Mingling With the Stars

Thrillerfest is a convention that was held this past weekend in New York City at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Of the 900 attendees, 300 were authors and the rest fans and fledgling writers. "Everybody here reads books," said author Jon Land (Catlin Strong series). "Except for the publishers," he added with a laugh.

Thrillerfest was started eight years ago by writers David Morell and Gayle Lynds. "They approached other writers for funding," explained John Lescroart, who writes courtroom dramas (The Ophelia Cut - #16 on the Times bestseller list). "I wrote them a check for a thousand dollars and Jonathan and Faye Kellerman also gave them some money. Then they said they needed real money so we all wrote bigger checks."

Thrillerfest is now the premiere book show in the country as 60-70 percent of the books published today are thrillers and mysteries. The difference between the two, said Lescroart "is that thrillers are all about suspense and mysteries are all about who did it."

Along with Land and Lescroart, other bestselling attendees this year include Ann Rice, Lee Child, Michael Connelly R.L. Stine and John Sandford. These superstar authors are all totally accessible to both friends and fans. "What you can do here if you're a fan of reading is that you get to meet with the stars (authors)," said writer Steve Berry. "It's like a summer camp for writers."

Sisters -- and first time authors -- (Circle Dance) Valerie and Lynne Constantine concur. "All the writers here have a mentor-like attitude," said Lynne. "We met David Morell and he responds to all of our emails," added Valerie. Blockbuster author Lee Child told me that "fans are surprised that we do it but all of us take it as a huge compliment." Child's latest Jack Reacher novel (Never Go Back) is due September 3rd, and he's in discussions with Paramount about a sequel to the next Reacher film starring Tom Cruise.

NY Post television critic Linda Stasi was at Thrillerfest with her first book, The Sixth Station. It usually takes Stasi 30 minutes to bang out a column, but it took her 6 years to complete her novel so thriller writing is not all fun and games, but certainly rewarding based on 300 plus published writers in attendance.

My few days at Thrillerfest were very enjoyable and most would agree with Grandmaster Award recipient Ann Rice who called Thrillerfest, "one of the best experiences of my entire life as a writer."