What is it about conferences and elevators? The typical complaint is that they’re slow. At Malice, the challenge was getting on the correct one. Going up, or going down? I searched for the room where the first session was scheduled, and found myself on the lowest floor. You don’t take the stairs to the Lower Level because it is more than just two stories down.
“We’re under the subway right now,” a woman told me. “But try not to think about that.”
For the entire three days of the conference, people marveled or cringed at the idea that we were often well below ground level, with the Metro running over our heads.
My adventuring done, I went to the lounge with the plan to schmooze, something at which I am unpracticed. The greeting protocol was quickly established.
“Are you a writer or a reader?”
When asked that question, I identified myself as both author and fan. Unlike many writers’ conventions, Malice Domestic attracts hundreds of readers. Fans of mystery fiction seek autographs from their favorite authors, and hope to discover new authors. Perhaps I could become some reader’s new find.
I met Patricia in the lounge area when she invited me to sit at her table. With a PhD in education, the Canadian professor had an additional purpose in attending the conference – study. Patricia’s academic career focuses on writing and writers. In her spare time, she is working on a mystery novel. I was delighted to have a conversation about the weightier aspects of the writing life.
This became encounter number two with Canadians. They took me under their collective wing to their discovery – a local deli. We had a great, inexpensive breakfast while chatting about the conference, what we liked to read, and writing.
Nourished and refreshed with coffee, I was ready for my first session. Being a Malice newbie, I thought it wise to attend the conference orientation. Judy Cater, Anne Murphy, and Barb Goffman gave insider tips on how to have a good Malice experience.
Next up, Malice-Go-Round. Also known as speed dating for authors.
Imagine sitting in a room packed with dozens of round tables seating ten. Two seats are empty. Suddenly, two authors appear, armed with postcards, bookmarks, and perhaps chocolates. One gives a two-minute pitch of his or her novel or body of work.
A moderator yells “Time!” The second author gives his or her pitch. Then the moderator yells “Switch!”
Those authors vanish, replaced by two new authors. This went on for over an hour. I was amazed at how poised the authors managed to remain, in spite of the frenetic nature of the program.
I noticed people scribbling in their notebooks. A woman sitting next to me suggested I use my program book to jot notes. This was her favorite part of Malice Domestic. The noise and seeming chaos provided readers with a rapid-fire introduction to dozens of authors. Since this took place on the first morning of the conference, they would have time to track down books in the dealers’ room, sit in on panels of authors they were interested in, and/or strike up conversations in the lounge or at mixers.
What a wonderful gathering! People who write books mingling with people who want to learn about their favorite authors’ newest work, as well as find new series and authors.
I snapped a few photos. Below is a mere sample of the authors participating in Malice-Go-Round. Everything was going too fast to allow for proper picture taking, note writing, and conversation. (Click on a photo to get the proper view.)
Next Tuesday, I’ll talk about meeting the editor of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, being an obnoxious fan of Carole Nelson Douglas, and conversations with authors Maggie Sefton, Cathy Ace, and Carolyn Mulford.