by Meredith Cole
After spending 10 years in the competitive world of television and independent film, I was surprised and pleased to discover that the mystery community was so supportive. Everyone (despite their dark and rather violent books) was so nice! Authors I had only just met introduced me around and made sure I felt welcomed at my first Malice and my first Bouchercon. I felt like I had found "my tribe." And I remember one writer telling me, that there were only a few authors who were jerks and everyone knew who they were. But I certainly didn't meet them at my first few cons.
I've heard that the romance community isn't like that, and that the literary community is almost the exact opposite. I'm not exactly sure why, but here are a few theories I've heard:
- We kill people on the page and get all our aggression out that way, so we have no need (and no desire) to be mean to the people around us. (Perhaps this works inversely for romance writers...)
- Mystery writers are all readers, so we love a great new book (and a great writer) just as much as all the fans. In fact, it's very hard to tell writers and fans apart at some conferences.
- We feel marginalized by the intelligentsia (you write... mysteries?!! [gasp]), so we huddle together for support against a common enemy.
- With mysteries regularly hitting a healthy number of spots on bestseller lists, there is plenty of largesse to go around--so we are not really in competition with one another.
- We have only a limited number of conferences, and so we all seem to run into each other at one of them at some point and meet each other. I think I'm actually the most shocked when I realize that there is a mystery writer that I haven't met yet...