Thrillerfest Day Three

Day three  — or was it day four? I’ve lost track with so many hours in the sun and 11o-degree heat — was a lot of fun. But again, I spent more time hanging out at the Biltmore than I did attending panels. And most of the time I spent talking to readers and other authors was either in the pool or sitting around the pool.  I was on a lively panel with Dale Brown (who flew himself in from Tahoe in his private plane for the day), Erica Spindler, Diane Vogt and Brad Meltzer — but with Goldberg luck, we were up against Clive Cussler, so attendance was sparse. Still, we had fun. During the day, I chatted with Raymond Benson, Harley Kozak, Jeremiah Healy, Sandy Balzo, Richard Hawke (Tim Cockey), David Montgomery, Paul Guyot, and, of course, my fellow panelists before and after our panel. I was particularly impressed by  Brad, who has successfully branched out into comic books and television. He’s also a genuinely nice guy who, it seemed to me,  made every reader he met feel like his close friend (I guess that would include me, too). My daughter Maddie was thrilled because several people asked her to sign their copies of THRILLER (dozens of people came up to her to tell her how impressed they were by her question to R.L. Stine, which embarrassed and thrilled her).

I can’t say enough good things about the Arizona Biltmore. The rooms, the service, the food, the location, the grounds, the architecture, everything about the place was great. We skipped the awards banquet last night. Instead, we went to dinner for a third time at Sam’s Cafe, where my wife sweet-talked the waitress into sweet-talking the chef into giving us the seasoning for their steaks and ribs. Not only did they give us a big sample, they also wrote down a list of exactly what we were getting.  Then we hurried back to the hotel, where they were playing SPY KIDS 2 on a big screen above the pool and serving S’Mores by a roaring campfire.  My daughter floated in the pool, watching the movie and eating  S’Mores…after a day of playing on the water slide (And she met R.L. Stine here). I think the Arizona Biltmore may have replaced Disneyland as the place she’d like to live.

The convention was great — smoothly run, interesting, and a lot of fun. But I can’t helpP6280126
wondering if it was more of a "author’s convention" than a fan convention. It seemed to me that the authors either out-numbered, or equalled, the number of civilians in attendence. That’s not a bad thing, but I think it will shape how the programming is planned for Thrillerfest 2007 in New York. If they want more "civilians," they will probably need to come up with more innovative ways to allow fans to interact with authors. I told ITW big-wig David Dun about what Joan Hansen has done with Men of Mystery, and that they might want to use her program as a template for a luncheon at the next Thrillerfest. He seemed intrigued…or maybe I had barbecue sauce on my chin.

I’ll share some pictures from Thrillerfest in a day or two (I have to wait to get most of’em from Diane Vogt. In the meantime, here’s an out-of-focus picture of Brad Meltzer, me, and Erica Spindler and another photo of the Naked Bookseller at Reader’s Oasis in Quartzsite, AZ…notice my daughter in the background, aghast). 

10 thoughts on “Thrillerfest Day Three”

  1. I have never been to a sf convention, but I’ve heard that they have something called Coffeeklatches (I think that’s the spelling), in which they have a table with six places set up for a certain period of time. One space is reserved for an author and readers sign up for the other spaces. Then it’s coffee and chat.

  2. I think once the word gets out, there’ll be more fans. Remember, this is a new organization putting on its first con. (It’s easy to forget because it was so well-done, I know).
    Great meeting you, Lee, and Maddie’s a young lady to make any parent proud.

  3. Hi Lee,
    It was great to meet you in Phoenix. Your point about it being an authors’ convention versus a fans’ convention is an interesting one, but I looked at it a bit differently. I simply thought of it as a thriller-lovers’ convention. It doesn’t matter what part we play, we’re all lovers of the genre, and we all were there to have a good time. It didn’t occur to me to think about whether the people I was hanging out with were readers or writers, I just thought of them as cool folks who like the same books I do.

  4. The goal of ThrillerFest is definitely to be a conference for the fans and readers of thrillers. Sure, it’s for the authors, it’s for aspiring writers — hell, as Rae says, it’s for everyone who loves thrillers — but the primary purpose for it is to give the fans an opportunity to be a part of the Thriller World.
    The group that’s planning next year’s conference is already talking about ways to make things even better for the fans, so I think this is going to be a great event continuing into the future.

  5. I thought the conference was very well-organized and although I didn’t get a chance to meet and talk with everyone I would have liked to, I did have more fun than should be legal.
    There was a plethora of very funny, very smart people at the conference. What a joy.

  6. lee, is that your daughter in the background of the naked bookseller pic?
    the expression on her face is priceless.


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