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The thrill is on: Local author Avanti Centrae writes suspense thrillers

Tom Durkin
Special to The Union


Who: Avanti Centrae

What: The Lost Power and Solstice Shadows

Where: The Book Seller, Grass Valley; Harmony Books, Nevada City; Amazon

When: Now

More info https://www.avanticentrae.com/

It takes a long time to become an overnight success.

Although Avanti Centrae hasn’t hit the New York Times best-seller list yet, after seven hard years she is enjoying a surge of success with two critically-acclaimed novels and a third one in the works.

“I’d always wanted to write, but I grew up in a Midwestern family that had a very practical bent,” the Penn Valley author said. Therefore, the Fremont, Ind., high school valedictorian went to Purdue University and graduated with a degree in computer technology.

Over the next several decades, Centrae pursued a career in information technology for companies like Texas Instruments, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.

In 2013, she pulled the trigger and started her first novel.

In 2017, at age 53, “I gave up working as an IT executive in the lucrative computer industry to pursue my lifelong dream of writing,” she revealed in an interview July 29.

“It took a couple years to research and write my first book, a year to get an agent, then another year to get the book deal, and still another year and half to actually get it published,” she recalled.

Centrae’s debut novel “VanOps: The Lost Power” (Black Opal Press, 2019) snagged a Chanticleer International Book Award as a Genre Grand Prize Winner. It also received an honorable mention at the Hollywood Book Festival and a bronze at the U.K.-based Wishing Shelf awards.

The action-packed, suspense thriller features Maddy Marshall, the strong female protagonist, and two male companions, her twin brother and a CIA “VanOps” agent.

Hunted by Russian assassins, the unlikely trio embarks on a do-or-die quest to find an ancient, occult weapon. They must prevent the Russians from finding it first and using the mysterious relic to make an electromagnetic bomb that would wipe out U.S. communications.


“The average income for writers is around $10,000 a year,” according to Centrae.

Centrae, however, is not your average writer. She knows and studies her chosen profession. “I’m always listening to an audiobook and paying attention to craft.”

In professional writing, everything counts. “You need a line editor, a copy editor, and proofing, too. That’s the way the bigs (big five publishers) do it, and there’s a reason, because you can’t see your own mistakes.”

Key to her budding success, Centrae understands publishing is a business.

“I took an International Thriller Writer’s class and learned tips and tricks from a variety of bestselling authors.”

To succeed, she knows she must actively market her books and herself. She credits her computer industry experience for knowing how to plot out her own success story with agents and publishers.

To succeed, she knows she must actively market her books and herself.

She wears VanOps T-shirts, hands out bookmarks promoting her novels, enters contests, appears for media interviews and book signings, maintains an email list of her fans, and seeks endorsements from famous writers in her genre.

“Using some creativity, I was able to get ‘The Lost Power’ in front of them and it’s really helped sales,” Centrae reported. “Them” includes New York Times best-selling authors James Rollins (“Crucible”) and Steve Berry (“Templar Legacy,” “Romanov Prophecy”).

Berry promised, “. . . a good ole’ fashioned rip-roaring adventure from start to finish. Enjoy the ride.”

Rollins wrote in part, “Written with a dynamic, cinematic style and full of action and suspense, here’s a book that defines page-turner. Don’t miss this riveting debut!”


Already an award-nominee, Centrae’s second novel “Solstice Shadows” (Thunder Creek Press, 2020) picks up the action where it left off in “The Lost Power.”

Maddy continues to work with the CIA black ops team. From Mexico to Morocco to Egypt, she is guided by her mind-body practice of the martial art of aikido to fight her Russian adversaries – without having to kill anybody. If possible.

“Solstice Shadows” goes public next Tuesday, Aug. 11. Both of Centrae’s books will be available locally at The Book Seller in Grass Valley and Harmony Books in Nevada City. Order online or by phone for curbside pickup.

The books, including audiobooks, are also for sale on Amazon and other online retailers.

In mid-September, Centrae is in contention for a 2020 Chanticleer Global Thriller blue ribbon.

Determined to succeed as a professional writer, Centrae said she is about to send her editor the manuscript of her third book, “Kiss of the Cobra.” This would be the first book in her second action-adventure series.

That, however, does not mean it’s the end of the VanOps series, she hinted with a smile.

“Mom always told me there’s no money in writing,” Centrae laughed, “but I decided to pursue it anyway.

“Spending my days thinking up wild plot twists is so much more fun than sitting in a cube farm.”

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer, editor and photographer in Nevada County.

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