Carter Wilson | Thriller Author

In my conversation series Making It Up I talk to writers of all backgrounds in order to find out why they do what they do. My guests and I discuss childhood influences, roots of creativity, luck and loss, tools of the craft, and the highs and lows of publishing. At the end of our conversation, we pick a random sentence from a random book and use it to create an impromptu short story. Scroll down for all the episodes!

Full Episode List:

Ep 1: Alex Marwood
Ep 2: Julie Clark
Ep 3: Joe Clifford
Ep 4: David Bell
Ep 5: Sean Eads
Ep 6: K.J. Howe
Ep 7: Lynne Constantine
Ep 8: Mark Stevens
Ep 9: Steven James
Ep 10: Julia Heaberlin
Ep 11: Graham Hurley
Ep 12: Emily Bleeker
Ep 13: Erika Englehaupt
Ep 14: Mark Sullivan
Ep 15: Sabrina Jeffries
Ep 16: Clare Whitfield
Ep 17: Xio Axelrod
Ep 18: Brad Parks
Ep 19: Barb Webb
Ep 20: Adrian Goldsworthy
Ep 21: Stuart Turton
Ep 22: S.A. Cosby
Ep 23: Daniel Handler
Ep 24: Maureen Johnson
Ep 25: Sarah Fine
Ep 26: Matthew Fitzsimmons
Ep 27: Robert Dugoni
Ep 28: Farrah Rochon
Ep 29: Alverne Ball
Ep 30: Drew Magary
Ep 31: Dr. Ian Smith
Ep 32: Yasmin Angoe
Ep 33: Gabrielle St George
Ep 34: Amanda Kabak
Ep 35: Lynne Reeves Griffin
Ep 36: Allen Eskens
Ep 37: Daniel Jude Miller
Ep 38: Alex Finlay
Ep 39: Aaron Philip Clark
Ep 40: Lara Elena Donnelly
Ep 41: J.T. Ellison
Ep 42: Erica Ferencik
Ep 43: Katie Lattari
Ep 44: Katrina Monroe
Ep 45: Ananda Lima
Ep 46: D.P. Lyle
Ep 47: Jess Montgomery
Ep 48: Elle Marr
Ep 49: Hilde Lysiak
Ep 50: Hannah Mary McKinnon
Ep 51: Ashley Winstead
Ep 52: Joey Hartstone
Ep 53: Clare Mackintosh
Ep 54: Faye Snowden
Ep 55: Pip Drysdale
Ep 56: James Byrne
Ep 57: Russell James
Ep 58: David Ellis
Ep 59: Laurie R King
Ep 60: Leanne Sparks
Ep 61: Wendy Walker
Ep 62: Sam McAlister
Ep 63: Kelly J Ford
Ep 64: Jonathan Woods
Ep 65: Samuel Octavius
Ep 66: Jeffrey Wilson
Ep 67: Barbara Nickless
Ep 68: Katie Sise
Ep 69: Carla Damron
Ep 70: Jennifer Givhan
Ep 71: Ronald Kelly
Ep 72: Nuzo Onoh
Ep 73: Mark Stevens
Ep 74: Chad Boudreaux
Ep 75: Lexie Elliott
Ep 76: David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Ep 77: Rebecca Kelley
Ep 78: Kimberly Belle
Ep 79: Tracy Clark
Ep 80: Veronica G. Henry
Ep 81: Kimberly Giarratano
Ep 82: Samantha M. Bailey
Ep 83: Hank Phillippi Ryan
Ep 84: Nancy Stohlman
Ep 85: Ciera Horton McElroy
Ep 86: Rebecca Ann Keller
Ep 87: Lauren Thoman
Ep 88: Tessa Wegert
Ep 89: Kara Thomas
Ep 90: Don Bentley
Ep 91: Christopher Flory
Ep 92: Rachael Herron
Ep 93: Alisa Valdes
Ep 94: A.G. Riddle
Ep 95: Bryn Turnbull
Ep 96: Eliza Knight
Ep 97: Aimie K. Runyan
Ep 98: M.P. Woodward
Ep 99: Del Chatterson
Ep 100: Javier Castillo
Ep 101: Lindsay Cameron
Ep 102: Chris Riley
Ep 103: Carl Vonderau
Ep 104: Michael Katz Krefeld
Ep 105: MIU Live
Ep 106: Amy Weinland Daughters
Ep 107: Heather Levy
Ep 108: Carol Dunbar
Ep 109: Hannah Nicole Maehrer
Ep 110: Edward Cahill
Ep 111: Stephen Michaud
Ep 112: Erin Hoover
Ep 113: Martin Clark
Ep 114: Elise Hart Kipness
Ep 115: Emily Smith
Ep 116: Kathleen Willett
Ep 117: Abbott Kahler
Ep 118: Hailey Piper
Ep 119: Sara DiVello
Ep 120: Boyd and Beth Morrison
Ep 121: Katherine Howe
Ep 122: Audrey Gale
Ep 123: Matt Coyle

