Thrillerfest and a New York City Holiday

by Barb, just home from the Big Apple

Back in March when Omicron was raging and no one was doing much of anything, I got an offer too good to refuse. I had always wanted to go to Thrillerfest. Not because I want to write thrillers, particularly, but because there were interesting speakers and most of all, because it was in Manhattan. But it was often held during July, when I was loathe to leave Maine (especially during the years when I was only here in the summer). Somehow it never quite worked.

But this year, the conference was in early June. More than that, back in the days when tourism was just coming back to the city, the hotel rate was one I was sure I would never see again. So I signed up. Conveniently putting aside the fact that I have a book due July 1.

As the weeks went by, Bill and I debated and debated. How safe would we feel? Would I be far enough along with the next Maine Clambake Mystery? Finally, we pulled the trigger. We bought tickets to two Broadway shows and let our niece, who lives in the city, know we would be there.

We took the bus from Portland to South Station in Boston and the Acela from Boston to Penn Station in New York. For over a year in 2009-2010, the Acela to New York was my commute when I worked in Manhattan (a block from the Kensington offices in one of those life coincidences). The train brought back happy memories. It was also our first time on public transportation in two and a half years. It was fine. (Well, I guess I won’t know for a week if it was fine, but it seemed fine, fun even.)

How Did It Go?

It couldn’t have gone better.

The hotel was great and couldn’t have been more conveniently located.

On Wednesday, we went with our niece to see a matinee of a revival of The Music Man.

For some reason, I couldn’t quite believe we were going to see Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. Up until the curtain went up I was preparing for the announcement, “In the role of…” But the curtain went up and we did see them and it was absolutely terrific.

Thursday we went to the Museum of Modern Art. I honestly can’t remember how long it had been.

Matisse: The Red Studio

Friends had told us about the exhibit of Matisse’s The Red Studio. MoMA has assembled all of the artwork and sculpture in the painting in one place. (Except for the nude on the left which Matisse considered unfinished and asked his daughter to destroy on his death.) It was a really neat and instructive way to see the painting.

Van Gogh: Starry Night

That night we went to see the gender-switched revival of Company. I LOVED it.

The Music Man debuted in 1957, Company in 1970. Do you think the 60s might have been a turbulent decade to result in such a radical change in an art form? Yes, it was. I was there. But here are these two revivals happily on Broadway, down the street from Hamilton and Wicked, all co-existing. I wish we could have that attitude about all creative endeavors. Something doesn’t have to be bad in order for something else to be good.

It was a nice bookend for Bill and me, too, because we saw Patti LuPone in Evita in 1979 or 1980.

Finally, to Work

My panel was on Friday morning with Daniella Bernett, Jenna Harte, and Cheryl Hollon. The topic was a bit of a brain twister: HAMMETT, LARSSON OR CHANDLER? The Thrills Of Mystery. Three dead male noir writers for a panel of four live female cozy and traditional mystery writers. And it was at 8:00 a.m. Friday morning. But moderator Linda Sands did yeoman’s work and we all acquitted ourselves well. Since I’ve never contributed in an way to the International Thriller Writers or the Thrillerfest community, I was happy to have a panel at all.

Then on to my publisher Kensington’s offices where publicist extraordinaire, Larissa, had arranged for Cheryl, me, and Katherine Marple Kalb to sign books, make some TIKTOK videos and have lunch. I forgot to take a photo of this with my own phone, but Kensington did, so I’m sure you’ll see some soon. Since I’ve already publicly vowed to avoid TIKTOK if I can, I was happy Kensington was doing it.

Then a drink late that afternoon with my agent to discuss the state of the world. All and all a productive publishing day.

Back to Playing (Sort of)

Since I’ve already confessed my Outlander love here I will tell you that Saturday was all about Diana Gabaldon. Back at Thrillerfest, I went to hear her speak.

Diana Gabaldon

I got my book signed. The inscription says something in Gaelic. I wish I could remember what. I hope it was something about a journey or Scotland, since I blubbered that I would be there in July.

There were late afternoon downpours on Wednesday and again on Thursday as we scurried to dinner before the theater. But Friday, Saturday, and Sunday couldn’t have been more beautiful. As for the rest of our time, we had several wonderful meals and occupied ourselves doing Very Touristy Things. All and all, a wonderful visit to this great American city.

Readers: How about you? New York, New York–a helluva town or no way? What’s your favorite city?

35 Thoughts

    1. We had never done a carriage ride in all these years but it was there and we were there and it was a beautiful night and…

  1. Glad you got to go and had such an enjoyable time. I enjoyed NYC on a high school class trip before there was dirt, but haven’t cared for it since.

