Interview With Rebecca Cantrell First Indie Author to Win Thriller Writer Award


The World Beneath (Small)Reader’s Entertainment is excited to bring you an exclusive interview with bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell. Ms. Cantrell is the 2014 recipient of the International Thriller Writer’s Best eBook Original Novel for her novel, The World Beneath.

Her novel is the first Indie published novel to win this award.

Welcome Rebecca!

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, where you live? Do you have one of those day-jobs?

These are complicated questions for me! I moved around a lot as a kid, so I’m not really from anywhere. I currently live in Berlin with my husband, son, and a very loud cat named Twinkle, and that’s where I’m from now. Before that, we lived in Hawaii, before that the Bay Area, before that…you get the idea.

Day job? I have one off and on. I often work as a tech writer. I’ve worked for a lot of companies that have been acquired by Oracle (Hyperion, Sun Microsystems, etc.).

How long have you been writing?

All my life. My mom taught me to read before I went to kindergarten (thanks, Mom!), and I started writing stories way back then, too. I was seven when I decided I was going to be a writer when I grew up, so writing has always been a big part of my life.

How did you feel when you found out you were nominated?

Surprised, thrilled, excited, and ready to get some ice cream with champagne to celebrate! I think it’s important to celebrate every writing milestone.

What did you think your chances were of winning and why?

One in five! It was a tough slate, with  J.G. Faherty – THE BURNING TIME (JournalStone); Joshua Graham – TERMINUS (Redhaven Books); James Lepore and Carlos Davis – NO DAWN FOR MEN (The Story Plant); and Luke Preston – OUT OF EXILE (Momentum). You never know how it’s going to come out till the last minute (that’s why it’s best to drink the champagne along the way).

How did you feel when you won?

I was surprised and a little numb, frankly. I stumbled up to the stage in a daze and said something, but I can’t really remember what and then sat down and looked at the award like it might disappear at any moment, like it might have been some kind of elaborate practical joke. For the record, it’s still here, so I think they meant it.

Do you feel this opens doors for other self published authors to be considered for other awards more seriously?

I hope so. I’ve won awards for my traditionally published books, and knew that I would be out of the running for those when I chose to publish THE WORLD BENEATH. It seemed crazy. Why would I suddenly turn into a bad writer when I didn’t have a publisher’s name stamped on the book?  Why could my books not even be considered for categories that my previous books had won? But that’s the system.

That’s one of the really amazing things about International Thriller Writers—they’re inclusive. It’s about the quality of the words on the page and nothing else. I’m very proud to have been a member there since before my first novel, A TRACE OF SMOKE, came out in 2009. They do a great job of supporting writers, regardless of their publisher’s name (even if that’s their own name).

How has winning the award affected you, or has it?

I’m still in a bit of a daze, so I’m not sure. I hope that long term, it will help to legitimize self published books, not that they need any help from me. There are so many great self pubbing authors out there already!

Did you start out as an Indie author?

I did not. My Hannah Vogel series, starting with A TRACE OF SMOKE, is published by Tor Forge, a division of Macmillan; the Order of the Sanguines series that I co-write with James Rollins, starting with THE BLOOD GOSPEL, is published by HarperCollins; and my YA novel that I wrote as Bekka Black, iDrakula, is published by Sourcebooks.

You have co-written with James Rollins. What’s that process like?

It’s a lot of fun! We spend a lot of time on Skype plotting and planning and then go off to write and re-write our various sections.

Do you find co-writing easier or more difficult?

In most ways, it’s way easier. James gets stuck at different places than I do, so he can usually help me move forward when I’m stuck (and vice versa). It’s also a lot of fun to work with someone else and not be inside my own head all the time. That said, I also love writing alone.

If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?

That’s another really tough question! I think I’d most like to be Hannah Vogel, so that I could go back in time and experience Berlin in the 1930s (maybe in A TRACE OF SMOKE, before the Nazis take over and it gets dangerous or in A GAME OF LIES so I could see the 1936 Berlin Olympics).

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to THE WORLD BENEATH. It’s going to be called THE DANGER BELOW. I just wrapped up BLOOD INFERNAL, the third in the Order of the Sanguines series.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

I read all the time, and I read as many different authors as I can. I love Shirley Jackson for spooky, Ernest Hemingway for sparseness and dialogue, Anne Rice for sensual  evocations of time and place. I just finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Blunt and loved how she showed the character’s internal landscape.

A few fun questions:

If you could have dinner with any writer living or dead, who would it be and why?

J.R.R. Tolkein so I could find out where hobbits really live and become one.

Do you have a secret hobby readers would be surprised by?

I love to scuba dive and snorkel. When we lived in Hawaii, I spent a lot of time underwater.  My favorite dive was probably diving with manta rays at night.

Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!

Chai tea and gluten-free cookies.

cantrell_300pixcolorAbout Rebecca:

REBECCA CANTRELL is a New York Times bestselling thriller author. Her novels include the Order of Sanguines series (co-written with James Rollins), starting with The Blood Gospel; the award-winning Hannah Vogel mystery series, starting with A Trace of Smoke; and the award-winning Joe Tesla thrillers, starting with The World Beneath. She, her husband, and son left Hawaii’s sunny shores for adventures in Berlin. Find Rebecca Cantrell on Facebook, Twitter, and at

Here’s where I am online: 

Twitter: @rebeccacantrell
Amazon link for THE WORLD BENEATH