What an unbelievable experience it was for me to be able to attend the World Mystery Convention that was held here, in Cleveland, in October. The four-day event featured over 1500 attendees, including over 500 published mystery authors and guests of honor Les Roberts, Robin Cook, John Connolly, Elizabeth George, and Mary Higgins Clark. Among the rest of the attendees were aspiring authors, bloggers, journalists, publishers, and librarians, but mostly just, fans of the mystery/crime genre.
Every day there were 6-8 sessions, with 4 different panels during each session, and 4-5 authors on each panel. It was a great opportunity to hear a large number of authors talk about their characters and series. The only negative was that it was hard to choose just one panel during each session. There were also one-on-one interviews with the guests of honor, breakfasts and receptions with authors, and the announcement of the winners of a number of national mystery awards.
Just a few of the highlights for me:
A breakfast for librarians, hosted by Mary Higgins Clark. The 84-year-old author is still as elegant and charming as when I heard her speak a number of years ago. She was accompanied by her husband and daughter, Carol Higgins Clark. There were over 100 librarians in attendance and at each table were two mystery authors/hosts. I enjoyed my breakfast with Sharon Fiffer (author of the Jane Wheel antiques series - most recent title is Lucky Stiff) and Christine Husom (who writes a series set in Winnebago County, Minnesota, but whose titles haven't enjoyed a national exposure yet.).
I found that almost all the authors were very accessible and very "normal" people. They were approachable before and after their panel appearances to talk to their fans. Many of the authors have "day" jobs in addition to their writing careers. One author, Jack Fredrickson, who writes the Dek Elstrom series set in Chicago, is the president of his local library's Friends organization.
We did a lot of laughing during the panel presentations. These authors all have a wonderful sense of humor, though they do take their subject matter very seriously. And they really care about the characters they have created.
The "buzz" of the convention was the choice of Tom Cruise to play the part of author Lee Child's wildly popular character, Jack Reacher, in the soon-to-be-released movie. Not many could understand how the 5'7" Cruise was cast to play the 6'5" Reacher. One panel even did a Family Feud type game asking the question "Who should play Jack Reacher?", with the most popular answer being "Anyone but Tom Cruise". Child, who was in attendance, but not on a panel, has explained his acceptance of the choice. In a recent interview he said, "With another actor you might get 100% of the height, but only 90% of Reacher. With Tom, you'll get 100% of Reacher with 90% of the height". We'll see!
In future posts, I'll share more about the panels I attended, including "What an Author Will Do for a Story", "Cop vs. Constable", "What Would Rockford Do?", and "What a Character".
Many fiction and mystery authors write holiday novels that are published this time of year. Often they say that these books are their gift to their readers. Here are the 2012 holiday mysteries:
Benison, C.C. - Eleven Pipers Piping - (vicar Father Tom Christmas Mysteries)
Bowen, Rhys - The Twelve Clues of Christmas - (Lady Georgiana, Royal Spyness Mysteries)
Casey, Elizabeth Lynn - Let It Sew - (Tori Sinclair, Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries)
Chase, Erika - Read and Buried - (Lizzie Turner, Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries)
Coyle, Cleo - Holiday Buzz - (Clare Cosi, Village Blend Coffeehouse Manager)
Handler, David - The Snow White Christmas Cookie - (Berger and Mitry Mysteries)
Kingsbury, Kate - The Clue is in the Pudding - (Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries)
Lavene, Joyce - Treacherous Toys - (Jessie Morton, Renaissance Faire Mysteries)
Lord, Christopher - The Christmas Carol Murders - (Dickens Junction Mysteries debut)
Murphy, Shirley Rousseau - Cat Bearing Gifts - (Joe Grey Mysteries)
Perry, Anne - A Christmas Garland - (Perry's 10th Christmas mystery)
Ramirez, Melissa Bourbon - Deadly Patterns - (Magical Dressmaking Mysteries)
Rosett, Sara - Mistletoe, Merriment and Murder - (Ellie Avery, Mom Zone Mysteries)
Todd, Charles - The Walnut Tree - (Christmas during the opening days of World War I)
Webb, Peggy - Elvis and the Blue Christmas Caper - (Elvis the bassett, Southern Cousins Mysteries)