A First Timer at ThrillerFest – Evonne Wareham
The chance to spend time with some of your favourite big name authors – and to meet new ones? What crime fan wouldn’t be tempted?
I’ve visited New York before, but this was my first trip to Thrillerfest. There are a number of conventions dedicated to crime writing held every year in the United States, but Thrillerfest was the best fit for me, as I write romantic suspense – thrillers coupled with a strong romantic element.
If you’ve been to Harrogate, or Crimefest in Bristol, the format will be familiar, panels of authors talking on a set topic, special guest interviews, receptions, a gala dinner, including an awards ceremony, a bulging goody bag … The convention also offers craft classes and the chance to pitch to agents and publishers. I signed on for the three core days of the convention – but when an offer came through for a pre-convention event, spending a whole day with the New York FBI, I changed my booking especially to attend. It was worth it – around 100 authors listened to presentations, asked questions, saw the FBI museum and generally got to hang out with a large group of agents from the NYC office. I took pages of notes – now I just have to figure out exactly how I’ll use what I learned.
And the convention itself? Fast, furious, fun. Even the fact that the panel I was speaking on – Crafting a Strong Storyline – took place at 8 am on the opening morning didn’t dampen the enthusiasm. Jet lag ensured that I was awake in time and yes – we did have a good size audience, despite the hour.
The convention is the annual gathering of International Thriller Writers – so while the majority of the delegates were American, there was a significant presence from other parts of the world, including Lee Child, Peter James and Ian Rankin from the UK, amongst the special guest speakers. And when you add in names like Anne Rice, Steve Berry, Scott Turow, Linwood Barclay, Lisa Gardner, Rick Mofina, John Lescroart, Steve Martini – and those were only the ones whose panels I managed to catch …
The chance to meet fellow romantic suspense authors was a particular draw for me. But there were also many other authors who wrote in every genre from eco-crime to legal thrillers. Debutants, mid-listers, hopefuls. As in every conference or convention I had some great conversations with writers I’d never heard off, but whose books I will now be seeking out.
Did I have a good time? Yes. Was it exhausting? Yes. Would I go again? Yes. But probably not next year.
Thrillerfest takes place annually, in July, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 42nd Street, right next door to the famous Grand Central Station. New York in July is one hot city, and attendance is costly, when you have to add in the transatlantic flight. But the opportunity offered for a published or aspiring author to learn about the US market, and for everyone – writer or reader – to hear favourite American writers speak about their work – that can’t readily be reproduced on this side of the Atlantic.
Certainly something to think about.
Evonne Wareham writes award winning romantic suspense, set in Europe.