Join authors Jeff Ayers, Allison Brennan, Amanda Jayatissa, and Abbott Kahler along with Back Room hosts Karen Dionne and Hank Phillippi Ryan for an evening of great conversation!

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The Authors


Jeff Ayers is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction, including the guide to Star Trek novels, VOYAGES OF IMAGINATION, where he reviewed over 550 books and interviewed over 350 people, including William Shatner and John DeLancie.

He has been a freelance book reviewer for almost 25 years for Booklist, Library Journal, The Associated Press, Criminal Element, and firstCLUE. He has interviewed hundreds of authors, such as Dan Brown, Harlan Coben, and Michael Connelly, for magazines, newspapers, and podcasts.

Jeff is the Co-Executive Director for ThrillerFest for the International Thriller Writers, Inc.

His first book in the National Park thriller series LEAVE NO TRACE (written with Jon Land under the name A.J. Landau) comes out from Minotaur Books on February 27. He also just signed a deal at Grand Central Publishing for a nonfiction book.

Learn more at (forthcoming).

New York Times and USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Allison Brennan believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five kids and writes three books a year.

Allison and her husband currently live in Arizona with their two youngest children and assorted pets, and are very much enjoying the newest addition to the family — their first grandchild. Allison enjoys hiking, baseball, reading, classic movies, and (of course) writing.

Learn more at

Amanda Jayatissa loves to read disturbing books with shocking plot twists, so it seemed logical to her that she should attempt to write disturbing books with shocking plot twists. She is one of the first Sri Lankan women to secure an international book contract.

Her first traditionally published novel, MY SWEET GIRL, won Best Debut Novel at the International Thriller Writers Awards in 2022. Her second novel, YOU’RE INVITED, was selected as a Book of The Month pick in July 2022 and was featured on The Today Show.

She grew up in Sri Lanka and has lived in the California bay area and British countryside, before relocating back to her sunny island, where she lives with her husband and two Tasmanian-devil-reincarnate huskies.

Learn more at

Abbott Kahler (previously writing as Karen Abbott) is the author of four New York Times bestselling works of historical narrative nonfiction: Sin in the Second City; American Rose; Liar Temptress Soldier Spy; and, most recently, The Ghosts of Eden Park, which was an Edgar Award finalist for Best Fact Crime. Her next nonfiction book, Then Came the Devil, is about a disparate (and scheming) group of settlers on the Galapagos islands in the 1930s.

Her debut novel, Where You End, is inspired by a true story of identical twins and a strange case of amnesia, and will be published on January 16.

Abbott has written for The New Yorker, New York Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Smithsonian Magazine. She is the host of an iHeartRadio podcast, REMUS: THE MAD BOOTLEG KING, about bootlegger George Remus. She lives in New York City with her husband and a very opinionated African Grey parrot, and is at work on her next novel. Learn more at

Authors’ Books


Leave No Trace by Jeff Ayers (writing as A.J. Landau)

In a daring, brutal act of terrorism, an explosion rocks and topples the Statue of Liberty. Special Agent Michael Walker of the National Park Service is awakened by his boss with that news and sent to New York as the agent-in-charge. Not long after he lands, he learns two things – one that Gina Delgado of the FBI has been placed in charge of the investigation as the lead of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and two, that threats of a second terrorism attack are already being called into the media. While barred from the meetings of the Joint Task Force for his lack of security clearance, Walker finds a young boy among the survivors with a critical piece of information – a video linking the attackers to the assault.

As a radical domestic terrorist group, led by a shadowy figure known only as Jeremiah, threatens further attacks against America’s cultural symbols, powerful forces within the government are misleading the investigation to further their own radical agenda.

Purchase online at

The Missing Witness by Allison Brennan

Detective Kara Quinn is back in Los Angeles to testify against a notorious human trafficker, finally moving past the case that upended her life. But when the accused is shot in broad daylight, the chaotic scene of the crime turns up few reliable bystanders. And one witness–a whistleblower who might be the key to everything–has disappeared.

