Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Conferences for Writers—Part II, ThrillerFest

By Kay Kendall

Many differences make ThrillerFest stand out from other conferences that are offered to crime authors. This annual conference of International Thriller Writers is held at the same time every year and in the same hotel. It begins right after Independence Day at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City and includes a full six days of activities, each one priced separately. If you attend everything that is offered, then your conference fee will be much higher than any other in your whole year.
Rambo's creator, David Morrell

While ThrillerFest stands out because of its cost, it is also worth every one of your hard-earned dollars. You will see more star power on one stage or at just one of the many cocktail parties than you will ever hope to see in your whole life. The literary energy and brilliance just zing. What’s more, all those big-name authors are helpful and supportive to hopeful writers.

If you are a debut author and get published by a press on the approved list, then you can join the ITW Debut Author program in that year and receive even more support and applause. I was urged to participate in 2013 when my first book Desolation Row launched. I figured I’d go once and be done with such a pricey gathering. I was wrong. I returned in 2014 and again this year. Here are just a few of the reasons why—bestselling authors who participated in this year’s programs.

Spy novelist Gayle Lynds

  • 2015 ThrillerMaster Nelson DeMille plus 2015 Silver Bullet Recipient Kathy Reichs
  • 2015 Spotlight Guests Mark Billingham, Charlaine Harris, and Greg Iles
  • 2014 ThrillerMaster Scott Turow and 2014 Silver Bullet Award recipient Brenda Novak
  •  Lee Child interviewed Billingham--they both grew up in Birmingham, England.
  • Rambo’s creator David Morrell interviewed DeMille—they both have long and stellar careers.
  • Gayle Lynds introduced her newest thriller THE ASSASSINS
  • Anne Perry flew over from the UK to talk about her historical mysteries.
  • Steve Berry moderated several panels.

Other favorites were Catherine Coulter, Clive Cussler, Jeffery Deaver, Joseph Finder, Heather Graham, Laurie R. King,  CJ Lyons, Daniel Palmer, Chris Pavone, Hank Phillippi Ryan, MJ Rose, Karin Slaughter, and RL Stine. Each has at least one huge bestseller, and most have many more.

This conference is only ten years old. The genesis came from successful authors who wanted to help budding writers learn the ropes and get ahead. Co-founders David Morrell and Gayle Lynds both attended this year as usual and remain always supportive to other writers. The learning opportunities at ThrillerFest are endless. If you are an aspiring or newly published crime writer and have not yet attended this magnificent event, I encourage you to save up so that you too can attend in 2016. I hope to see you there!

Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and writes atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. She is a reformed PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff too. RAINY DAY WOMEN published on July 7--the second in her Austin Starr Mystery series. The audio-book will be out soon.


  1. Loved reading about Thrillerfest. I don't write thrillers and will never go, but ti sounds wonderful. I once introduced David Morrel at a conference after having dinner with him, a delightfull man. I've known Gayle Lynds since she was a sweet young thing and dating her first husband. And because I've been a conference attendee for many years, I've met Charlaine Harris and Lee Child. I'm headed to the Public Safety Writers Association today, a much smaller and less costly conference which is mainly attended by people in all branches of law enforcement and firefighters as well as a few of us mystery writers who want to hear what they have to say.

  2. I hope you have a terrific time at your Public Safety Writers Association meeting today, Marilyn. Sounds like a great place to pick up tidbits to make your writing real!