Murder Circle

Cannell and Connelly and Crais–Oh My!

April 1st, 2010

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

Actually, we were in Los Angeles at the Omni Hotel. Hollywood, however, was present in the persona of TV mystery writers who gave us shows like Mannix and Murder, She Wrote. CREATING–AND SUSTAINING–THE MYSTERY SERIES panel was made up of William Link, Tom Sawyer, Bob Levinson and Paul Levine. 

I’ve had three weeks to recover from Left Coast Crime, Booked in L.A. Whew! Approximately 500 people flowing through the second floor, a crush of authors, writers and fans. I saw many familiar faces, resorted to waving to them across the sea of people. Finding a quiet space and a moment to talk was nearly impossible!

I HAD to attend a panel called SEX AND THE AUTHOR because it hit on a topic I will be speaking at the Public Safety Conference this year. I learned that Denise Dietz lays it on the line in her books, L. J. Sellers is more restrained, even though her novel is THE SEX CLUB.  April Smith (NORTH OF MONTANA) says there is still resistance with readers with involving the female protagonist in sex scenes.

Robert Crais regaled us with crazy emails he receives. When asked “What kind of books do you read?” he replied “I read MY books!”

Derek Haas (THE SILVER BEAR) went against accepted advice: “I don’t write what I know. I write what’s cool.” Another tip came from Pete Goodman (SMOKING FROG LIVES!): “Belize beer is awful!” He should know as his books take place in the Yucatan. 

I found out that short stories are referred to as “popcorn fiction.” Is that because they are light and tasty or because they have moral “fiber?”

When Naomi Hirahara interviewed Barry Eisler he said he didn’t think working in CIA Covert Operations was that big a deal until it came to light by fans. I had to pick up a copy of REQUIEM FOR AN ASSASSIN as I’m a fan of his John Rain series.

We all watched our pennies at this conference. I bought Lou Allin’s MAN CORN MURDERS about cannabilism among Native American tribes. I was also interested in Juliet Blackwell’s SECONDHAND SPIRITS and Sue Ann Jaffarian’s GHOST A LA MODE. These books are a departure for both and I had to see what the ladies were up to.    

Not that we didn’t get a great selection in our book bags. I managed to barter for all three of Robert Fate’s BABY SHARK series. PHILIPPINE FEVER by Bruce Cook and THE ONE MINUTE ASSASSIN by his son Troy Cook found their way into my carry-on. I also came away with a copy of THE ARK by Boyd Morrison. Score!     

I met an interesting New Yorker while fighting over the last purple conference T-shirt. It turned out to be the wrong size for both of us, but Kenneth Wishnia and I discovered we’re both friends of Jonathan Santlofer. Kenneth did the impossible: he got Edgar and Anthony nominations for his self-pubbed book, 23 SHADES OF BLACK. He also got a publisher for his latest, THE FIFTH SERVANT. 

I roomed with Madeline Gornell (DEATH OF A PERFECT MAN); attended panels where the lethal ladies of Central Coast spoke including Victoria Heckman (KAPU, A COCONUT MAN MYSTERY OF ANCIENT HAWAII), Sue McGinty (MURDER IN LOS LOBOS), and Karen Kavanaugh, who premiered her mystery ROCK OF MORRO BAY at the conference. I sat at the banquet with my Sisters from Sacramento: Pat Canterbury (EVERY THURSDAY), Nan Mahon (JUNKYARD BLUES) and Cindy Sample, soon to publish DYING FOR A DATE.

My own panel was very well attended, though it was one of the last on Saturday. BEHIND THE BADGE were Robin Burcell (THE BONE CHAMBER), Steven M. Thomas (CRIMINAL KARMA) and Adam Eisenburg (A DIFFERENT SHADE OF BLUE: How Women Changed the Face of Police Work).  Unfortunately, our signing was bumped because the cocktail party had to be set up in the signing area. Bummer!   

Speaking of the banquet, they held our desserts hostage until the award ceremony was over. Thousands of dollars were raised for the literacy program in the auction and four signed Mickey Spillane novels went for a whopping $2,000.

Winner this year for the Lefty Award for best humorous mystery went to Rita Lakin for GETTING OLD IS A DISASTER. The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery was awarded to Rebecca Cantrell for A TRACE OF SMOKE. You can see a photo of her right after the win was announced being supported (literally!) by Kelli Stanley. The Panik Award for L.A. Noir was created in honor of Paul Anik, chairman of 2010 LCC who died prior to the event. Linda Richards picked up the Panik for DEATH WAS IN THE PICTURE.

And that’s my take on the conference. As we all waved good-bye we called “See you in Santa Fe next year!”

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