ThrillerFest VI took place at New York City’s Grand Hyatt Hotel between July 6th and 9th, but those few days were nothing compared to the year-long preparation for the event, as well as the far reaching results of throwing authors, agents, editors, publishers, and all-around master craftsmen in the same venue for four days.
For many authors, whether they are unpublished hopefuls or multi-bestselling veterans, conferences like ThrillerFest—or the recent RWA, Romance Writers of America conference, also held in New York—represent the chance to be at home in their elements without the outside distractions of daily life, as well as the opportunity to hone their crafts in any of the numerous skill building sessions.
“It still blows me away how big this event has gotten,” remarks Antrim. “Our goal for this year’s event, which we felt sure would be the biggest year yet, was 800 attendees. We reached that mark several weeks ago and we had agents contacting us right up until the day of the event. While I don’t have the final numbers, we’re fairly sure we passed 900 conference goers.”
Wrangling that many people into attending isn’t too difficult when the event features a stellar lineup of presenters, speakers, and panelists. R.L. Stine was on hand both as a speaker and to receive the ThrillerMaster award for his twenty-plus years of suspense writing, and the award was presented by none other than previous ThrillerMaster alumnus Ken Follett, whose titles have sold over 100 million copies. Spotlight authors at the event included Robert Crais, Diana Gabaldon, and John Lescroart, along with many other writers and publishing professionals who led panels and discussion groups.
“The thing that excites me every year about ThrillerFest is the generous spirit of the event. It’s a place where publishing industry professionals casually take pitches from unpublished authors over drinks, while new authors and fans hang out and talk with their favorite writers. We don’t have vendors or exhibitors and we don’t have a green room for the elites at this event, because it’s just a place for everyone to come together and for meeting fellow writers while learning more about the craft,” adds Antrim.
It is this educational aspect that has made ThrillerFest so popular in recent years. The first two days play host to CraftFest, a time for writers to learn from the greats on topics pertaining to suspense writing, as well as AgentFest, in which over sixty agents and editors attended to take pitches from aspiring authors, a rare head count of talent for writing conferences. The rest of the conference is devoted to speakers and panelists on a variety of aspects of publishing and writing.
This year’s keynote address, presented by Simon Lipskar of Writers House, addressed the state of publishing, along with the ever-present topic of digital publishing and what it will means for readers, writers, and the industry as a whole. There was a lot of interest generated by his speech as more and more writers choose to publish strictly to digital device, and a large number of veteran writers consider republishing their previously published works to e-reader.
Recordings of this year’s sessions will be available for purchase at www.thrillerfest.com soon.