successful legal thriller Injustice, also for ITV 1 – transmitted in June 2011. Foyle’s War returned in March 2013 as a Cold War thriller and was greeted with such critical acclaim and demands for more that he wrote one final series, bringing the show to an end in January 2015. Anthony’s latest show New Blood will premiere on BBC iPlayer later this year.

Back to Schedule

Steven James

Steven James is a national bestselling author whose award-winning, pulse-pounding novels continue to gain wide critical acclaim from sources including Publishers Weekly, The New York Journal of Books, RT Book Reviews, Booklist, Library Journal, and many others.

He has received more than a dozen national and international honors and awards for his books, including four Christy Awards and an International Book Award for best suspense. His articles and stories have appeared in more than 80 different publications, including Writer’s Digest Magazine and The New York Times.

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, James has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades, speaking more than 2000 times at events spanning the globe.

Back to Schedule

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. To learn more, please visit

Back to Schedule

Jaime Levine

Jaime Levine, Senior Editor, joined HMH in April 2018; she primarily acquires upmarket suspense, mysteries, and thrillers and she is the editor for the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. Some of her recent and forthcoming titles include the first novel and last creative act by American legend Stan Lee, a spy thriller by Oliver Harris, a home-invasion thriller by Bracken MacLeod, a debut horror novel by newcomer Jasper DeWitt, a psychological suspense debut by Amy Suiter Clarke, and psychological suspense by Amy Gentry. She previously worked at Thomas Dunne Books and Grand Central Publishing, where she edited the #1 best-selling duo Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, the estate of Robert Ludlum, and the writers Julianna Baggott, Eric van Lustbader, Octavia Butler, and Jacqueline Carey.

Back to Schedule

David Morrell

David Morrell is the author of First Blood, the novel in which Rambo was created. He holds a PhD in American literature from Penn State and was a professor in the English department at the University of Iowa. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic espionage novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl. An Edgar, Anthony, and Arthur Ellis finalist, an Inkpot, Macavity and Nero recipient, Morrell has three Bram Stoker awards and the Thriller Master Award from International Thriller Writers. Bouchercon, the world’s largest conference for crime-fiction readers and authors, gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award. His most recent novels are the Victorian mystery/thrillers Murder As a Fine Art, Inspector of the Dead, and Ruler of the Night. Visit him at

Back to Schedule

Sam Octavius

Samuel Octavius Carter enlisted into the Marine Corps on August 25, 1997. With roughly 24 years of active service, he watched a fallen soldier unintentionally walk across the top of his parachute; he swam with a dolphin protective detail away from a shark; he ate the eyeball of a dead rabbit for electrolytes, and he saw a mortar round land ten inches from a passing Marine who lived to tell about it. Life has rewarded him with tons of stories to share.

In between the fun, he’s pursued his passions for writing, technology, and the intersection of futurism and society. He retired at the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant, completed a B.S. in Computer Networks and Cybersecurity, an M.S. in Data Analytics from the University of Maryland, and pursuing graduate studies in Computational Social Science.”

Back to Schedule

Alex Segura

Alex Segura is an acclaimed, award-winning writer of novels, comic books, short stories, and podcasts. He is the author of Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall, the Pete Fernandez Mystery series (including the Anthony Award-nominated crime novels Dangerous Ends, Blackout and Miami Midnight), and the upcoming Secret Identity (Flatiron Books). His short story “Red Zone” won the 2020 Anthony Award for Best Short Story, and his border noir short story, “90 Miles” will be included in The Best American Mystery and Suspense Stories of 2020. He has also written a number of comic books, most notably the superhero noir The Black Ghost, the YA music series The Archies, and the “Archie Meets” collection of crossovers, featuring real-life cameos from the Ramones, B-52s, and more. He is also the co-creator/co-writer of the Lethal Lit crime/YA podcast from iHeart Radio, which was named one of the best podcasts of 2018 by The New York Times. By day he is Co-President of Archie Comics. A Miami native, he lives in New York with his wife and children.

Back to Schedule

Jerri Williams

Jerri Williams, Retired Agent, Author & Podcaster, has always been a storyteller and, after serving 26 years as a special agent with the FBI, she has plenty of stories to tell. During most of her Bureau career, she worked major economic fraud investigations and is amazed at the schemes con-artist and corrupt corporate officials devise to steal other people’s money. She has also had the opportunity to work bank robberies and drug investigations. The one thing she knows for sure is, “With a gun, they can steal hundreds. With a lie, they can steal millions.” Jerri received numerous awards throughout her career, including four United States Attorney Awards for Distinguished Service. Being interviewed and appearing on CNBC’s American Greed in the episode—When Greed and Giving Collide—was a highlight of Jerri’s career. Jerri is on a mission to show the public who the FBI is and what the FBI does through her books, podcast, and blog. In Jerri’s non-fiction book FBI Myths and Misconceptions: A Manual for Armchair Detectives, she debunks the top 20 clichés and misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies, and provides a reality check regarding FBI procedures. Throughout the fun- and fact-filled book, she includes quotes from retired agents about how the FBI really works and reviews popular films and fiction featuring FBI characters. The entertaining companion book with advanced FBI themes, FBI Word Search Puzzles: Fun for Armchair Detectives is also available. She is under contract as a technical consultant for major TV networks and production companies wanting to create authentic FBI dramas and characters. Using her prior professional experiences with scams and schemers, she also writes crime novels. Her FBI Philadelphia Corruption Squad series—Pay To Play, Greedy Givers, and Spoiled Sport (coming soon)—features a strong but flawed female FBI agent protagonist with a troubled past. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks, wherever books are sold. Jerri is also the producer and host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast where she interviews retired FBI agents about their high-profile cases and careers. With more than 200 episodes downloaded nearly 5 million times, her listeners are from around the world. FBI Retired Case File Review can be accessed on Jerri’s website, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Pandora, and other popular podcast apps, as well as YouTube. You can learn more about Jerri Williams, her books, and her podcast at

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. Using creative compromises to move stories forward, create conflict, and entertain is acceptable. Relying on common cliches, misconceptions, and inaccurate information is not.“—Jerri Williams – retired FBI agent, author, and podcaster

Back to Schedule