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Thrillerfest was fantastic. It was nice to see New York again, and meet up with great people.

I especially appreciated the book room, compared the Bouchercon. Bouchercon’s book room was populated by indie and specialty stores, which is great, but there was no one seller who took on carrying all the panelists’ books. A lot of books I had intended to buy there simply had not been available. Also, they leave it to the authors to contact all the sellers individually to beg to have their books carried. That’s just demeaning. We’re already paying to attend and be “the entertainment” (ie–do the panels). We have to be beggars too?

At T’fest, Barnes and Noble had all the panelists’ books, and ONLY the panelists’ books. It was exciting to scan the stacks and see who was there.

Highlights:

1) It’s a long way to Heathrow airport, so I usually hire a car service. By total chance, my driver for this journey was a recently retired detective of similar rank and same division and location as my series character! He had great insider stories and is an all-around delightful person. That ride has never felt so short.

2) I stayed with my agent in Brooklyn, which is always a delight. She has a lovely family and lovely home, and makes excellent coffee despite not being a coffee-drinker herself.

3) I did a panel on subplots, moderated by the delightful Wendy Corsi Staub. That was early Friday morning, so the rest of the weekend was free for improvisation.

4) Dinner for 10 at a nearby Chinese restaurant, thanks to Carla Buckley. Carla knows EVERYBODY. My strategy for networking is to stand near her. Thanks to her and Karen Dionne, I had the pleasure of meeting Brad Parks, Dan Tobey, Janice Bashman, Mike Cooper, Sophie Littlefield, Lissa Price and Julia Heaberlin. Also, dinner came to just $15 a head including a good tip, which is frankly a shock.

5) At lunch with my agent and editor, they both ordered octopus salad, which I imagined to be a salad sprinkled with something like calamari, so I ordered one too. Turns out that we each got our own personal octopus. Unexpected!

6) I wanted to pick up some American treats for my kids, so agent and I went to the BEST GROCERY STORE IN THE WORLD, Fairway in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It blew my mind. It’s like a Whole Foods + a Safeway + a third grocery store just to fill up the space, plus an outside area on the water with a view of the Statue of Liberty. Amazing. I’d go shopping twice a week if I lived near there.

One downer:

I had an absolutely ridiculous medical episode. It was hot, I was jet-lagged, and felt faint for a moment after coming up out of the subway. Not unexpected, right? But I got a squeezing feeling in my left arm that wouldn’t let go, and pins and needles in my left hand. When these persisted throughout the afternoon, I skipped out on the Thrillerfest cocktail party to get checked for heart attack. Thankfully, I was in the clear, but the doctors emphasized that I had done the right thing to come in, and in fact had even waited too long.

It’s probably unfair to say this was entirely a downer, because the clinic I visited was superb. 5pm in the middle of New York City, I walked into the Beth Israel clinic on 23rd. They saw me within 10 minutes, were empathetic and professional, gave me an EKG, blood tests and exam, all for just $250. Amazing.

To sum, I had a great time, thanks Thrillerfest! And the Grand Hyatt, attached to Grand Central Station, is a wonderful location. I hadn’t been in Grand Central since I was a teenager, and, while it has always had the good architecture, it has really been polished to a shine. Thanks, New York.