It’s been a week since Thrillerfest 2018 ended and I came back to my home in Boulder, CO, full to the brim with ideas and inspiration. If I had to choose the one thing that I love most about Thrillerfest, it would be the collegial spirit. Thrillerfest is like the coolest writing conference and an awesome Con mixed together, featuring some of the top names in the genre who enthusiastically shower us with their knowledge and experience. Very few places give me the chance to me a serious writer and a serious fan-girl all in one place. It’s magic.
Some highlights then…
On the first day of Craftfest, R.L. Stine gave a talk called “All My Writing Secrets Revealed” so….I mean, obviously I had to go, yes? I write for adults, but I mean, come on. It’s R.L. Stine! I grew up alternating between Stine and Christopher Pike (who played an important, if indirect, role in Stine’s move from humor to horror). Now, my kids read Goosebumps. R.L. Stine is a delightful person. The talk he gave was bursting with the joy of writing and it was contagious. I can’t imagine anyone sitting in that audience without wanting to get back to the keyboard. Later, he signed some copies of his latest Goosebumpsbooks for my kids. My son was amazed that his name was spelled right without me having to help J
I also enjoyed two very different presentations by two very awesome Megs. Last year, when I was reading Megan Abbott’s book You Will Know Me, my daughter was in gymnastics and it actually gave me nightmares. Megan is a sweet, funny, and enthusiastic presenter. She gave some wonderful examples about setting the mood when writing thrillers and I’ve already started applying those lessons to my manuscript. Then, there’s Meg Gardiner, whose class on creating suspense was full of valuable takeaways. These women are charming, articulate, and interesting, making for a very happy me.
Oh, and Megan Miranda made my day! We met last year, and when I asked her to sign my book this year, she remembered me J(yep, fan-girl). Her new book Fragments of the Lostlooks amazing! I love meeting authors I’ve been reading for years, and also being introduced to new authors who I’ll be reading for years to come. In a panel on creating suspense, Gin Phillips talked about motherhood and how some of the routine things we do create the perfect atmosphere for suspense—in her case, going to the zoo. Can’t wait to open up Fierce Kingdom.
And who can forget the moment when the lights when off on George R. R. Martin? I’ve been hoping to meet that guy for almost a decade, and it was thrilling to do so. We chatted about New Mexico (where he lives and where I’m from). I love how genuine and accessible even the biggest stars of the conference are—its always a pleasure meeting them and they always make you feel like you belong.
I got to hang out with old friends like Chloe Hawker, make new friends like TJ Turner, and met long-distance friends like Joe Clifford in person. I left the Big Apple with some amazing opportunities and some wonderful memories. Can’t wait until next year!
For the second year, my cousin Rachel joined me in NYC. We went to see the fashion exhibit at The Met, and took a tour of the Senses exhibit at the Natural History Museum. We rode the subway around town, walked Central Park and enjoyed delicious food and stunning views at Print (if you haven’t been, check out the rooftop bar). Rachel is one of my very favorite travel partners. She introduces me to high fashion and I regale her with stories of murder and mayhem. It’s a fair trade.
About a week before conference time, I start getting a little bit nostalgic. During NCW, I spent hours reminiscing over previous years programs and all the shenanigans I enjoyed. Now it’s time for Thrillerfest and I’m strolling down memory lane. This is my second year. When I decided to change direction with my writing, I started looking for craft and community opportunities. I ran across the International Thriller Writers Organization and, as a result, got introduced to Thrillerfest. The organization was founded by some of my favorite thriller authors…names you see on the best seller shelves at every bookstore you visit. And the prospect of being in the same room with some of those people was daunting to say the least. I’d finished my first thriller manuscript, but I wasn’t ready to pitch yet. What I knew though, without a doubt, was that I needed to be with people doing the same thing I was doing.
Now, I’m not going to lie. I am a completely over-the-top fan girl when it comes to authors. As a library volunteer in New Mexico, some of my best memories include authors like Michael McGarrity, Denise Chavez and Hampton Sides. I’d discovered that George R. R. Martin lived in Santa Fe and I was scheming on ways to entice him down to my hometown when Game of Thrones hit HBO and I figured I’d lost my chance to meet him (keep that in mind, it becomes relevant in a few paragraphs). Last year at Thrillerfest, Lisa Gardner (who is one of my very very very favorite thriller authors) was receiving the Silver Bullet award and, at one point, being interviewed by Karin Slaughter (another favorite). I nearly died of a heart attack before I even got there! No chance of keeping my cool. As a thriller fan, meeting Gardner and Slaughter, as well as Lee Child, David Morrell, Lisa Jackson, R.L. Stine, Megan Miranda, Shari Lapena and so many others was magic!
I adore New York City. As a visually impaired person, big cities offer freedom that you just can’t find in small town America. Arriving at the hotel, I settled in and tried to put on my game face. I’d volunteered to room monitor for a few sessions as a way of getting past my nerves. That’s how I met Sam Wiebe, who I’ve since come to adore and admire greatly. I took in a zillion pieces of new information (as you do at conferences) and met a lot of really great people. What was most amazing to me was how accessible the stars of the thriller genre are. I had casual conversations with people I’ve been reading for years (in some cases, decades). It’s hard to put to words how important that experience was for me.
So, I’ll be heading back to NYC again next week for Thrillerfest 2018! Woo hoo! And guess who this year’s Thrillermaster is? George R. R. Martin!!! A decade later, I’m going to get to meet another prolific author who I’ve read and loved and admired. So exciting! And I’m looking forward to connecting with the people I met last year, and writers I’ve had the honor to get to know online in the meantime. Who’s joining me?
Here are some pics from last year's conference and some sight-seeing with my cousin Rachel. We saw three shows during our stay. Waitress was definitely the best!
Believe it or not, today’s topics don’t go together (although they could, but since I’m looking at buying new furniture, I’d rather not think about forensics during that particular process). When my husband heard my topics, he said “sounds like bloody carpet.” Um, no. Just no.
If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll see Friday Forensic Fun Facts posts. These posts came about for two reasons: 1) I’m studying forensic criminology and I think it’s fun so I decided to share, and 2) I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers so forensics come up pretty often both in my reading and in my writing. I got my first glimpse at forensics as an undergrad in a physical anthropology class where we got to examine skulls and bone fragments to determine gender and estimate age. Then, as a graduate student, I took a forensic science class that was AMAZING! Recently, I was reading Jeffrey Deaver’s book The Bone Collector and couldn’t help but fall in love a little bit with Lincoln Rhyme and his love of trace evidence.
So, if you’re interested in forensics, you might appreciate the Friday fun facts.
If you think about forensics too much when shopping for furniture, you might never want to bring new items into your home. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. That being said, my husband and I spent an hour in a new furniture story yesterday looking at tables and cabinets and things for the new house. While most of the furnishings are staying, there are a few specific pieces we’re looking for. A cabinet for the entry and one for behind the living room couch. A round table for the entry (or maybe a square one - still on the fence). A bed frame for the master suite that has both a bookcase headboard AND underbed storage - at the foot of the bed, not the side. How’s that for specific!
I love furniture shopping. I can really appreciate the craftsmanship, especially in wood furniture. The house I live in is so modern, and when we were furnishing it, our focus was completely different than it is with the new house. It’s a lot of fun to walk through the store, run my hands over the fabric and finishes (probably leaving fingerprints and trace evidence all over the place….ugh), and daydream about where a piece would go and how it would/could be used. It’s easy to dismiss pieces that are just completely not my style or the house’s, but other pieces require more consideration. Here are a few of the things I found during our shopping trip (these are just ideas…we’re not ready to buy anything yet).
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.