I’ve arrived in New York City. The main reason I’m here is for Thrillerfest. I’ll be at the conference later this week, and moderating a panel Saturday morning: “BOXERS OR BRIEFS? Making Your Attorney Stand Out.” It’s July 13 from 9:30 am – 10:20 am. I get to ask questions of some all-stars: Linda Fairstein, John Lescroart, Al Giannini, John Sheldon, Andy Siegel, and Walter Walker. It should be stimulating and fun.
But I also came to attend a pre-conference workshop for writers, presented by the FBI. As a lawyer, a thriller writer, a news junkie, and a citizen, it was fascinating. The New York office of the FBI was generous to offer their expertise and tell us about what’s happening with Counterterrorism, Cyber Threats, White Collar Crime, and Organized Crime, among other topics.
I’ll have more to say about what I learned — most likely via twisted criminal plots revealed in future novels. But for the moment, I want to offer some tips on how to attend a workshop at the big bad offices of the FBI.
1. Sign up in plenty of time. Submit name, birth date, and Social Security Number, so the Bureau can vet you. Double check that you signed up in time. Hear back: As long as you don’t have any outstanding warrants, you should be able to attend. Goody!
2. Arrive in New York the day before the workshop. Plan your trip downtown with excruciating care, leaving plenty of time for broken alarm clocks, subway delays, attacks by the Cloverfield monster, etc.
3. On the morning of the workshop, dress nicely, knowing that the FBI doesn’t do Casual Mondays, and if they have to look spiffy, I can too. Put on heels.
4. Depart for the workshop 75 minutes early, after confirming with both the hotel concierge and native New Yorkers the best train to take.
5. Follow all the commuters to the subway platform, and when the train arrives, hop on. Congratulate yourself on how early you are going to arrive. Think: You’ve been coming to New York since 1984, and you have it down. Taking the A Train is a breeze. Relax and read the paper.
6. Look up from the paper when the sun blares through the windows. Think: Why is this train above ground? Look out and see the East River. Watch as the gigantic dude standing by the door moves aside, so that you can now see the big letter D on the wall. Understand that your ass is not stopping at City Hall and that the FBI office is miles behind you because ohhhh no, you are on AN EXPRESS TRAIN TO BROOKLYN GAH.
7. Enjoy a fine tour of Brooklyn subway stations!
8. Change trains, join tens of thousands of Brooklynites commuting into Manhattan, finally arrive at the correct stop, run up the stairs and up the street in your fine spiffy clothes. Arrive at the Federal Building with 1 minute to spare. Set off the metal detector with those frickin’ high heel sandals. Take ’em off, prove you’re not a threat, and run through the lobby of the building with your shoes in your hands, shouting to anybody who’ll listen, “Where’s the FBI?”
9. Finally: for all instances of “you,” substitute “me.”
Enjoy. It will be a trip.
(Obligatory View From the Hotel Room Window by moi.)