Showing posts with label Albuquerque. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Albuquerque. Show all posts

04 May 2022

The Tribe Gathers in Albuquerque


The last big event for the mystery community before Covid was Left Coast Crime 2020 in San Diego.  It was shut down on the first day.

The first big event in the after-we-hope times was, appropriately enough, also Left Coast Crime, this year in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was there.  It was lively and, I think, bigger than usual, because as one writer told me, it was the first gathering of the tribe in so long.

The first time I heard the mystery community referred to as a tribe was in 1993 when Donald E. Westlake was named a Grand Master by the MWA.  During his speech at the Edgars Banquet he said "You're my tribe!"  And so we are.

So let's talk about some of the highlights.  If you find yourself at an LCC in the future (like in Tucson, next spring) there are a few special events you don't want to miss.  One is the Author Speed Dating.  Twenty tables are set up and fans pick one and stay while forty authors make their way from table to table.  Each author has two minutes to explain why you should definitely buy their book and not all the other trash that's being promoted.  (Well, nobody says the last part.)  I have been on both sides and I can tell you it is much more fun being a listener at these things than a talker.  (Imagine giving the same elevator pitch 20 times in a row.)

Another treat is the New Author's breakfast where rookies  have a very brief moment to talk about their debut works.  I came away with a list of half a dozen books I wanted to check out.

The table hosts.

And then there's the Awards Banquet. I was lucky enough to host a table with the inimitable S.J. Rozan where we attempted to entertain seven guests while the food somewhat slowly appeared (more about that later).

The award winners, by the way, demonstrate one of the exciting trends we are seeing in our field: the increase in diversity of authors (and I hope readers). 

I moderated a panel on secondary characters, which gave me a chance to introduce Bonnar Spring, Greg Herren, Karen Odden, and (ahem) this year's MWA Grand Master Laurie R. King.  That was fun.

I was also on a panel on short stories.  As a major supporter of the brief mystery I was thrilled that there were three panels on that subject - and all were well-attended.

This weekend was my first opportunity to listen to Mick Herron who is flying high since Apple TV just premiered a series based on his Slow Horses spy novel series in April.  Literally true: When I heard that Gary Oldman had been cast as the main character I signed up for Apple TV, just like that.

Members of the Short Mystery
Fiction Society met for breakfast.

Herron was interviewed by editor Juliet Grames, who said that since Sir Mick Jagger had sung the theme song for Slow Horses they were obviously best buds now and needed a clever couple name.  Herron suggested The Micks, logically enough.    

The committee that ran LCC did a great job against, let's face it, an extreme degree of difficulty.  Covid kept some people away, made changes to seating arrangements, and probably accounted for some of the problems with the conference facility.  The hotel actually changed its name a week before the con, making finding it a bit exciting, and the staff seemed both undersized and undertrained.  Calling down for service felt a bit like, to steal a line from Don Marquis, dropping a rose petal in the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo.  (When we went down to check out there was literally no one visible on the large ground floor. We strolled behind counters and into offices looking for people for about five minutes before someone showed up.)

But perhaps the biggest adventure came after the con when we filled our swag bags with tons of books we had picked up and walked them a few blocks to the Post Office.  We bought an official USPS carton, filled it with our treasures, sealed it with the official USPS tape and mailed it off.

It arrived a week later, and here you can see the contents.  What you cannot tell is that at least ten books had vanished from the box.  On the other hand, a bag of cheap Easter candy had been added.  I don't know whether that had belonged in some other damaged package or some postal clerk included it by way of apology.

Interestingly, some of the missing volumes were books I wrote and took to the con in hopes of selling (some did sell, I hasten to add).  Apparently nobody at the post office could guess that multiple copies of books written by Robert Lopresti probably belonged in the box that was addressed to Robert Lopresti.  

Hooray for insurance.  

But enough whining. It was great running into a lot of old friends and making new ones.  They had a lot of interesting stuff to say and next time I shall regale you with my favorite words of wisdom.  Till then, stay tribal.