Here's the biggest surprise about Left Coast Crime, the Western Mystery Convention in Seattle: I have had only one beer, and it is day 3. Here's the least surprising thing: it's raining.
#1, my 17-year old, and I flew up Thursday afternoon. She's in her last semester in high school and has a bad case of "senioritis." We checked into the hotel, took a quick tour through the bar to say hi to Jane Cleland, Cara Black, and other old friends and then went out to dinner at the Metropolitan Grill which is, the LCC guide tell us, "the place for steak" in Seattle. It was very pricey, but I did have the best piece of salmon I'd had in years. We repaired back to the hotel and managed to claim a corner of the bar, where we talked and drank (#1 had soda water) with Edgar-nominee Naomi Hirahara (she still seems a little numb) and her husband Wes, the witty and warm Pari Noskin Taichert, the Oscar winner Bob Fate, Lefty-nominee Troy Cook, his proud father and fellow author Bruce Cook, the hard-working and delightful Margery Flax of MWA, and one of the funniest fellows in mysterydom, Brian Wiprud. The next day Brian was to be on a panel discussing amateur detectives and I on one on technology in mysteries. We had little to say about our own panels, but plenty to say about each other's. We talked of clipping off Brian's Bob Big Boy wave and pasting it on my head in order to switch identities and panel assignments, but it all came to nought. #1 managed to be a little embarrassed -- I'd sent our holiday card with a photo of her and her siblings to a couple of the attendees here and they all made sure to mention it. Introduced myself to Murderati blogger Alex Sokoloff on the elevator. She said I looked nothing like what she imagined. ?? Scott Montgomery reported that he is leaving L.A. for St. Louis. ??
Yesterday #1 accompanied me to the aforementioned amateur sleuth panel. She said it was better than school, but then took off shopping. In the book room I ran into Simon Wood who was chatting with Diane Kudisch, boss lady of the San Francisco Mystery Book Store. As readers of this blog will know, Dot Dead has been overlooked by media and stores in the City even as it sells gratifyingly well just a few miles south of the city limits. I know it's my fault for insisting that San Francisco is a suburb of Silicon Valley, but by lunching with S.F. representative Kudisch and Simon, perhaps we have taken the first step in a detente. Don't want to forget about the "Z Boys." Ran into Frank Zafiro, whom I met at the worst signing of my tour and who kept our spirits up the whole time, and Mark Richard Zubro, whom I met while pitching down in Hollywood -- we're still waiting for that call back.
Bill Cameron, a new Midnight Ink author, was on a panel on swearing. I'd hoped to learn some new words to sprinkle through my work in progress, but no luck. My own panel, moderated by Donna Andrews, also included fellow Silicon Valley author Mark Coggins, and Murdoch Hughes who writes a series about a vegan werewolf (?) and had no idea why he was included on the panel. One of the tricky elements about writing a 21st century crime novel is the ubiquity of cellphones. Partners can stay in touch, people in peril can just press 9-1-1. What if they'd been around 150 years ago? A character in a Sherlock Holmes mystery would call and describe the monstrous hound chasing him across the moors. Kinda ruins the story. Well, we discussed that and lots more. At the end of my panel at Bouchercon, I think I signed one book. Yesterday was 100% better. The long line was in front of Donna's station.
Someone posted a comment recently on Amazon.com saying that Dot Dead was "unputdown-able." That's a good word for what happened to me last night. I was up till 2 finishing The Red Cat by Peter Spiegelman. Wow. There should be a congressional investigation if the book is not nominated for an Edgar. (I'll be interviewing Peter, along with the 21st century's answer to Hammett, Tim Maleeny, at M is for Mystery on Feburary 18.) I've said hi to Tim, but Peter is at the conference, too, and I'll try to track him down tonight to introduce myself.
This morning I felt like I was back in Professor Kiely's college course on "Trends in the Contemporary Novel" when I went to the panel on noir. We heard about existentialism, Camus, alienation, and more. #1 came to that one and then we headed out for breakfast. I'm just back from listening to an interview with Gayle Lynds which was lots of fun, though if the introduction had run shorter than 15 minutes, it would have been okay with me.
In a few minutes, I'm heading over to the Seattle Mystery Bookshop where I'll be signing books along with 15 other authors including old chums Maggie Sefton and Twist Phelan whom I've not mentioned and Brian Wiprud and Mark Coggins whom I have. Should be fun whether anyone buys or not.