Tag Archive | thrillers

My Journey to Writing a Thriller Series

The Kelsey Porter Series

Ten years ago I set out on a journey to swallow my fears and publish my novels. After launching my quirky YA and fantasy books to some modest success, I decided I wanted to push myself and develop a new adult thriller series. But, I used my favorite authors, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, as my bar. Why? Because their books move me in ways other novels don’t. It takes a great writer to make me obsess about a character, and this series puts me squarely in the camp of my obsession with Aloysius Pendergast. Now, these authors also write novels on their own, but together, their Pendergast series is simply amazing. The novels are smart, savvy, with well-developed characters you want to love… and despise. I’m intrigued that they purposely add complicated words so that people will have to look up their meaning. I asked Douglas about this at a signing I went to of his and he said that it’s a conscious decision. They want readers to learn as they read their books and you can tell that everything they do, and every plot line, is researched meticulously.

Well, I wanted to develop a series like that, and one I thought they personally might enjoy. My goal was to hit on something different from what was in the field. Something spiritual, smart, singularly unique, and something that required a ton of research. While I’m no Preston/Child, I’m proud of myself. Four books into this series and I’m excited to say these authors DID like it. Douglas Preston actually read and reviewed Book #1 and it’s a great review you can read in “editorial reviews” for The Hunt For Xanadu on Amazon. Here it is here:

The Hunt for Xanadu by Elyse Salpeter is a remarkable novel, a fascinating and fantastical journey in time and space, and one of the most gripping novels I’ve read in a long time. It flies along at the pace of a thriller, with plenty of murder and mayhem along the way. But behind the thrill-ride is a spiritual story, an archetypal tale of mystery and darkness,riddled with fascinating and esoteric concepts in Tibetan Buddhism. Vivid characters, a truly appealing protagonist, unexpected twists, and crisp writing complete this unforgettable book. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

–Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author and co-creator, with Lincoln Child, of the Pendergast series

So now there are four books in the series, they all have a Buddhist thriller flare, and they take you across the globe, from New York City and Colombia, to Alaska, Egypt and the monasteries of Tibet.

If you’d like to check them out, please click here to my author page on Amazon!

When Your Teenage Son Reads Your Novel… and Critiques!

I have a fourteen year old son. He normally does not read fiction, and prefers non-fiction history books, or anything he sees on the internet, versus picking up a book. Fantasy and supernatural are not topics he likes, because “they are not real life.”

Book # 1 in the series

Book # 1 in the series

So, when he said he wanted to read Book #1 in my Kelsey Porter series, well, I was concerned. First, it’s a bit of a sexy theme and there’s violence. My son really despises “the sexuality of America.” The Kardashians and Miley Cyrus’s of the world confuse him. So I wasn’t sure how he’d like this novel. But, he said that he’d like to “see what it is that I’ve been doing all this time and was interested in the historical Buddhist aspects of these thrillers.”

So, I agreed to let him read it, as long as we discuss it chapter by chapter. So, that’s what we’ve been doing and it’s so nerve-racking I can’t tell you. He goes to his room, reads a chapter and then comes in and says “Ok, I’m ready to give you my synopsis of what happened in that chapter and then my critique.” Oh, did I mention he gives my book an overall rating at the end of this discussion, using the 5.0 scale and that I fluctuate on this scale based on how he felt about the chapter? Yes, that’s what I mean about nerve-racking.

To give a little background, these books are about Kelsey Porter, a young, beautiful woman who is on the hunt for her parents’ killers, who were murdered on their quest to find the mystical land of Xanadu. The series is steeped in Buddhist spiritual mysteries, all based on real lore, but I do twist the facts at times for my book’s needs.

This is my view of Kelsey Porter. My son is on the fence about this.

This is my view of Kelsey Porter. My son is on the fence about this.

I would say that he’s understood 90% of what he’s read, so I will correct or explain some things that were confusing. I have been ordered not to explain too much, lest I give away spoilers. So far he has said “it’s very well written and some of the chapters are really interesting.” When that happens, my rating is usually at a 4.5, or some moments the coveted 5.0. Of course, there have been moments that I’ve been demoted to a 4.0 for “excessive use of flashbacks, expositional prose (I didn’t even know what that meant at the time) and making my boy characters too cliché.” I, of course, ask for explanation.

You see, Kelsey is a very sexual being, without being loose, but because of who she is, there’s this undercurrent where people are drawn to her. Yes, I make her beautiful with large bosoms, and my son was not impressed with that entire concept, though he’s giving me the benefit of the doubt as I’ve explained it’s a very true point to the plot.

