From the Booking Desk:
Left Coast Crime 2022 was a whirlwind event. Given that LCC 2020 – the one day convention – was the last time our crime fiction family had gathered together in person, it was only serendipitous that our return to in-person events was LCC once again. As Fan Guest of Honor, I was incredibly busy, but it was the best kind of exhaustion possible.
The stories of the hotel – changing from a Hyatt to The Clyde – just days before the convention have been well-told elsewhere. It was an unfortunate turn of events, with the food situation – or lack thereof – being the most dire consequence. But Lucinda and Stan are professionals and they did their utmost best to pull through this difficult challenge never letting it affect the smile on their face (at least in public.)
After checking into what was the largest suite I have ever seen, things quickly took off at warp speed. The Guest of Honor dinner at Mas on Wednesday night was beyond delicious. The restaurant had suffered a fire in the kitchen that day, but they didn’t allow this to diminish the experience of their guests. (Do you see a pattern here?) Having a quiet evening to talk about life, books, and all the things in between with Lucinda, Stan, Mick, Jo, Les, Leslie, Dru, and Michael was just the antidote for the marathon weekend that was about to begin. The meal consisted of tapas, which were shared and enjoyed by all. Unfortunately, fellow Guests of Honor Catriona McPherson and Kellye Garrett experienced some travel troubles and missed this delightful meal. They were missed!
I should mention here that I took the David Morrell writing workshop on Wednesday afternoon, which was as impressive as one would expect. If you have heard David speak in the past, you know that he is fascinating, and his teaching style was every bit as personal and informative. He gave all the students his writing book for future reference. I sat with Holly West for the class and we both took copious notes on the various topics covered.
Thankfully, Thursday morning was a slow time for me. Breakfast and mingling with newly arrived attendees was in order. The first panel I attended was Writing a Series: Keeping it Fresh with Reed Farrel Coleman moderating panelists: Matt Goldman, Glen Erik Hamilton, William Kent Krueger, and S.J. Rozan. I have always been a fan of Reed’s moderation style and with this cast of authors it was bound to be a ton of fun. And it was – along with some really good tips on how to maintain a long-running series.
Next up was the Liars Panel with moderator, Johnny Shaw, and panelists Steve Brewer, Ellen Byron, Susanna Calkins, and Wanda M. Morris. The panel had the audience in hysterics. I hadn’t yet met Wanda after having loved her debut novel, but on this panel she was a superstar. I told her afterwards that she sold more books on this panel – which had NO discussion of their work – than she ever could have on a standard panel. I also learned to never doubt anything she says becuause that woman can lie with the best of them!
Next up was my Guest of Honor panel. As I have explained on many occasions, I had no interest in being interviewed, so I wanted the keep the focus on the books. The panel LIVES WELL READ, covered 30 of our favorite or overlooked books from the past 6 decades with fellow panelists Judy Bobalik, Dru Ann Love, and Lucinda Surber. The graphic will let you know what books were discussed. We were afraid that no one would show up for this panel, but that proved not to be an issue. Held in the largest of the meeting rooms, the audience just continued to grow over the course of the panel.
This was followed by the opening reception. I’ll admit I ducked out of this a little early as I desperately needed food. We had a selection of pizzas delivered to our suite and several friends joined in those festivities.
The evening ended with the fun game night hosted by Kellye Garrett. Ellen Byron, Marco Carocari, Mia P. Manansala, and Catriona McPherson proved to be adept at Family Feud and less so at Pictionary. Needless to say, laughter was the name of the game and the audience had a blast.
Friday Morning started with the New Author Breakfast. For a hotel with no open restaurant, the breakfast buffet was excellent. Since we hadn’t gathered in a few years, there were a lot of new authors to cover and each and every one excelled in introducing readers to their books.
This was followed by Catriona McPherson’s Guest of Honor interview. Catriona had asked that I conduct this interview and I certainly was nervous; I just didn’t want to let her down. I should have remembered that where Catriona is involved, fun will follow. This was the highlight of my panels at this Left Coast Crime and several people in the audience told me they could have listened to Catriona and I talk for hours.
