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

Latest Episodes

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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