Thrillerfest 2016 – The Conference for Thriller Authors


Last month I was at Thrillerfest again in NYC and here’s KJ Howe, soon-to-be debut author! Her book is called The Freedom Brokers, to be published by Hachette, and it’s so exciting.

AlanLissaMeganElleDinnerGot to have dinner with some of my YA author buds from other parts of the world — Alan Gratz, Megan Miranda, and Elle Cosimano.  Had to get back to the hotel to work on the YA panel I’m moderating on Saturday in the big ballroom. This is a process that started months ago, reading the books. But I want the discussion to be fresh and up-to-date, so that means more work all this week.

IMG_4643The days before Saturday are filled with other panels. This is a dynamite one on female empowerment in thrillers with some of the best in the biz. My good friend Jamie Freveletti is third in and sixth in is Gayle Lynds, who started ITW and was a trailblazer for any woman writing spy fiction after her.

This is the same ballroom where I’ll be moderating on Saturday. See how the moderator (Steve Berry) is not behind the lectern on stage but walking around below with a hand-held mic? That’s what I’ll do, I decide. It’ll be like Jimmy Fallon. Or Oprah. Except I won’t be giving away any cars.


My stunning student Ariana from the La Jolla Writer’s Workshop, who followed me to Thrillerfest. We join up with guest of honor Walter Mosley for a photo. David Morrell’s interview with him had us all in stitches.

IMG_4717M.J. Rose really knows how to market a book. We all learned so much seeing her in action at this panel/workshop.

LissaBarry,UrsulaSome of us were invited to a secret party given by Apple. In one of the cabs with author Barry Lancet and Ursula, who is a social media maven. She taught me how to do live FB.


The party was held at a private membership club “for creatives” called The Soho House. Here you see the special thriller cocktail menu they made for us. They also fed us fabulous food that never stopped. Chatted with F. Paul Wilson, Daniel Palmer, Boyd and Randi Morrison.

Later, a bunch of us retreated to the couches. Here’s the wonderful Tess Gerritsen and her husband. We met a couple of years ago when we were both faculty at the La Jolla Writer’s Conference. A week after Thrillerfest, I saw her episode of Rizzoli and Isles where she had a fun guest spot (with lines)!

Back at the hotel, I continue to prepare for my YA panel. I realize that since I won’t be at the lectern, I won’t have my usual notes! I use the small hotel notepad to transfer my notes and also use my iPhone.

TF2016preYApanelSaturday morning, prepping my YA panelists — Kara Thomas, Bob Stine, Kelley Armstrong in this photo. All the while, I’m hoping I’ll be able to see my tiny notes. Where’s my teleprompter like Oprah has?

IMG_4815The panel begins – Armstrong, Gratz, Ann Stampler, Margie Stohl, Bob Stine and Thomas.

YApanel2016cuIt was important to me to cover the material I wanted covered about YA. The audience was almost entirely writers, so I know what they need to learn and what they want to discover . And I know what’s special about each of my panelists, and what they’ve done lately, so I can pull that info out of them.  I hate panels where you’re asked a generic question and each person goes down the line answering it. IMG_4776I managed to memorize the bio introductions and remember my questions, even without a teleprompter. My panelists were not only brilliant (more than one #1 NYT bestseller here) but also lively and funny and the audience asked great questions at the end. A panel is a living organism so you have to balance the questions you plan to ask against the direction it’s taking – if it’s going the right away. More than any other panel I’ve moderated, I heard right after and all through the day – all the way through the banquet — how much the audience enjoyed the panel and how happy they were. Mission accomplished.

IMG_4853Immediately after us, Gillian Flynn (!) was scheduled in the ballroom to be interviewed by the always hilarious Karin Slaughter. Turns out they’ve known each other for twenty years.

GillianFlynnLissaPriceGillian was so down-to-earth. I loved loved loved Gone Girl. Such a talented writer.

IMG_4893A highlight of the awards banquet was authors Brad Parks and Daniel Palmer doing Thriller, changing the lyrics to suit the crazy lifestyle of a thriller author. Love these guys!


The after party is a time to say goodbye to everyone (before heading up to the bar). Here’s the amazing, multi-published superstar author, Heather Graham, Silver Bullet Master this year and a truly beautiful soul.

IMG_4976 (1)Sunday morning, before flying home, I met my friend the editor for bunch at the place famous for the $1000 omelet. We did not have that.

Then it was off to MOMA to see some amazing exhibits on spiritualism in film and books before meeting the driver to head out to JFK. As I flew away, I realized this was my favorite Thrillerfest since the very first one.


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