It’s called ThrillerFest but could easily be renamed LoveFest.

Nobody got murdered. No unexplained crimes of passion. No purloined letters. But when you bring together the world’s greatest whodunit experts who may or may not tell you who did it, well, there is far more celebration than investigation.

The signature event of the International Thriller Writers, ThrillerFest XIV poured like a tidal wave into New York’s Grand Hyatt for five days last week, full of celebrity sightings, debut authors posing giddily with their idols, panels and workshops to elevate the craft, awards to veterans and relative newcomers, and an atmosphere of camaraderie, learning, inspiration, fellowship and just plain passion about perhaps the most popular genre in the business.

“I feel like I died, went to heaven, came back to earth and started writing about it all in one week,” said one first-time attendee.

Sessions and networking events were designed to help up and coming authors learn from the experts as well as share war stories between themselves.  Session topics included everything from how to get a book review to what makes a thriller a thriller. Among the other subjects: writing the young adult thriller, creating powerful domestic thrillers, researching your novel, writing a killer plot twist, keeping the pace moving, finding your villain, getting inside your characters’ heads and creating tension.

And along the way, you’d pick up some interesting sound bites, for example:

From James Grady, author of Six Days of the Condor, on writing gunfights: “It’s not just important to know the guns being used, but to know the characters who are using them.”

From thriller icon Harlan Coben: “Write what you want, even if it’s crap. Shit has its own integrity.”

John Sandford, bestselling author of more than 30 thrillers, was honored as the 2019 ThrillerMaster in recognition of his legendary career and outstanding contributions to the thriller genre. He sat for a rare interview, conducted by his longtime editor, now-retired Putnam Associate Publisher, Editor in Chief and regular BookTrib Contributing Writer Neil Nyren.

Winners of the 2019 Thriller Awards were:

Also recognized at the closing banquet were: Coben with the Silver Bullet Award, recognizing outstanding and meritorious achievement in philanthropic endeavors; “Mystery Mike” Bursaw with the ThrillerFan Award; and Margaret Marbury with the Thriller Legend Award.