Thriller School is all about being passionate about crime fiction. Whether you are a devoted reader, a budding writer, or an experienced author, there will be something here for you.
There are three elements to every Thriller School course:
Getting It Written
Working with experienced book coach Sarah Williams, and informed by talks from well-known published crime-fiction authors, delegates plan and work on their own crime fiction stories.
Getting It Right
Experts from every aspect of crime detection, from front-line police personnel to specialist forensic scientists, from criminal anthropologists to defence and prosecution lawyers, share with delegates their expertise, so as to ensure that the crucial details are convincing, up-to-date, and accurate.
Getting It Read
Learning from authors, agents, publishers, book marketers, and distributors about how best to get your book out into the world and between the hands of your readers.
What delegates have said:
“Sarah Williams’ Thriller School took place at The Pierpoint Inn & Spa in Ventura: This was one of the most interesting, inspiring weekends I can remember, set in a 1910 Inn that was used as a backdrop by Erle Stanley Gardner, who authored his Perry Mason series in his law office down the road and used the hotel as a backdrop for many of his novels, notably “The Case of the Velvet Claws.” Could it get better than this? Yes. And it did. First of all there was Sarah herself, a walking Oxford English Dictionary of literature and publishing lore I could have listened to for a lot more hours. Then there were the speakers: two lovable detectives with gripping stories of firearms and fire-starters, a charming veteran crime writer, and two fascinating young women, Elaine Ash and Chantal Cooke, experts on book promotion and social media, who were alone worth the price of admission. And of course my fellow students: one of the most eclectic groups of people you could imagine, and themselves crying out for a latter-day Agatha Christie. Want to go to thriller school? Be careful what you wish for. We are lucky there was any of us left to tell the tale. My partners in crime ranged from a developer of shopping malls who writes a Lake Wobegon style newsletter to a novel-writing pediatrician and forensic expert; an Irish colleen from Santa Barbara who spends half her life on top of an emerald mountain dreaming of Yeats; the most intelligent Republican I’ve ever met, who actually understands the other side; a psychiatrist intimate with serial killers; a court reporter with a lifetime of stories to tell; and a cosmetician who dreams of the most hideous murders while beautifying your face. We all wanted different things out of our three days. My own goals were 1), to get ideas for the new novel I was struggling to write, and 2), to learn how to promote a novel I had just had published. Both goals were met. With knobs on. Run, don’t walk, to Sarah’s next event. I’m getting chills already.” David Stansfield, author of The Last Great Wickedness
“A very enjoyable weekend. I came for the experience and interest and fun, but may well have come away with a best-seller…”
“A very enjoyable course. Learnt a lot. Glad of the follow-up possibilities.”
“An enjoyable and productive weekend. In a seemingly effortless way, the workshops allowed me not only to form my novel idea, but to get it off the ground, allowing it to begin to have a life of its own and a momentum to continue writing after the course. The guest speakers gave real insights and fascinating glimpses into all aspects of publishing.”
“Brilliant… I will recommend it happily.”
How it all began:
Thriller School has been running since 2010, in the lovely university city of Oxford in the UK and in beautiful Southern California in the US.
I started Thriller School because I have always been a passionate crime fiction reader, as well as a professional writer and writing mentor. I wanted to share my passion with others, and to bring together in one weekend course all the elements that would help a beginning crime fiction writer get on the right path:
Information and advice from successful mystery authors
Explanations on processes and procedures from crime fighting experts
Guidance on how to start writing, and to keep your writing going
Help from publishers, agents and book marketing specialists on how to reach your readers
That’s how it started.
We ran initially at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and then at my old college, Balliol. To run writing courses at the heart of one of the oldest universities in the world was a wonderful treat, but not entirely practical. Parking was always problematic, and accommodation scattered and inconvenient. So now we have taken the step of setting Thriller School Oxford just outside the city, in the beauty, convenience and luxury of Weston Manor Hotel in the heart of the lovely Oxfordshire Cotswolds, with free parking, glorious facilities, and a range of extremely comfortable accommodation on site, and lovely grounds in which to ramble as you untangle your ideas.
Thriller School California started a couple of years after its UK sister, and originally was set in the Pierpont Inn in Ventura, where Erle Stanley Gardner would often go to write his Perry Mason series. Latterly, again for convenience’s sake, we have moved to running the US course in Santa Monica, which is easy to access for those in the area and for those flying in from elsewhere.
Join us for Thriller School Oxford in the beautiful English Cotswolds for a crime fiction writing and reading weekend like no other.