Five bestselling thriller authors visited Fort Belvoir's USO Warrior and Family Center Oct. 24 before heading to Europe and the Middle East on the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment's fourth "Operation Thriller" tour. The tour is designed to bring troops and their Families "a touch of home this Halloween season" according to the USO of Metropolitan Washington.
This year's authors are Harlan Coben, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of Six Years; Stay Close; Live Wire; and others; Philip Margolin, author of 17 New York Times bestselling legal thrillers including Sleight of Hand; F. Paul Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of the "Repairman Jack" novels, including Dark City, and winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement; Kathleen Antrim, award-winning author of the political thriller Capital Offense; and Heather Graham, New York Times bestselling author of more than 100 novels including the most recent, The Night is Forever. All five are members of the International Thriller Writers organization.
During a special three-day visit to the Washington D.C. area before leaving for the tour, the authors met with servicemembers and their Families at the USO to sign autographs and thank the troops for their service.
"I really appreciate the fact that there are all these people all over the world that are protecting me," Margolin said. "It's an opportunity to get face-to-face with these people that are defending our country and say thank you very much for keeping me and my kids safe."
Antrim, who participated in Operation Thriller last year, said the tour is also a great way to talk to Soldiers about telling their stories through writing.
"We love to talk about it -- all writers do -- and (do) anything we can to help the troops to tell their stories, whether it be somebody who just wants to journal, who wants to write for their Family, or somebody who might actually want to publish and become a writer professionally," she said.
"There are so many of our troops with stories to tell," she added. "We as Americans have no idea how hard they work, the sacrifices that they make, and just the jobs they do to keep us safe day in and day out. It's just honestly an honor to get to go and say thank you to them here and overseas and just pay them some respect because they deserve it."
Spc. Alex Brandt, 56th Signal Company, 54th Signal Battalion, 160th Signal Brigade, visited the USO specifically to talk with the authors about developing his own writing skills.
"I came to this event because authors are here and I can talk to them about writing, which is one of the passions of mine," he said. "I appreciate them coming out and saying, 'Hi.'"
For more information about Operation Thriller IV, view the full press release at