The Big Apple’s dark alleys will get even darker when the most spine-tingling and pulse-pounding event of the year for fiction’s most popular genre returns. ThrillerFest 2009 promises to be the biggest yet with over 200 of the best-loved and bestselling authors invading The Grand Hyatt in New York from July 8-11 for a four-day extravaganza to mix and mingle with fellow shock-smiths, budding writers and fans.

Now in its fourth year, ThrillerFest is the brainchild of International Thriller Writers, Inc. (ITW). According to Jon Land, Vice President of Marketing for ITW, ThrillerFest is unique for its spirit of camaraderie and openness.

“Where else can fans and aspiring writers mix and mingle with some of the biggest names in the business?” he says. “Not only can writers further hone and develop their craft, but they can also learn the ins and outs of the entire publishing business.” Land adds how meeting his own idol, David Morrell, at the first ThrillerFest in Phoenix, inspired him to no end, calling it “a dream come true.” Land stresses the friendly, informal atmosphere makes ThrillerFest a special experience for readers and fans.

One of the highlights of the event is the coveted ThrillerMaster Award, recognizing outstanding contribution to the thriller genre. This year’s winner is noted author David Morrell, widely considered the “father” of the contemporary action novel with his 1974 debut First Blood (which introduced the character of Rambo to the world). The award celebrates Morrell’s amazing career, spanning 37 years and 28 novels published in dozens of languages across the globe.

“He’s the finest thriller writer working today,” says Steve Berry, one of ITW’s current co-presidents. “Every one of us owes him a debt of gratitude and many, myself included, learned how to craft a novel from studying his work. He is, quite simply, the best.”

The prestigious Silver Bullet Award, recognizing outstanding achievement in the encouragement of literacy and the love of reading, will be presented to the #1 New York Times bestselling suspense novelist Brad Meltzer (The Book of Fate). Recipients are chosen on an annual basis representing the corporate, literary and entertainment worlds with past winners including authors David Baldacci and R.L. Stine, publisher Tom Doherty, actor Tony Plana (Ugly Betty), the Nestle Company, Capital One and Macy’s.

Additional bestselling spotlight guests that will attend are last year’s ThrillerMaster award recipient Sandra Brown as well as Robin Cook, Katherine Neville, and David Baldacci.

The four-day event includes numerous author signings, a complete bookstore on premises, a cocktail party and reception for readers, a roasting of Clive Cussler, and a breakfast featuring first-time authors. The highlight is the annual ThrillerFest Awards Banquet, which this year will take place at Cipriani, one of New York City’s most spectacular event venues.

Some of the biggest names in the genre will be holding court with interactive panel sessions, including Kathleen Antrim, Steve Berry, Peter Rubie, William Bernhardt, James Rollins, Barry Eisler, Andrew Gross, David Hewson, Jon Land, Eric Van Lustbader, Gayle Lynds, Steve Martini, Donald Maass, Joan Johnston and many more.

ThrillerFest runs in conjunction with AgentFest, in which aspiring writers pitch their work to more than forty top literary agents, and CraftFest, offering workshops with best-selling authors. Some CraftFest workshops presented this year are “Living on the Ritz – How to Hit the Times List in Five Years or Less” with Lisa Gardner; “Creating a Series Character” with Lee Child; and “How – and Why – to Write Thrillers for Young Readers” with R.L. Stine.

Registration for ThrillerFest is open to everyone (ITW members and non-members alike). There are three separately-priced packages: CraftFest/AgentFest on Wednesday July 8; the ThrillerFest Conference from July 9 – July 11; and the Thriller Awards Banquet at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 11. A complete events package is also available as well as day passes. Details and a date/rate schedule can be found at: ThrillerFest.

2009 Thriller Award Nominees:

Best Thriller of the Year

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
The Bodies Left Behind by Jeffery Deaver
The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver
The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross
The Last Patriot by Brad Thor

Best First Novel

Calumet City by Charlie Newton
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Criminal Paradise by Steven Thomas
Sacrifice by S. J. Bolton
The Killer’s Wife by Bill Floyd

Best Short Story

“Between the Dark and the Daylight” by Tom Piccirilli (Ellery Queen Magazine)
“Last Island South” by John C. Boland (Ellery Queen Magazine)
“The Edge of Seventeen” by Alexandra Sokoloff (The Darker Mask)
“The Point Guard” by Jason Pinter (Killer Year Anthology)
“Time of the Green” by Ken Bruen (Killer Year Anthology)

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