Latest Episodes

Episode 123 | February 29, 2024

Matt Coyle is the author of the best-selling Rick Cahill crime novels. He graduated with a degree in English from University of California at Santa Barbara. His foray into crime fiction was delayed for thirty years as he spent time managing a restaurant, selling golf clubs for various golf companies, and in national sales for a sports licensing company. Yesterday’s Echo was published in 2013 and won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the San Diego Book Award for Best Mystery, and the Ben Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Fiction.

Among other things, Matt and Carter discuss the emergence of the crime fiction genre, balancing a full-time job and writing, and what it’s like to find your “voice” in your writing. At the end of their conversation, they make up a fast-paced story using a sentence from Clare Mackintosh’s The Last Party.

Episode 122 | February 22, 2024

Audrey Gale is the author of the new release, The Human Trial. After twenty-plus years in the banking industry, Audrey pursued her master’s in fiction writing at the University of Southern California. Her first novel, a legal thriller entitled The Sausage Maker’s Daughters, was published under the name A.G.S. Johnson. Her second, The Human Trial, is the first book in a medical-thriller trilogy inspired by Gale’s own experiences with the gap between traditional medicine and approaches based on the findings of the great physicists of the 20th Century. 

Among other things, Audrey and Carter discuss writing stories as a child, navigating imposter syndrome as a new author, and the necessity of doing research in different academic/career fields for a book, even when writing fiction. At the end of their conversation, they make up a hilarious and twisted story using a sentence from Darcy Coates’s From Below.

Episode 121 | February 15, 2024

Katherine Howe, author of A True Account: Hannah Masury’s Sojourn Amongst the Pyrates, Written by Herself, is a New York Times bestselling and award-winning historian and novelist. She is the author of several novels for adults and young adults, has edited two volumes of primary sources for Penguin Classics, and is the co-author with Anderson Cooper of the #1 New York Times bestselling books Vanderbilt and Astor. She has appeared on “Good Morning America,” “CBS This Morning,” NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” and others. 

Among other things, Katherine and Carter discuss how the Salem Witch Trials influenced her writing journey, her unique story of how she got her agent, and how she started writing novels with Anderson Cooper. At the end of their conversation, Katherine makes up a captivating story using a sentence from The Lost Weekend by Charles R. Jackson. 

Episode 120 | February 8, 2024

Boyd Morrison is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twelve thrillers, including six collaborations with Clive Cussler in the Oregon Files series. His first novel, The Ark, was an Indie Next Notable pick. He has a PhD in industrial engineering from Virginia Tech. His latest thriller The Last True Templar is the second book in the Tales of the Lawless Land series co-written with his sister, expert medievalist Beth Morrison. Beth is Senior Curator of Manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She has curated major exhibitions including ‘Imagining the Past in France, 1250-1500’. She has a PhD in the History of Art from Cornell University. 

Among other things, Boyd, Beth, and Carter discuss how careers in engineering and art history have tied into their writing journeys, the process of writing novels together as siblings, and how they travel to gather research and inspiration for their novels. At the end of their conversation, they make up a creepy and gripping story using a sentence from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl

Episode 119 | February 1, 2024

Sara DiVello is a true crime writer and the founder and host of the popular author interview series, Mystery and Thriller Mavens. Her latest book, Broadway Butterfly: A Thriller, received starred reviews from Library Journal and Book List, was a CBS New York Book Club pick, an Entertainment Weekly Best Book of Summer, was featured in Vanity Fair,  and much more.

