Today’s ThrillerFest 2017 debut author is K.J. Howe. Read about how she answered our “thrilling” questions, and check out her new book, The Freedom Broker.

BookTrib: If you were on death row, what would be your last read? Why?  

K.J. Howe: I’m on death row. I only have one last read. Some of the books that first came to mind include:

  • Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian Weiss—a book about reincarnation, so I could figure out how to come back in another life as J.K. Rowling.
  • Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King—allowing me to design the ultimate escape plan.
  • Angel of Death Row by Andrea Lyon—featuring 30 years of experience from death row lawyer Andrea Lyon, I mean, there would have to be a loophole in one of those cases I could use, right?

But after careful consideration, I would choose The Long Walk to Freedom, a chronicle of Nelson Mandela’s life from his childhood in a rural village to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa. I would experience the powerful highs and lows of Nelson’s life: his captivity, his ability to surmount the almost impossible challenges. I would cherish every emotion alongside him, and then I would channel his indomitable strength of spirit as I faced my last moments.

BT: If you were going to kill off your protagonist what method would you use?  Why?

KJH: My protagonist Thea Paris is an elite kidnap negotiator who travels undercover to the globe’s hotspots. The series is just starting with The Freedom Broker, and I have endless ideas for future novels, so I hope killing her off is a long way off. But if I had to do so, I would have Thea Paris trade her life to free one of the longest held hostages in history, Robert Levinson, a former DEA and FBI agent believed to be held in a secret prison by the government of Iran. Before the dramatic ending, I’d do my best to take readers on a wild ride into the dark work of kidnap and ransom so Thea Paris would echo in their memories long after the final page.

BT: What is the all-time best thriller you have ever read? Why?

KJH: Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell would be my pick for best thriller ever. Rambo’s Daddy is a brilliant author, and this book was made into a mini-series showing for the first time after the Super Bowl one year. It was also the novel that made me want to write fiction. Saul and Chris are two orphans from Philadelphia who are adopted by a man named Elliot who treats the boys like his own—just one glitch, he trains them to become assassins. The story starts to unravel when a mission goes wrong and they begin to see their “father” in a new light. The ultimate spy thriller!

Head over to Amazon to buy a copy of The Freedom Broker!


There are twenty-five elite kidnap negotiators in the world. Only one of them is a woman. And she is the best in the business. Thea Paris. Join Thea in The Freedom Broker where she faces the most challenging case of her life with a very special client: her father.




K.J. Howe is the executive director of ThrillerFest. She has researched the dark world of kidnap and ransom for the last three years in preparation for The Freedom Broker series. Her novel was featured in TIME Magazine, The Washington Post, and the American Diabetes Association magazine. An avid traveler, she lives in Toronto, Canada, but is often missing in action.