Your backstage pass to the world’s most prolific authors

What does it take to succeed as a writer? Join hosts J.D. Barker, Christine Daigle, Kevin Tumlinson and Jena Brown as they pull back the curtain and gain rare insight from the household names found on bookshelves worldwide.

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Simplicity Is Key with NYT Bestseller Riley Sager

A girl, a killer, a car– the premise for bestseller Riley Sager’s latest novel, Survive the Night, feels dauntingly simple, but by focusing on solid character development and intense dialogue while omitting needless setting changes and extra characters, he allows the simple brilliance of the story’s concept to shine through. Riley, a returning guest on the podcast, is the international bestseller of Final Girls and is known for other bestselling novels like The Last Time I Lied and Lock Every Door. To purchase Survive the Night, follow the link below.


Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer. Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and international bestseller that’s been translated into more than 25 languages. His subsequent novels, THE LAST TIME I LIED, LOCK EVERY DOOR and HOME BEFORE DARK, were instant New York Times bestsellers. His newest thriller, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, will be released in June. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not working on his next novel, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”

Whether you’re traditionally published or indie, writing a good book is only the first step in becoming a successful author. The days of just turning a manuscript into your editor and walking away are gone. If you want to succeed in today’s publishing world, you need to understand every aspect of the business – editing, formatting, marketing, contracts. It all starts with a good book, then the real work begins.

Join international bestselling author J.D. Barker and indie powerhouses, J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon, as they gain unique insight and valuable advice from the most prolific and accomplished authors in the business.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • The cons of using too much nostalgia
  • Why different mediums impact the feel of a story
  • How to pace yourself when writing
  • How to keep your readers off balance
  • The importance of a good title


J. D. Barker –

J. Thorn –

Zach Bohannon –

J.’s Vella project – 

Riley Sager –

Survive the Night

Story Rubric –  

Nonfic Rubric –  

The Career Author Summit 2021 – 

Proudly sponsored by Kobo Writing Life –

Music by Nicorus – 

Voice Over by Rick Ganley – and recorded at Mill Pond Studio –

Contact – 

*Full disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links.


  1. Christopher Wills

    3 years ago  

    Hi guys. Interesting interview today.
    I’m happy Vella didn’t launch in UK because it’s given me time to think and realise it’s not for me. I don’t want to be tied to a long running serial, sounds too much like a proper job. And I would never read anything on Vella, I hate Soaps, I hate stuff without endings and lovely wifey Denise and I are still pissed that Alkatraz got dropped before it ended.
    Fascinating discussion about what we used to do back in the day that many would never do today. I remember not owning a car in the 1970s and hitch-hiking home to my parents at weekends from the army. I also hitch-hiked around Europe and in the US. I wouldn’t hitch-hike today.
    Lovely to hear an author so excited about his own work. I get that excited about my work too with one tiny difference, he is successful.
    What a great pitch for his book. Call me a cynic, but I suspect that style will be copied to death once word gets out.

    1. J. Thorn

      3 years ago  

      Thanks, man! But don’t get too down on serials yet. They all don’t have to be open-ended.

  2. J.D. Barker

    3 years ago  

    I really like the idea they brought up on Dead Robot’s Society – Use Vella to write some kind of prequel that leads into your existing products. If that works, you rope people into your world. If it doesn’t, you can always pull the text from Vella and publish the prequels.

  3. Janet Kitto

    3 years ago  

    Here is a car-breaking-down scene that someone can have. It happened to my brother and if I ever used it AND he actually read something I wrote, there might be a problem. But I’m not going to use it. If it works for someone else, here you go:

    It’s Halloween night. The party for all the cool kids is in a remote area. This is the 80s. My brother’s costume is a wetsuit, complete with flippers and a diving mask. It was fun drinking beer through the snorkel, I imagine, but at some point, it was time for my brother to leave. Then, his car broke down and he had to walk over an hour home in a wetsuit. The flippers wore a layer of skin off the top of his feet. Alcohol was a factoring choice in the decision to keep the flippers on his feet. A cell phone call home could have saved his thighs and other bits from chaffing.

    1. J. Thorn

      3 years ago  

      Ha! Don’t drink and snorkel.

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