Now that I've been home from ThrillerFest for a few days, I've had a chance to think about it and process what I learned. I typed up all my notes, which were mostly on the technical panels, and I certainly feel that I learned a few things from those panels. I could have spent a whole day listening to Nick Hughes, and I'd love to get him to Sleuthfest.
First of all, if I closed my eyes it sounded like Sean Connery was talking to me-- and I could listen to him forever. But more than that, Nick had so many interesting things to talk about-- his experiences in the French Foreign Legion, work as a bodyguard, and how to survive a street fight.
The last stuff was the most relevant to my writing. I have Kimo volunteering at a gay & lesbian teen center on Waikiki, and I want him to be teaching a once-a-week course on self-esteem and self-defense. How to stand up to bullies, for example, and how to feel good enough about yourself that you can.
I loved the Arizona Biltmore, and everyone I met was very friendly. On the first day, I jumped into a caravan that went to Poisoned Pen, a bookstore in downtown Phoenix, and then out to the Scottsdale Gun Club. It was Zoe Sharp's birthday, and she wanted to shoot a submachine gun.
The rest of us got to watch her, and shoot a variety of weapons, including a 9 mm and a .357 magnum. I understood why my father's shooting jacket has a padded shoulder-- the semi-automatic rifle I fired had a real kick.
I also realized more clearly the difference between a thriller and a mystery. I don't read that many true thrillers; I hardly recognized any of the names on the panels, and those I did recognize I knew from reading mysteries and attending mystery conferences.
ThrillerFest was very well-run, though I was a bit disappointed that it was so successful-- I had been hoping for a smaller conference where there would be more opportunity to really get to know people, as I did in Toronto. Would I go back? I don't know. It will be in New York next summer, and a lot depends on where else I want to go or need to go, and how willing Marc is to let me go!