After another person close to the case is killed, it’s clear that anyone who knows too much is in danger, and tracking down the witness becomes a matter of life-and-death. But as explosive secrets surface within the LAPD and FBI, Kara questions everything she thought she knew about the case, her colleagues and the life she left behind months ago.

Now with FBI special agent Matt Costa’s help, she must race to find the missing witness and get to the bottom of the avalanche of conspiracies that has rocked LA to its core…before it’s too late.

Purchase online at

Island Witch by Amanda Jayatissa

Being the daughter of the village Capuwa, or demon-priest, Amara is used to keeping mostly to herself. Influenced by the new religious practices brought in by the British Colonizers, the villagers who once respected her father’s craft have turned on the family. Yet, they all still seem to call on him whenever supernatural disturbances arise.

Now someone–or something–is viciously seizing upon men in the jungle. But instead of enlisting Amara’s father’s help, the villages have accused him of carrying out the attacks himself.

As she tries to clear her father’s name, Amara finds herself haunted by dreams that eerily predict the dark forces on her island. And she can’t shake the feeling that it’s all connected to the night she was recovering from a strange illness, and woke up, scared and confused, to hear her mother’s frantic cries: No one can find out what happened.

Lush, otherworldly, and recalling horror classics like Carrie and The ExorcistIsland Witch is a deliciously creepy and darkly feminist tale about the horrors of moral panic, the violent space between girlhood and adulthood, and what happens when female rage is finally unleashed.

Purchase online at

Where You End by Abbott Kahler

When Kat Bird wakes up from a coma, she sees her mirror image: Jude, her twin sister. Jude’s face and name are the only memories Kat has from before her accident. As Kat tries to make sense of things, she believes Jude will provide all the answers to her most pressing questions:

Who am I?
Where am I?
What actually happened?

Amid this tragedy, Jude sees an irresistible opportunity: she can give her sister a brand-new past, one worlds away from the lives they actually led. She spins tales of an idyllic childhood, exotic travels, and a bright future.

But if everything was so perfect, who are the mysterious people following Kat? And what explains her uncontrollable flashes of violent anger, which begin to jeopardize a sweet new romance?

Duped by the one person she trusted, Kat must try to untangle fact from fiction. Yet as she pulls at the threads of Jude’s elaborate tapestry, she has no idea of the catastrophe she’s inviting. At stake is not just the twins’ relationship, but their very survival.

Purchase online at

Your Hosts


Karen Dionne is the USA Today and #1 internationally bestselling author of two psychological suspense novels set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness, The Marsh King’s Daughter and The Wicked Sister, both published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US and in dozens of other languages.

Praised by The New York Times Book Review as “subtle, brilliant, and mature,” The Marsh King’s Daughter is now a major motion picture starring Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn.

Visit Karen at

Karen’s newest novel is The Wicked Sister. “Dionne paints a haunting portrait of a family hurtling toward the tragic destiny they can foresee but are powerless to stop.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review; best book of 2020)

Purchase The Wicked Sister online at

Hank Phillippi Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of 15 psychological thrillers, winning the genre’s most prestigious awards: five Agathas, five Anthonys, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. She’s also investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, winning 37 EMMYs for her groundbreaking journalism. National book reviewers call her “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Hank is the co-host of The Back Room and First Chapter Fun, as well as  host of her CRIME TIME interview show on A Mighty Blaze. She lives with her husband, a criminal defense and civil rights attorney, in Boston.

Learn more at

Her newest is the page-turning standalone ONE WRONG WORD – taut and tense psychological drama exploring gossip, rumor, greed and revenge. Two smart women face off in a high-stakes psychological cat and mouse game to prove their truth about a devastating betrayal​but which woman is the cat, and which woman is the mouse? Publishers Weekly says “Ryan is a master of suspense!”

Purchase One Wrong Word online at