Thrillerfest 2013: A Discussion with Michael Palmer
The annual ThrillerFest conference, hosted by the International Thriller Writers, came to town last week and featured a variety of thriller, mystery and suspense authors that gathered for days of jam-packed discussions, informative workshops, panels and signings. Bestselling and RT Top Pick! thriller authors Michael Palmer and his son, Daniel Palmer, never thought they’d end up having careers as writers. With Michael being told his writing skills were less than stellar and Daniel finding success in songwriting and website building, the two of them were more than surprised when they eventually found themselves creating thrillers that hook readers with high-stake action, medical drama, and technological elements. Daniel sat down to interview his father and what followed was an entertaining, personal, and all around enjoyable conversation reflecting on Michael’s career so far. Members of RT were in attendance and we’re delighted to bring our readers a recap of the discussion.
Son Daniel Palmer jokingly points out how his name is bigger on his book cover than his father, Michael's
Set up in one of the ballrooms of the Grand Hyatt, Daniel and Michael Palmer sat on a stage looking out over an eager and excited audience. After providing us with quick introductions of who they were, Daniel started the interview by asking his father to discuss his first published novel, The Sisterhood, and how it came to be. Michael said he “never wanted to be a writer” and that he “wasn’t very good at it," which the audience found funny and I’m sure left his many fans wondering, How could he ever be bad? Michael then launched into how he learned to write, saying he received most of his knowledge while attending Wesleyan University, the same university author Robin Cook attended. It was Cook’s Coma that sparked Michael’s interest in writing a novel. He asked his sister, “[Cook] has the same education as I do. Why can’t I write a book?” His sister replied with, “Because you’re dull." Undeterred, Michael started writing, using his experiences as a doctor as the basis for his ideas, and he found himself writing a page a night. He soon had a stack of pages on his kitchen table and friends started coming over to read the story and provide feedback. Michael concluded this segment by discussing how the story was submitted to agents and while they liked his instincts, it was not quite ready and that he was told to “come up with new ideas."
Daniel, who seemed just as enthralled as the audience by his father’s anecdotes, continued the conversation by asking about Michael’s other series and his views on writing in general. One comment that stood out to me is that Michael said, “[writers] have to be fearless. You have to be unafraid ... Fear of sounding stupid is the greatest fear for us.” He also stressed the importance of writing clearly and said that writing clearly is as difficult as writing well. On the subject of ideas, Michael never has more than one idea at a time and spends a lot of his writing time reading and searching for something that resonates with him, a process most writers can identify with.
After a few more stories and tips were shared, Daniel and Michael wrapped up the interview and thanked the audience for being there. As a reader who is not as familiar with the thriller genre as I would like to be, I was completely engaged the entire time and both Daniel and Michael made an impression. They now have one more reader to add to their already large fanbase.
Check back all week for more coverage of ThrillerFest! For more genre news and coverage, visit our Everything Mystery, Suspense & Thriller Page.