Saturday, April 13, 2013

A bunch of crime fiction writers walk into a bar...

(originally published on "Murder is Everywhere")

Writers spend a lot of time alone. Most of us are introverts to some degree — you almost have to be, to deal with the solitary nature of the gig, to spend that much time in your head. But many of us also need our social outlets —and there's nothing like the chance to spend a few days with other members of your tribe.

The crime fiction community is fortunate to have a number of annual conventions, gatherings of writers and readers. What these events seem to have in common is that they all center around the hotel bar. I'm not suggesting that all writers drink a lot, but I think it's safe to say that most writers drink some. And drinking or not, the hotel bar is where you go to socialize.

(bar food at Left Coast Crime Colorado)

I just got back from Left Coast Crime, one of the two annual events I attend. The other is Bouchercon, the Big Kahuna of crime fiction conferences. Bouchercons typically bring in 1500+ attendees: authors, readers, publishers, agents, editors, reviewers, librarians and sales reps. Left Coast Crime is a more intimate affair, but equally professional in its organization and execution.

This year, Left Coast was in Colorado Springs, at the lovely Cheyenne Mountain Resort. This was the view from my window the first day of the conference:

This is a little misleading, because if you turn to your left, you'd see a really huge golf course (winter brown at least) and a bunch of "ranchettes." But still a beautiful setting.

So, a crime fiction conference -- what do you do?

There are panels to attend, on topics ranging from forensics to writing other cultures, to discussions on genre, on using social media, on cold cases, panels on craft, panels on marketing. 

(Panel:"The Character, The 'Why' in Mystery," featuring Jeanne Matthews, Terry Shames, David...crap, I'm really sorry I'm spacing on his name, cause he was an interesting guy, Shannon Baker, hello, I can't remember her name either, and she's also not in my conference program, and likewise had a lot of interesting things to say, plus moderator Robert Kresge, not pictured)

I was on two panels, "International Intrigue" and "What You Don't Know About Thriller Writers." Both were a blast. But as one of my fellow panelists said to me on the last night of the conference, "It's not about the panels. It's about...this!" An expansive wave around the bar. 

Even at this late hour, on the last night of the conference, there were groups of attendees moving chairs to make larger circles around tables, clustered in twos and threes around the bar, some going from group to group to chat with old friends and to make new ones. 

Yeah, I realize this all sounds pretty corny. But it's true. 

The first day of the conference, some of my fellow Los Angeles Sisters and Misters in Crime took an excursion to the Garden of the Gods. Beautiful...

But of course, what made it especially fun was the company...

(We Might Be Rock Stars)

The conference ran from Thursday through Sunday. On Saturday, a good-sized storm came through Colorado. Again, the view from my window:

(cold, white stuff falling from the sky)

By Sunday, the view looked like this:

(cold, white stuff no longer falling from the sky, but sticking to the ground)

Going to wonderful events like this and getting to hang out with people with whom I have so much in common, as a writer and as a reader, is really one of the best perks of this author gig. I'm very psyched that I still have Bouchercon to look forward to this year. And next year's Left Coast Crime is in gorgeous Monterey, CA! And the US Guest of Honor is none other than....(drumroll)...our own Cara Black! 

The rest of the line-up is equally epic.

Yes, I've already registered.

1 comment:

Cara Lopez Lee said...

Too bad I couldn't hit the bar with you... But hey, I get what you mean about hanging out with fellow writers. I do it as often as I can. And I love your photos!