Friday, September 3, 2010

Me 'n' Deaver Get a Bite . . .

The dark poet of crime-writing, Ken Bruen.


By Shane Gericke

Mornin', everyone. Before I tell my favorite convention story, I'd like to announce the winner of the "Find Our Ken!" game I've been running since the launch of my new thriller.

The game is simple. I wrote one chapter in TORN APART in the unique, darkly poetic style that defines the work of crime writer Ken Bruen, whose Irish cop Jack Taylor has haunted many of my favorite book dreams. In addition to being a world-class novelist, Ken is one of the genuinely nicest guys you’ll find in this world or next. So I wrote the chapter, and created this contest, in his honor. I put it on my website and invited readers to play.

And the first to name the correct chapter is ... the envelope, please ...

David Rygg, East Amherst, New York

Congratulations, David!

He's a huge thriller and mystery reader, and is also trying his hand at writing a book himself. In his contest submission, he was kind enough to write what he thought about TORN APART, without my asking:

“I felt like I was watching the movie. Much the same way I feel when I read Lee Child's work. Action, vivid scenes, characters jumping off the pages. But different in that it is not from just one character’s viewpoint. Your comedic banter ranks up there with Stuart Woods and Robert Parker. The pages fly by the way James Patterson’s do.”

I was stunned. He didn't have to say any of that because the contest is based on a chapter number, not on anything a participant writes. I was touched, and grateful. David wins a full-color Advance Reader Copy of TORN APART, along with my best wishes.

Next week or the week after--depending on how my writing schedule goes this week!--you'll meet the Chicago area woman who sent in her winning answer right after David.

And the best news? I've still got a few ARCs left! So check out my website--click the "Win a Prize!" link on the Home Page--and you could win a sign copy, too.

David, if you're reading this, and I hope you are, please re-re-send me your street address. Very sorry about all this confusion, but my computer crashed yesterday and took all my Outlook mail with it. Your address is in those files. I'll get them back eventually--or so the Geek Guyz promise--but "eventually" is 7 to 10 business days. At least. Sigh. I hate being my own IT guy. Talk about horses trying to fly ...

And now, to our regularly scheduled programming--

Oops, one more announcement:


Please join me in wishing my heart--i.e., Jerrle, my wife of 31 years--happy birthday and many more to come. How she puts up with me I don't know, but I'm happy she does, and birthdays are a lovely time to say so, aren't they?

And now, my very favorite convention memory . . .


So, I'm at ThrillerFest in New York, a couple years back. It was my first time simultaneously running AgentFest and the Charity Auctions, and both are finished. I was ecstatic--both went off with nary a hitch--but drained. It's only midnight, and I'm slumped in the lobby near the hotel elevators. I want to go back in the bar and talk with my friends some more, but gaaaaawd I need to sleep. I'm debating with myself what to do ... drink ... sleep ... finally choose sleep ...

Off the elevator pops Jeff.

Jeff, as in, Jeffery Deaver. One of the most famous guys on Planet Thriller. A terrific writer who's blessed with personality, talent and enough energy to power a small nation.

Back then we knew each other a little bit--not well, but some, from the author circuit. I wave, hoping he might vaguely remember me. He smiles big, waves, hurries over.

"Hey, Shane," he greets. (Holy shit, he knows my name?) "I'm hungry. You want to go get some dinner?"

Me? One-book Charlie? Have dinner with Jeffery Deaver?

Took me about six milliseconds to decide that I can sleep when I'm dead.

"Let's grab a few people and go," he enthused. "It'll be fun. Maybe head down to the Village ..."

I looked around for people. Here comes Christine Kling, a fine writer and good friend. We wave over Fred Rea, a huge mystery fan. We spot others, invite them too. We have enough now, and pile into cabs. No idea where to go--we all live out of town--but Jeff lived in Manhattan a decade ago, and recalls a place he loved from then. We head there.


We walk up and down the crowded, noisy street.

Closed. Closed. Closed. Lots of bars open, but no restaurants.

We hail more cabs.

"Thought this was the city that never sleeps," I say to the driver.

"Used to be," the driver says.

We try some places the driver recommends. They're closed too. Jeff remembers another place he used to love, and we head there.


"Holy shit," I say to Christine as we walk into the dark, inviting Italian restaurant. "This is like a DeNiro movie."

"He comes here when he's in town," Jeff says. "DeNiro."


The waiters grabs some tables, swing them over the heads of fellow diners, like the Copacabana scene in "Goodfellas" where Ray Liotta is wooing Lorraine Bracco. The place is swinging, with neighborhood folks perfecting their dance-contest moves for the upcoming weekend. They're ferociously good. The waiters plant the tables in a clear space, expertly puff out white tableclothes, and menus and wine are quickly served.

Jeff tells us about his book tour in China, from which he flew directly to ThrillerFest that morning. (Which is why he's hungry now: he's still on China time.) Says overseas tours are exhilarating, if exhausting, and he still loves them even though he logs 50,000 miles a year on airplanes. The conversation segues into antique cars, sporting gear, travel, airplanes, writing, where he grew up--Glen Ellyn, Illinois, about five miles from where I live now, I was delighted to find out--and dogs. Jeff raises show dogs--I forget which breed--that are good enough for the Westminster Kennel Club competition.

I decide I wanna be Jeff in my next life.

