Monday, July 13, 2009
Any hope of making it to the afternoon sessions started to evaporate when I ran into Becky Cantrell, whose A Trace of Smoke has been garnering praise everywhere. We gathered up Andy Peterson, Bobby Rotenberg, Pam Callow, C.J. Lyons, Shane Gericke, and more and found a place that would serve us sandwiches. Shane's theory about thong underwear and female police officers was pooh-poohed by the women at the table. Just as we were going to split up, Jim Rollins strolled by. Jim's The Doomsday Key is #2 this week on the NY Times bestseller list (not shabby). (#4 loved the autographed copy of Jim's Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow that I brought home for him.) We retired to the hotel bar with Jim, his partner David, and Sophie. We managed to stumble across Alex again and ITW co-founder Gayle Lynds whose terrific The Last Spymaster I read just last week. Gayle and I compared notes. She's busy writing about the tunnels underneath Moscow while I'm writing about what's under the streets of Jerusalem. We got so caught up in the conversation, I almost missed my own panel.
The panel was scheduled at 4, in the last slot before the pre-awards banquet reception. Other panels we were up against boasted writers like Eric Van Lustbader, Karin Slaughter, Joe Finder, David Hewson, David Liss, Brad Meltzer, and M.J. Rose. I was amazed to find 30 people ready to listen to us prattle on about "Do We Need Another Hero?" Under Tony Tata's expert guidance, Andy Harp, Ward Larson, Paul Wilson, and I talked about what writers needed to do to make their protagonists shine with appeal and originality. My first suggestion was to make them bald. Anyway, I did voice my opinion that we don't need another protagonist who is consumed by work, is divorced but with strong feelings toward an ex, and has problems with alcohol and a precocious child.
At the banquet I was at the Writers House table with, among others, agents Simon Lipskar and Dan Conaway, James Phelan, Charlie Newton (whom I'd interviewed about his Calumet City, nominated for both an Edgar and Thriller Award, but never met face to face), Josh Gaylord whose Hummingbirds will be out this fall and whom I'd met on the phone without knowing who his wife was, and that very wife, the brilliant Megan Abbott. I was so tickled with Alex's win for best short story.
Home now. Beat but with a pile of to-dos as high as an elephant's eye.