ThrillerFest XVII • May 31 – June 4, 2022 • Register Today!

Not an Overnight Success Story

By Beverly Graf (aka B.J. Graf)

An idea for a mystery novel bit me while working on my doctorate in Classics. I started writing it down, but it was a shapeless baggy thing, so I set it aside and took a job out west. I worked as a V.P. of Development in Hollywood for the better part of fifteen years before transitioning back to academia. During all that time I kept writing. But while I was confident in pitching other writers’ stories, I didn’t have the confidence to pitch my own. The people I worked with in Hollywood firmly believed writing talent was something you’re born with, not a skill or set of skills you can learn. And if you haven’t made it by thirty, forget it. Thirty was definitely in the rear-view mirror for me.

But I kept writing because when a story grabs me and won’t let go, I have to pay attention. GENESYS X was that kind of story. I joined a writing group which offered support for the writer and ruthless criticism of the writing. I started going to writers’ conference and got a few short stories published.

But Thrillerfest really helped me make the leap to the next level. Craftfest was very useful in teaching me some new skills that helped unwind some of the techniques necessary in academic writing, but deadly in fiction. Using what I learned, I completely rewrote my first mystery-sci-fi novel GENESYS X.

At Pitchfest I pitched my book to fifteen agents.  All but one, who confessed to a secret hatred of sci-fi, said yes to the pitch. But as the months went by after sending them the manuscript and agent after agent told me they liked the writing, but the darker than dark noir tone of my book would make it hard to sell, I figured GENESYS X would stay in the drawer. A little depressed, but determined, I was already one hundred pages into a very different book when I got the call from Sandy Lu, then a senior agent at the Perkins Agency. She wanted to know if my novel was still available. Sandy now represents me. GENESYS X was published November 2020 at Fairwood Press and we’re currently out to publishers with the new book as I work on the next in the series. I’m not an overnight success, but I’m a writer and I’m on my way. Thank-you, Thrillerfest and ITW! I’m so grateful for everything you do.