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To be a successful writer in a genre, you have to read a lot of books! Genre writing is quite specific in that people have expectations and if you don't meet them, the reader is disappointed. I am currently writing a thriller and want to satisfy my potential readers by giving them what they want in the genre as well as interesting new writing. Therefore, I have identified what I like in a thriller and am aiming at providing that in my own books.
Incidentally, some of my favorite thriller writers include James Rollins, Matthew Reilly, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Steve Berry, and yes, I like the Dan Brown series! My own novel, Pentecost (later re-published as Stone of Fire), is Lara Croft meets Robert Langdon in a smackdown biblical action-thriller.
The things I want in a thriller novel include: a gripping story, a page-turner, escapism and a way to get out of my life for a time, myth/religion/spirituality in theme, education of some sort e.g. new facts about a topic or a place, different locations and information about them, preferably exotic!, high body count and violence without being too graphic.
I download a lot of samples onto my Kindle and delete a whole load almost immediately if they don't fit the bill. I am aiming that my novel fits my criteria.