LOS ANGELES, Dec. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A veteran novelist has found surprise success this year by using the green hills of West Virginia as the backdrop for an international thriller, rather than the more customary settings of New York or London. The Encryption Game (Mystery House), Glenn Shepard's fourth book in as many years, has hit a nerve with fans by serving up an epic climax not at the White House or the Pentagon, but at tiny Elkins Regional Airport, a quirky twist that seems at odds with the accepted norms of the genre.
Some in the literary world aren't so surprised. Book analysts Jodie Archer and Mathew Jockers, authors of The Bestseller Code, point out that "the geopolitical setting of a book is not all that important in determining whether or not a book will sell." According to their analysis, author Shepard is a clear example of a little-known wrinkle in the art of thriller writing.
Shepard's first novel, The Missile Game (Mystery House), succeeded with readers by depicting a missile strike by ISIS terrorists on a hospital in rural North Carolina. For a genre that specializes in international settings, The Missile Game had a noticeably backyard feel. That book went on to be a bestseller on Amazon's Kindle charts.
Though Shepard has also taken his hero, "Dr. Scott James," to Haiti and the Middle East, he's also taken the concept of being a regional writer to an extreme, staging an assassination attempt on the President's life in Williamsburg, Virginia, unleashing a biological attack in "Jackson City," a fictitious town in North Carolina, and most recently, putting a nuclear warhead on a high-altitude balloon in the skies over West Virginia. "A writer writes what he knows," Shepard says from his office in Newport News. "I grew up in the area and I know the people. I also love the terrain."
It's not unusual for a thriller writer to play war games between the covers of a book, but one wonders how much more the mid-Atlantic region can take. "The nuke," Shepard says, chuckling a little," —that was an idea from my editor. And a scary one at that." When asked about his success in using an ultra-regional motif, Shepard offers some insight into how a novelist's mind typically works. "It doesn't matter where I am or what I'm doing—I just always have a story working in my head."
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SOURCE Mystery House