Thursday, March 30, 2023

Worlds Collide, by Catriona

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

I usually don't. For all the reasons Cathy outlined yesterday - cost, time, focus - but I'm a complete hypocrite because I love it when other people bring friends and family with them.

Erica Stallings, who is married to Josh Stallings of this parish, and Diane Krueger, spouse of William Kent Krueger, are two of my favourite new friends in (or near?) the American crime-writing community. I've had to train myself not to react to seeing Josh/Kent by saying "Is Erica/Diane here?" but instead to say "Hey! Hiya! How are you? Lovely to see you." pause "Is Erica/Diane here?" (Because I know how it feels: whenever my eldest niece saw me, in her toddlerhood, she'd say "Where Neil?" and start searching.)

And what would writing conventions be without Michael Mueller, the husband of Kristopher Zgorski? Michael is bedded in so deep to the Malice and Left Coast family now, it's always a surprise when Kris asks for a book to be dedicated "To Kristopher" alone. 

Urgh - I know I've got a lovely pic of Kris, Michael and me all gussied up, but can I find it? Here's Michael, Ann Cleeves, Brenda Blethyn and Kris instead. (photo: Kristopher Zgorski)

And then there's the kids: Dash Taylor, Malice VIP and son of Art Taylor and Tara Laskowski, Pauline, daughter of Travis Richardson and Teresa Wong, Sara Henry's son, Z, and Glen Erik Hamilton's daugher, Maddie, who've all been coming to conventions since they were buttons and who now give all of us aunties good practice in *not* saying "Look at the SIZE of you!" when we see them again.

The couple of times I did bring a modest posse to a con it's been lovely, I must say. My parents were at Left Coast Crime, Monterey and I got to thank them in person for this and that during an acceptance speech. And Neil has ended up in the conference hotel a few times too: either because we were on a roadtrip (Bouchercon, Florida) or it was just down the road (Bouchercon, San  Francisco) or because the world shut down and he came to fetch me (Left Coast Crime, San Diego - March 2020.)

My mum and dad and Neil and me, pedalling along the coastal trail after LCC, Monterey

I've been a convention spouse once, as it happens. In 2015, when I had a broken arm and couldn't cook, drive, get my cast protector on (to shower) without help, or fasten my own bra, Neil had a week-long meeting about Tomato-Spotted-Wilt-Virus, down at the Asilomar Conference Grounds on the Monterey peninsula. So I chummed along. It was fantastic: they talked about TSWV all the livelong day, from coffee in the morning until the last embers in the firepit died down too far to roast another marshmallow at night. And I sat there, like Charlie Brown not being troubled by his teacher's voice in the least, looking at the waves and thinking about my work in progress.

Mind you, not everyone tuned it out. The other meeting at Asilomar that week was the Western US Ukulele Society and within hours they were making up songs about sick tomatoes. Happy days.


View from my bedroom window at Asilomar


Liz Milliron said...

I took my husband to a conference once: Bouchercon, NOLA in 2016 because it was our 20th wedding anniversary. But I have to say, he wasn't thrilled with being there (at the conference, that is) and has expressed zero interest in going again. Which is fine because it's my time to hang out with my tribe and not have to worry about him.

Catriona McPherson said...

Isn't that the truth!

Lori Rader-Day said...

I love everything about the sick tomatoes. I wish I had met your parents at LCC Monterrey, but I do remember that I gave you an ARC of my (first) book, and you carried it title out. Good friend from the beginning!

Susan C Shea said...

Neil does pop up now and then, closer to home, at book launches, and that counts too.

Catriona McPherson said...

@Lori, I don't remember that but I've still got the book

@Susan - yes, usually wearing a t-shirt promoting someone else's book!

@Gabriel- I've stolen your @-ing method

Dru Ann said...

Love this. I remember meeting Neil in Florida, not realizing that he was your husband.