Author Interview – K.J. Howe – The Freedom Broker (Kidnap & Ransom Thriller Novel)

Hey there everyone, so good to see you all again.

We’re kicking the Author Interview series off this year with a massive bang, so join me now as we chat to author K.J Howe and delve into her world of Kidnap & Ransom thrillers, led by a strong independent heroine too.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the ride.


Hi there Kimberley, thank you for taking the time to be with us today to give us more insight into you and your gripping writing.

Let’s start with your debut novel “The Freedom Broker”. This novel excites me, especially the fact that you have an alpha female heroine to root for — Thea Paris, an elite negotiator dealing with kidnap and ransom. Please tell us more about the background behind your thriller, the nature of the plot itself, and the challenges your protagonist is pitted up against.

Thanks, David. I appreciate your enthusiasm and interest. Thea Paris is an elite kidnap negotiator who travels undercover to the globe’s hotspots with one mission in mind—bringing hostages home. The work is personal for her because of a childhood traumatic experience. While growing up, her family lived in Africa because of her father’s oil business. Her brother was kidnapped in her place when he was twelve and Thea was eight, and although her brother came home after nine months of captivity, he was never the same. In fact, the experience left a deep wound on everyone in the family. In THE FREEDOM BROKER, the story comes full circle when Thea’s father is kidnapped—the past and present merge, and secrets are unveiled that could destroy the Paris family.

For the last several years, I’ve been researching kidnap and ransom extensively, interviewing elite kidnap negotiators, former hostages, K&R insurance executives, and the Special Forces soldiers who deliver ransoms and execute rescues. It has been a fascinating and eye-opening experience. There are over 40,000 kidnappings a year — and those are just the reported cases. Kidnapping has become an international crisis as well as a booming criminal enterprise.

I really enjoyed writing about Thea and her family, and the backdrop of the world of kidnapping is a fascinating one. The book explores betrayal and secrets, the cornerstone of most dysfunctional families. And Thea also has to deal with the challenge of having type 1 diabetes while living a demanding and active lifestyle.


You are also the Executive Director of ThrillerFest, the International Thriller Writers annual conference held in NYC every July. Can you describe the experience for us and why this is such a fantastic event for fans of the thriller genre, along with aspiring and established thriller writers?

I’m quite honoured to be part of the International Thriller Writers. A not-for-profit organization, our mandate is to support thriller authors of all levels. We have specialized craft classes taught by the best in the business, a speed-dating event called PitchFest where aspiring authors can pitch to over 60 top agents, cocktail parties where attendees can mingle with bestselling authors, educational sessions about marketing books, an awards ceremony to honour the best books of the year, and so much more. If anyone has questions, I encourage them to write me at If you’re a thriller enthusiast, and I mean this in the broadest of terms, then we’d love to have you join us at


If your book was to be made into a film (or even a TV series), who would you cast in the lead roles?

That would be a dream come true. For Thea, I’d choose Halle Berry or Selma Hayek, as they are both talented actresses who also have type 1 diabetes. For Thea’s brother, Nikos, Joaquim Phoenix would be perfect!!! As for tactical expert Rif Asker — I’d either choose Jim Caviezel from PERSON OF INTEREST or Philip Winchester from STRIKE BACK. Rif is the strong, silent type, but when he speaks it’s usually worth listening.

What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?

Great question. For me, editing is the most demanding and intensive work when it comes to writing. As you read your prose for the fiftieth time (truly, not kidding!), it can feel laborious, but you can’t compromise. Readers deserve seamless writing, and prose that looks easy, usually isn’t. It takes unrelenting commitment to have that discipline, and I have plenty of work ahead before I can come close to mastering that skill.

The easiest part of writing is coming up with ideas for stories. Thea Paris is an elite kidnap negotiator, and I keep thinking of different countries and unique adventures for her and her team of operatives. If only I had more free time to write all these fun tales.

Who are some of the authors and historical figures that inspire you?

When I read THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE by David Morrell, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I was caught up in the fascinating world of spies he created. And I’ve been lucky to have David as a mentor. He has encouraged me, pushed me to dig deeper, and been there to nudge me in the right direction as I embark on this extraordinary journey. Lisa Gardner’s THE PERFECT HUSBAND was another novel that really excited me, inspiring me to try my hand at writing. Lisa is a fantastic writer and a lovely person. Steve Berry has also been a huge inspiration, his knowledge in both the craft and business sides of writing is truly unsurpassed.

I would strongly encourage anyone who wants to write thrillers to join ITW via You’ll find many kindred souls, people who really get you.


What sort of research did you do to write your book?

Intensive research into the dark world of K&R over several years. I have interviewed countless people in the kidnapping industry, including real life kidnap negotiator, Dr. Francis Grimm. I have also had the privilege to become friends with former hostage Peter Moore, who was the longest held captive in Iraq. I have also taken combat courses and participated in a host of other thrilleresque activities to familiarize myself with the tools of the trade. I also try to travel to as many locations as I can — it helps to bring verisimilitude to the setting, and it’s inspiring for story ideas.

Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?

I had an eclectic upbringing, living in different countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Travel and adventure were a wonderful part of my life. Always the new kid, I lost myself in books, an escape into a magical existence when I needed one. Fast forward into the future where I wanted to create my own fictional world, a place where others could decompress from the pressures of their lives for a few enjoyable hours. Writing fiction also provides catharsis for me, a way of expressing emotions, working through issues. Something extraordinary happens when characters come alive on the page, and I couldn’t imagine a better life than being an author. Now I get to meet fascinating people and call it research. I am able to travel to unique locales and soak in the surroundings. I can enjoy adrenaline-inducing adventures and integrate them into the writing. It’s a dream job.

