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  • Catharine Riggs

Thrillerfest 2019 Afterglow

It’s been a couple of weeks since the wrap-up of Thrillerfest 2019 and I finally have a chance to reflect. For a suspense writer, the International Thriller Writer’s annual get-together in New York City is something not to be missed. Panels, pitching and parties. Seasoned authors giving newbies advice. A standing ovation for the dozens of debuts. Reams of positive support.


I attended my first Thrillerfest four years ago feeling deeply discouraged. After a decade of writing, I had secured the agent with a dystopian thriller and although the manuscript generated a lot of interest, in the end it didn’t sell. At the Thursday evening mixer, I met author Karen Dionne who had just closed a deal for her thriller, The Marsh King’s Daughter which has gone on to achieve outstanding success. She was so very kind and when I divulged my tale of woe, she encouraged me not to give up. That she too had written a dystopian her agent was unable to sell. And when that happened, she wrote another novel; something closer to her heart. She is now an international bestselling author having written one of the most highly acclaimed thrillers of 2017.


I hung on to Karen's advice throughout the next year. Wrote a psychological suspense novel set in my hometown that we sold to Thomas & Mercer. 2018’s What She Gave Away and next month’s What She Never Said are my twin dreams come true. So thank you, ITW, for supporting new authors, no matter what their age. It was an informative five days filled with encouraging people willing to lend a helping hand. I only wish it was possible to get together more than once a year.

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