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

Monday, February 22, 2010

Celebrate Craft! - Weep No More, My Hero

Celebrate the Craft! - From the blog of the Thriller Guy

Please, Thriller writers, no more heroes who shed tears. No more manly weeping.

Thrillers are about tough guys. Often, far too often, I'll be reading along and suddenly I can almost hear the writers' mind-gears begin to grind:

OK, I've had a bunch of action scenes, I've had my guy kill when he has to, he's shown he has the skills and the guts to get the job done. Hmm, what I need now is to prove that he's also got a soft side, that he cares, especially about the love interest, that he has depth. I've got to hook some women readers, everyone says they're the only ones buying books these days. I know! I'll have him cry! Women love it when a man cries!

Sorry. Actually, women hate it when a man cries. In real life and in books.

Men hate it as well.

In a thriller, it's just sooo obvious, such a cheap ploy to try and snag reader sympathy. Instead of figuring out an interesting, novel way for the hero to show emotion, the author takes the low road and sure enough, the hero's eyes begin to “well with tears.”

“He turned his head so she couldn't see the tear that trailed down his cheek.”

“He felt hot tears spring to his eyes.”


And I'm not talking about first novels or wannabes, Big Guys (you know who you are) do this over and over. I think it's always a mistake. Even though I may love the rest of the book, it's always tainted for me if the hero cries.

It makes the author look exploitive. It makes the character look foolish, and what is worse, weak.

Which is the kiss of death for a thriller character.

I think Lee Child's series character Reacher is pretty much the epitome of a thriller hero. He's beyond tough, but at the same time readers know he can be emotional, that he has feelings. I haven't read all the books in the series, but has Reacher ever wept? I'm asking the question of those of you who are aficionados of this series. Has he ever shed a tear? I'll bet not. Or let's just ask Lee Child. Are you out there? Has Reacher ever wept?

OK, here's a challenge to writers and to readers. Writers, if you've ever had your hero weep, tell us where and why you think it worked. Readers, if you disagree with me, send me an example of a thriller hero who weeps, cries, sheds a tear or two and who comes off looking the better for it.

I'm the most unreligious of men, but the only one that I can come up with that does work is in The King James Bible, the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, verse 35. In its entirety.

“Jesus wept.”

You can celebrate craft with us at CraftFest in New York in July!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Celebrate the Craft! - Sophie Littlefield

Sophie Littlefield -
Last year with my first Thrillerfest, and I was thrilled to be going to New York, to have a chance to visit my agent and editors and spend time in the city, but I wasn't sure what to expect from the conference itself. Frankly I wasn't sure if I was badass enough to hang with the thriller crowd, especially once I checked out the roster and saw authors i'd been reading for decades. The kick-off cocktail party was amazing; I did a lot of standing in the corner and breathing deeply, afraid I might pass out from an acute case of fan-girl-ism.

By the second day I got my wits back enough to seek out my usual ne'er-do-well cohorts and start misbehaving in the lobby. But as much as I planned to skip class and sleep until noon, there were too many sessions I couldn't bear to miss. The sessions were a great mix of industry and craft knowledge plus a few that were just plain fun, like the book tour horror stories . I also met some seasoned pros who, all these months later, are still reaching out with offers of help and knowledge. It has shamed me into trying to follow their example, and I hope that this year I will be able to be of assistance of some other newcomer who can benefit from my tiny newbie store of knowledge.

Because of the timing of my first release, I'll actually be an "official" debut this year, so I'll be up on that scary stage at the debut breakfast with all the other '10'ers. Luckily, many of them are already friends, thanks to the ITW Debut and Mentoring programs (Hi, Carla! Hi, Andy!) so it won't be all that terrifying.

Previous Release: A Bad Day for Sorry

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Patton Oswalt reads THE EXTRA by Michael Shea Book Trailer

Patton Oswalt reads THE EXTRA by Michael Shea Book Trailer: "Hollywood actor and comedian Patton Oswalt reads about Hollywoods next box office hit: Live-Death films with expendable extras going up against extremely sophisticated, electronically controlled mechanical killing machinesall in front of a live audience. A lot of people are dying to make it big in Hollywood...The Extra Michael Shea Book Trailer Fi"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Burn by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy - Sample the Thrill

One of many great interviews with authors that you can find each month in The Big Thrill!

