Valentine’s Day is a celebration of that little winged naked guy who flies around and shoots arrows into people’s butts so they fall in love. (Okay, the real reason behind V-Day is much more complicated, but thanks to over commercialization, the little winged naked guy wins the battle.)
ThrillerFest is a celebration of all things thriller-y. I’ve attended TF for the past two years (and will be returning again this year) and haven’t seen any little naked guys or people suffering from arrow wounds to their posterior regions...yet. (We never know what may happen at TF. That’s part of the fun.)
However, as you can see, the two don’t have much in common. So I did what all writers do when faced with a Question of Unknown Answer – research!
I searched Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Wikipedia – the list goes on. I scoured ITW member websites. Someone, somewhere had to have something that would help me connect Valentine’s Day with ThrillerFest. In the end, I found my missing link on the ThrillerFest website, itself.
“ThrillerFest is Summer Camp for readers, fans, writers, industry professionals and those just looking for a great time! It's a place to see old friends and meet new ones.”
These are the opening words of a message from Kathy Antrim, Vice-President of National Events for International Thriller Writers. Personally, I’ve never attended summer camp. (Hey, I’m from rural Mississippi. I remember asking my parents if I could go to summer camp. My dad pitched a tent in the back yard and said, “Have at it.” Gee, thanks, Dad.) Despite my lack of experience, I can understand Kathy’s point of view, but I liken ThrillerFest more to a family reunion. Here’s why:
Thriller writers are a small group when compared to some other genres within the larger publishing world. We come from across the globe and reflect different branches of the central “family tree” – political thrillers, espionage, eco-thrillers, Roman noir, paranormal thrillers, you get the idea. Regardless of what we write, we’re all cousins, descending from the same patriarchal/matriarchal lines that started long ago with writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. We converge on a single location once a year to celebrate both our individuality and our commonality.
And, our greatest commonality is love. Love of a well-crafted plot. Love of a diabolical villain and a flawed hero. Love of a pulse-pounding, there’s-no-way-I’m-putting-this-down-now book. Essentially, it’s our love of the thriller genre that brings us together as colleagues, as friends, as family.
The little winged naked guy may be making his round today and filling butts with arrows, but come July, he’ll trade his bow and arrows for a high-powered sniper rifle, clip the wings, and don a pair of urban camouflage fatigues. Yes, love will be in the air at ThrillerFest and I, for one, can hardly wait.