The food comes, and it's fragrant. Best Italian I've ever had, and I've eaten a lot of it. The huge windows are open to the hot and moist July air. The music is blasting into our spines, and we're losing ourselves in conversation and wine, and Chris and I get up to dance, then others join in, and Jeff orders more wine, and the conversation skids this way and that, and the dancers are swinging like Chinese acrobats, and all of a sudden it's after 3 and the fairy tale is winding down. We hop back in cabs and head back to the hotel.

I'm spent. Exhausted. Drained. The pillow is singing its sweet song ... Shane ... Shane ... lay down your pretty head and dream ...

Instead, I head back to the hotel bar. I gotta tell someone this story ...

But the bar is closed.

So instead, I'll tell you.

And that's why book conventions are so damn magical. Not because of the panels, and not because of the speeches, and not because of the awards.

Because you meet the nicest people.

Suspense Magazine just named TORN APART one of the best books of 2010, and its author "one of the powerhouse authors of the new century." The author believes the reviewer was perhaps addled from summer sun, or was confusing him with a real author like Deaver or Bruen, but will nevertheless wave the accolade like a giant neon flag in hopes it will prompt you to buy the book and decide for yourself. More about the author and his novels at


Meredith Cole said...

What a great story! Glad you said "yes" instead of going straight to bed, Shane. Sounds like a truly magical evening.

And Happy Birthday, Jerrie. Any supportive spouse of a writer is a hero in my eyes...

Sophie Littlefield said...

aw shane, you're a terrific storyspinner, as always. and happy birthday to jerrle!!

Kelli Stanley said...

What a wonderful story, Shane!! :) Sleep is overrated, especially at conferences. ;)

And happy birthday to Jerrle, along with many thanks for taking such good care of you!! :)


Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I love this story! thank you for sharing it with us. And a huge Happy Birthday to Jerrle!!!!!!

Graham Brown said...

Great job Shane - something about those elevators at Thrillerfest - Magic seems to happen there.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Happy Birthday, Jerrle! Not only does she take great care of Shane, but when I visited she took great care of me. She even made me delicious gluten free cookies. Funny, charming, and smart too. Shane picked a winner there!

Great post, Shane! Graham is right about the magical writer fairy dust in the Thrillerfest elevators (OK, I'm paraphrasing a bit there, sorry Graham).

Shane Gericke said...

Thanks, Meredith, Sophie, Kelli, Kaye, Graham and Rebecca! Jerrle will appreciate the best birthday wishes, as do I. Gotta keep her up and running, y'know; I'd hate to have to work for a living again :-)

Graham, I need to hear more about the magic dust in the ThrillerFest elevators. Sounds like that Rebecca was involved somehow too!

I didn't have nearly as good luck at a Chicago festival one year; elevator got stuck with me and two nice older ladies inside. One was terrified of 'vators and small spaces as it was; this was no good and she started trembling. I held her awhile, and her friend did too, and a few minutes later it started again. Best thing was, I got a new pair of friends and a couple of book sales out of it :-)

Shane Gericke said...

Meredith, I'm glad I sat for a little bit near the elevators first. It was sheer dumb luck that Jeff got off just as I was ready to go sleep. If I hadn't dithered between drinks and sleep, I would have missed him.

A powerful case for dithering, no?

Joshua Corin said...

I agree - that's just about the Perfect Convention Story...and proves why I am such a fan of conventions (and stories).

Shane, I picked up TORN APART, read 50 pages, loved it, got totally sucked into the town and its people and their baggage (not to mention the dead baggage you have your antagonists carrying in the back seat), went to my local big box store ( to purchase BLOWN AWAY so as to meet these folks in the proper order, followed a link to a bookseller who happens to be my favorite local small box store (Eagle Eye Bookshop), bought BLOWN AWAY, and it is now on my TBR shelf (which doubles as a nightstand because it's so damn tall).

Gabi said...

Happy Birthday to Jerri. And, if you really want to know, she puts up with you because you remember her birthday AND THERE IS CAKE. It's why we exist as a species.

I'm wondering two things. Were you still wearing your name tag when Jeffrey Deaver (he's fabulous, BTW) called "Hey, Shane," and we're the restaurants really closed or are you on a watch list? I'd eat with you even if it is a drive through with you wearing a hat and false nose if only for the great stories.

Shane Gericke said...

Josh, you made my day. No, wait, the whole damn week and next week too! Thanks, I sure appreciate both the kind words about the "baggage" and buying the first book. Blown Away is near impossible to find in stores since it's out of print. Which sucks ... I only have one precious copy for myself. I gave away all the rest of my stash to friends--that's what you do on book one, right?--and never restocked, foolishly believing the prancing pink unicorns of publishing would deliver copies to stores forever and ever and I could always get as many as I wanted.

Then I learned the horror of paperback returns ...

If I forget to mention it later this week, happy Rosh Hashana to you and your family. We're doing the traditional brisket and arguing with family. Any fun plans for you guys?

Shane Gericke said...

Hmph. I'll have you know, Gabi, that Jerrle ALSO puts up with me cause I'll kill any bugs that get in the house. So, pest control and cake. Bout covers it.

I probably was wearing that silly nametag. But Jeff's old like me and he couldn't have read it from twenty feet. Or so I choose to believe, cause it makes me feel all, you know, Special.

Restaurants were closed, honest to God. I couldn't believe it either. The cabbie said a lot more places used to be open late, but as people were getting older they were staying out late less, at least for eats. Makes sense, I guess. Kinda sucks when you're expecting the Apple to entertain you whenever you damn want cause you're a tourist.

Gonna have to try that false nose thingy when we finally meet in person. Maybe we'll score free eats! Writers are cheap, y'know, in addition to being socially challenged.