Last month I attended Thriller Fest, a four day intensive craft and professional convention held in New York City. Thriller writers from the top of the New York Times list to the middle of the Amazon self-published list were all in attendance. There were master classes given by people whose names are legend, top class, A #1, writing aces, who were teaching advanced writing on really specific, detailed aspects and nuances of beat by beat, pulse by pulse thriller writing. It was totally and completely exhilarating and exhausting. The amount of sheer talent, genius, accomplishment and all around camaraderie of having million-book-selling authors in community with us mere mortals was like strapping on a rocket pack and heading into adventure.
I’m certain that here in New York, Con Edison must have registered a temporary brown out as soon as Craft Fest (the part of Thriller Fest that deals with intensive classroom study) ended and thousands of thriller writers turned on their computers all at once to check that their work had somehow conformed to what they had just learned about crafting the ultimate thriller. For myself, to quote Charlie Daniels “Sparks flew from my fingertips” (if Charlie Daniels actually said that). It was a massive baptism into the art practice, business and human side of being an author.
The human element was brought to full focus as even jaded New York Times best selling authors stood online to get their book signed by Ann Rice, this year’s Thriller Master. I thought I knew a lot about writing before Thriller Fest, I feel good afterwards because it wasn’t so much for me learning, as confirming. I felt I knew the next words that the teachers, again all master thriller writers in their own right, all accomplished authors, all New York Times and Amazon best selling authors, would say. I could complete their sentence – and I did as I was in class.
So I guess it wasn’t so much a convention as a confirmation. What an incredible experience. Of course, they were all writers, no photographers, so the pictures attached are nowhere near professional.
On a side note, I was honored to be on a panel as part of Thriller Fest, again, different than Craft Fest, on a seminar on apocalyptic fiction. Sharing the panel with four distinguished authors, Brian Andrews, Robert Gleason, Ward Larsen, Jon McGoran and Mike Sherer. The panel was moderated by the legendary John Lescroart. It was my moment to add to the collective intelligence. The fun that even discussions of the apocalypse brought was just another indicator that I was in the right place.
One of this year’s class of 2013 debut writers, Kay Kendall, in addressing the morning breakfast said and I’m paraphrasing:
..spending these last few days here at Thriller Fest, overhearing conversations like “Do I kill him, do I not kill him? Do I just put him in a coma?” And conversations like “Would a knife inserted between the 3rd and 4th vertebrae lead to instant death?”
Her conclusion was she was finally among her own people. Kudos to Kay, that’s exactly the way I felt.