Thrillerfest 2017 – Part 2

The Saturday panels started of with a series of great presentation about the influence of geography on thrillers. The panelists included E. A. Aymar, John Connell, Elena Hartwell, Barry Lancet, Jenny Milchman and Wendy Tyson. Each panelist highlighted how the region in which their thrillers are set is an important character. Whether the Pacific Northwest, Baltimore, Japan, or upstate New York, the geographic and cultural features of each place exerts a unique and important quality on the story taking place there. 

The afternoon panel on writing espionage features an all female panel including Jamie Freveletti, Chris Goff, K.J. Howe, Gayle Lands and S. Lee Manning. On of the discussion points was the marketability of international thrillers. Chris Goff explained that her publisher told her that books in that sub-genre aren’t selling as well as others. The point was contested by the other authors on the panel. All of them had been told that men won’t read spy thrillers

written by women. So the question of sales may not be related to the genre but by the gender of the author, a sad conclusion. K.J. Howe seemed the most optimistic about the future of international thrillers. My sense is that international thrillers speak to a particular audience that is curious about the world and the stories that happen in it. In the era of “America First,” that audience may be smaller than we’d like it to be, but that’s not set in concrete either. The issue of gender discrimination seems a much bigger problem, all of us, but male writers in particular, should make a point of reviewing and supporting international thrillers written by women.

One of the last panels of the conference was my own. Another international thriller panel with famous authors like Val McDermid, Sara Blaedel, Maria Gustofsson, Peter James, and Simon Toyne. The audience was a bit small, but the panel was entertaining. Simon did a nice job moderating with rather little preparation as he had not received the contact information for the other panelists.

Thrillerfest concluded with the awards dinner, which turned out to be a lot of fun. The best part was the Beatles parody performed by Brad Parks and Daniel Palmer in honor of ThrillerMaster Lee Child. Their creativity in hijacking Beatles tunes and writing their own lyrics–Tiny Jack Reacher to the tune of Paperback Writer or Eight Blurbs a Week to the tune of Eight Days a Week—was amazing. A wonderful end to a great event.

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One thought on “Thrillerfest 2017 – Part 2

  1. Carole Beers

    Thank you, Michael, for giving us a peek at Thrillerfest! Good times, good insights! I expect, similar to what you say about male readers not reaching for international thrillers by female writers, that something similar happens in my man cozy mystery genre: women readers prefer books written by females. Although there are notable exceptions!