One of the best aspects of Thrillerfest is the people you meet in between the formal sessions. At this Thrillerfest, I had the privilege to spend a little time with Walt Gragg.
Walt is a “success story” from Thrillerfest. His debut novel, “The Red Line” was published by Penguin, Random House in May 2017. I believed he obtained his agent through Pitchfest. It can be done.
Walt was the head of the volunteers at Thrillerfest, so I assume he had done this for a number of years. He always seemed to be available to the attendees, and he was particularly active at Pitchfest. He calmed the nervous masses with suggestions and pretty much kept order during the event among those waiting to do their pitches. He always interjected a bit of humor into the proceedings. He took the time to walk me among the rooms to be used for Pitchfest and had many valuable suggestions. Simply stated, he was a very good and decent person, and the entire event was better for his presence.
I thought so highly of him that I bought his debut novel, “The Red Line,” which was available in the bookstore at Thrillerfest. No, Walt was not pushing his book at the event. He was busy making the attendees at Pitchfest as comfortable as he could. Marketing his book was not on his agenda that day, he was just being helpful.
I was glad I bought the book. It was a World War III scenario, and he did a fine job with it. “The Red Line” grabbed me right from the beginning. His political scenario was very plausible and his descriptions of the folks in the trenches were realistic and riveting. He pulled absolutely no punches and conveyed the horrors of modern warfare to the reader without any sugar coating. His story included combatants and their loved ones. He walked the fine line showing the great heroism by those fighting the war without glorifying warfare. The technical details seemed to be accurate but not overwhelming to this non-technical reader. I have read a number of thrillers as I embarked on this writing journey, including some by a number of more “famous” authors. I enjoyed this one as much as any I have read during this journey.
Walt has been an inspiration to me. I recommend “The Red Line” and wish him a lot of success. I look forward to his next novel, and would not be surprised to see a film version of “The Red Line” in the not too distant future.