Thriller Writer Tj O'Connor

May 8, 2013

I am such a lucky man. I recently survived a harrowing and scary ordeal.
For three days I was confined in a towering Bethesda facility entangled with hundreds of others who are all guilty of the same crimes—murder. Some of them commit murder. Some of them are eager accomplices. Others are simply those who crave the crime, its tangled-deceits, and its endless twists and turns. They are the bad ones—the ones who make us all kill over and over. They drive us to the crime.

But, perhaps I should start at the beginning. And to do that, you need to understand two definitions:

“Malice aforethought” — the conscious intent to cause death or great bodily harm to another person before a person commits the crime.
“Malice Domestic” — The congregation of hundreds of people contemplating murder—and then they write about it.

You see, Malice Domestic is an annual Mystery Writers convention where hundreds of fans and authors meet. They plot, they scheme, and they conspire. And this year, I was among them—a new willing conspirator.

And yes, despite the hundreds of murderers in my presence, I survived. I even learned a thing or two.

Okay, enough of the melodrama. What a blast! I attended Malice at the direction of my agent, Kimberley Cameron, who must take responsibility for my own malice aforethought for Dying To Know, Dying for the Past, and future Dyings that lie ahead. She done it—she’s to blame—she signed me as a client. And (thank you again, Kimberley), she is getting me published with Midnight Ink, that amazing band of fellow conspirators in the mystery genre.

I met the most amazing people at Malice—fellow authors, new writers, publishers and agents, and the fans. After years in the security and terrorism world, I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful new world of book-people. They are the kindest, funniest, and most engaging people I’ve ever met. Perhaps it’s the instant bond that forms when people commit murder (yes, yes, on the page) or perhaps having shared the long and difficult journey to get to this place at all—finding an agent, the endless rejections, and novels piling on the desk waiting for a home. We all shared bits and pieces of those tribulations. But nonetheless, these are the people I’ve looked for my entire life.

And to all of you, thank you for embracing me as one of you. (Don’t I get a secret handshake or decoder ring or something? All I got was a bazillion book markers!)

I learned a lot at the conference and from many of you. I also made some new friends I hope will be such for years to come. So if you ever need help killing someone, just give me a call—err, yes, yes, on paper of course.

And for those of you wishing for a taste of this camaraderie—or if you have a killing you can’t wait to share—let me know or attend next year’s Malice. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.


I first fell in love with writing while in grade school and over the years continued to dabble with characters and stories whenever life allowed. Lately, I've focused my energy on pursuing this dream—interrupted only by life as a security consultant and the demands of two Labrador retrievers.

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