|With C.S. Challinor and Jeff Cohen at Malice Domestic 2010|
When my first book came out, I listened to other writers who told me which conventions I should attend. I scraped together the cash to attend Love is Murder in Chicago. A fellow Guppy (an online Sisters in Crime chapter for unpublished writers) offered to pick me up at the airport and drive me to the hotel. We had a lot of fun getting to know each other in person, and I got to relax and let someone else figure out where the hotel was. But when we finally arrived, I could tell something strange was going on. There were lots of people in costumes, and not a single one dressed as Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple. The lobby was filled with WWI soldiers, Revolutionary War soldiers and camp followers, someone who looked like Henri the 8th, and a few people who looked like they had escaped from a Renaissance fair. It was like all the eras of history had collided together and had somehow manifested themselves in a suburban Chicago hotel. There was also a Canon not too far from the bar.
1) They are obsessive.
Just like mystery fans can discuss (or argue about) the order of a certain series, or who inspired some book, or will email a writer to correct them on the smallest detail in their book, reenactors are obsessed with getting the details right in their costumes.
2) They spend money on what most of America thinks of as strange.
One of the WWI soldiers told me how you could tell a real reenactor. They have way too many authentic historic costumes and drive a cheap, old car. Mystery fans usually pour all their money into their library (and shelves) and probably also drive old cars. Priorities, priorities.
3) They intimidate other conventions sharing their hotel.
For once, we weren’t the weird ones. I hesitated for a moment before getting in the elevator with a Roman Centurion holding a spear. But I needed to get to the lobby, so I rode down with him wondering if they wore underwear under their animal skins. But even I was too embarrassed to ask him directly. Besides, he was holding a really big spear.
Also, like mystery writers, the reenactors were incredibly friendly and had a great sense of humor. So when the Roman soldiers had a ceremony that involved lining up outside a conference room and blowing a giant horn, the mystery writers and fans just lined up and took pictures. We could wait get to the next event once they marched away. Dead bodies are usually patient, and we can't resist a good story.