Dry humor, moving tributes to those who provided award winners with practical and emotional support, and honorees with differing approaches to the thriller genre, highlighted ITW's 17th Annual Thriller Awards Banquet. The award ceremony was the crowning event of the International Thriller Writers' Thrillerfest XVII, held June 4 at a packed ballroom at Manhattan's Sheraton Times Square. The group boasts more than 5,000 members in over 50 countries, including authors who have collectively sold over 3 billion books.

The big winner was S.A. Cosby, the first person ever to take home back-to-back Best Hardcover Novel awards, whose Razorblade Tears (Flatiron Books), also won for Best Audiobook (Macmillan, narrated by Adam Lazarre-White), a new ITW award category. Cosby described his book, which centers on the aftershocks of the murders of an interracial gay couple, as "ultimately about tolerance," but a challenge to write, given his intent to provide a nuanced look at "things that are difficult to talk about."

Cosby's path to critical and commercial success led him from a job at a hardware store to being touted on the Today Show. This year's honor was especially significant to him, given that he'd dedicated Razorblade Tears to his mother Joyce, who died in 2021; Cosby stated that she not only had gotten him his first typewriter, but pawned her wedding rings so that he could buy his first laptop. He also gave shout-outs to his editor, Christine Kopprasch, for making his book better, and actor Lazarre-White, who'd been on The Young and the Restless, one of his mom's favorite soaps.

Best First Novel winner Amanda Jayatissa—for My Sweet Girl (Berkley)—also moved the audience with her acceptance speech, crediting the ITW community with treating her as a professional colleague, rather than a fangirl, despite her excitement at meeting some of her literary heroes. Jayatissa, who flew in from her native Sri Lanka for the occasion, especially appreciated the judges' recognition of her book, which features a Sri Lankan protagonist, at a time when her country "is going through some hard times." Her earnest and sincere speech was leavened with humor, as when she thanked her husband for not only being her best friend and first reader, but for being "so critical" of her work.

Jess Lourey, whose Bloodline (Thomas & Mercer) won in the Best Paperback Original Novel category, thanked editor Jessica Tribble, who had told her to throw out the first hundred pages of her manuscript - "It turns out, she was right," and her agent, Jill Marsal, before joking that she'd never met Marsal in the seven years they'd worked together, and wondered if she was a real person.

R.L. Stine, the 2011 ThrillerMaster, began his remarks introducing 2022 ThrillerMaster Frederick Forsyth, by sharing that upon arriving at the Sheraton, a woman asked him if anyone had ever told him that he "looked like R.L. Stine—no offense?" Stine credited Forysth, who appeared briefly via excerpts from a pre-recorded video interview, with changing the thriller genre forever by using "journalistic techniques to tell fictional stories," eschewing emotional adjectives in describing the actions of characters such as the eponymous assassin in The Day of the Jackal.

The second 2022 ThrillerMaster, Diana Gabaldon, self-deprecatingly resisted being called iconic because she was too short for such a designation, and thanked her editor for patiently waiting seven years for her last book. Her focus, however, was on the questionable significance of genre labels, matching the text on the back of the complimentary copies of Outlander left on each table, which informed readers that the book was for them if they were interested in adventure fiction, historical romance, epic fantasy or military history - the thriller label conspicuous by its absence. Gabaldon amusingly shared her husband's response to news of the honor—"but you don't write thrillers, why on Earth would you go to the banquet?" She added her own experiences finding her books in various sections in bookstores, highlighting her battle with Barnes & Noble to have them not shelved in romance, which she felt would limit her sales.