Monday, July 15, 2019

Thrillerfest XIV

I’d never been to Thrillerfest in New York.  I’d heard it was pricy…and it is.  Of course it is, it's New York.  But it's also the most exciting city in the world. 

I’ve been to writers’ conferences that I felt were worth my while and I’ve attended some that I went home wondering if I could have done something differently to get more out of it.

I bit the bullet and registered for Thrillerfest XIV months ago.  Since then, Sourcebooks acquired my wonderful publisher, Poisoned Pen Press. As fortune would have it the first night I arrived, they hosted a cocktail party in New York for their authors (both new and old) as well as inviting members of the media.
Hours before the party, I flew into LaGuardia on Thursday, July 11, took a suicide taxi ride to the Grand Hyatt Hotel, unpacked and ironed some clothes.  I can never pack without getting my shirts and slacks as wrinkled as the skin of a mature rhinoceros.

Then I went to the Ballroom in the hotel for the Opening Reception and was pleasantly greeted by some outstanding food and drink.  The company was damned good as well.  I ran into Dennis Palumbo, Reavis Wortham, Jenny Milchman, and Joe Clifford as well as meeting many other writers I didn’t know.

At seven, Dennis Palumbo (a remarkable writer) and I walked through the rain to the MetLife Building where Sourcebooks/Poisoned Pen Press was hosting the cocktail event (also awesome food and drink).  It was there that Barbara Peters, Editor in Chief and Founder of Poisoned Pen Press, introduced all the authors in attendance.  As always, she was effusive in her praise. This gave the PPP authors a chance to interact with individuals from Sourcebooks, who are really knowledgeable and nice.

What really set this event off was that it was attended by several members of the media including Bookreporter, Mystery Scene, Publishers Weekly, Strand Magazine, a freelancer working for People Magazine and two representatives from the New York Public Library.

Speaking of the library, on Friday during a break I walked  to the New York Public Library building on 42nd Street and went in.  I was thrilled to see my book Darkness Lane on the shelf.   Cool beans.

Friday morning, I listened to a panel of mystery/thriller literary critics talk about the way they work.  I found it interesting that some of them refused to write bad reviews.  If they read a book they didn’t like, they’d either not write something at all, or would be noncommittal in their overview.  Two of the critics on the panel were definitive that they do, indeed, write bad reviews if they feel the work warrants it.


They also discussed how competitive it is to get noticed in the publishing world and advised that a good publicist was vital in getting reviewed at all.

On the last day of Thrillerfest, I was on a panel discussing five year plans for writing.  None of us had one.  We all agreed that we write in the moment and if you try to follow trends, by the time you’ve finished your book, the trend is over. 

Better to write what you’re passionate about.  I told the audience that if you write a good story with compelling characters, you’ll do just fine. 

Oh, and a high point after the panel discussion?  R.G Belsky bought Random Road and asked me to sign it.  He writes from the viewpoint of a female reporter as well.

All in all, a terrific event.  If you think you’re going sell a ton of books at the event, you’re thinking about it all wrong.  It’s all about renewing and creating brand new relationships.  Relationships that will help you further your career and friendships you will keep for the rest of your life.  Writers helping writers.

Was it worth it?  Absolutely, no question.  I'm going next year!


Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I may go back next year. I've been twice, last year only for CraftFest.

But you have reminded me that I did enjoy, and since I'm in Albany, I can go down by train. It's a few days in a hotel in New York and the registration cost that I have to justify. Next year, I am determined to have finished my 1939 historical thriller.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Thomas, I loved this post. Perhaps next year! It would be terrific to meet all of the Sourcebook people. Thanks for telling us this is a very worthwhile conference.