where the writers are
Impressions from ThrillerFest 2008
Jean & Pat Mullan, Jason Pinter, Maurice & Alex O'Scanaill
Impressions from ThrillerFest

 

My wife, Jean, travelled with me to ThrillerFest in New York in July and she wrote this article for our local newspaper, Connemara View

Impressions from ThrillerFest 2008
By Jean Mullan

We arrive to a fanfare of police sirens and an intense gaggle of security men at the entrance of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in midtown Manhattan. As we descend from the taxi on to the red carpet it slowly dawns on us that this welcoming committee is not for the Connemara contingent arriving to take part in ThrillerFest - the annual conference of international thriller writers. They're here to greet Barack Obama who is about to make a speech in the ballroom.

Undaunted, we proceed to the welcoming reception. As the cocktails flow we find ourselves face-to-face with David Morrell - the creator of Rambo - outgoing co-president of ITW. We chat with Raymond Benson, the chosen successor to Ian Fleming, author of the novels immortalising one James Bond. David Hewson, the English author of the Nic Costa series of novels set in Rome, impresses us with his self-effacing, gentlemanly charm and wit.

So who are these intrepid travelers from Connemara? At his first ever writers' conference is the multi-talented Maurice O'Scanaill, our local vet, who has also displayed his vocal talents in The Ceol Theatre production of My Fair Lady and in the bass section of Cantairi Chonamara. You may not know that some years back Random House published three of his books under the penname of Rory McCormac. His mission in New York is to find himself an agent to help him publish his latest work. ThrillerFest veteran Pat Mullan from Recess is also here. An ex-banker and published poet he now has two international thrillers under his belt. His most recent work appeared in the anthology Dublin Noir and two new thrillers are currently under negotiation in a two-book deal.

Old friends and new mix and mingle. In a corner we spy the rock star of thriller writers, Barry Eisler, with his flowing locks and designer jeans, holding court surrounded by a group of admirers. Barry's Rain books featuring half-Japanese, half-American assassin John Rain have been optioned for film by Barrie Osborne, Oscar winning producer of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In the days that follow all things related to the art of writing and selling books are debated, agents are wooed, books are autographed and change hands. Banquet night rolls around - the grand finale - presided over this year by the quirky James Rollins, who turned Indiana Jones and The Kindgdom of the Crystal Skull into a novel. We were fortunate to share our table with Richard Doetsch and his delightful wife, the witty Al Longden, and the irrepressible Tucker Andersen. 2007 Thriller Master, James Patterson, presents the 2008 Award to Sandra Brown, author of 56 New York Times bestsellers. Of many speakers the one that impressed the most was David Baldacci (author of Absolute Power which translated into a gripping movie starring Clint Eastwood). He spoke movingly of his organization dedicated to aiding millions of illiterate Americans and encouraging young people to take up the reading habit.

In a Who's Who of outstanding writers who crossed our paths those who stick in my mind are Douglas Preston whose latest non-fiction book The Monster of Florence is my next read; cigar afficianado, Robert Liparulo, whom we never quite made it to dinner with; the affable JD (Dusty) Rhoades, a lawyer from Carthage, N. Carolina, who we were lucky enough to spend an evening with; and those gutsy women who hold their own in a male-dominated world : the larger-than-life Gayle Lynds and mother of five and author of many, Alison Brennan. Final word goes to Jason Pinter who was totally gobsmacked when Pat produced a full-page article and photo from the June 22nd edition of Ireland's Sunday Business Post profiling Jason's novel The Mark which was recently optioned by Irish film production company, Treasure Films.

Thrills galore in the Big Apple! We look forward to relishing the fruit of the labors of these inspired writers in print and at the movies.