What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?

Research is key to me. If I’m struggling with a scene, I’ll do some research, and I’ll be inspired—and the book will be better for it. Sometimes we all write ourselves into a corner, but there’s always a way out. Neuroplasticity is key to quality writing—when we write books, we create new pathways in our brains. Keep creating those paths, and you’ll find the right route to answer your dilemma.

You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Believe in yourself. And I’d give that same advice to any aspiring author. Everyone takes a different route to being published, but you need to have that powerful, internal belief that you can do this, no matter what it takes.


How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?

Adventure. Travel. Sports. And if all three can be combined, so much the better. I’ve enjoyed ziplining in Costa Rica, diving with Great Whites in South Africa, racing camels in Jordan, and interacting with elephants in Botswana. I also love learning, researching, and connecting with new people.

Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?

I was fortunate to secure a two-book deal for the Thea Paris series in the US, U.K., and Canada, so I’m hard at work on book two now. Thea Paris is taking two African former child soldiers to their new home in London when the jet they are on is hijacked—and the fun begins from there. SKYJACK will be out February 2018.

Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?

Ask people you respect for advice. Embrace constructive criticism even though it might sting. Visualize the moment that call will come in, telling you that your book has sold—and live, breathe, and believe, until it actually happens. Persevere, and it will.

And that’s a wrap! Thank you for spending time with us today and we can’t wait to get stuck into your thrilling book 🙂

Thank you for hosting me and for asking such interesting questions. It has been an honour to be interviewed by such an insightful and talented author. Wishing you continued success with your career.



K.J. Howe is the executive director of ThrillerFest, the annual conference of International Thriller Writers. A three-time Daphne du Maurier Award winner, she completed her MA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. She is an avid traveler who has raced camels in Jordan, surfed in Hawaii, and dove with the great whites in South Africa. She became fascinated by the kidnap and ransom (K&R) world after meeting Peter Moore, a British computer consultant who became the longest-held hostage in Iraq and the only person to survive of the five men who were taken that day.

You can connect with K.J on the following Social Media channels:-

Facebook:- Author K.J. Howe (FB)
Goodreads:- K.J. Howe (Goodreads Author)
LinkedIn:- Author K.J. Howe (LinkedIn)
Twitter:- @KJHoweAuthor (Twitter)
Website:- K.J. Howe, Author of Thrillers

You can buy her book here:-

Buy K.J. Howe’s books in Canada

Buy K.J. Howe’s books in the UK/Europe

Buy K.J. Howe’s books in the US/Rest of the World

If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.

Still want more? Well K.J. Howe’s book has her protagonist Thea Paris dealing with Kidnap and Ransom negotiation. For more articles on the theme of ‘Gone’ then check out the links below:-

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15. Success Inspirers World – Precious Moments
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32. Gone…9th October – kashiarebecca
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34. Everyday Gyaan – Help and Hope While You’re Healing
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50. New Year #BarWoWe – Sanch Writes
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97. Gone – Animalistic Writing
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100. Gone – The Bag Lady
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109. Gone – disue
110. Gone – thehouseofbailey
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120. Gone – Bright Blue Marble
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125. Gone – livergoodmakes
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128. Gone – The Writer’s Block
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214. Gone Goodies – rupalislale
215. Turn Around – Quill & Parchment
216. Sure Scribbles – Love at First sight
217. Just Empty Shoes – Gone
218. A Proposition – thepathtocreativity
219. What are you waiting for? – Yuhu
220. The Mind of Nox – Gone
221. Cahla’s Tawkin’ – Gone
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223. Gone – Full-Time
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225. Let it be beautiful – Gone
226. sonja benskin mesher – . one stroke .
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247. Gone: 2 Versions – True_George
248. Gone #2 – Mrs Reckless Writes
249. To new beginnings! – Afterlife Love Story
250. Zombie Flamingos – It’s cold here
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254. The Write Project – It flies
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257. Let it be beautiful – Gone
258. Kiss to send it off – Magpie in the City
259. Gone – Daily Prompt – Ladyleemanila
260. Devil Doll Musings – Gone
261. Kate Murray – Gone
262. Hot White Snow – Gone But Forgotten
263. Go Gone Gone – In my world
264. Gone… – Emotions that matter.
265. Southern By Design – Gone But Not
266. Whisky evening – Don’t hold your breath
267. And then there was one – Are you really gone?
268. Inspiration – S. Thomas Summers
269. Bring organization to your post-holiday chaos – MidLife Inspirations
270. 80. Together – Brindology
271. 10 Best Gifts for Your Girlfriend – Unique Lovely Gifts
272. Life’s punches – A dream that has gone…
273. Look What I Found – Pete Gardner Psalms
274. Designer Sophisticate – Migraines are no fun.
275. Glen Campbell – Just Writing!
276. Ups, Downs & Deviations – Resurgence
277. Hot Dogs and Marmalade
278. The Wandering Poet – Waiting for snow to be gone
279. Hot Dogs and Marmalade – Christmas Flowers
280. confessions of an indian curry-eater – Maveli, City Centre, Sheffield (61%)
281. ….on pets and prisoners….. – daily prompt: gone
282. The Temptation of More – Patches of Light, Pieces of Grace
283. Lost Property Repository – Nothing
284. I wrote a book. Now what? – Redundantly Redundant Redundancies
285. Lantern Words – It Is Gone


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