Thrillerfest, the conference of the International Thriller Writers (ITW). A few years ago I was trying to write espionage thrillers and was an associate member of ITW, but this year was my first time as a published author. I was attending as one of the debut authors (more on that below). For those of you contemplating a career as a writer, it's important to attend writers conferences. When you're starting out, they're good for the craft talk -- to teach you to be a better writer -- but once you've sold a book, they're absolutely essential for networking. You need people you can talk business with, whose shoulders you can cry on, to turn to for advice, share a hotel room with. These friendships often are made at conferences.
Usually I attend as many panels as I can at these things, but this time I had a lot of business to get done. There were people I wanted to meet with, friends to catch up with. I went to some downtown bookstores to introduce myself. I forced myself to hang out in the conference hotel bar (because that's where the action is at writer's conferences, whether you drink or not.) Sirius/XM radio was there taping interviews for Book Radio and somehow I got squeezed in (thank you Maggie Linton and Kim Alexander)! My first radio interview! I got to see Jeffery Deaver, who I met a couple years ago, Joseph Finder (who is very gracious to debut authors), Alex Berenson, Karen Dionne, and the marvelous MJ Rose. I was thrilled to get to meet Douglas Clegg in person! Such a smart, thoughtful writer. I also got to meet Joe McGinniss, the author of nonfiction classics such as FATAL VISION. He thanks the attorney at Dept of Justice who was responsible for bringing Jeffrey MacDonald, the killer, to trial and you know McGinniss won my heart when he thanked a fellow civil servant :-)
I probably had the most unconventional book of all the debut novelists this year, but there were so many wonderful books it was an honor to be in this group. That's Jennifer Hillier in the photo with me; we are both published by Gallery Books and her debut CREEP just came out. She seems too incredibly nice to have written such a chilling book! (Ah, but we say that of all thriller writers. Such pussycats.)
Also among the debut novelists were Allison Leotta, whose legal thriller LAW OF ATTRACTION has been getting a lot of attention; Todd Ritter, whose book DEATH NOTICE has gotten great reviews; and Hilary Davidson, whose THE DAMAGE DONE has gotten nominated for many mystery awards. It was great to meet all these talented writers, and with Allison also living in DC, I expect we'll see more of each other.