Monday, July 20, 2009

All the real action takes place in the bar...

So, I continue to drag my feet when it comes to blogging about T-fest. It will be a periodic series. I shall try to be done by next July.

As I mentioned in the last installment--and anyone who's ever been to Thrillerfest (or any writer's conference, I'll venture) knows this--all the action takes place in the bar. It is the place to see and be seen, and in my case, the place to see all your buddies. I checked in with Jimbo upon exiting the theater, and he confirmed things were in full swing, so I zipped over from Times Square to Grand Central. Jimbo was easy to spot, ensconced on a central couch with novelist Grant Blackwood and reviewer Hank Wagner. Discussion was mellow. I joined them. At some point, Grant posed a veterinary question to Jim, as that was his career for lo those many years. So we all talked about Grant's elderly dog. It was very sweet. (I told you these gatherings were wild.)

Eventually, Grant and Hank departed--wisely opting for bed, I think. Jimbo and I sat quietly chatting and spying on our friends. Boyd Morrison was talking to a bunch of people at the bar, and had yet to look over at us. Jim had seen him earlier, but I hadn't had a chance yet to congratulate him on his book deal in person. Finally, we went to say hello, and found our friends Chris Kuzneski and Elle Lothlorian at the bar as well.

Jim, Boyd, Chris, Elle, and I all know each other from the first T-fest in Phoenix. That's true of so many other people, but this is the group of friends that I really bonded with at that first, insular conference. Upon reflection, I think this year's conference was the best since that first for several reasons. First, we were all so happy about Boyd's good news. It was truly something to celebrate. But another thing was the return of Chris and Elle. They didn't attend last year, and having them there just felt like, "the gang's back together!"

BTW, if Chris's name sounds familiar, it's because he's the author of a series of bestselling thrillers featuring Jonathan Payne and David Jones. They're great, action-packed buddy thrillers with excellent banter. Chris is at an exciting point in his career, too. His latest novel, The Lost Throne, is his first to be published hardback. And guess what? It goes on sale this week! You should totally buy it.

Elle is still working towards being published. She had written what was, by all accounts, an exellent thriller around the time of the first conference, but confessed to me somewhat sheepishly that she was now working on... chick lit. "You go girl!" I say. I'll be the first in line to read it.

While I was catching up with this group of friends, the Cussler crew was laughing boisterously nearby. Namely, it was Jack Du Brul, Paul Kemprecos, Christi Kemprecos, and some couple I didn't know. I don't remember who eventually spotted me, but there was much hugging and kissing and How long have you been there?-ing.

Jack and I haven't been in touch much this past year. The man doesn't believe in email. And I'd had no contact at all with Paul and Christi. So, it really was so great to see them. It's a funny thing, we see each other once a year, but I absolutely adore Paul and Christi. Those two are the life of the party. (And little do they know, but they may see me again sooner than they think. More on that later.)

You know, now that I stop and think of it, I had seen Paul and Christi briefly at the cocktail party earlier in the evening. It's all coming back now. They were off to see Jersey Boys. And it was the two of them that had informed me that Jack was having a Boys' Night Out with friends. Well, I could believe that. Jack was a little--what's the word I'm looking for?--inebriated. Ah, I love a drunken Du Brul. He's just a hell of a lot of fun. We had a most excellent literary discussion, he and I, in which I learned that he'd read a book I'd recommended, Fragment. Now, Jack and I have been discussing books for many, many years. Or perhaps I should say arguing about books for years. The man doesn't like anything! But he did like Fragment, with reservations. He said it would stick with him for a long time. We both laughted about baby-killers. You had to be there.

Come to find out, his big Boys' Night Out was watching a ballet from the wings of the Met! His friend is marrying a ballerina or something. I was like, "You were backstage at the Met and didn't invite me!" There may have been hitting involved. I suppose bringing me would have defeated the purpose of the BNO, (but I would have appreciated the experience a hell of a lot more than he did). However, his lovely wife Debbie was arriving the next afternoon, so I guess he deserved a night out.

Me, Jack, Paul, and Christi closed the bar--not for the first time, I might add. I got back to my hotel after 2:00am. You may recall from the last installment that my day had started at 5:00am. Long day. Excellent start to a conference. Almost all the photos I took in NY were on the final night, and I look shockingly dreadful in all of them. Nonetheless, I'm sharing photos of me with Christi, Paul, and Jack from Saturday night, because it makes me happy to look at my friends and remember what a great time we had that weekend.

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