I don't write thrillers. But after The Write Practice team and I talked with Joanna Penn, author and popular blogger of The Creative Penn, I wanted to start.

When Joanna agreed to chat with the team and I, she didn't know we were going to post this here, but the conversation was so fascinating that I wanted you to see it. Fortunately, Joanna was generous enough to let me share it with you.

In the interview, we talk about the research, writing, and publishing process of Joanna's latest novel, Desecration, a thriller based in London that opens with a murder and dissection in the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. If you enjoy thrillers, you should definitely grab a copy of Desecration here.

Here's the interview (and special thanks to Write Practice regular contributors Katie Axelson, Monica Clark, Sophie Novak, and Birgitte Rasine who were part of the conversation):

We live a very safe life. We're very lucky to live in a society where crime gets less every year, where more people die of obesity than they do of murder and war…. But as humans we crave dealing with difficult stuff because that's what we always have done in life. By reading books that tackle these difficult subjects we can vicariously go through this experience. The writers job is to take the reader through an emotional journey…. That's why I read thrillers, to have this adventure in my head.
—Joanna Penn

Here are a few things we talked about:

  • Why research is such a rewarding part of the writing process
  • Our favorite legal thriller TV shows (i.e. “guilty pleasures”)
  • What makes stories about crime so interesting and popular
  • How to market your books without doing big launches
  • How to balance promotion, platform building, and writing
  • Why Joanna decided to use the name J.F. Penn for her fiction
  • How to manage writing in multiple different genres and forms

Thank you, Joanna, for giving us such an interesting perspective. You can find Joanna's fiction at JFPenn.com and read her award winning blog about writing and publishing at thecreativepenn.com.

Why do you think stories about crime are so interesting?


A woman is killed in a museum, and a detective is assigned to discover the killer. Write a scene from a crime thriller.

Write for fifteen minutes. When you're finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to give feedback on a few practices by other writers.

(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links)


Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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