Thursday, August 20, 2015

Interview With Thrillerfest Executive Director Kimberley Howe

1.      Kimberly, how did the 2015 Thillerfest go? Who attended? Thank you for the invitation to participate in your blog.  We had a phenomenal time celebrating the 10th anniversary of ThrillerFest, and six out of our ten ThrillerMasters were in attendance, including Nelson DeMille, Scott Turow, R.L. Stine, Sandra Brown, Clive Cussler, and David Morrell.  Our Silver Bullet Award recipient Kathy Reichs also joined us along with spotlight guests Mark Billingham, Charlaine Harris, and Greg Iles.  Co-Presidents of ITW, M.J. Rose and Lee Child were also there, as well as authors like Steve Berry, Grant Blackwood, Catherine Coulter, and some prominent French writers.  It was quite the crowd.

2.      What are some of the issues or trends that came out of the conference? At ThrillerFest, we try to keep innovation foremost in our minds.  We included panels that explored the different methods of publication, and we kicked off our very first CareerFest, which focused more on the business aspects of the publishing industry.  ITW's mandate is to support all thriller writers, so we try to reach out to everyone from aspiring authors to debut authors to established authors, offering something to each group of writers to help promote their careers.  We want our ITW writers to reach their personal goals.

3.      What were some of the more animated sessions that took place? How can people purchase the recordings from the conference? There were many sensational sessions, including one that focused on jurisdictional aspects of law enforcement.  We had individuals from Interpol, the FBI, the RCMP, the Secret Service, the Department of Defence, and a Navy SEAL talk about which group handles which crisis.  It sparked quite a discussion.  Another fabulous moment was David Morrell interviewing Nelson DeMille, touching on the incredible career of our ThrillerMaster.  We also had a Navy SEAL, Master Chief Shawn Johnson, join us to discuss what life as a SEAL is like.  All of the recordings from ThrillerFest can be found at this link:

4.      Do you think you could tell the difference between a thriller written 30 years ago and one today? Why? Yes, I believe there is a distinct difference between modern thriller writers and authors who created their novels 30 years ago.  In today's world, people have more demands on their time as well as other entertainment options available, like TV, video games, computers.  Whereas writers in the past could slowly develop a story and their characters, today's thriller writers need to dive into the action and hook the reader straight away.  There are just too many distractions, and thriller writers can't afford to lollygag about when they write stories.  That said, I find it fascinating how there are some themes resurging in thrillers that were common 30 years ago.  For example, the Cold War had disappeared from thrillers for years, but thanks to Putin, it's back on the forefront again.  History is mirroring itself, but in a different form.

5.      What do you love most about helping authors and working in the publishing industry? I have the great privilege of witnessing dreams coming true.  Every year, our PitchFest event results in a few writers meeting top agents, signing with a publisher, and becoming a debut ITW author, celebrated at our annual breakfast.  It's incredible.

6.      What advice do you have for thriller writers? Put aside your ego and listen to good advice.  Be as stubborn as Wiley Coyote.  Never quit chasing that Roadrunner, if you want it badly enough.  Perseverance will pay off.
7.      Where do you see book publishing heading? The publishing industry is changing every minute.  It has never been this volatile, and I believe we're all anxious to see what happens next.  I'm hoping that print books will see a resurgence, as there is nothing like curling up beside the fire with an actual book in hand, turning those weathered pages, and then passing it along to a friend with a hearty recommendation.  

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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