Next we made an unexpected stop at the Lefty Debut Award Nominees panels. I am a huge fan of all three of the panelists who were in attendance: Marco Carocari, Mia P. Manansala, and Wanda M. Morris. Lucinda had great questions and these three certainly impressed the audience.
By this point I needed lunch.
In the afternoon, I hosted a panel talking about characters that are not like their creators with John Copenhaver, Craig Robertson, Clea Simon, and Matt Witten. The authors really did a deep-dive on this subject matter and I think the audience had a good time. Sometimes panels feel like they have gone on too long, but these 45 minutes flew by and those in attendance had some great questions to round-out the discussion.
Next up another fun panel with Catriona McPherson discussing Best and Worst Moments in their writing careers with Tracy Clark, Leslie Karst, Jess Lourey, and Wendall Thomas. Like the Liars Panel, the audience spent most of this panel laughing at the various stories being presented. Ah, the glamorous life of writers!
Last for the day was the interview of Kellye Garrett by David Heska Wanbli Weiden. Top powerhouses at the top of their game, this panel was a guaranteed success.
Saturday started with another breakfast buffet. Not quite as good as the previous day, but still an on-site meal that fit the bill.
First up was Juliet Grames interviewing Mick Herron. This was an informative interview that the audience really enjoyed. I hope that many new readers discovered the Slough House series over the course of the weekend.
I spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon catching up with my author friends, shopping in the book room, and generally just mingling around the convention floor.
My next choice was the Importance of Family panel with S.J. Rozan moderating Kellye Garrett, Mary Keliiloa, David Heska Wanbli Weiden. I feel like there was one other person on this panel, but I can’t remember who. Let’s face it, going to this panel was not the most inspired choice having just lost my mother in the week’s prior to LCC. Everyone did a great job, but it was very hard to me to concentrate.
Afterwards, I need a short break before my next panel. This one was the fireside chat panel talking streaming crime with Tracy Clark, Jess Lourey, Alexandra Sokoloff, and Holly West. Again with this panel we had no idea what the turnout would be like, and we ended up with folks sitting on the floor to hear us chat about our favorite – and less than favorite – streaming shows. I still need to post the shows we discussed – I’ll do that soon on Facebook – but overall, we had fun and the response of the audience afterwards confirmed my suspicion that a panel like this would be popular.
Saturday night was the Lefty Awards Banquet, of course. Catriona McPherson and I co-hosted a table at the banquet. After the meal, Kellye Garrett called me to the stage as the Fan Guest of Honor. I knew getting through my speech was going to difficult, but it was even more challenging than I expected. I was a mess of tears, but the audience reaction was the support I needed. (The video of the speech is available on Facebook and Insta for those interested.) As it turned out, it was just the start of the many emotional speeches throughout the evening. The Guest of Honor and Lefty Award gifts were beautiful pieces of Nambe pottery, native to the New Mexico area.
The winners have already been covered widely on social media, but for those that did not hear:
Best Humorous Mystery: Mango, Mambo, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes
Best Debut Mystery: All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris
Best Historical Mystery: Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara
Best Mystery: Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger
(please note the diversity in this winners list, as well as in the overall nomination list)
Sunday started slowly after the night of celebration. I did make it to the panel about The Future of Conventions: How should LCC adapt? This was a very inspiring panel with the audience providing many suggestions. As I did from the audience floor, I will just remind everyone that volunteers are always needed. Your ideas are wonderful, but without the added help, these convention leaders are already maxed out on time and effort. Lend a hand, you won’t regret it!
The final panel of this Left Coast Crime was the Guest of Honor closing panel with Mick Herron, Catriona McPherson, Kellye Garrett, myself, and moderated by Ellen Byron. This was a fun experience with none of us knowing what Ellen had in store for us. Ultimately, I think everyone probably revealed a secret or two – I know I did – but it was all in the effort to give the audience a good time. I think we succeeded.
Thanks again to Lucinda and Stan and their team of helpers for putting on an epic Left Coast Crime!