Sharjah: The Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) is continuing to draw thousands of visitors as there are many taketrs for ntheir various sessions and events.
Two award-winning crime fiction writers gave enthusiasts a masterclass on how to craft thrilling tales during the 2nd edition of the ‘Thriller Festival’ taking place from November 8 to 10 as part of the 42nd Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF).
Kidnap and ransom (K&R) specialist writer K.J. Howe and international bestselling American author Jonathan Dylan Barker took the stage to unravel the secrets behind the art of crafting heart-pounding stories while giving attendees an exclusive opportunity to dive into their minds as writers.
“The hardest thing to do for me is to write an entire novel in first person, because you’re in one character’s head from beginning to end. When you’re writing a thriller, you almost [always] have to use third person. You have to jump around in order to get all these different puzzle pieces to fit together,” said Barker, who is known for his suspense thrillers, often incorporating elements of horror, crime, mystery, science fiction, and the supernatural.
Expounding the ‘voice of an author’, the 52-year-old American said: “It needs to be relatable. As a reader and as a writer, if I get so caught up in the story that I forget that I’m actually holding a book, I think that’s when it’s done right. I think in order to get to that level to tell a story, you basically have to pretend that you’re telling the story to somebody else.”
Howe, a three-time Daphne du Maurier Award winner, elaborated on the art of characterisation in her novels and role of ‘creating a conflict’. “Whatever the scene you are describing, you have to create inherent conflict. And one of the most important things you can do is not have people agree. Make sure that when you start a scene, the characters in it have different goals, viewpoints and attitudes towards something. Nothing is more dull than people agreeing with each other”.
Talking about how he came home every night to write as as an “escape from his mundane corporate job”, Barker – whose debut novel, Forsaken, was a finalist for a Bram Stoker Award in 2014 – said: “The reason I did it is because it allowed me to be other people. I could be a doctor, a police officer, a serial killer. I could be whatever I wanted to be until I closed the cover of whatever I was writing. And I think that’s probably one of the strongest attractions to being an author, is the ability to be able to do that. If you do it properly, you literally become those people. So when I’m writing, it’s almost like I’m watching a movie playing out in my head and I’m just writing down what’s happening. I don’t have any control over those characters. I don’t have control over what’s happening. I’m literally just documenting it. They are all very different people to me because of that. They all have different voices.”
KJ Howe is known for The Freedom Broker series and Skyjack while J.D. Barker is the author of The Noise and A Caller’s Game.
Comprising a riveting three-day showcase featuring a stellar lineup of 10 mystery and thriller genre bestselling authors, the festival will offer fans a unique opportunity to join the talks, specialised workshops and have their favourite books signed by these world-renowned authors.