Among other things, Sara and Carter discuss why they wanted to start podcasts, the transition from a corporate career to being an author, and their experiences reading negative reviews. At the end of their conversation, they make up a hilariously dark story using a sentence from Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas.

Episode 118 | January 24, 2024

Hailey Piper is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Cruel Angels Past Sundown, Queen of Teeth, A Light Most Hateful, The Worm and His Kings series, and other books of dark fiction. She is also the author of over 100 short stories, and her non-fiction appears in Writer’s Digest, Library Journal, CrimeReads, and others. 

Among other things, Hailey and Carter discuss how to navigate conversations and relationships with editors, outlining during the writing process, and Hailey’s experiences writing short stories. At the end of their conversation, they make up an eerie and mysterious story using a sentence from an anthology of Victorian ghost stories.

Episode 117 | January 18, 2024

Abbott Kahler (formerly Karen Abbott) is the author of four New York Times bestselling works of narrative nonfiction, including The Ghosts of Eden Park and Then Came the Devil. Her debut novel, Where You End, is inspired by a true story of identical twins and amnesia. USA Today once named her “a pioneer of sizzle history.” 

Among other things, Abbott and Carter discuss Abbott’s early commitment to getting published, the thriller genre and its changes over time, and her experience moving from writing non-fiction to fiction. At the end of the conversation, they make up a quirky story using a sentence from her very own, brand-new novel, Where You End by Abbott Kahler. 

Episode 116 | January 12, 2024

Novelist Kathleen Willett has a B.A. in English from Holy Cross and a M.A. in English Education from Columbia University. An English teacher who grew up in New Jersey and London, Kathleen lives in Manhattan with her husband, two daughters, and a cat named Mr. Sparkles. Willett’s debut novel, Mother of All Secrets, was shared by Hoda Kotb on The Today Show as one of her favorite new books.  

Among other things, Kathleen and Carter discuss the benefits of reading as a kid, the emotions generated by editor’s notes, and getting used to promoting and speaking about yourself. At the end of their conversation, they make up a story that goes from zero to chilling, starting with a sentence from The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh. 

Episode 115 | January 4, 2024

Novelist Emily Smith is a New Jersey native, who pursued her BFA in Dramatic Writing at NYU and her MFA in Creative Writing at American University. Her electrifying debut novel, You Always Come Back, was released in late 2023 to rave reviews. 

Among other things, Emily and Carter discuss Emily’s desire to be a writer from age four, what should be taught during an MFA, and developing an online presence. At the end of their conversation, they make up a ghost hunting story starting with a sentence from Camino Winds by John Grisham. 

Episode 114 | December 28, 2023

Elise Hart Kipness is a former television sports reporter turned thriller writer. LIGHTS OUT is based on her experience in the high-pressure, adrenaline-pumping world of live TV. In addition to reporting for Fox Sports Network, Elise was a reporter at New York’s WNBC-TV, News 12 Long Island, and the Associated Press. She is currently copresident of Sisters in Crime Connecticut, as well as a member of Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.  

Among other things, Elise and Carter discuss character dynamics, Elise’s experiences as a debut author, and how titles are determined. At the end of their conversation, they make up a mysterious tale starting with a sentence from Six Years by Harlan Coban. 

Episode 113 | December 21, 2023

Entertainment Weekly called Martin Clark “hands down, our finest legal-thriller writer.” The New York Times stated that he is “the thinking man’s John Grisham.” Martin’s novels have appeared on multiple bestseller lists and have been chosen as a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and a Washington Post Book World Best Book of the Year. His current release is The Plinko Bounce. 

Among other things Martin and Carter discuss the getting into the publishing groove as a writer, the need to utilize social media marketing, and reading crazy book reviews. At the end of their conversation, they make up a little legal thriller starting with a sentence from Power Play by Joseph Finder. 

Episode 112 | December 14, 2023

Erin Hoover is the author of two poetry collections, Barnburner and No Spare People. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry and Best New Poets, and in journals such as Cincinnati Review, Florida Review, Poetry Northwest, and Shenandoah. She lives in rural Tennessee and teaches creative writing at Tennessee Tech. 

