ThrillerFest IX: A Writer’s Paradise


Last week I attended ThrillerFest IX in New York City. This annual event is held by the terrific organization International Thriller Writers, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. While at ThrillerFest IX, I had the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the best in the business. Friday and Saturday were comprised of panels about a variety of topics. I couldn’t stick around for Saturday but below are photos and highlights from some of the sessions that took place on Friday.


A panel about point of view.

“How Many Voices Do You Have In Your Head?”

  • I told my first book in the first person because I thought it added immediacy to it. – Patti Sheehy
  • I like to get in the head of the murderer a lot. – Meredith Anthony
  • You have to listen to the pattern of the characters’ speech. They have to have their own voice. Writing dialogue is a musical thing. Each character has a rhythm. – Renee Paley-Bain
  • The kind of language you use defines the character. – Stephen Vessels
  • Multiple points of view makes a story that feels artificial. – F. Paul Wilson
A panel discussing politics in thrillers.

A panel discussing politics in thrillers.

“Red, Blue Or Frustrated?”

  • You don’t have to be blue or red, you can just be against greed and corruption. – Tom Avitable
  • Once history becomes written, it becomes part of the public’s comfort zone and they don’t want to revisit it. – Thomas B. Sawyer
  • I am political but I don’t talk politics online. – Allison Brennan
  • You never want to preach. You want to entertain. – Kathleen Antrim
  • You really have to do a hell of a lot of research when you write these books. – Karna Small Bodman
A group of authors discussing themes and symbolism in fiction.

A group of authors discussing themes and symbolism in fiction.

“Themes & Symbolism: Do They Get In The Way Or Help Your Story?” 

  • I think you can present a theme in a novel without people knowing it. – Linwood Barclay
  • Themes for me are personal. – Chevy Stevens
  • We’re being polite. Themes are really our obsessions. – A.X. Ahmad
  • If your themes are really obvious, you’re getting it wrong. – Jamie Freveletti
  • Themes are just texture. – Linwood Barclay
A panel about breaking into the business.

A panel about breaking into the business.

“How Did You Break In?”

  • Being part of International Thriller Writers is the absolute best thing you can do if you want to be a writer. – James Hannibal
  • You have to trust your editor. – Simon Gervais
  • If you aren’t in a writers group, get a group of friends together and start one. – Douglas Preston
  • There are certain parts of the process you can control and other parts you can’t. – Justin Kramon
  • We should celebrate every milestone we achieve as authors. – Simon Gervais

Six best-selling authors discussing what it’s like to write a series.

“Writing A Series?”

  • These things live or die between the connection to the reader. – Michael Connelly
  • The trick to a series is to write the same thing but differently each time. – Steve Berry
  • I approach each book as if it’s a blank canvas. – Alan Jacobson
  • I use a tight formula when I write a book and I’m not afraid to say it. The core is always the same. – Jeffery Deaver
  • If you put your characters in jeopardy enough and you don’t kill some of them off, you lose credibility. – John Lescroart

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