Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Vampire Lestat’s Mom and Rambo’s Dad

By Kay Kendall

Last week the organization International Thriller Writers (ITW) celebrated its tenth anniversary. The star power of authors present at the celebratory conference, ThrillerFest, ran the gamut from supernova to red dwarf. Last year when I went to my first ThrillerFest as a debut author, I was stunned by the numerous super stars in attendance, and also by how kind and generous they were. This year’s meeting was even more jam-packed with sparkling talent.
Anne Rice is in center, with her son Christopher the tall man over her shoulder. Others left to right are R.L. Stine, David Morrell, and Scott Turow. 
Anne Rice wrote her first novel about the vampire Lestat in 1985—she was present. David Morrell wrote his first Rambo novel in 1972, followed by 28 more novels of various kinds—he was there. Ditto Lee Child, father of Jack Reacher, who first appeared in 1997, with his nineteenth tale out next month. Scott Turow dropped by to pick up his award, Thriller Master 2014. His novel Presumed Innocent put the legal thriller on the map in 2000, and eleven more novels followed. Other luminaries who spoke at ThrillerFest (whose books you no doubt either read or at least recognize) include David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Michael Connelly, Lisa Gardner, Heather Graham, M.J. Rose, and John Sandford.

Here I am with T. Jefferson Parker.
When you’re in such company, you can either feel insignificant—or you can choose to be inspired. I picked the latter. The atmosphere was so supportive, of any writer at any level, that it was easy not to be intimidated. One of the main purposes of the ITW organization is to provide a way for successful, bestselling authors to help debut and midlist authors advance their careers. Judging from the two conferences I’ve attended, the contacts I’ve made, and the networking that is ongoing, I can only conclude that this goal is being met brilliantly.

Ian Rankin with Steve Berry in background
Helping to put the international in the conference was one of my favorite authors, Ian Rankin. He flew in from his home in Edinburgh, Scotland, to participate on several panels. He has written nineteen installments in his bestselling crime series featuring Inspector John Rebus. Another of my favorites is T. Jefferson Parker. His twenty crime novels are set in southern California, and his next book is due this October, called Full Measure.  

I have met Rankin and Parker at previous book events and corresponded with both of them. They recognize me as both a super fan of their work and an aspiring novelist. It is heartwarming and encouraging to be treated nicely by one’s literary heroes. Now I can’t wait to return to ThrillerFest next year.  (By the way, I participated on a panel but forgot to ask one of my pals to shoot the photographic evidence. Darn.) 

Cheers to ThrillerFest!
Kay Kendall set her debut novel, Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery, in 1968. The Vietnam War backdrop illuminates reluctant courage and desperate love when a world teeters on chaos. Kay’s next mystery, Rainy Day Women (2015) finds amateur sleuth Austin Starr trying to prove a friend didn’t murder women’s liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. Kay is an award-winning international PR executive living in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Very allergic to bunnies, she loves them anyway! 
Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too.



  1. I love attending reader/fan conventions. The biggest thrill was finally meeting John Sandford. The best was finally meeting you.

  2. Thank you, Dru! I was afraid our schedules wouldn't mesh, but they did. Now, for next year, we are going to have to carve out some REAL time to chat. I can't go to Bouchercon this year so I will miss you there, but hope you will write up something about your experiences there. It's going to be a HUGE one, and most of my writerly pals are going. My budget is gone gone gone for this year so I had to give it a pass, saving up for 2015 when my second book should be out. Lovely to meet you at long last!

  3. I had a wonderful time at ThrillerFest. I hope to attend again next year. A high point was the panel moderated by Chris Rice with his mother, David Morrell, R.L. Stine, and Scott Turow as participants.