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*SUSPENDED* Secrets of Suspense

Thursday, March 19 @ 5:00 pm7:00 pm

*SUSPENDED* Please note that due to the spread of coronavirus, the Athenæum has suspended large public programs through the month of March. Reading groups and story hours will continue as scheduled. Click here for more information.


What makes a book a page-turner? Non-stop suspense and the age-old question of “what happens next?” are all part of the toolkit for thriller writers. Readers expect adventure, surprises around every corner, and a twist or two at the end – but how do authors keep it believable? Relatable? And how do they keep their readers glued to the page? Acclaimed debut author Vanesa Lillie (Little Voices) and best-selling and award-winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan (The Murder List is her eleventh thriller) reveal their personal secrets of suspense to readers and writers alike. They’ll discuss how their stories and characters grow and evolve, how they balance justice and emotion, and how they continue to surprise even themselves on the page. Book signing to follow.


Hank Phillippi Ryan is on-air investigative reporter for Boston's WHDH-TV, winning 36 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. Nationally bestselling author of 11 thrillers, Ryan's also an award-winner in her second profession—with five Agathas, three Anthonys, the Daphne, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. Critics call her “a master of suspense.” Her novels are Library Journal's Best of 2014, 2015, 2016, and her highly-acclaimed TRUST ME was chosen for numerous prestigious Best of 2018 lists. Hank’s newest book is THE MURDER LIST. The Library Journal starred review says, “Masterly plotted—with a twisted ending—a riveting, character-driven story.”

Vanessa Lillie is originally from Oklahoma, but she calls Providence, Rhode Island home with her husband and dinosaur-aficionado son. Smitten with the smallest state, she enjoys organizing book events and literary happenings around town. Her debut thriller is Little Voices is set in Rhode Island, and it received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal as well as must-read lists in Refinery29, Cosmopolitan UK, the Notebook and Bookish. The Providence Journal review said, "Aficionados of mystery, thriller and horror will savor this intricately plotted page-turner that builds to a stunning denouement."