This is that odd week between the Edgar Awards (which, in the interest of full disclosure, I have never attended) and Malice Domestic (which I have, every year but one since 2002), during which the mystery community--assuming there is such a thing, and not a network of smaller communities--celebrates all that is wonderful about figuring out whodunnit without leaving your armchair, bed, hammock, bathtub or evil lair. It begins with the justly celebrated party at Black Orchid in New York City, when Bonnie and Joe gather all the authors they can find, mix well and watch what happens. And it ends the day after Malice in Oakmont, PA (a hike from Malice, which is in the DC area) at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop, where even more authors meet and greet.
In between, there is much merriment, pontification, explanation, consideration, and the occasional lunch. It's the mystery book equivalent of Oscar week, except that it goes on a week afterward for those of us in the Cozy Business, who get to drive to lovely Arlington, VA and walk the bowels of the Crystal City Marriott in search of an inexpensive meal.
Edgar Week, as the MWA likes to bill it, is a fine thing, I'm told. I've been to Bonnie and Joe's bash (but did not attend this year) at the Black Orchid, and it is a splendid one indeed. When the weather's good--and the weather tends to favor the Black Orchid duo--it's a real pleasure to be out on 81st Street, having a beer and chatting up Reed Farrel Coleman about his last name, Laura Lippman about being really successful and Chris Grabenstein, just because.
The actual event itself begins with the Edgar symposium (which should be the Edgar symposia, but it's all Latin to me), another event I still haven't attended. I know, I know, but I always seem to have a lot of work, it's a Wednesday in Manhattan (matinee day on the NJ Transit train, lots of blue-haired ladies heading to the afternoon performance of Avenue Q, which is no doubt an eye-opening experience for them), and it's $90, which is a hair on the pricey side, but we'll get to that. I always INTEND to show up, but the lure of a quick buck generally keeps me away. Next year, for sure.
When the Big Night arrives, it offers much of Oscar's formality and pomp, with little of the... television cameras. Okay, NO television cameras. But (I'm told) you get to see people like Stephen King tell you why crime fiction is really good, and lots of nice folks win awards and besides, Sarah Weinman shows up to blog about it, and it's always fun to talk to her.
That said, I'm not likely to lose my no-hitter on the Edgars anytime soon. This year, I had a terrific excuse: they held the party on the night of my 20th wedding anniversary, and I'd rather stay married than be at a very cool party. Besides, have you seen what the dinner costs? And then rent a tuxedo on top of it? (They say "black tie," and I'd be happy to show up with a black tie, if I could also wear blue jeans and an orange t-shirt. But I'm not nearly cool enough to get away with that.) Since I am, to grossly understate it, an unlikely Edgar nominee for... probably life, I'm not a probable on that list.
Malice Domestic, however, is another story: it's my mystery con of choice. For one thing, it stays in one place, and I can drive to that place (especially fun this year, as we just bought a new Prius and I'm breaking it in) in just under four hours. Also, many lovely people will be around to hold up the bar, including our very own Ms. Denise Dietz, who insists I owe her a drink, despite my recollection that said debt has been paid. No matter, Deni can always get a drink from me just for being Deni.
But I also get to see pals like Julia Spencer-Fleming, a nominee yet again for an Agatha Award (I'm rooting for Julia), David Skibbins, Pari Noskin Taichert, Harley Jane Kozak, Rochelle Krich (this year's Guest of Honor), Rhys Bowen and Roberta Isleib. And forgive me if I left your name out; I'm working without notes, and have a memory that has been decimated by middle age.
This year, I'll be on a panel called... wait, I'll get it... It's a Man's World: Guys With Attitude, with Moderator Chuck Zito, Jack Getze, Con Lehane, Justin Scott, David Skibbins and Mark Zubro. Since this probably represents all the male authors attending Malice, you might want to get your seats early. And by all means, bring an attitude. It's on Saturday at 10:30. I probably don't have to say "a.m.," right?
I'm not really sure I can add much to what those distinguished gentlemen can say about the topic, but it's a safe bet my voice will be heard anyway, as not knowing what I'm talking about has never stopped me before, and shouldn't now.
Malice is also a terrific opportunity for me to see my terrific agent Christina Hogrebe and the immensely talented editor of the DOUBLE FEATURE MYSTERY series, Shannon Jamieson Vazquez, and that's always rewarding. In fact, I met Christina at Malice, and have always been glad I did.
Expect to find me at the bar, not drinking much. I'm neither a prude nor a Prohibitionist, but the fact is, drinking at night means I'm up all night with massive stomach problems, and I like to avoid that whenever possible. So it's Diet Coke for me, but if you see me, say hello. Or anything else that leaps to mind. I'm not there to NOT talk to people, after all.
By all means, introduce yourself. (Events like this are great for men, because there are far more women present, and for men like me, who don't remember people's names even when we know them well, we have a perfectly good excuse to stare at "Hello, my name is... " tags with impunity.) Say you read my books, or say you haven't read them. Say whatever you like. I'm hoping to have many more friends when I hop into the Prius for the drive home.