He’s about 60% through and is digging the amount of research I’ve put into this. He says “it shows” and that as a result the book is now sitting at a 4.5 though “Mom, you can’t be upset if you drop points of course.”

Well, of course not. (shhhh… that’s just what I say!).

UH OH: He just came in and told me he didn’t like a chapter for the first time. He said, “the content was fine but it was too generic and scripted.” I had to ask what he meant. He said “it felt like you made the villain too stereotypical and were throwing around difficult concepts like astral projection too casually.” (wow, I actually thought this was a great, pivotal chapter in the book) My ranking strangely did not drop, though he had to think about it for some time to come to that decision.

Fingers crossed for the rest of the book as the threads are all starting to come together and he’s going to be delving into territory that is not a normal read for him. By the way, did I mention he found a spelling error? I spelled locales, “locals,” and I capitalized something that shouldn’t have been. Sigh… thankfully my rating did not drop because of that, either.

Want to read along with him? Here’s the link to all three books in the series! Enjoy!

Book #1 THE HUNT FOR XANADU
AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1CEvEab
UK Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Cp2awz

Book #2 THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB
US AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1EvXExO
UK AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1JSRNqT

Book #3 THE CALL OF MOUNT SUMERU
US AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1SUskAv
UK AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1nPF6TO

Kelsey Porter thriller series

Kelsey Porter thriller series

The Pitfalls of Writing Cross Genre

THE WORLD OF KAROV - New Adult Dark Fantasy series

THE WORLD OF KAROV – New Adult Dark Fantasy series

Someone once told me that I “published wrong.” The first book I ever published was a young adult tale called FLYING TO THE LIGHT about a deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him. The second book I published was a fantasy novel, more New Adult in target, the third was the sequel to FLYING TO THE LIGHT, called FLYING TO THE FIRE and the 4th was the sequel to the dark fantasy book.

So, what does that mean? I’m a YA novelist, right? Well, no. I actually define myself as an adult thriller/horror writer, if asked. Those YA books I had mostly written years ago and had the opportunity to publish them first. Since then, the books that I’ve put out are all adult thrillers or horror.

There’s the Kelsey Porter series which are sexy buddhist thrillers, and two horror novels. The pitfalls of writing cross genre is that some of my YA fans have picked up the thrillers and been… well… surprised. The YA books were very clean… albeit a bit violent as I tend to write that way, but they weren’t adult books. As a result, I’ve had to caveat to a lot of people whether or not their children can read any of my other books. Usually I tell them “no.” Not that it’s erotica – it’s not at all, and not that they’re dirty, they’re not, but they have adult themes and are just not what I’d picture a kid could read.

That said, my daughter read my horror novels just fine at the age of thirteen and my fourteen year old son wishes to read THE HUNT FOR XANADU. I think he’s two years too young, but he’s adamant so we discuss it chapter by chapter. Books #2 and #3 in the series are “more tame” to be honest. But there’s a reason I set up Book #1 the way I did. You’d have to read it to find out or it would be a huge spoiler.

FLYING - Young Adult Series

FLYING – Young Adult Series

I find I’m getting mostly fans now with my adult books, but then these same people will go back to read my YA books and I wonder if they get confused or upset? They are all so different and you wonder if the pitfalls of writing cross genre means you confuse your readers if they wish to read other works by you, thinking they’ll be similar. That said, I would just advise authors to make sure you’re very clear in the book blurbs what the books are about and what genre it is so there are no surprises.

On my webpage at www.elysesalpeter.com I have headers for all the genres, and hope that makes it more clear for people.

Kelsey Porter thriller series

Kelsey Porter thriller series

As to the “publishing wrong” comments? Well, not much I can do about that. I write what I write, when I write it. It’s how my brain works. But I don’t think the cross genre is a bad thing. I actually write in one genre, but across different age groups. All my books have a fantastical element to them. In the FLYING SERIES it was the young boy who knew about the afterlife, in the NA WORLD OF KAROV Dark Fantasy Series, it was an evil spreading across the universe, in the KELSEY PORTER series, they’re adult Buddhist Spiritual Mysteries. I was just lucky enough that a publishing house picked one of them up and it just morphed from there. When you have an arsenal of books in your library waiting to get out to the world, do you just let them sit there because you want to be a specialist in one genre or the other, or do you let them be free? I decided to publish them all and let the chips fall as they may.

Horror Novel - "I beg of you... stay away..."

Horror Novel – “I beg of you… stay away…”

A collection of creepy horror tales...

A collection of creepy horror tales…

Anyone else write cross genre? Do you as a reader find it confusing when an author mixes things up in this fashion or do you like it? Love to hear.

If you’d like to check out all the novels, here’s my amazon author page: http://amzn.to/1NiXfjT