I find name-dropping incredibly embarrassing. I’ve never felt the undying need that some folks have to rub elbows with the rich and famous. Money and fame don’t make people nice or generous or good or bad. Seriously, everybody puts their shoes and/or stockings on the same way—sometimes those shoes just happen to cost over $600.
So it’s a little weird for me to find myself hanging out with people who are well-known in the book business. And what have I found? These folks are actually nice, actually generous to fans, actually supportive of emerging and beginning writers.
Last year’s Thrillerfest, a confab of writers, fans, and industry people sponsored by International Thriller Writers (ITW), in New York was a real eye-opener for me. I’ll get the name-dropping over with first. Minutes after registering at The Grand Hyatt I was introduced to Tess Gerritsen and Lisa Gardner. I also finally met Lisa Unger, who had kindly given me an advance quote for ISABELLA MOON. I chatted with the extraordinary writer/gentleman Lee Child in the bar…ditto for Joseph Finder. Steve Berry was awfully nice, as were Barry Eisler and Heather Graham. I was on a panel moderated by a goddess of dark fiction, Deborah LeBlanc, and sat beside Jonathan Santlofer. I even had the chance to provide Clive Cussler with my personal stash of tissues (okay, that was through an assistant!).
But the really cool thing was that I got to learn from many of these people—and many more. Thrillerfest is like a kind of glamorous boot camp for writers and fans. There’s plenty of face-time with the well-published. One gets to ask questions, learn how they do it (and what not to do), find out how to deal with agents, hear personal stories. I found myself so energized and motivated that I couldn’t wait to get home and start my next novel!
This year’s Thrillerfest is in NYC as well, July 9-12. NYC in July? you ask. Yes. There are only tourists in town, so you can get dinner reservations and cheap show tickets if you feel the need to wander. And it is NYC after all. Does one really need an excuse? Though there’s so much going on at the conference, one doesn’t want to leave for long and miss something. One of those events is Craftfest, the event that precedes Thrillerfest by a day. At Craftfest, the big-time guys and gals do workshops, talking about their specific areas of interest: Heather Graham on using atmosphere and dialogue, Joe Finder discussing the biggest mistakes all writers make—then there’s Agentfest, which is like speed-dating for writers and agents.
Here’s my moment of full disclosure: I got so much out of last year’s Thrillerfest that I find myself volunteering to direct volunteers, which means that if you sign up I will get you pitching in behind-the-scenes for an easy hour or two so you can have some real fun meeting lots of writers and readers, agents and fans. Also, this year I’ll even be the panel master for BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS: THE FIRST YEAR AS A PUBLISHED AUTHOR. I can’t wait!
So, name-dropping is over for now. Class dismissed. See you in New York!