Smart, Strong And Beautiful: Thriller Heroine Is A Winner

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Jamie Freveletti had just won the 2010 International Thriller Writers Best First Novel award for Running From the Devil, her debut novel that begins when heroine Emma Caldridge’s hijacked plane crashes in a guerilla-infested Colombian jungle. (And then things get really bad.)

Overcome with emotion at the Thrillerfest awards ceremony, Freveletti was in the ladies room repairing her tear-stained make-up when her agent told her more good news: The estate of Robert Ludlum was seriously considering her to write the next novel in the Covert-One series.

In Sept. 2012, Freveletti’s The Janus Reprisal became the ninth Covert-One thriller. “It hits hard,” she says. “I tried to get as close to Robert Ludlum as I could with pacing. He’s such a master.” (In her book, Covert-One operative Colonel Jon Smith gets shot at twice on the first page.)

BookTrib caught up with Jamie Freveletti at last week’s ThrillerFest XIII in New York City, and she shared some more great news: Freveletti is in conversation with the Estate of Robert Ludlum to write a second Covert One novel.

Ten years ago, you were a Chicago lawyer doing litigation for Big Pharma. How did you become a writer?

“I was an avid reader and one day I finished a book and said, I would have written a different ending. Then I thought, Who do I think I am that I could write a book? But it haunted me, and a year later I decided to go to a night class for creative writing. And that’s how I started. I loved it. I’d put the kids to bed and write until midnight, or get up early and write. As a lawyer, I was aware of time, the importance of putting in the hours, and keeping track of them.”

Robert Ludlum wrote 27 New York Times bestsellers, including the Jason Bourne books. How did you feel about being selected to continue his legacy?

“Overwhelmed and fearful. I knew the legacy I would be facing.”

But you had the background to write a story that begins at a World Health Organization infectious disease conference where bioterrorists steal a deadly, mutated virus. How was your book, The Janus Reprisal received?

“The fans have been fantastic. I get e-mails almost every day from someone who can’t say enough.”

As a biochemist for a cosmetics company, your heroine Emma Caldridge finds herself in some very scary situations. In the fourth book in your series, she goes to a remote Caribbean island in search of minerals that reverse the aging process, and finds a voodoo-like plague threatening to spread around the globe.

Dead Asleep is kind of a departure for the series. I wanted to address things that on the surface seem to have no scientific explanation. It was a great book to research. I was kind of in awe of things that may never be explained.”

The book’s doing well?

“It hit No. 1 on Amazon’s Kindle best seller list. I’m working on the fifth in the series now.”

You’ve attended every single Thrillerfest, the annual conference of the International Thriller Writers since the first one 13 years ago. Once you came looking for an agent; now you’re teaching workshops for other thriller writers.

“This is a fantastic conference. You see the whole industry here. I’ll always pick up one or two tips from an author, and give it a shot myself. I never assume that just because I’m well-published that I don’t have a lot to learn.”

Jamie Freveletti’s Running from the Devil was chosen as a “Notable Book” by the Independent Booksellers of America.

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Joanna Poncavage had a 30-year career as an editor and writer for Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine and The (Allentown, Pennsylvania) Morning Call newspaper. Author of several gardening books, she’s now a freelance journalist.

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