Tag Archive for: ITW ThrillerMaster

The Thrilling Lee Child

By Kay Kendall

When my
first mystery was months away from publication, other writers suggested I
should attend ThrillerFest, the high powered writers’ conference held every July
in New York City. I protested that a) I don’t write thrillers, and b) that
conference was pricy. Then I was told that International Thriller Writers, the
group that holds the annual meeting, has a special program for debut authors
that helps put newbies on the map. I was persuaded to attend, thinking I would
go only once in order to participate in that program.

Janet Maslin of the NY Times interviews ThrillerMaster Lee Child.

That was
back in 2013, and I have just returned from my fifth ThrillerFest in a row. Yes,
I got hooked, pure and simple. The authorial fire power at ThrillerFest can’t
be equaled, and contrary to its name, the International Thriller Writers do welcome
authors across the full spectrum of crime writing. Whether you write cozy
mysteries, true thrillers, traditionals, historicals, suspense, or whatever. It
does not matter. All are welcome.
An awards
banquet concludes each conference. Besides handing out six book awards, ITW
honors one author who is deemed the year’s ThrillerMaster. Beginning in 2006
when the conference debuted, in chronological order the honorees were Clive
Cussler, James Patterson, Sandra Brown, David Morrell, Ken Follett, R.L. Stine,
Jack Higgins, Anne Rice, Scott Turow, Nelson DeMille, Heather Graham, and—this year—Lee
Child. Also part of the hoopla centering on the ThrillerMaster is an hour-long
interview by another notable person. This year Lee Child was interviewed by
Janet Maslin, long-time film critic (1977-1999) and book reviewer (1999 on) for
the New York Times 
If you aren’t
up on your thrillers, here is some background about the suave and ever-genial
Lee Child, who hails from Coventry, England. Although a resident of New York
since 1998, he has not lost his gorgeous British accent—or his elegant manners
either, for that matter. Within the thriller/mystery writing community, his
name is a watchword for bestseller-dom. In fact, his twenty-one novels starring
the tall, sexy drifter Jack Reacher are so popular that I was shocked that Lee
Child had not been named an ITW ThrillerMaster years earlier.
Near the
beginning of his interview with Janet Maslin, Child announced that he had
become eligible for the award only three months previously. There was a
twenty-year rule that explained everything, one I had not known about. His
twenty-second Reacher novel is due out in the fall, and two popular films
featuring actor Tom Cruise as the legendarily tall Jack Reacher have been produced.
I will never forget when the news first broke that Cruise would play Reacher.
Much consternation ensued. Cruise is known to be well under six feet tall. Reacher
is described in book after book as six feet five, weighing 220 pounds, with a
chest expanse of 50 inches. To note: Child himself is six feet five, but his
frame is rail-thin.
Lee Child
says he tires of being asked about the choice of Cruise, but his ire is never
evident.  Which is a good thing. At the
awards banquet, two thriller authors performed a mashup of Beatles songs with
lyrics restyled to fit known events in the life and career of Child. The medley
opened with “Tiny Jack Reacher” sung to the tune of “Paperback Writer.” This
performance brought down the house. And Lee Child smiled through it all. He
also gave everyone in attendance a hardback of collected Jack Reacher short
stories that debuted just this month. Now that’s what I call class.

Read the first 20
pages of Kay Kendall’s second mystery,
won two awards at the Killer Nashville
in August 2016—for best mystery/crime and also for best book. 
first novel about Austin Starr‘s sleuthing,
ROW, was a finalist for best mystery
Killer Nashville in 2014.