Among other things, Erin and Carter discuss how Erin found herself writing and relating to poetry, the differences between prose and poetry, and the process of putting a collection of poetry together that combines emotional intensity variation but remains coherent. At the end of their conversation, they make up a mysterious little tale starting with a sentence from The Princess Bride by William Goldman. 

Episode 111 | December 7, 2023

Stephen G. Michaud is an internationally recognized author, co-author, reporter, and editor whose decades-long career credits comprise twenty books and multiple contributions to periodicals. The New York Daily News named The Only Living Witness (a biography of serial killer Ted Bundy co-authored with Hugh Aynesworth) one of the ten best true-crime books ever written. Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer, a compilation of Michaud and Aynesworth’s death-row interviews with Bundy, was a New York Times bestseller, and in January 2019, Netflix premiered it as a four-part series of the same name. Stephen’s latest book is Robert’s Story: A Texas Cowboy’s Troubled Life and Horrifying Death. 

Among other things, Stephen and Carter discuss Stephen’s early journalism days, how he was able to get in and interview Ted Bundy, and his experiences with different types and genres of writing. At the end of the conversation, they tell a gradually more intense story starting with a sentence from All The Brittle Pieces by Erik K. Hale. 

Episode 110 | November 30, 2023

Edward Cahill is Professor of English at Fordham University, specializing in the literature of British America and the early US republic; more recently, he has been teaching modern and contemporary fiction and writing novels. His debut novel, Disorderly Men, was published by Empire State Editions for Fordham University Press in September 2023 as the press’s first original literary fiction release. 

Among other things, Edward and Carter discuss how screenwriting teaches editing skills, the challenge of trusting your instincts, and learning how to be a public storyteller. At the end of the conversation, they tell a story of cruel intentions starting with a sentence from The Bastard by John Jakes. 

Episode 109 | November 16, 2023

Hannah Nicole Maehrer—or as TikTok Knows her, @hannahnicolemae—is a fantasy romance author and BookToker with a propensity for villains. When she’s not creating bookish comedy skits about Villains and Assistants, she’s writing to Taylor Swift songs. Her biggest passions in life include romance, magic, laughter, and finding ways to include them all in everything she creates. Most days you can find her with her head in the clouds and a pen in her hand. 

Among other things, Hannah and Carter discuss the choose-your-own adventure stories she grew up telling, going from a TikTok creator to writing a novel, and Hannah’s publication adventure. At the end of their conversation, they tell comedic story about what happens with too much wine, starting with a sentence from Secret Next Door by Rebecca Taylor. 

Episode 108 | November 2, 2023

Carol Dunbar is a former actor, playwright, and coloratura soprano who left her life in the city to move off the grid. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The South Carolina Review, Midwestern Gothic, and on Wisconsin Public Radio. Her most recent release is A Winter’s Rime, a harrowing and emotional novel set-in rural Wisconsin. 

Among other things, Carol and Carter discuss the psychology of writing and curiosity about other lives, the relationships writers have with their characters, and all the things Carol learned writing her first novel. At the end of the conversation, they make up a story about scary decisions, starting with a sentence from The Day After Tomorrow by Allen Folsom.  

Episode 107 | October 26, 2023

Heather Levy is a born and bred Oklahoman and graduate of Oklahoma City University’s Red Earth MFA program for creative writing. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including CrimeReads and NAILED Magazine. The New York Times called her Anthony-nominated debut Walking Through Needles “a spellbinding novel at the nexus of power, desire, and abuse that portends a bright future” and the L.A. Times called it “a standout for its frank but sensitive exploration of trauma and desire.” Her novels focus on kink-positive stories centered around badass women.

Among other things, Heather and Carter discuss the various book conferences they attend, how Heather learned to write a full novel, and her publishing experience. At the end of their conversation, they tell a story about a plan gone wrong starting from a sentence in Stolen Things by R. H. Herron.

Episode 106 | October 12, 2023

Amy Weinland Daughters is a humorist, a freelance sportswriter, and an author. Her second book, Dear Dana: That Time I Went Crazy and Wrote All 580 of My Facebook Friends a Handwritten Letter (She Writes Press), was released May 17, 2022. Currently a resident of Tomball, Texas, Amy, and her family have also lived in Blackwell, England, and Dayton, Ohio. 

