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How to Write a Successful Super Thriller

Author Brad Meltzer shares secrets to building a best seller

"The Lightning Rod" by Brad Meltzer book cover. Silhouette of a woman in front of lightning and clouds at night.

Photo source: William Morrow

Read the Prologue of ‘The Lighning Rod’ in a free excerpt for AARP members.

Best-selling author Brad Meltzer knows how to take his readers on a thrilling ride. His intricate political and legal stories are proof of that. But there’s more to Meltzer’s character development and plotlines than his active imagination. He is a dogged researcher who bases much of what he writes on reality, and his work is the better for it. Meltzer says real details help create believability, and he includes lots of them when it comes to places he’s seen, like underground tunnels at the White House, or the people he’s met, including former presidents.

Meltzer’s new book, The Lightning Rod: A Zig and Nola Novel, follows his number 1 New York Times best-selling thriller, The Escape Artist, and starts with a shot of adrenaline. The opening scene, he tells us, is based on one of his own fears: What happens to his car when he hands the keys over to a valet? That idea and many more secrets are shared in this candid interview with his longtime friend AARP Senior Executive Editor Lorrie Lynch. Hear them discuss his approach to research and writing, how he got presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to help him get the details right about an ex-president’s life and what he scribbles in his notebook when he’s out gathering research for his fiction and nonfiction books.

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