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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?

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