Jennifer Hillier

ThrillerFest VII, NYC

Jul 18, 2012 | Uncategorized

I’m back from another fabulous, whirlwind trip to New York City!

I always get excited when I’m coming down East 42nd Street (which, in a taxi, is always kind of a near-death experience) and I see the ThrillerFest banners as we approach the Grand Hyatt:

Welcome to ThrillerFest!

And the hotel’s a beast! So big.

The Grand Hyatt, NYC

My trip started off with a bang on Thursday. After I checked into my room, I decided I needed to eat something. I only had a half hour before I had to meet a guy to do a podcast interview, so I grabbed something quick, thinking I’d leave myself a few minutes to freshen up and change my clothes before the interview.

Except . . . my key card didn’t work when I got back to my room! Out of time, I ended up going to my first ever face-to-face interview for FREAK in Lulu pants, flip flops, and a hoodie. Not exactly the professional impression I wanted to make. Ah, well.

Once the interview was over, I cruised by the ThrillerFest bookstore (Barnes & Noble sets up a room with all the attending authors’ books for sale) just to see what was there. And lo and behold, what did I see as soon as I walked in?

FREAK hardcovers!

I shrieked so loud, I may have scared a guy who was browsing nearby (but he was cool about it, and we’re Facebook friends now). Up till that moment, I hadn’t seen the hardcover! The official release date isn’t until August 7th, and I wasn’t expecting to see copies at the conference, but there they were.

Guys, the cover is so beautiful. All the water droplets are shiny, and the title and my name are embossed. I couldn’t stop stroking it (so pervy, I know, but it’s my book and I can stroke it if I want to).

And over in the paperback section . . .

CREEP in mass market paperback

The mass market paperback of CREEP! Again, I had never seen it, because it’s not officially out until July 31st. The guy in charge of the ThrillerFest bookstore told me that he and my publisher hustled to get copies early just for the conference, and I couldn’t have been happier. There were also hardcovers of CREEP there, too.

You know how you try to play it cool, but just can’t? Yeah, that. I took several pics of myself with my books, and this was the least dorky one (but still fairly dorky):

Dorky girl at the bookstore

Speaking of trying to play it cool, guess who I ran into outside the elevators?

There I was, all in my head and all euphoric about my books being in the conference bookstore, and the elevator doors open, and out steps Lee Child.


I shrieked, “Lee Child!” at Lee Child, as if Lee Child doesn’t know his own name. Thankfully, Lee Child is a gracious man, and he stopped and said hello and spoke in a perfectly normal and pleasant voice even though I was flustered and blubbering like an idiot. I managed to introduce myself and gush about what a huge fan I was of his work, and yet still somehow managed to forget to ask him to take a picture. Even though I had both my phone and my camera with me.

Argh. Jenny Jenny Jenny.

The next morning, I went to see Lee speak to a packed audience in the Grand Hyatt ballroom. He gave us his honest opinions about Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher in the movie (which is out in December, and yes, he thinks Tom’s a great choice), and told us about the experience of having a book made into a film. Lee’s going to have a cameo in the movie, too! He also answered questions about his writing process.

Lee Child being interviewed by Kathleen Antrim

After Lee’s talk, I went to lunch with two very important people in my writing life, my agent, Victoria Skurnick, and my editor, Kathy Sagan. I think between the two of them they must have fifty years of publishing experience. They know EVERYBODY. Lunch was a blast, full of interesting publishing stories, a little gossip, and a lot of laughs. And we also had a great conversation about my work! I now have a solid idea of where to go with my next book.

Left to right: Victoria Skurnick (Levine Greenberg Literary Agency), Kathy Sagan (Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books), me

After lunch, I had to head back to the hotel for my panel, “Does Sex Really Sell?” Despite me being super nervous (because it was my first panel ever, and hello, it was about SEX), the panel was a lot of fun. The panel moderator, Shane Gericke, kept everything lighthearted, and my fellow panelists (Lori Andrews, Karna Bodman, Laura Elvebak, W.D. Gagliani, and Chris Knopf) were all so interesting and articulate! I may have been a little intimated by all their credentials (I was definitely the newbie author of the group).

Crap . . . just realized I don’t have a picture of my panel.

But! At the book signing later, I did snap a pic with the amazing Alma Katsu, author of THE TAKEN and THE RECKONING, who’s also a fellow Gallery Books girl. I love Alma. She’s the funniest, sweetest person (and so tiny!).

Me with the fabulous Alma Katsu

And! Guess who stopped by to see me at the signing? David Batista, my long-time blog buddy, who lives in the Bronx. We’ve been reading each others’ blogs for a couple of years now, and we’re Facebook friends, but we hadn’t met in person until last Friday.

Me with long-time blog buddy, David Batista
And another one!

David’s taller than I realized! I’m 5’5″ and was wearing sandals with 4-inch heels here, and he’s still so much taller than me. See, things you can’t always tell from social media. It’s always so great to meet people from the online writing community in person.

Saturday morning was the Debut Author’s breakfast and panel. Alma and I were on this panel last year, and I was looking forward to actually eating the breakfast this year, because I was so nervous I couldn’t get anything down last year.

Not surprisingly, the food was delicious. And the one-minute speeches by all the 2012 debut authors were fantastic. It was great to finally meet Facebook/Twitter pal Donna Galanti, and see my friend Dan Friedman again (he and I are both repped by Victoria).

Left to right: Donna Galanti, Robin Gainey, Daniel Friedman

We were all very inspired by the speech given by this year’s honored guest, Richard North Patterson.

Richard North Patterson

After the breakfast, I had a nice chat with Janice Gable Bashman, managing editor of International Thriller Writers’ Big Thrill magazine. And then I went to see my friend, Hilary Davidson, on her panel (but of course forgot to take a pic).

And then later at the book signing, Dan signed my copy of his critically acclaimed debut novel, DON’T EVER GET OLD. The book has received starred reviews from all four trade reviews. And he sold the movie rights. I mean, dude!

Daniel Friedman, author of DON’T EVER GET OLD

I met so many more authors this year than I did in my last two trips to ThrillerFest, and I also signed way more books this time than I did last time, which was so exciting. I actually had random people stop me in the hallway and tell me how much they enjoyed CREEP, and that’s an amazing feeling.

In between panels, I was also hard at work writing articles for a Canadian national newspaper. The National Post invited me to be a guest editor all this week, and of course I couldn’t say no. Here are they are:

ThrillerFest DO’s and DON’Ts

Murder weapons and kindred spirits

Sex and public speaking

The magic of being a fan

Whew! I think that about covers it! 

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