Well, the Northern half of Evelyn David and I are back and I’m happy to report that we had a fabulous weekend. Even the food at the banquet was good…not rubber chicken! (It actually might have been, but I was so hungry at that point that I was ready to gnaw off my own arm.)
Since this was my first Malice, I didn’t know what to expect and as you know, faithful readers of the Stiletto Gang, I was expecting the worst. I had convinced myself that it would be a cross between high school and the prison rec yard in terms of the welcome that I would receive as a first-time conventioneer. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The writers and the fans were warm, encouraging, and delightful to talk to. I made several new friends and promise to keep in touch. But the best thing of all about attending was that I got re-energized about writing and about getting further into my fifth book about Alison Bergeron, something I was hoping would happen while I was away.
Mystery fans are a devoted lot, I must say. They know their books, their authors, the characters, and the plot lines. I am awe of how much these people know about series—where they began, where they are going, where they might have ended—and how loyal they are as readers. Evelyn David and I had a long conversation about what authors owe their readers and decided that we didn’t really know. What happens when you kill off a major character? What does that do to your readership? Does it matter? Maybe. I write my books attempting to stay true to the characters and their lives. But, I do give a lot of thought—if not to what the fans might say—but to just how real-life a certain plot point might be or what a certain action will do to the arc of the series. I guess part of that thought process, maybe subconsciously, takes into account what the fans might think. I know that there are successful authors who have killed off a fan favorite and heard about it from their readership. I don’t know if that has affected the writing they do now, but I do know that it probably affected them in terms of the criticism they had to endure.
But I digress. I also had the pleasure of sitting on a panel with Parnell Hall, Rhys Bowen, and Carole Nelson Douglas; we were charge with appearing as our main character, in costume. Well, if you have read the Alison Bergeron series and know anything about me, it is that Alison and I are pretty similar when it comes to what we wear. Evelyn suggested that I appear in a hockey jersey, an homage to Alison’s love of the game. When I got to the panel, I could see that clearly I was out of my league. Parnell was dressed as Cora Felton, aka the Puzzle Lady; Rhys was in a ball gown, blonde wig, and tiara, dressed as Georgie, cousin of King George V of England; and Carole was in black feathers from head to toe, impersonating her feline protagonist, Midnight Louie. I was clearly out of my league. (Evelyn knew it, too. I could tell by the look on her face.) I decided to play the straight man. There was no way I could compete with this crowd. It worked out pretty well, and although I didn’t get the guffaws that my panel-mates did, I think I held my own.
Future promotional activities include a speaking engagement at my alma mater; two bookstore signings with Evelyn; and perhaps a trip to Bouchercon (I’m still deciding on that one). But I’ve left the attic, dear friends. And in the immortal words of Nina Simone, “I am feeling good.”