Welcome to my first post regarding Left Coast Crime 2016 - also known as The Great Cactus Caper. Left Coast Crime is an annual book convention featuring mysteries. It's sponsored by mystery fans for mystery fans. This event began in 1991 and except for the 2006 convention (which was held in Bristol, UK), it's always located in the Western US (or 'Left Coast') as defined by the Mountain Time Zone and other zones west. Four awards are given at each convention and they are voted on by attendees.
As you can see, this year's convention was held in Phoenix, Arizona, and because my husband and I often vacation in that area during the winter, it was perfect. I was very excited about several days of meeting authors and other attendees, going to panels, voting on the 'Lefty' awards, and generally immersing myself in book talk and books. My husband - well, he was excited about playing golf - lots of golf. He played 6 times in 4 days. I bought a lot of books. It was all good!
Before I begin telling about my 'fangirl' encounters with authors, I want to mention 2 other bloggers and good friends that I was able to see on this trip. Cathy was my 'convention buddy'. She blogs at Kittling: Books and shares lots of great reviews, pictures, and author events. She lives in Phoenix, so this was right in her backyard. We had a fun time hanging out together.
I also caught up with Lesa from Lesa's Book Critiques. She used to live in the Phoenix area and was the branch manager of a library there. A couple of years ago, Lesa moved to Indiana, but she took this opportunity to come back to the Southwest for books, friends and fun. I loved getting to see Lesa again and we had a fun time talking.
Both of these lovely ladies will have a post or two sharing their experiences in Phoenix, so I encourage you to take a look at their blogs as well. They have wonderful sites that are well worth putting on your 'blog radar'.
Enough of that. Let's get to the 'fangirl' moments. Let me say that I am normally a fairly introverted person, like many of us I imagine. I come out of my shell when I talk about books though. For the author encounters that I experienced at Left Coast, I had to be 'brave' and I am so glad that I was. Every author that I talked with, whether I met them in a line or an elevator or at a signing table or eating table - they were all kind, friendly, and personable. They listened and they smiled and made me feel comfortable. I appreciated that so much. So, who did I see? Well, here's a 'selfie' that Dana Stabenow 'insisted' that we take.
|L-Dana Stabenow and R-Yours truly|
Yes, that is me in the pink and Dana hanging over my shoulder. And yes, I was terrified. I don't do selfies. She and I had a very nice talk and I reported on that last Friday.
|L-Catriona McPherson and R-Ann Cleeves|
Ann Cleeves was the International Guest Of Honor. Her first mystery was published in 1986 and she has written many more, including the Shetland Island series, which has been filmed in the UK. She also writes the Vera Stanhope series, and you may recognize it from the TV adaptation, Vera, which stars Brenda Blethyn. The picture above shows Ann on the right being interviewed by Catriona McPherson, who served as Toastmaster of the conference. I also saw Ann when she moderated a wonderful panel that I'll talk about tomorrow.
Ann is very passionate about libraries. Very passionate. A quote from her website:
'Libraries matter. If we believe in equality of opportunity we must fight not just for the buildings but for the range of books inside and the skilled staff who can promote reading in all its forms. Not only do libraries encourage us to be more tolerant and better informed, they contribute enormously to the wealth of the nation.'As I was in conversation with Chris Goff in the atrium on Saturday morning, Ann walked up to join us and began talking about her quest to help libraries in the UK. After she found out that I was a former library staff member, she asked me all kinds of questions about the Austin Public Library, about funding and programs. I was so pleased to get to share my thoughts with her on the state of American libraries and how very important they are. We totally agreed that the world would be a poorer place without libraries.
|William Kent Krueger|
I also recognized William Kent Krueger on more than one morning as I picked up coffee at Einstein's in the lobby of the hotel. He was busy writing, just as he says he does every morning at home at a local coffee shop. And no, I did not interrupt him at that time. I did talk with Mr. Krueger after a panel on Sunday and told him how much I loved his Cork O'Connor series. My mystery book group read and discussed his Edgar-winning book, Ordinary Grace a while back. Such a wonderful book! If you haven't read it, you should. Our group had a great discussion and he related that there will eventually be a follow-up book of sorts entitled This Tender Land. Can't wait to hear more about that.
Donna Andrews has been a favorite author of mine for a long time. Her Meg Langslow series often wins one of the 'Lefty' awards for most humorous mystery. I stopped and chatted with her for a bit. I didn't get to see her on a panel this time - lots of panels and too many choices. I told her that several of my book group members loved her second series featuring Turing Hopper, a character that is actually an Artificial Intelligence personality - a computer. Group members are always asking when there will be a 5th Turing Hopper book. Ms. Andrews told me that the Turing Hopper books will soon be released in e-format. If they do well enough, there will likely be a 5th book in the series. Yay! Judy from my book group is ecstatic. She loves Turing. I did confess to Donna that her first Meg Langslow book, Murder With Peacocks, is a particular favorite of mine. I often reread it when I need a laugh and am feeling down. By the way, the first Turing book is You've Got Murder. It's a good one.
I talked with several other authors and told them how much I've enjoyed their books. Some will show up in the panel pictures tomorrow - Chevy Stevens, Sara J. Henry, Vicki Delany, Donis Casey, M. P. Cooley, Jenn McKinlay, and Carla Buckley. I had recently reviewed Carla's latest book, The Good Goodbye here and I wrote her to tell how much I liked the story. She thanked me and asked me to please come introduce myself at LCC. When I approached her signing table and mentioned my name, she jumped up and ran around the table to hug me. I was so surprised. She then had Catriona McPherson take a picture of us together and put it on her Facebook page here. I have an odd smile. She looks beautiful, just as she does in life. I did see Deborah Crombie in the lobby twice, but didn't get to speak to her. Bummer. Maybe next time.
I'll stop here for now. Sorry for the length. Tomorrow, all the news that's fit to print about 'panels'.