Among other things, Carter and Amy discuss how living in other places (beyond where you grew up) helps foster empathy, the development of understanding humor and how to write humor, and the challenge of hoping your book is received well at the same time you’re promoting it. At the end of the conversation, they devise an alluring story from a sentence out of The Fireballer by Mark Stevens. 

Episode 105 | October 9, 2023

In a special live episode of Making It Up (recorded at the Broomfield Public Library auditorium in Colorado), Carter takes the stage with mystery author extraordinaire Emily Littlejohn (Shatter the Night), teacher, author and artist R. Alan Brooks (The Burning Metronome), and acclaimed novelist Erika T. Wurth (White Horse). 

Among other things, Carter and the authors discuss their different journeys to becoming authors, how the industry has gotten harder in the last 50 years, and how they approach family and friend readers during the writing process. At the end of the conversation, the four of them make up a story together starting with a sentence from the children’s book The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer. 

Episode 104 | September 28, 2023

Michael Katz Krefeld started his career directing a series of short films, before he moved on to writing scripts for several TV drama-series including the Emmy awarded Nikolaj & Juliet. He debuted as a novelist with Before the Storm (Før Stormen) which won the Danish Crime Academy’s first novel-award in 2007. Since 2013, Michael’s work has won numerous awards including Crime Book of the Year and Mofibo, and has been published in 20 countries with more than one million copies sold alone in Denmark. His latest work, including Darkness Calls, has taken the critics and readers by storm. 

Among other things, Michael and Carter discuss similarities between car racing and creative writing, how experience writing screen plays helps with novel writing, and his experience getting published in Denmark. At the end of their conversation, they come up with a creepy and thrilling opening scene using a sentence out of The Nameless Ones by John Connolly. 

Episode 103 | September 21, 2023

Carl Vonderau writes domestic suspense and thrillers. His novel, Murderabilia, won the Lefty award in 2020 for Best Debut Novel, the San Diego Book award for Best Mystery, and the Kops-Fetherling Gold Phoenix award. Carl’s latest novel is domestic suspense published by Oceanview on August 15, called Saving Myles. A former banker, he worked in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and North Africa. He now writes and helps nonprofits through Social Venture Partners.  

Among other things, Carter and Carl discuss how religion can influence or inspire writing, his transition from music to writing as Carl’s creative passion, and the common trials of being an author before getting published. At the end of their conversation, they set up a captivating scene using a sentence from Lost Lake by Emily Littlejohn.  

Episode 102 | September 14, 2023

Chris Riley lives near Sacramento, California, vowing one day to move back to the Pacific Northwest. In the meantime, he teaches special education, writes stories, and hides from the blasting heat for six months of the year. He has had over 100 short stories and essays published in various magazines and anthologies, and across multiple genres. He is the author of the literary suspense novels The Sinking of the Angie Piper and The Broken Pines. 

Among other things, Carter and Chris discuss the different approaches to the marketing side of writing, how Chris got into writing through short stories, and how important tenacity and patience are in the industry. At the end of their conversation, they make up creepy crime scene story starting with a sentence from The Mirror Man by Lars Kepler. 

Episode 101 | September 7, 2023

Lindsay Cameron worked as a corporate lawyer for many years in Vancouver and New York City before leaving the law behind to write books. She is the author of Biglaw and Just One Look. She lives in New York City and just released her latest book, No One Needs to Know, in May. 

Among other things, Carter and Lindsay discuss the similarities between legal writing and writing fiction, the publishing industry as a debut author vs after you’ve been published, and how to create the desire in readers to keep going. At the end of their conversation, they begin a dark tale with a sentence from Seventeen Stitches by Sean Eads. 

Episode 100 | August 31, 2023

It’s hard to believe but this is the 100TH EPISODE of Making It Up! Thanks to all of you for your support over the past 2 1/2 years, and I’m looking forward to producing many more episodes. And for this special centennial episode we have a guest who has been called the “Spanish Stephen King.” 

