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#ThrillerFest15 Report from New York City for #BritCrime Festival

by JF Penn
While the BritCrime online festival rocked the UK this weekend, several of the participating authors joined the International Thriller Writers’ (ITW) ThrillerFest in New York.

Peter James Simon Toyne J.F. Penn
Simon Toyne, J.F.Penn and Peter James in New York #britcrime

Simon Toyne, SJI Holliday and J.F.Penn attended panels, cocktail parties and seminars with some of the biggest names in thriller and crime who have sold hundreds of millions of books between them.

Here are some interesting tidbits from behind the scenes …

Karin Slaughter interviewed Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series which became the TV series True Blood. It was a hilarious session as Charlaine has an infectious giggle and Karin has a sharp wit.

Charlaine used to do a form of karate as well as weightlifting to help improve her strength. The practice made her feel stronger inside and out and that personal change is something she brings to her books. People can change, but it’s often at great cost.

Kathy Reichs Karin Slaughter

Charlaine doesn’t allow people behind her at book signings, because of a number of weird experiences with fans. Both Karin and Charlaine said that they won’t eat anything fans bake for them. They appreciate the thought but they also have haters who might try to poison them!

When asked what scares her, Charlaine said that the paranormal isn’t a problem at all. Humans are the real monsters because they look normal until you’re alone with them … she did say that those blow up men outside auto retailers really do creep her out though!
Simon Toyne Mark Billingham J.F.Penn
Simon Toyne, Mark Billingham and J.F.Penn #britcrime
 Mark Billingham noted in one panel that crime and thriller writers are the “smokers of the literary world.” There’s a kind of gang mentality, we protect each other and we are supportive. We’re also considered by many in the literary community as somehow less important, but Karin Slaughter pointed out that we’re the ones hitting the bestseller lists!

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Lee Child with Mark Billingham


Lee Child interviewed Mark in a spotlight session and the two Brits had the crowd in stitches with tales of their respective Birmingham history. Mark talked about his former acting career with an enjoyable stint running around in forests for Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, as well as being the first human actor on Spitting Image. He also revealed a personal story about being a victim of crime and how his own visceral fear is used in his books.

In talking about London as a setting, Mark asked the mainly American audience whether they really wanted to keep London as 'heritage' rather than gritty. He explained that it’s a Jekyll and Hyde city with both beauty and darkness. His Tom Thorne crime thrillers explore both sides, always with an edge of humour. Mark also recommended BritCrime author Clare Mackintosh's new book, I Let You Go, as an example of a fantastic twisted plot.
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David Morrell, author of historical crime novel, Inspector of the Dead ... and creator of Rambo!
 Peter James and Greg Iles talked about how covers rejected by bigger name authors often get handed down to the lesser known. It’s apparently common in the publishing industry. Peter James has hens named after the characters in his Roy Grace novels at his home in the Sussex countryside.

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SJI Holliday at the Debut Author breakfast. J.F.Penn with Clive Cussler
CJ Lyons won the Best eBook Original award for Hard Fall, a Lucy Guardino FBI crime thriller. CJ is a former pediatric ER doctor whose life of crime fiction writing was inspired by meeting a serial killer. Lucy Guardino's character was inspired by a real life FBI Supervisory Special Agent whose favorite photo of herself was taken when she was eight months pregnant and shooting a Remington pump action shotgun during firearms re-qualifications.

Simon Toyne signed advanced reader copies of his upcoming novel, The Searcher at Thrillerfest, as well as taking charge of filming top authors on their writing tips. That video will be out in the next few months so keep an eye out! Simon loves to write at his place in France, an old presbyter, a French priest’s house located on the outskirts of a 13th century bastide, or fortified town. Simon also loves movies. His favorite film is Jaws and in his previous occupation in TV production, he once interviewed Stephen Spielberg. You can watch a video interview with Simon Toyne here on YouTube.

To add to the excitement, SJI Holliday was featured at the Debut Author breakfast and J.F.Penn fulfilled a dream of meeting Clive Cussler!

All in all, it was a fantastic Thrillerfest and today the BritCrime authors return home just a little worse for wear after the celebratory Gala Dinner last night … See you next year!
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