We've just recently passed the 14th anniversary of the publication of For Whom the Minivan Rolls, the first Aaron Tucker mystery and not coincidentally my first published novel. (I had to look it up, but apparently the book was published officially on October 1, 2002.) So I've been in this business for the past 14 years. And it has been quite the ride.
With the publication of my 18th novel (and 20th book overall, since there are two non-fiction titles) looming on December 6, it seems a good time to sort of take stock and recap. Not about each book specifically, because even I would get sick of that somewhere around Book #11, but about some of the experiences that have come along the way.
With Minivan I attended my first mystery book conventions, which I have learned to say because when you tell people you're going to a "mystery convention," they think you're attending an event and won't know what it's about until you get there. This one was in Philadelphia, PA and was the late lamented Mid-Atlantic Mystery Convention and Book Fair. It was, in fact, the last one held, which worries me because I start to think it's my fault.
There I met Mindy Starns Clark, with whom I couldn't have had less in common except that she turned out to be a very nice person who shepherded me through the event. Mindy remains a friend to this day and actually attended a few of my book launch parties despite living 90 minutes away. She brought her husband and children.
Later that year came my first Malice Domestic conference at which I met a number of friends I am proud to count on my side to this day: Leann Sweeney, Lorraine Bartlett, Toni L.P. Kelner, Doris Ann Norris (hi, Doris Ann!), Con Lehane and Jeff Markowitz, among others. I was operating at this point without an agent and had no idea what I was doing, so watching friendly professionals go through the experience of a larger conference had a great deal of value for me.
And Leann still believes, for reasons that defy explanation, that I stole a chair from the hotel, which I emphatically did not. Leann is given to these flights of fancy. It's probably why she's in the fiction business. The chair is still in the hotel. That's all I'm saying.
That was also around the time I attended my first street fair/party at The Black Orchid, the great NYC mystery bookstore that is also late and lamented. More friends met, including my buddy Chris Grabenstein, now a habitué of the New York Times bestseller list, who introduced me some years later to my current excellent agent. (Hi, Josh!)
I bought my first Harlan Coben book at that party and had it signed.
And that's all from the first book. Perhaps I'd best condense:
- Discovered I like speaking in front of a crowd and discussed Asperger's Syndrome (which apparently also is late, not necessarily lamented) at a conference run by the amazing Lori Sheri;
- Moved to a (much) larger publishing company after signing with my first agent courtesy of a recommendation from my good friend Julia Spencer-Fleming, the nicest person in crime fiction;
- Launched Elliot Freed, about whom there might be news soon, in the Double Feature mystery series thanks to the wonderful Shannon Jamieson Vazquez;
- Won a Barry Award for best short story at a Bouchercon in Cleveland, OH, and accepted the award at a ceremony held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (and impressed them so much they retired the award for short stories immediately after);
- Started the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, again thanks to Ms. Jamieson Vazquez, and created an odd character named E.J. Copperman;
- Began collaborating with myself on the Asperger's Mystery series thanks to Terri Bischoff (hi, Terri!).
- Received countless wonderful emails and messages from people who have read the books and enjoyed them. And a few from people who just read them;
- Got to host a talkback at a Broadway show because I write mystery books;
- Started writing the Mysterious Detective Mystery series with great help from Josh and Matt Martz at Crooked Lane Books;
- Met a boyhood crush and idol when Kathryn Leigh Scott showed up at a Malice Domestic;
- Got to know Linda Ellerbee because she blurbed one of the early books and became a friend;
- Met many other wonderful authors like Cornelia Read, Rosemary Harris, Lee Child, Harley Jane Kozak, Jennifer Stanley and so many others I'm afraid to go on because I'll leave someone out;
- Met great fans and readers like Dru Ann Love, Fiona Marsden (hey, Fi! How are things Down Under?), our own Shaz Wheeler (don't be a stranger, Shaz) and again, I'll stop now for fear of offending those I should mention and don't;
- Started a blog with some friends and now have passed 600,000 views!
Those are just a few highlights. Someday when I'm pretentious enough to attempt a memoir perhaps there will be countless more. But enough about me. (And I have that book coming in December and at least three more next year!)
It's been a pretty good 14 years.