Friday, July 14, 2006

Thrillerfest, Day 3

Hah! Feel great this morning! Bring it on!

I head for MacArthur for the panels, really irritatingly cheerful I'm sure to the people who did not get as much sleep as I did, of whom there are many.

First, the Sandra Brown spotlight. Michael Palmer's "Thriller Blues" verse about Ms. Brown keeps running through my head, here: "And with a cheerleader's smile, she blows them all away." Amen to that.

It is a vast and liberating relief to hear this force of nature and the literary world admit: "Every morning I face this wall of fear that every bit of talent I had has disappeared overnight." This is a recurring theme through the conference, actually - bestsellers who face the same fear every morning, who admit to being two months away from a book deadline and not having written one useable page. It is worth every penny I've spent on this conference just to know that I'm not alone.

After Sandra, Allison Brennan hijacks me and drags me along with her and JT Ellison to a Special Ops session I really wasn't planning to attend by promising hot guys. Cop-turned-novelist James Born IS mightily hot and a total riot as well - he has the audience in stitches, and at the same time periodically scares the crap out of everyone with that very experienced way he has of shouting things like "Police, don't move!" I begin to understand the concept of cop groupies.

By now it's impossible to get to panels in time, or at all, even though they're all within 20 yards of each other, because I just keep running into the greatest people and having the most fascinating random conversations.

One more rehearsal, now, this time in the actual Gold Ballroom. Continuing the desert theme of the Biltmore (I guess), it looks like the inside of a UFO. We have very little time, now, but we sound a lot better. A LOT. Even Blake and Paul seem pleased. I am entranced by Michael's addictive "Thriller Blues", which he and Heather sing. The chorus is irresistable: "Cause we write thrillers, thrillers... we're so damn scary, sometimes we even scare ourselves."

Bob has added a bit for me in the show - he wants me to read a proclamation from the Mayor of Phoenix about ThrillerFest. It is a dry and daunting document, too long and in very small type, but I understand the principle. It IS pretty cool to have the mission of ThrillerFest and the ITW spelled out like that, and sealed by the Mayor (a little Wizard of Oz-y, even!) and God knows Gayle, David, Diane and CJ deserve every bit of the official hoopla, so I figure I'll give it my best shot. Ultimately I am much more nervous about doing that reading that I am about any of the singing.

I go up to Harley's room to dress and meet her adorable husband. I then have the treat of watching, spellbound, as Harley puts on makeup and transforms into a movie star before my eyes. (How do they DO that?)

Scott Nicholson shows us the route backstage - through the kitchen. It is exactly the scene from THIS IS SPINAL TAP.

When I hit the bathroom, several very sweet members of The Fellowship try to convert me. They have mistaken my opening night jitters for a spiritual crisis. Or I have mistaken my spiritual crisis for opening night jitters. I can barely sit still for the banquet part of the banquet. Michael eats both our dinners while I have a lovely talk about horror with the wonderful Hank Wagner. This calms me down (talking about horror always does) and suddenly it's showtime.

Bob Levinson's opening monologue is hysterical - classic Borscht Belt comedy. It's a great audience - I even get some laughs during my reading of the mayoral proclamation. And then that's over and the party starts. The band is perfect. It goes so well I hear people singing along out in the audience. Daniel's harp solo is so hot my hair is singed. For the first time, we can do no wrong.

Since we are backstage for the entire awards presentation, we miss who wins!, but here's the official list.

I just want to dance all night, but by the time I've gathered up my stuff back stage people are crowding the bar talking and drinking again (I am quickly learning that for actual dancing, you have to go to the library conferences. The librarians are putting the authors to shame on the dance floor. I vow to do something about that next ThrillerFest.).

All of us in the band have had so little time to actually talk to each other that Paul herds us all over to Heather's cottage so we can drink and decompress. It is lovely to just sprawl on the floor and chat. We talk about our books and our lives. We are not ready for this to be over, and suggestions start flying about our next gig.

Looks like we've got ourselves a band.

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