For the past fourteen years, ThrillerFest has been a summer staple in New York City. In 2020, thanks to the coronavirus, it’s going virtual to celebrate its 15th anniversary between July 6 and July 10.

“ThrillerFest has become summer camp for thriller writers and enthusiasts,” says Steve Berry, former president of International Thriller Writers, the conference’s sponsor. “This year everyone gets to enjoy that experience from the safety of their own home. Kimberley Howe and her staff have worked really hard to make this virtual event possible. What a line-up of talent they’ve amassed. It’s amazing what really smart people can do with technology.”


Kimberley Howe, ThrillerFest’s executive director, had to cram months of work into a few short weeks once it became clear the conference could not take place in person and would have to be moved online.

“The goal or mission of Virtual ThrillerFest,” she says, “is to energize and inspire thriller enthusiasts across the world — we are providing strong educational content from bestselling authors in many countries, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., Denmark, Iceland, Australia and more. We’re hoping to encourage people to follow their dreams of writing the book inside them. International Thriller Writers is a not-for-profit organization, and our goal is to support the thriller genre, and we are very inclusive with thrillers meaning any page-turning fiction.”

Toward that end, Virtual ThrillerFest 2020 is made up of several components, the highlight of which is Mega Craftfest.

“We were fortunate to recruit over 165 bestsellers through our close community ties,” Kimberley Howe adds. “ITW has always been a ‘pay-it-forward’ organization. These talented authors never forget how challenging the road to publication can be. Thriller writers are notoriously generous with their time and knowledge, and we are incredibly grateful that everyone is coming together to support our community during these turbulent times.” 


Focused on one-on-one interviews and conversations that explore the craft of writing, participants can look forward to hearing from the likes of John Grisham, Dan Brown, George R. R. Martin, David Baldacci, Sandra Brown, Michael Connelly, Diana Gabaldon, Robert Crais, Tess Gerritsen, Brad Meltzer, Walter Mosely, Heather Graham, R. L. Stine, Kathy Reichs, Don Winslow, Doug Preston, Karin Slaughter, Brad Thor, Greg Isles, Scott Turow, Charlaine Harris, John Sandford, Jeffery Deaver and many, many more. Mega Craft is so jam-packed, in fact, that Virtual ThrillerFest is being expanded from its usual four days to six.

“There’s no substitute for personal interaction,” says former ThrillerMaster David Morrell, an ITW founder and original co-president, “but teleconferencing offers a practical way for us to communicate during these unprecedented times. As a bonus, it also offers a way to record and preserve close-up conversations between authors, something that seldom happens at physical conferences.”

Additionally, participants in Virtual ThrillerFest 2020 need not worry about travel expenses, lodging or, in these times, their own health and safety. It’s the very definition of turning lemons into lemonade.

“We are absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity and enthusiasm we’ve received from so many incredible authors,” says Liz Berry, Executive Director of International Thriller Writers. “The ITW community has come together during this surreal time and offered a once-in-a-lifetime lineup of instructors and opportunity.”


Mega Craftfest, offered in tandem with the more career-oriented presentations for CareerFest, comes with only a $149 registration fee, a fraction of what in-person conferences charge without offering the kind of talent ITW has attracted. A select number of spots are also available for the more intensive Master Class and Virtual ThrillerFest 2020 will also offer pitching sessions, consulting sessions, debut author presentations, all topped off by the presentation of the 2020 Thriller Awards with an annual performance by Daniel Palmer and Brad Parks. To register, or for more information, visit ThrillerFest’s website. 

“ITW has really pulled off a major coup with online ThrillerFest,” notes ITW founder and original co-president Gayle Lynds. “It’s chock full of a wide array of classes, events and sessions with a Who’s Who of award-winning and best-selling authors, and it has all of the warmth and camaraderie we’ve grown to love and depend on over the years. I’ll be there! July wouldn’t be July without ThrillerFest!”