Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on thriller author Steve Berry. Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of twenty-two novels. His books have been translated into 41 languages with over 25,000,000 copies in 52 countries. They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York Times, USA Today, and Indie bestseller lists. Somewhere in the world, every thirty seconds, one of his novels is sold.
History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners, and their popular writers’ workshops. To date, 3,500 students have attended those workshops with over $1.5 million dollars raised.
Steve’s devotion to historic preservation was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve its spokesperson for National Preservation Week. Among his other honors are the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers; the Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and the Silver Bullet, bestowed by International Thriller Writers for his philanthropic work. He has been chosen both the Florida and Georgia Writer of the Year. He’s also an emeritus member of the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board. In 2010, a NPR survey named The Templar Legacy one of the top 100 thrillers ever written.
Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers—a group of nearly 6,000 thriller writers from around the world—and served three years as its co-president.
Ok, Steve, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
My books are in bookstores, both physical locations and e-websites, across the globe. At present they appear in 52 countries and 41 languages worldwide.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
Everything is at www.steveberry.org
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from The Omega Factor?
I look for subject matters others have not touched, those real historical tidbits that are usually found in the footnotes of a book. Aspects of history that are relatively unknown but, hopefully, readers will want to know more about. I especially do not want to plow a field that others have already worked. I want something fresh and different. I realized early on that a lot of people are learning their history from novels like mine. That’s not necessarily a good thing since a novel, by definition, is not real. But I try to keep my stories about 90% accurate to reality, tripping up only 10% for entertainment value since, after all, that’s my main goal — to entertain the reader. I also place a writers note in the back of each book that I spend a lot of time developing. There I explain what’s real and what’s not, so there’ll be no misunderstandings. That note reflects the research that goes into each story. For me that’s an 18 month process with each novel. Research consumes the lion’s share of my time. It’s important to get it right. My latest release, The Omega Factor, follows this pattern. There, the reader will learn about the most stolen, vandalized, and damaged work of art in history — the Ghent altarpiece.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
Cotton Malone will return February 21, 2023 with The Last Kingdom. That will be the 17th book in the series. But don’t be put off by that. The books do not have to be read in order. You’re free to skip around. On July 11, 2023, Luke Daniels from the Cotton Malone adventures, gets his own series starting with The Ninth Man. There will be two more Luke Daniels thrillers, one in 2024 and another in 2025. Cotton Malone will also return in 2024 with a new story. Lots of books coming.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
Fifteen years ago I was on a book tour in Spain where I spent two days in a hotel being interviewed by reporters. Interestingly, nearly all of the questioners posed a similar inquiry: What’s it like not to write serious fiction?
I admit, at first I was thrown by the question. But I answered it with an inquiry of my own. How many times have you seen a person reading War and Peace on an airplane? None of the reporters answered me, so I offered the answer for them. None. Then I asked a second question. How many times have you seen someone reading a thriller on an airplane? Of course, the answer was obvious. Many. I followed up these two questions with a statement. ‘I doubt that Tolstoy could have written a commercial thriller. And I, of course, cannot write War and Peace. But that doesn’t make either one of us better than the other, it simply makes us different.’
It’s true, thrillers will never win the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, or the Nobel Prize for Literature. By and large thrillers will not change the face of world literature. Great analyses will not be written about them, and rarely are they favorably viewed by any of the major book review outlets.
That too doesn’t make them bad.
It simply makes them different.
Thrillers perform one simple task. They entertain. For a short while they allow a reader to escape their world, forget their troubles, and just have a good time. A few months ago I received an e-mail from a reader. He’d gone through a difficult divorce, then was involved in a car accident. While recuperating he read not only all of my Cotton Malone series, but some other writer’s thriller series too. He wanted me to know that my stories helped him through a difficult time. They allowed him to relax. He said without them his recovery period would have been unbearable.
So what have I learned?
It’s okay to not write serious fiction.
Steve, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.