Welcome to the Thrillerfest V Blog!

We hope you'll bookmark us, just as you bookmark so many of the hundreds of the International Thriller Writers that participate in our annual conference, held in New York City in July.

ITW is a youthful organization, always ready for a new way of looking at things. You'll find that dynamism here, in blog posts from authors, agents, editors and Thrillerfest attendees, past and present.

And that same excitement you feel from your favorite reads is evident in everything ITW does, and no wonder--the organization, staffing and publicity for ThrillerFest--including this new blog--is undertaken by volunteers, most of whom are ITW authors themselves.

So pull up a chair and stay awhile ... discover the latest news on what Thrillerfest V--the fifth anniversary of the conference--has to offer. Visit old friends, make new ones, ask questions, and hear about the remarkable things in store for the conference.

Whether or not you can come see us in New York--and we hope that you can!--please join us here. It's gonna be ... a thriller!

Kelli Stanley, Thrillerfest Publicity Committee Chair

Thrillerfest Publicity Committee:
Jeannie Holmes
CJ Lyons
Carla Buckley
Grant McKenzie

Friday, May 8, 2009


I haven't been around that long (I was an ITW Debut Author just last year, and my second novel comes out next February ... yeah, I know the Indiana Jones line about mileage. ;) )

Anyway, though it seems light years and all time-warpy, I'm still a relative neophyte in many ways. This is a career and a profession and a community in which you learn all the time--one of the most wonderful things about being a writer!

One lesson I have earned, though--and would like to share--is about definitions. I am occasionally told by other writers or pre-published folks: "But I can't join ITW! I don't write thrillers!"

Now, I want to put this idea to rest once and for all, so let's talk a little. And we'll try to get beyond the "I know it when I see it" approach. :)

The mystery is considered puzzle-oriented, from the British locked-room classics of the '20s and Agatha Christie to today's craft-and-murder bestsellers.You might think of a mystery as being plot-driven, the "whodunnit" something many authors want to give their readers a chance to figure out.

Thrillers are generally thought of as suspenseful, high-octane, big-stakes books, where the reader gets taken for a roller-coaster ride. You might think of a thriller as driven by emotional engagement.

But what about straight suspense? Police procedurals? Espionage tales? PI novels? Noir? And where, in the name of Dorothy L. Sayers, does paranormal fit in?

Hammett, Cain and Chandler were referred to as thriller writers when they first hit the scene. And writers like Patricia Highsmith--high-priestess of what we may now call noir--was a suspense writer on par with lesser-known Chandler favorite Elizabeth Sanxay Holding. And how can we classify Shirley Jackson? Is she suspense? Is she horror? Is she a thriller writer?

Here's my point: authors write the best books they can by blending all of these elements. No mystery writer wants a book without emotional engagement; no thriller writer wants a novel without intellectual plausibility. The truth is that genres exist to help readers find our books, and our beloved libraries and booksellers to organize them--and in today's market, we have genres and subgenres and crossgenres and new genres--I even coined one ("Roman noir") for my first novel.

One of the most important lessons I've learned in my career thus far is that not only do you learn all the time, but you learn from everyone. ALL good writing--be it mystery, thriller, horror, classical fiction, comic books, poetry, or a non-fiction expose--all of it can help shape you as a writer, can help inform you about ways of doing things you may not have considered.

When I first joined the ITW Debut gang when it was initially formed, I admit it--I was trepidatious. Should I be a member? I thought of myself as a mystery writer. Then I realized I was a mystery-thriller-noir-PI-historical writer. These days, I just think of myself as ... a writer. :)

So please--don't let genre considerations hold you back from joining ITW. If you go to Craftfest, you can see first hand how thriller-writing techniques can help put sparkle in your next novel--no matter what its predominate genre. You will be welcomed with open arms, whatever you write ... because, ultimately, ITW is about supporting writers. And the community. Not just about supporting genres.

See you in New York!

Kelli Stanley's debut novel, NOX DORMIENDA, won the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award and is nominated for a Macavity. Her next book, tentatively titled RICE BOWL, will release in February, 2010, from St. Martin's.

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