Saturday, November 28, 2009
Welcome to the family
When I first attended a crime writing conference years ago, a very kind woman pulled me aside and said, "This is your first conference, isn't it?"
Clearly I had the stunned look of someone unused to walking around with a badge around his neck, bumping into authors you'd read for years, and signing books for fans you didn't even know you had. I think I'd gone to the conference with some trepidation about writers, anxious there might be a cloud of literary pretense hovering over the whole affair. I couldn't have been more wrong and have never forgotten this woman's keen observation about the mystery world.
"Crime writers spend their whole day killing people on the page, so they get all their aggressions out. They're lovely, unpretentious people." And then she paused and added, "There are only 3 or 4 jerks, and we all know who they are."
She nailed it, and I had a blast at that conference. Sure, I met some people I admired over the years, and they didn't disappoint. But in the crime fiction arena those in the know realize it isn't about big names or little names, just that we're all in it together, and that's why you go to the conferences. To hang out with the people you love, dear friends whose names you see regularly on the bookshelves but whose faces you see only two or three times a year.