Just got back from this year’s Thrillerfest, and had an absolutely fantastic time. Now, many of you may know what Thrillerfest is and that I go every year, and many of you may have no idea and not particularly care, but I’m sure you will keep reading to be polite. Right? Anyhow, here’s the quick rundown.
Thrillerfest is the annual conference of International Thriller Writers, founded at the 2004 Boucercon (a mystery convention, for those not in the know) out of a sense that thrillers and thriller-writers required their own professional organization. This was a historic meeting at which I was present, though my role was mostly to annoy the organizers by whispering snarky comments back and forth with Partners and Crime’s Maggie Griffin. She started it, by the way.
Now, the truth is that my books and I are not a natural fit at Thrillerfest, which tends to emphasize novels in the espionage, serial killer and hunt-for-the-ancient-artifact-and/or-secret camp. Few writers who linger in the “literary thriller” classification bother to show up, and historical thriller writers are few enough that this year I was on a panel entitled, “Historical Thrillers” How Vital is the Subgenre?” Why not call it “Historical Thrillers: Who Cares?” As far as I know, literary thriller writers don’t have their own convention. Maybe those guys aren’t friendly, and if that’s the case, who wants to hang out with them? Mainstream thriller writers, however — those guys are fun!
So if Thrillerfest is not a perfect match for my kind of books, it’s still a great party and a productive way to spend my time. This year I had a packed schedule of meetings with various editors, journalists, and potential partners in all sorts of nifty projects. I met with my Random House editor to discuss my new novel, and I met with my editor at Marvel to discuss my many upcoming projects there (none of which I can talk about yet – but soon. I promise).
And there is no shortage of casual conversations and encounters that open doors and usher in opportunities. Plus, some of my best friends in the biz come to this convention, and I always leave feeling all warm and fuzzy.
On top of all that, I’ve participated in a number of International Thriller Writers publications over the years, including the short story anthology Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night and the serial novel Watchlist — which you may have heard about on NPR. This year I attended the launch and signing party for the non-fiction collection Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, in which I have an essay. The book takes the long view of the evolution of the Thriller (the
opening essay by Lee Child is on the Theseus myth). My piece, by the way, is on Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, which I hope means that I remain ITW’s go-to guy for the British 18th century.
But all that is beside the point. The point, if I remember correctly, is that Thrillerfest is an awesome time. I’ll see you there next year.