Javier Castillo grew up in Malaga, where he always dreamed about becoming a writer. On his daily 48-minute commute to his job in finance, he used to spend every moment of the train journey writing chapters to what would become his first novel, The Day Sanity Was Lost. Since he self-published that novel, his life has changed dramatically. After his first book was translated into 10 languages and published in more than 63 countries, Javier was signed up by Penguin Random House Spain who have since published six more novels. The Snow Girl, his fourth novel, has sold more than 2 million copies in Spain and become an international phenomenon. His subsequent novels, The Soul Game and The Crystal Cuckoo, have been instant no. 1 bestsellers, and will both be adapted for the screen by Netflix. 

Among other things, Carter and Javier discuss how Javier has always written and the success he had self-publishing, creating characters, and his experience with multiple languages. At the end of their conversation, they make up a hook for a story they just might need to write someday starting with a sentence from What Remains by Wendy Walker. 

Episode 99 | August 17, 2023

Del Chatterson is an experienced writer, entrepreneur, business advisor, and cheerleader for entrepreneurs. He has over thirty years of successful business and consulting experience, he has written two business books, and is currently working on a series of crime thriller novels and a collection of short stories. His first novel in the Dale Hunter Series, No Easy Money, was published in August 2018 and the next two novels, Simply the Best and Merger Maniac, were released in the spring and fall of 2019. 

Among other things, Carter and Del discuss the combination of entrepreneurship and storytelling, how to look at the publishing industry analytically, and how there are different audiences for different styles and voices of writing. At the end of their conversation, they make up a story about impossible choices starting with a sentence from Killer Instinct by Joseph Finder. 

Episode 98 | August 10, 2023

M.P. Woodward is a veteran of both US intelligence ops and the entertainment industry. As a naval intelligence officer with the US Indo-Pacific Command, he scripted scenario moves and countermoves for US war game exercises in the Middle East. In multiple deployments to the Persian Gulf and Far East, he worked alongside US Special Forces, CIA, and NSA. His latest novel, Dead Drop, was released this May. 

Among other things, Carter and M.P. discuss connecting characters and readers with empathy, the valuable experience of turning technical writing into a story, and the power of reading your writing aloud. At the end of their conversation, they make up a story ripe with conflict starting with a sentence from The Children’s War by J. N. Stroyar. 

Episode 97 | August 3, 2023

Aimie K. Runyan writes to celebrate history’s unsung heroines. She has been honored as a Historical Novel Society Editors’ Choice selection, as a three-time finalist for the Colorado Book Awards, and as a nominee for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer of the Year. Aimie is active as an educator and speaker in the writing community and beyond. Her latest book, A Bakery in Paris was just released August 1st. 

Among other things, Carter and Aimie discuss when the pull towards historical fiction started in her life, how she works to be as historically accurate as possible, and how writing short fiction is an exercise of cutting out anything unnecessary. At the end of their conversation, they make up a story about a heist gone wrong starting with a sentence from All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. 

Episode 96 | July 27, 2023

Eliza Knight is an award winning, USA Today and international bestselling author. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and Novelists, Inc., the creator of the popular historical blog, History Undressed, a co-host on the History, Books and Wine podcast and a co-host for the true crime podcast, Crime Feast. Her latest release is Starring Adele Astaire. 

Among other things, Carter and Eliza discuss how her journalism experience has helped her historical research habits, how she used to write books for fun before ever seeking publication, and how she likes to mix suspense and history in her novels. At the end of their conversation, they make up a tale about complicated relationships beginning with a sentence from The Rainmaker by John Grisham. 

Episode 95 | July 13, 2023

Bryn Turnbull is a writer of historical fiction. Equipped with a master’s of letters in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews, a master’s of professional communication from Ryerson University and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from McGill University, Bryn focuses on finding stories of women lost within the cracks of the historical record. 

Among other things, Carter and Bryn discuss the process of writing historical fiction, how she wrote her first novel at her job at the time, and the value of being part of a writing community. At the end of their conversation, they make up a story with a twist from a sentence out of Just After Sunset by Stephen King. 

Episode 94 | July 6, 2023

A.G. Riddle spent ten years starting and running internet companies before retiring to focus on his true passion: writing fiction. He is the author of ten novels that have sold nearly five million copies and have been translated into twenty languages worldwide. 

