Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Come Together by Gabriel Valjan


Q: Do you bring non-crime writing friends or family with you to conventions? Pros and cons please.


Not so long ago, when I was new to this thing called Writing, I was advised to attend conferences. It was where the cool kids met and played, where authors networked, pitched to agents, and talked about themselves on panels before readers and reviewers. For a few days every year, I’ll answer the siren call and pull myself away from the screen, away from talking to myself and Munchkin the cat. I’m encouraged to do everything that is counter to my personality, to travel someplace exotic and fling myself in front of people I’ve never met.


Oh, a time to be an extrovert.


And like the wild, the ecosystem varies with each Con I attend. Malice Domestic is for fans of cozy mysteries. Bouchercon is for every species of crime fiction, from hard-boiled to noir, to procedural and psychological suspense. Both Crimebake and Maine Crime Wave cater to regional scribes. Malice, with its subdued setting in Maryland, eased me out of the terror of public speaking—somewhat—whereas my first Bouchercon in Toronto was bright lights and loud voices. My God, I couldn’t hear myself think in Toronto.


You may’ve heard the phrase ‘Happy wife, Happy life.’ There’s a related term called ‘Conference Spouse,’ (CS) and I’m fortunate to have survived panels I have moderated or participated in, thanks to Deb Well.


CS Benefits:


·      Since I can’t attend every panel, a CS allows for twice the coverage, and the added benefit of Proof of Life (pics of other authors for social media).

·      No satchel for me, a CS travels with a legit purse for additional books.

·      Expertise by Proxy. My eyes glaze over and I tend to fall asleep and drool like Homer Simpson when it comes to Industry Expert Panels. You know, those Marketing and all those very important How-To and Must-Do discussions.

·      When I’m on a panel, there’s a photog in the audience to capture my likeness for posterity.

o   Addendum: there’s the added benefit of receiving ominous texts to SMILE while I’m on the dais, like Caesar before the Curia.

·      Moderator or Participant, I have a spy embedded in the field for feedback from the audience. Every morsel helps improve future performances or lets me know what I’m doing right.


CS Cons:


·      No cons on a Con partner.


Edith Maxwell said...

Aha, but that's because your CS is Deb, and she's the best! If I brought mine, he'd either stay in the hotel room or be out visiting museums. No help at all.

Deb Well said...

Am proud to be a helpful CS! Conferences are lots of fun!

Wendall Thomas said...

Ha! I agree on the no cons. James is the extrovert in our relationship and I couldn't survive these things without him. Now that he's writing true crime and is on panels, too, we can help each other.

Gabriel Valjan said...

@Edith. Conferences aren't for everyone. Hope he's a captive reader & brings you tea.

@Deb. "You. You. You're good."

@Wendall. You an introvert? Shocke. Shocked, I tell you. Congrats to James.

Catriona McPherson said...

I love conference spouses! I mean, I don't have one, but what would life be without Deb Wells, Erica Stallings (who I'm assuming we'll be hearing about on Friday), the Johnny-Shaw-adjacent Roxanne Patruznick, Janet Orlof and . . . I'm forgetting someone really obvious . . . . Aha! Diane Krueger.

Susan C Shea said...

Conference spouses and children (think Rhys's daughter and now fellow author Clare) are great additions. At the dinner events, they're sometimes the best people to talk to because they're excited to be taking part.

Joyce Tremel said...

My husband stays home with the cats and both of us prefer it that way. He'd much rather hang out in his woodshop. I love him dearly, but I think it's good to get away from each other once in awhile!

Dru Ann said...

I love this.