Tag Archive for: Lee Child author

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. 


by Kay Kendall

Many readers of the Stiletto Gang blog know that Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, was held last weekend in New Orleans. It’s an annual gargantuan event that brings together fans, authors, publishers, agents, booksellers, and even critics of crime fiction for a long weekend of learning, awards, and fun. The name honors Anthony Boucher, the distinguished mystery fiction critic, editor, and author. He helped crime fiction gain credibility back when it was considered merely “pulp fiction.”

Where do Bouchercon authors hang out? In the book room of course!
 (l-r) Lisa Alber, Barry Lancet, Laura Elvebak, Manning Wolfe, & me Kay Kendall

Naturally, in New Orleans, the entertainment and fun were stellar. Those of us who attended are still marveling at how the good times rolled and the hospitality was rampant, and some of us are just too tired to type…but type I must.

The first Bouchercon took place in 1970 in Santa Monica, California. Since then, Bouchercons have been held in many cities across the United States and in Canada too. In fact next year’s event begins in Toronto on October 12, 2017. The fiftieth anniversary event will be held in Dallas, Texas. Thousands of totally volunteer hours go into making each Bouchercon a success–a fond memory to cherish and a shimmering event to attend again in the future.

While on the one hand many writers of crime fiction are deeply introverted, on the other hand most throw caution to the winds and revel in the comradeship of fellow authors and fans when at a Bouchercon. Included here are photographs to convince you of this truth.

Megastars chat–on left David Morrell (papa of Rambo) and Lee Child (dad of Jack Reacher)

My first Bouchercon took place in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2011. I’m not an introvert, but even I was initially taken aback by the hootin’ and hollerin’ as friends greeted each other after a year’s absence. I expected to remain excluded from that for years. But I was wrong, thank goodness. The mystery crowd is famous for its inclusivity, its friendliness, and its supportiveness.

At the conference in St. Louis an author on his first Bouchercon panel expressed his astonishment. He had expected to see competitiveness and criticism, like he found when attending his wife’s professional poetry events, where meanness abounded. The friendliness of Bouchercon amazed and pleased him. That was five years ago, and the kindness and support have only grown and expanded since then.

Writing is a lonely gig. Self-doubt is your constant companion. The worldwide publishing situation is super tough. Meeting up with other authors and readers, however, is a balm to your soul. If you are a crime fiction fan or writer and have never attended a Bouchercon–or a smaller conference perhaps nearer to where you live–I urge you to attend. “Just do it.” Friendship, support, well-meant advice, and fun all await you.. It is truly one for all and all for one. We crime authors may write about mayhem and murder, but in real life, we are all (well, say, 99% of us) as gentle as lambs. And so, to close, I’ll reference another famous ad slogan–“Life is meant to be good.”


Kay Kendall’s Austin Starr mysteries <http://www.AustinStarr.com> capture the spirit and turbulence of the 1960s. DESOLATION ROW (2013) and RAINY DAY WOMEN (2015) show Austin, a 22-year-old Texas bride, set adrift in a foreign land and on the frontlines of societal change. Austin learns to cope by turning amateur sleuth.