  2. What a fun week, Barb! I’m glad it all went well. I think I might have to check out this Outlander business. ;^)

    I’ve been to New York a few times, but I don’t know the city well, and I’ve never been to a Broadway show. One highlight was walking through Central Park with Hugh when Christo’s The Gates installation was going on. Another was the first time I visited Kensington’s offices and my (our mutual) editor took me to lunch. I felt very Authorly!

    1. I missed that trip to Kensington because my granddaughter decided to come 2 weeks early, so now I’ve finally seen the office (after 10 years and of course it was completely empty–but still!)

  3. LOVE the pics! It was a real treat to meet you in person! (Don’t tell the New Yorkers, but since I work there, my favorite place to visit is San Francisco.)

    1. It was so great to meet you in person, too. I love San Francisco, but haven’t been in a decade. My husband and I have been talking about it, but…

  4. So happy for you! Sounds like an amazing trip.

    I’ve never been to NYC and must admit it’s not on my bucket list of places to go. I’m more of a small town girl or interested in things of nature. Hoping to be able to start traveling again soon to resume that bucket list I spoke of. We had planned a trip to Utah to see all the national parks there, but still don’t feel comfortable with crowds. The photos I’ve seen at the parks are way too many folks for me to handle. Maybe next year. 🙂

    We have a trip planned for September. Time will tell if we have to cancel again.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. Sounds like a fabulous trip! I’ve never been for a visit there but boy I want to now!

  6. Great post, Barb! Wonderful to hear from someone who’s gotten out and about, especially in NYC, and where it went well! I’ve always wondered what Thriller Fest would be like, especially since a couple of fellow Encircle authors went this time. Thanks again, for giving me a vicarious thrill with your experiences in a city, where I lived in my salad days.

    1. I ran into both Matt Cost and S. Lee Manning when I was there. I’ll be seeing Matt at the Maine Crime Wave this week and hope we get a chance to debrief.

  7. What a fabulous trip! I’m skittish about NYC for some reason. But I had a great time when we went to visit Kensington and should dip my toe back in the water so to speak.

  8. I can hop on a bus or train and be in NY in an hour but I never go anymore. My brothers and I used to go in for lunch in Chinatown and then hit the bookstores. Or I’d take the train in and meet my dad who worked in the city and he’d take the afternoon off and we’d do something. Going there just doesn’t feel the same now.

  9. What a great recap! And what fun that you got to see Hugh Jackman – pardon me while I have a fangirl moment!

    I more or less grew up in the shadow of NYC – my hometown was 11 miles away in NJ. Since I came of age in the 1960s, it was a fabulous place to be. Close, but out of the fray. Bus fare was $0.50 and I was adventurous so I hopped that bus often to wander the Big Apple. After a long absence while I lived in Florida, I returned and lived in NYC for three years. The perfect place to be a young adult. I loved the city and all it had to offer, including the ability to get a great haircut at 3AM when if I couldn’t sleep. Returned to Florida at the end of the 1970s and only came back to NYC once since them. The crush of people and the speed of the city awed me. I refused to waste a moment and glutted on plays, museums, and hiked from Central Park to Greenwich Village for old times sake. I toy with the idea of visiting again, but I’m not sure if reality can compete with golden memories.

    1. I understand about the memories. I spent a fair amount of time reminiscing on this trip–from my trips into the city as a kid to visit grandparents, to my teenage forays into Greenwich Village, to the Democratic Conventions in 1976 and 1980, to the year I lived there in 2009 and both my kids were living there. There was a lot of Memory Lane going on, but that may just be my age.

  10. Sounds like a great trip, Barb. The last time I was in NYC was 9th grade. I’d love to see a show some time, but the the time is never quite right.

    1. I know how that timing thing can be. Katherine Marple Kalb’s talk of San Francisco reminded me of a place Bill and I have talked about going together (we’ve both been separately) but the timing never seems to work.

  11. Sounds like you had a fabulous time! And I’m very jealous you got to see The Music Man. I love that musical.

    1. And, yes, at some point I would like to visit NY, NY. Haven’t made it there yet other than the suburbs and the an airport for a connection.

  12. New York City is a great place to visit, but I would not want to live there. There’s no place like home!

    1. I would love to live there-but I’d have to win the lottery first as the NYC existence I fantasize about would require lots of $$$.

  13. Barb, I just love this post! All of the photos of you are so lively and endearing! How delightful to hear of all your adventures and delicious diversions! I have loved all of my visits to NYC, including being stuck there over a long weekend when I experienced a visa kerfuffle in my youth on a trip to Brasil!

  14. Barb, I loved this post – what a dream weekend! And that pic of you and Bill in the carriage is wonderful! You’ve inspired me to get back to Broadway, which I’ve missed so much. I’m curious about your TikTok. Did you have to dance? Do a reading? I’m completely mystified by it.

  15. Loved hearing about your trip. I only went to NYConce and regret not going sgain. Glad you shared so much news.

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