Ted Dekker has haunted the bestseller lists for some time. An editor of some of his novels, Erin Healy, collaborated with him on Kiss, a story that was published in January 2009. Their new joint thriller, Burn, threatens to heat up the shelves. Erin discussed working on Burn and her life.

How did you both get together?

Ted was referred to me about eight years ago by Traci DePree, who edited Ted's earliest novels, then returned to work with us on Kiss and Burn. Ted and I clicked and have been working together as an author-editor pair ever since the first edition of his novel Blink. When he asked me to consider writing with him, it was a can't-say-no opportunity. New authors have a treacherous uphill battle when entering the marketplace. To be able to partner with someone of his calibre was a gift to me.

What is the writing process like with Ted?

Ted and I spend a lot of time on the phone hashing out ideas. We talk and talk and talk. I've lost at least three phone batteries to Ted alone. Then I write and he reads and we talk some more.
Then I write and rewrite, and he writes and rewrites, and we go back and forth like this until the story is born. It's a real synergistic endeavor.

What sparked the idea for Burn?

Ted and I were working independently on our own ideas for stories about regrets, second chances, and the concept of dying to self. When we realized this had happened, we thought, why not throw both of these into one cooking pot and see what we come up with? It worked great, and it's one of the reasons I think Burn is a stronger story than Kiss. As far as the content goes, we were both equally invested in our passion for it.

What can a reader expect when they pick up Burn?

Burn is very exciting! It's a story about a young gypsy woman who has to make a terrible choice on a night when life as she knows it goes up in flames. Her home is being burned to the ground and her friends' lives are at stake. It's a mind-bending story about the course her life might have taken if she'd made a different choice. The novel asks important questions about the nature of regret. Is there any way to redeem the choices we've made?
What kind of self-sacrifice is required to do what is right?

How do you write an action scene? Is it different or more difficult to do while maintaining a Christian audience?

Speaking with film in mind, you write an action scene one frame at a time. It's tempting to be chaotic in a written action scene, because true visual action is chaotic, and also because the point-of-view character doesn't always understand right away what is happening. But action
scenes more than any other need to be linear and clear, or readers--Christian or not--will get lost and gloss over it. No, I don't think there's any more or less difficulty in writing a good action scene for any audience. The writer makes choices in how to frame the shot, in what to leave on and off stage. But that's a different question.

What's next for you both with Ted and solo?

For now, Burn will be the last novel Ted and I write together. We'll be focusing on exciting developments in our solo careers. Never Let You Go, my first solo, releases in May 2010 (Thomas Nelson, hardcover, $21.99). It's a supernatural thriller about a young single mother, Lexi, who is paid an unwelcome visit by an old friend. He demands she testify on behalf of the killer who murdered Lexi's sister. If she refuses, he'll harm Lexi's daughter.
Within hours, she also learns that her estranged husband, gone seven years, is attempting to reconnect with their little girl. The strangely timed reappearance of the friend, the killer, and the husband terrifies Lexi, but the significance of this event is greater than she can predict. Never Let You Go is a novel about the high price of bitterness and forgiveness, neither of which it seems Lexi can afford to pay.

How do you find time to write?

I'm a full-time freelance editor and a full-time mom, so the hours of my day are pretty fixed. The trickest aspect of finding "time" to write is really about money. I can edit or I can write, but it's too difficult a mental task for me to write while I have editorial projects on the desk. Knowing which editorial jobs to take or turn down, and learning how to balance the financial aspect of that shift to writing more, is a day-by-day evaluation.

"Keep your day job" is the advice given to budding novelists, and it applies to me.

Jeff Ayers is the author of VOYAGES OF IMAGINATION: THE STAR TREK FICTION COMPANION Pocket Books-November 2006. He frequently reviews thrillers for Library Journal and regularly interviews authors for LJ, the Seattle Post-Intellgencer, and Writer Magazine.

Find out more about great authors at ThrillerFest 2010!