by Julia Buckley
I had fun at this year's Love is Murder. I was lucky enough to meet my friend Lonnie Cruse for a third time, and we spent much of Saturday together attending panels or being on them, and sharing meals including a High Tea with some delectable frosted cakes that knocked me briefly off of my New Year's diet. :)
At lunch time we heard Jon Jordan interview Lee Child about his career and the whimsical world of publishing. Child noted that in a series one can fall prey to a certain sameness, and it was one of the reasons that he did not make his Reacher character geographically constant. In this sense, at least, each book would be unique. Child pointed out that in writing a series, one must acknowledge what people are already doing and then NOT do that. As he put it, "When you see a bandwagon, it's already too late to jump on."
It was the first time I'd heard Lee Child speak, and I found his advice simple and refreshingly honest. His take on writing advice? "Don't listen to advice."
At dinner our keynote speaker was William Kent Krueger. He spoke of his love for mysteries, but noted that he had originally wanted to write the proverbial "great American novel." Only eventually did he realize that he could write a great novel in a great genre, which is full of conflicts that need to be solved. In his summation he read a heartfelt poem about why he chooses mysteries (and which I cannot remember in its entirety).
The panels I attended included an interesting discussion of suspense and how to create it; Marcus Sakey made the interesting comparison of a book being a roadtrip: you have the basic idea of where you are going, but can't be certain of all the stops or detours along the way.
I also enjoyed hearing a panel of reviewers. It was interesting to hear their side of the story--that is, why they can't review every book that people ask them to review, how they are inundated with boxes of books (often books sent at the wrong time--too late for a publication about that month's releases), or how they receive nasty e-mails asking why a book wasn't reviewed about a week after the book was sent. They all seemed to be not only loyal readers, but compassionate people who understood the plight of authors. Jon Jordan was particularly amusing in his comments, and he also noted that he likes to give a great deal of his page room to the books that reviewers LIKED, because those are the books his readers want to read.
Barry Eisler gave a brief presentation at teatime about how to be prepared and always thinking about self-defense. Master classes were offered with such notables as Tess Gerritson, and agents were taking pitches for books throughout the weekend.
I was thrilled to meet Tess Gerritson, who happened to be the moderator of my first panel. She was, despite what I consider her superstar status, most kind and approachable, as were all the bigwigs at this event. I managed to swallow my shyness long enough to get books signed by Lee Child and Barry Eisler--and not just because they are very handsome. :)
Since Carl Brookins was kind enough to take the photo of Lonnie and me, I returned the favor by posing him with Luisa Buehler and Tony Perona.
At dinner we were all a bit exhausted, but Jonathan Quist and Shane Gericke were still smiling; Shane even earned a kiss from Jonathan for reasons unknown--although I think it was Quist's attempt to embarrass the unflappable Gericke.
In any case, another fine conference! I congratulate its organizers: Hanley Kanar, Luisa Buehler, Silvia Foti, Susan Gibberman, Julie Hyzy, Ophelia Julien, Marlene Leonardi, Terri Stone, Todd Stone, and Mary Welk.