Better Late Than Never
Good intentions and all that--I attended this year's Malice Domestic in Silver Spring, MD, and fully intended to write about it immediately thereafter. Sorry. Life has a way of happening.
Anyway, I'm here to tell you it was one of the best conferences I've been to! I was so happen to meet folks who love mysteries, both readers and writers! And of course, I was thrilled to get a huge bag of free books. Free is always good, and one of the books was my all-time favorite Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None. Excellent.
Several of the sessions included another of my favorite authors, Sue Grafton (pictured here but partially obscured by the microphone). She was part of a panel along with Laura DiSilverio, Jess Lourey, and Cathi Stoler. The panel, "Gumshoes with Gams: Female PIs on the Job," discussed the rise and development of female private investigators and it was great to hear all the different perspectives on this topic. I really enjoyed it.
I also got to attend "Things We Wish We Hadn't Written: Authors with Belated Second Thoughts" including authors: Dorothy Cannell, Margaret Maron, Nancy Pickard, Hank Phillippi Ryan and Elaine Viets. I read book by all of these authors and enjoyed them tremendously. It was a thrill to see them in person and hear them talk about their books. It's too bad, though, that they are such good writers that they really didn't have many bloopers to talk about. Really, I think I could have done a much better job as I seem to consistently say things that I really shouldn't. :)
I was also asked to be on a panel, "World Building: Making the Past Come Alive" (I'm the person in the green at the far right). The authors included Andrea Penrose, Elena Santangelo, and Elizabeth Zelvin. Our moderator, Sally Fellows, really did her homework and asked us exceptionally good questions. Andrea and I both write mysteries set in the early years of the 19th century (the Regency period) and had both written stories where a woman dresses as a man. It was fascinating to hear that both of us had chosen to do that because of the limitations Society placed on women of the period. In addition, both of us wrote stories sparked by actual women who chose to live as men in order to have the kind of independent life and employment they desired. Andrea's story is far more serious than mine (my Archer stories tend to have a strong, humerous element) but we both wrote our stories for very similar reasons. I'm glad our moderator asked Andrea to speak first as she was so eloquent in explaining that the Regency period saw the start of science and really, Society, as we know it today, so it's hard to resist setting a story in such a fascinating time.
In addition to attending sessions, I was able to meet up with an old friend, Sandra Parshall. Sandra and I used to work on the Fairfax County Audubon Society newsletter eons ago, before I got married and moved south. Oddly enough, we both started writing mysteries and are now, both published! I was so happy to see her again--she hasn't changed a bit in fifteen years. She was a terrific newsletter editor and makes an even better mystery writer!
I also got a chance to catch up with my sister, and we visited Mount Vernan as well as some local Virginia wineries. At Mount Vernan, I bought a small boxwood, since it's pungent fragrance brings back so many wonderful memories of summer trips to Williamsburg and Mount Vernan in the days when those places had just opened to the public. In fact, when we first visited Williamsburg, it was still being excavated and I remember buying their wonderful gingerbread cookies and wandering around the newly exposed foundations of what would eventually be the various historic buildings.
Sadly, I forgot my boxwood at my sister's house, but she has room in her garden for it and there's always next year! I can't wait to attend my second Malice Domestic and see what new authors are participating!
The trip turned out even better than I hoped.