“An artist cannot fail. It is a success to be one.” – Charles Horton Cooley
What do you get when you put a bunch of story lovers with dark imaginations together in one of the world’s most dazzling cities? Besides Sharknado. (Kidding. I have no idea what that is.) I’m sure some of you guessed right: ThrillerFest. “Thriller” may be intended to describe the book genre, but the biggest thrill of the annual conference is undoubtedly its people. I’ve honestly never encountered such a warm, supportive crew—and I’m not talking blood-curdling, criminal heat.
I first attended two years ago, namely for AgentFest. (Think speed-dating with agents.) I hadn’t read the “how to pitch” tips on the website or attended the pitching preparation panel. Sitting outside the agent-filled room, internal butterflies spasming, a fellow writer who’d done his due diligence voluntarily filled me in. I used a couple of his tips and ended up meeting my agent that day. Then last year, I met Lee Child for the first time. Thinking I would shake his hand and scurry off, letting him get onto whatever it is that super famous authors do, he shook my hand and said, “August McLaughlin. Now that’s an interesting name. What do you write?” (Huh?!?) We chatted for a bit, as though we were from the same planet! Whether a writing newbie, a volunteer or a librarian, bookseller or agent, ThrillerFest folks are truly that congenial.
Rather than share my own ThrillerFest experiences this year, I thought I’d give you a glimpse through the eyes of some of my favorite attendees. I’m so honored to share their thoughts, and hope you’ll not only read their words, but visit their websites. I suspect that you’ll be grateful you did.
JOHN DIXON, Author of Phoenix Island (Simon & Schuster / Gallery, February 2014), inspiration for the upcoming CBS TV series Intelligence, starring Josh Holloway and Marg Helgenberger:
“This was my third and favorite ThrillerFest, partly because I came to it loaded with happy news—my first book deal and the stop-the-presses announcement that CBS TV ordered the show based on my debut novel—but mostly because of the people with whom I could share it: excellent friends, some old, some new, all of them smart and charming and practically glowing with good energy. That’s the magical thing about ThrillerFest; everyone, from bestsellers to aspiring authors, comes together in the spirit of celebration and support. I’m already looking forward to next July!”
JON McGORAN, Author of Drift
“I didn’t get to many panels, but the ones I went to were excellent. The YA panel was particularly good. R. L. Stine did a great job moderating, hilarious as always, but he also managed to keep things moving and informative, with lots of great insights from Barry Lyga, Michelle Gagnon, Lissa Price, Kat Rosenfield, Linda Gerber, and Allen Zadoff. The best part, of course, was seeing old friends and making new ones. It’s not always easy being a writer, and you definitely make sacrifices, but once again I was reminded that one of the best perks of being a writer is being able to hang out with such amazing, smart, warm and hilarious people.”
AUSTIN S. CAMACHO, author of the Hannibal Jones thriller series:
“ThrillerFest was one great moment after another. The highlight for me may have been seeing Ann Rice interviewed by her son (Christopher is the best interviewer EVER!) But my favorite memories are meeting with so many Facebook friends I’d never met in person before. Yeah, turning those electronic pals into 3-dimensional friends that was a series of favorite memories. And many will join me at the next great conference, Creatures, Crimes & Creativity.”
D.P. LYLE, MD, ITW VP Education/Member Services; CraftFest Director; Author of the Edgar-nominated author of the Dub Walker Thriller Series:
“ThrillerFest was very special this year and I have many great memories including being ravaged, or is it savaged?, by a host off insane vampirettes, dinner with the wonderful R.L. and Jane Stine at their marvelous home and again at the Awards Banquet, and the opportunity to interview my friend and Spotlight Guest T. Jefferson Parker. And of course hanging in the bar with August as well as Heather Graham, Jennifer Hughes, Kathy Antrim, Twist Phelan and her husband Jack, Hans Watford, Phil Donlay, Bob and Pat Gussin, Tony and Tori Eldridge, and many others.”
“Interviewing my father in front of a packed ballroom during his Author Spotlight appearance was a highlight, as well as an honor and a privilege.”
BOYD MORRISON, Author of the Tyler Locke Thriller Series:
“Because the Yankees catcher Chris Stewart is a fan of my books, he arranged for me and my wife to get field passes and tickets to the game on Saturday. We had a fantastic time meeting him and watching the game from great seats. Not a bad perk for being a writer!”
AMANDA KYLE WILLIAMS, Author of the Key Street Thriller Series:
“No one understands the panic of blowing a deadline or the fear of dry days like another writer. This is one of my favorite things about conferences like ThrillerFest. It’s one big therapy session. Usually in the bar.”
ANNE RICE, Internationally Celebrated, Award-Winning Author of the The Vampire Chronicles (and so much more!)
“What I loved most about ThrillerFest was the generous high spirits of the top flight professional authors who’d come there to host and to mingle with all sorts of up and coming and aspiring writers. I mean the whole atmosphere was hospitable and fun, from start to finish, and it gave aspiring writers a chance to connect with professionals, to learn from them about craft and to connect with top flight agents. It was a terrific event. I felt so welcome. I want to support the International Thrillers Writers in any way I can.”
This year Anne was awarded the International Thriller Writers Lifetime Achievement Award! Congratulations, Anne!
I have chills thinking of how inspiring these folks, and many others who attended ThrillerFest, are. I could go on and on and on… Instead, I’ll pass the mic to you. If you attended ThrillerFest, what was your favorite part? Are you thinking of going next year? Any questions for me and/or other attendees? I always love hearing your thoughts. ♥