Among other things, A.G. and Carter discuss how A.G.’s reading science fiction was an escape that escalated to writing his own work, how deciding to self-publish his first book was a means to receive feedback, and what his marketing efforts look like. At the end of their conversation, they make up a story ripe with mayhem with a sentence from The Story of My Assassins by Tarun Tejpal. 

Episode 93 | June 29, 2023

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several novels. Published in 11 languages and with more than 1 million books in print, Alisa was named one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States by Time magazine. Alisa is a former staff writer for the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times, and holds a master’s in journalism from Columbia University. Alisa is also a screenwriter and TV and film producer, and a playwright and composer with a bachelor’s from Berklee College of Music. 

Among other things, Carter and Alisa discuss her creative roots and how they have developed, how words and writing have been a power in Alisa’s life, and the connection between music and writing. At the end of their conversation, they make up an intense scene using a sentence from A Painted House by John Grisham.

Episode 92 | June 26, 2023

Rachael Herron is the bestselling author of more than two dozen books, including thrillers (under R.H. Herron), mainstream fiction, feminist romance, memoir, and nonfiction about writing. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, Oakland, and she’s taught writing extension workshops at both UC Berkeley and Stanford.  

Among other things, Carter and Rachael discuss the struggle of getting a manuscript finished, the life of a career writer, how distilling sentences is an art form, and how important learning to be okay with imperfection is. At the end of their conversation, they make up a shocking story with a sentence from Tell No Lies by Julie Compton.  

Episode 91 | June 19, 2023

Author Christopher Flory spent ten years with various correctional departments as a probation and parole officer, specializing in the supervision of sexually based offenders and criminal street gang members. Trust Misplaced: A Paul Dodge Novel was Chris’ first published novel, though he’s been featured in academic journals and professional conference papers while attending undergraduate and graduate school. He’s currently working on the fourth book in the Paul Dodge series and has ideas for several more installments.  

Among other things, Carter and Christopher discuss going from voice memos to a screenplay to a novel, Christopher’s experience with self-publishing, and working with taboo subjects with publishers. At the end of their conversation, they make up a scene about high stakes decisions starting with a sentence from Insomnia by Stephen King. 

Episode 90 | June 8, 2023

Don Bentley is the New York Times bestselling author of the Matt Drake thriller series, including Hostile Intent, The Outside Man, and Without Sanction. Don also writes in the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan, Jr. universe with Zero Hour, Target Acquired, and one forthcoming title. 

Don spent a decade as an Army Apache helicopter pilot; while deployed to Afghanistan as a Troop Commander in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VI, Don was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal with “V” device for valor. Following his time in the military Don worked as an FBI Special Agent and was a member of the Dallas Office Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team. 

Among other things, Carter and Don discuss having an innate passion for storytelling, why Don decided to join the military, and Don’s advice to aspiring writers wanting to make a living from commercial fiction. At the end of their conversation, they make up a short comedy starting with a sentence from Panama by Eric Zencey. 

Episode 89 | June 5, 2023

Kara Thomas is the author of The Darkest Corners, Little Monsters, The Cheerleaders, and That Weekend, Barnes and Noble’s YA Book Club Pick for July 2021. Kara’s books have been sold in multiple languages and have been nominated for the International Thriller Writers Award. In 2013, she wrote and developed the pilot The Revengers with Rashida Jones and Will McCormack for The CW.  

Among other things, Carter and Kara discuss why authors choose their genres, how the battle of writing comes down to time, and how it’s their name on the book despite how many opinions go into it. At the end of their conversation, they make up a short suspenseful scene from a sentence out of Lisey’s Story by Stephen King. 

Episode 88 | May 25, 2023

Tessa Wegert is the author of the Shana Merchant mysteries, including Death in the Family, The Dead Season, Dead Wind, and The Kind to Kill. A former freelance journalist, Tessa has contributed to such publications as Forbes, The Huffington Post, and The Economist 

Among other things, Carter and Tessa discuss the control over situations and meditative qualities that writing grants, how authors have to surprise themselves to nail a twist, and the reality of working with multiple publishers over an author’s career. At the end of the conversation, they make up a scene of conflict that had been building for years from a sentence out of Carter Wilson’s own novel, The Comfort of Black

Episode 87 | May 18, 2023

Lauren Thoman’s pop-culture writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Parade, Vulture, and Collider. In-between article deadlines, she managed to finish a book she’d started years before and then set aside. I’ll Stop the World is now out in the world, after Mindy Kaling decided to publish it.   

