ThrillerFest boasts a huge roster of authors. Take a look at the best seller lists – and I do mean all of them – and the chances of finding an ITW member are very good.
This year ITW will be honoring David Morrell, creator of the Rambo series, as 2009 ThrillerMaster – a title he certainly deserves. Last year’s ThrillerMaster, Sandra Brown, will also be on hand, along with the other special guests Robin Cook, David Baldacci, Brad Meltzer, and Katherine Neville. Where else can you find this level of talent in one location – other than sitting on the shelves of your local bookstore or library? My guess is nowhere. And yet, there is still more talent to be found lurking in the halls – often literally because ThrillerFest has been equated to summer camp and you never know who you’ll run into between panels, book signings, and guest author interviews.
Speaking of running into people in hallways, as I was leaving the on-site bookstore last year, I literally (almost) ran into Deborah LeBlanc. There was a panel I was eager to attend and was hurrying to catch it when Deb and I nearly crashed head-on beside the registration desk. I’ve been a fan of Deb’s work for a long time and even though we first met at ThrillerFest 2007, I was still a little intimidated by the fact that I could actually talk to someone I consider among my inspirational authors.
However, Deb’s from Louisiana and I’m from Mississippi so naturally two people with recognizable accents stop to chat. After lamenting the fact that sweet tea is all but nonexistent in NYC, I was feeling more at ease and our conversation turned to books and writing, as often happens when authors gather. We talked about her new book. We talked about mine. I never made it to the panel discussion but I had a great time talking with Deb, who introduced me to the founder of Circle of Seven Productions and creator of the book trailer phenomenon. A near collision turned into a great networking opportunity. Since then, I’ve kept in touch with Deb and am happily waiting to see her again this summer. (Hopefully, our meeting won’t result in a multi-author pile-up in the hallway.)
I tell this story to illustrate the kind of chance meetings that happen constantly during ThrillerFest. These are great opportunities to network or thank someone for pointing you in a new and wonderful direction. Of course not all meetings are by chance. There are some that are carefully orchestrated. Past attendees have friends they want to see and will arrange a coffee break or lunch. Some of the friends I’ve made are going to be there again this year and I can’t wait to see them. (You know who you are: Kelli Stanley, Rebecca Cantrell, Andrew Peterson, Carla Buckley, CJ Lyons, Karen Dionne, Julie Kramer, Don Helin, Matt Hilton and all the other ITW Debut Authors.)
Even without the added benefit of seeing friends, like most authors, I’m also an avid reader and have a list of authors I admire. It’s always a treat to see and talk to Lee Child, Jon Land, Shane Gericke, D.P. Lyle, Barry Eisler, and David Hewson. A few of the authors I’m looking forward to meeting this year include Nate Kenyon, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Dakota Banks, and Lisa Gardner. I’m especially looking forward to meeting Lisa, not just because I love her books, but I have to thank her and here’s why...
While working on Crimson Swan, I discovered a problem but I had no clue how to resolve it. I was in a serious funk when I came across an old file regarding plot structure that I’d downloaded on my computer long ago when I first began to seriously attempt writing fiction. It wasn’t very long or very detailed – a few pages among a larger work regarding suspense novels.
The summary article was written by Lisa Gardner, one of the best known suspense authors and a personal fave. A light shone over me and a chorus of heavenly voices sang – Okay, maybe it didn’t happen that way, but I can honestly say I took a major hit from the clue gun because of the article. I surfed over to Lisa’s site and found a more detailed article on structuring suspense novels. Using her suggestions, I broke through my funk and resolved the problem I’d encountered. Lisa may never read my book and she may never really know how much she helped, but I’ll have an opportunity to thank her in person come July. It’s one I don’t intend to let pass me by.
Yes, ThrillerFest is fun. It’s a great place to network and make friends. But, it’s also a place to learn from and thank those who’ve inspired or helped along the way, even when they didn’t know they were doing it.
4 hours ago