Saturday, June 16, 2007


There will be so much excitement at ThrillerFest between CraftFest, the author spotlight interviews, the panels, the lunches, the auctions, the banquets, the parties! A little relaxation is called for, and who better to provide it than ITW President David Morrell?

For those who would rather not spend the evening enjoying the excitement of New York City, Friday night from 7-8:30, all ThrillerFest attendees are invited to “The Making of a ThrillerWriter.” Join David for a brief lecture followed by a screening of one of his favorite TV shows: ROUTE 66. I had lots of questions, like why Route 66? And would popcorn be served? Here’s what David had to say:
When I was 17 and going nowhere, my life changed on the first Friday of October
in 1960. I can even be specific about the time: 8:30 pm.
That's when the first episode of ROUTE 66 premiered, and I'm still deeply
influenced by the experience.

With overtones of Jack Kerouac's ON
THE ROAD, the series was about two young men in a Corvette convertible who drove
across the United States in search of America and themselves. Ironically,
the stories seldom took place on the famed highway for which the series was
named. Instead, the production crew (two huge eighteen-wheeler trucks)
criss-crossed the country. Not one scene was ever filmed in a

Few super-highways existed then. Communities tended
to be distinctive. Most of the locations have now been destroyed. As
a consequence, the 116 episodes of the series are a vivid depiction of America
from 1960-1964, an America that no longer exists.

The series
featured great directors (such as Robert Altman and Sam Peckinpah) and
exciting actors (such as Robert Redford and Tuesday Weld). Each
week, Nelson Riddle contributed an original score. But the main strength
of the show is that two-thirds of the scripts were written by Stirling
Silliphant, who eventually received an Oscar for IN THE HEAT OF THE

Silliphant's scripts were an intriguing blend of intense
action and philosophic/poetic speeches that had a flavor of Tennessee Williams
combined with William Inge and Arthur Miller. His writing so knocked me
out that I wrote him a letter, explaining my sudden ambition to follow his
path. The long letter he sent me in return contains all the advice a
writer needs: "Write, write, keep writing, and then write more."
That letter is framed next to my desk.

He and I stayed in touch
over the years, and eventually I was thrilled to work with him when he served as
executive producer for the NBC miniseries of my novel THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE

The episode I'm going to show is called BIRDCAGE ON MY
FOOT. The guest star is Robert Duval. The location is Boston.
The script is by Silliphant. It's one of the very best episodes of the
series, and it illustrates why ROUTE 66 is one of the all-time great television

Alas, I won't be serving popcorn.

Hope to see you there!

Stacy Alesi
I am the BookBitch

Friday, June 15, 2007

Borders must pay overdue overtime

A federal judge in Chicago ordered Borders bookstore in Oak Park to reinstate wrongfully fired employee Clarice Prange, and ordered Borders to pay her $333,229 in unpaid overtime and for time and expenses lost due to the company's retaliation against her for filing her lawsuit in April 2005. Prange, an hourly employee, worked 4,170 hours of unpaid overtime from 2001 to 2004 in hopes of winning a promotion and on the promise of compensatory time off, said her attorney, Jac A. Cotiguala. U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman also ordered Borders to pay legal fees, which are estimated at $500,000 to $600,000,CST-FIN-tick15.article

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


One of the highlights of ThrillerFest ‘06 was the auction. Brad Meltzer was the auctioneer and people walked away with baskets of goodies donated by some of the biggest names in the thriller community – Steve Berry, Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Linda Fairstein, Tess Gerritsen, R.L. Stine and many others. Baskets were filled with amazing one-of-a-kind items like rare manuscript pages, a handwritten letter, photographs, signed books and even a beautiful gold & diamond butterfly ring, courtesy of MJ Rose.

But this year ThrillerFest is promising to be even bigger and better. They are not just having an auction, there are going to be two auctions! I checked in with the committee in charge, Shane Gericke and Britin Haller, and they were happy to answer my questions.

BB: I understand you guys are in charge of the auctions. There are two? What's up with that?

SHANE: We’re aiming at two different audiences this year—CraftFest, for writers working on their craft, and ThrillerMaster, for fans, authors and general attendees. So I asked everyone to consider making two separate donations. The level of “yes” was remarkable. I still don’t know how we got so many world-class authors to make such superb gifts.

BRITIN: We blackmailed them with pictures.

SHANE: Oh, right. And it worked so well, too . . .

BB: I know the schedule is up, but the authors are busy looking to see what panels they're on, and the fans are busy trying to figure out how to be in three places at once. So when and where are the auctions?

BRITIN: The CraftFest auction will be held on Thursday, during the Dangerous Vegetables and the Simple Truth luncheon.

SHANE: Saturday afternoon plays host to the big ThrillerMaster Reception and Charity Auction, and features our ThrillerMaster 2007 himself, James Patterson.

BB: What kind of stuff are you auctioning off?

SHANE: Take home your bite of the Big Apple by becoming a character in a thriller! Imagine yourself as a spy in a Gayle Lynds espionage tale. A tough guy in a Lee Child extravaganza. Sinner, saint, or something else, courtesy of David Morrell, M.J. Rose, Jeffery Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, James Rollins, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child or other world-class author. And in a “two-fer” exclusive to ThrillerFest 2007, Jon Land will make you a character in a thriller and in his next movie screenplay.

BRITIN: But character namings are only part of the fun. You’ll win “something special” from Brad Meltzer. Share a drink with R.L. Stine of Goosebumps fame, break bread with the editor of a big New York publishing house. Win a character naming plus meal with Grant Blackwood . . . see your own manuscript reviewed by Shirley Kennett . . .

SHANE: . . . win a sunset cruise with Douglas Preston, in Maine, on his very own lobster boat . . . er, yacht! Take home an original, signed, Joseph Finder manuscript . . . let all thirteen Killer Year 2007 authors sign and ship their debuts to you when they’re hot off the presses . . . chat with your favorite author over a meal or drinks . . . learn book-promotion secrets from the master, M.J. Rose . . . have a sailboat named after you in a Christine Kling novel. And that’s not all! Call in the next ten minutes and we’ll include a free set of ginzu knives just for ordering. But wait! Call in the next three minutes and . . .

BRITIN: Down, boy! All kidding aside, Shane's a machine. He's done a terrific job on this auction, and he's just getting started. I take off my crown to him.

SHANE: Oh, no, you have to keep it, Britin. You look so regal it in, and besides, I don’t have enough hair to hold the pins any more . . .

BB: Are you looking for more stuff, and if so, like what?

BRITIN: Donations are coming in as we speak, and we have several big-name authors we're still hoping to obtain commitments from. We're also seeking a behind the scenes—


BB: Will there be a fast talking auctioneer? Care to drop names?

BRITIN: Of course. The one and only Jeremiah Healy will be doing the honors at both auctions.

BB: What are you going to do with all the money you raise?

BRITIN: I've always wanted to go to the South Seas, and Shane does still have that pesky gambling debt, so if there's any left over....

SHANE: Hey, I paid my bookies just this week! So all the money can go to our favorite literacy programs.

BB: And they are?

SHANE: ITW will donate a portion of the proceeds to the James Patterson PageTurner Awards (, which grants $500,000 in cash prizes to “celebrate the people, companies, schools and institutions who find original and effective ways to spread the excitement of books and reading,” and Reading Is Fundamental (, the nation’s largest children’s literacy organization.

BB: Anything else you'd like to share?

BRITIN: Bid High and Bid Fast.

SHANE: Just bid high. Auctioneer Jerry will take care of the fast!

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