Among other things, Carter and Lauren discuss switching up reading genres to cleanse the palate, Lauren reinventing herself as an outliner, and learning how to trust your writing voice. At the end of their conversation, they make up a quirky scene from a sentence out of The Princess Bride by William Goldman. 


Episode 86 | May 11, 2023

Rebecca Keller is a writer, an internationally exhibited artist, a college professor, a Fulbright Scholar, and recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her stories have been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and her debut novel You Should Have Known was released from Crooked Lane Books in April 2023. She is now working on stories about art and another novel. 

Among other things, Carter and Rebecca discuss the origins of and inspiration for her novel, how challenging it can be to make a character both interesting and believable, and how long chapters should be. At the end of their conversation, they make up a comedic story about an unwanted dinner guest starting with a sentence from S.F. Kosa’s novel, The Night We Burned. 


Episode 85 | May 4, 2023

Ciera Horton McElroy is the author of the novel Atomic Family, which has received critical praise including a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Ciera holds a BA from Wheaton College and an MFA from the University of Central Florida. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Bridge Eight, Iron Horse Literary Review, the Crab Orchard Review, and Saw Palm, among others.  

Among other things, Ciera and Carter discuss her knowing from a young age that she wanted to be a writer, how trends in the industry work, and the dark side of MFA and literary programs. At the end of their conversation, they tell a a beautiful story beginning from The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy. 


Episode 84 | April 20, 2023

Flash-fiction writer Nancy Stohlman is the author of six books including After the Rapture (2023), Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities (2018), and Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction (2020). Her work has been anthologized widely, appearing in the Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction and The Best Small Fictions 2019, as well as adapted for both stage and screen. She teaches at the University of Colorado Boulder and holds workshops and retreats around the world.   

Among other things. Carter and Nancy discuss how writers sometimes act as conduits, how to trust that the story is smarter than you, and she talks all about flash fiction. At the end of their conversation, they tell an invocative tale starting with a sentence from Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones.  

Episode 83 | April 17, 2023

Hank Phillippi Ryan is USA Today bestselling and five-time Agatha Award-winning author of 14 thrillers, winning 37 EMMYs for television investigative reporting. Her newest novel is The House Guest—it’s Gaslight meets Thelma & Louise. The Publishers Weekly says, “Ryan is a master of suspense!” The Library Journal starred review calls it “Binge-worthy.” 

Among other things, Carter and Hank discuss riding ponies to the library growing up, Hank’s dual-career between writing and politics, and how they approach the editing process of their novels. At the end of their conversation, they make up a story with an ending that may surprise you, using a sentence from The Good Guy by Dean Koontz 

Episode 82 | April 6, 2023

Samantha M. Bailey is the author of Woman on the Edge, a USA Today and #1 national bestseller; her second novel, Watch Out for Her, was an instant #1 national bestseller. As a journalist and freelance editor, her writing has appeared in Now Magazine, The Village Post, The Thrill Begins, and The Crime Hub, among other publications.  

Among other things, Carter and Samantha discuss how she has been writing full novels since the age of ten, risk taking and the fear of failure among aspiring writers, and the experience of having a book published after years of hard work. At the end of their conversation, they tell a character driven story starting from a sentence from The Rainmaker by John Grisham. 

Episode 81 | March 30, 2023

Kimberly Giarratano is an author of mysteries for teens and adults. Her debut novel, Grunge Gods and Graveyards, won the 2015 Silver Falchion Award for Best YA at Killer Nashville. A former librarian, she is currently an instructor at a SUNY Orange County Community College and a reviewer for BookPage.  

Among other things, Carter and Kimberly discuss the intricacies of describing characters, how they both find more inspiration from TV shows than reading at times, and how both like experimenting with their writing. At the end of their conversation, they conjure up a story full of mysteries starting with a sentence from Caroline B. Cooney’s novel, Before She Was Helen. 

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