Tuesday, October 28, 2008

High Class Complaints

I feel as though I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the last month. Wait: I kinda have been. But as of today, I’m back in my studio looking forward to digging back into my current work in progress. It calls me now, I’ve been feeling it. On the one hand, I can’t wait to get back work. On the other, of course, I’ve been having so much fun!

Most recently, I was at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival on beautiful Granville Island in Vancouver. On Friday I did an event called Cement Shoes with Lisa Lutz (Curse of the Spellmans), John Connolly (The Reapers) and Mark Billingham (In the Dark) and moderated by Stephen Miller (The Last Train to Kazan).

The event was held at the Arts Club Theatre, one of the largest professional stages in the city and it appeared to be a fairly full house. I’d been present at Bouchercon in Baltimore earlier this month when Billingham hosted the Anthony Awards and I knew how very funny he is when you stick a microphone in his hand. In addition to being a stunning author, he is a former comedian and performer and it shows. As a result, when the order in which we would speak was being determined, I pleaded to not go behind Billingham. After all, he’d made me laugh so hard in Baltimore, I knew I didn’t want to have to follow that!

Pictured: On stage at The Arts Club Theatre. From left: Lisa Lutz; Mark Billingham; Linda L. Richards and John Connolly. Below right: Linda L. Richards at the podium. Below left: Stephen Miller; Leonie Swann; Lisa Lutz and Linda L. Richards. David Middleton photos.

As a result I followed John Connolly and -- much to my surprise and dismay -- he was funny as well. The three of us were sharing the stage with Lisa Lutz who, of course, is also quite funny. The result was, I think, a terrifically entertaining panel. I know I had a great time, and the audience really seemed to as well.

On Saturday I was reunited with Lutz for the Femme Fatale panel. We were joined by German author Leonie Swann (Three Bags Full) and again moderated by Stephen Miller. Considering the name of the panel, I thought about donning the little black dress I’d worn to a fundraiser a few days earlier but, honestly? At 10:30 in the morning, I was afraid people might just think I hadn’t made it home from some big revelry the night before!

And, naturally with this group, it was great fun. Lisa and I had warmed up the day before and so came prepared to have a good time. And Leonie’s stories about the crime-solving sheep in her novel had the place in stitches.

While the Vancouver Writers Festival offers a mystery component, it’s mostly not geared in that direction. One of the things Billingham said really resonated with me. During our Cement Shoes panel, Mark said that he figured crime fictionists were like the smokers of the literary world. You look outside at them, perhaps wrinkle your nose and turn away, but you snatch longing peeks out at them because they look like they’re having such a good time.

It seems to me we did that part up at Vancouver: having fun, laughing, talking about things close to our hearts and helping each other along because -- for whatever reason -- that’s what mystery writers do and what mystery seems always to bring.

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