Headed out yesterday morning to the Real City Airport for my trip to the City of Brotherly Love for another plunge into the world of crime fiction. I’m at the 2016 edition of NoirCon, back after the standard two-year layoff. This trip is enhanced by my company, in the form of Mrs. M and the Spawn, who came in on a separate flight that arrived a little after mine.
We arrived at the Hotel Sonesta about 4, where we discovered that the room I had booked for the conference was big enough for two people — for three? Not so much. However, the terrific person at the desk gave us an upgrade so that there would be room for a rollaway for the Spawn. Nice work, Sonesta peeps — you did us a solid. Of course, when we got to the room, I had an attack of Nice Boy Guilt, and called the desk. “That’s a free upgrade, right?” Why yes, Mondo Clampett, it is! So the Spawn isn’t sleeping on the floor.
Shortly after checking in, the ladies went to look around town, and I made my way to the Pen and Pencil Club for Noir at the Bar. The venue is like a time capsule — a theme that runs through a lot of NoirCon. Lots of wood paneling and a bartender wearing a vest and tie, caricatures of Damon Runyon on the walls — it’s the sort of place where you want to wear a hat with a press pass in the band. Peter Rozowski did the MC honors — a task he has performed on numerous occasions in the past. He was great as usual, as were the readers, who ranged from Philly folks (like poet Joe Samuel Starnes, who read a sestina employing brands of bourbon) to writers as far away as Australia (the lovely Leigh Redhead, author of a series about a sex worker turned P.I.) I read “Bowery Station, 3:15 A.M.”, and the response was really gratifying, as was the fact that my girls were there to see it. Aurelien Masson, director of Gallimard’s famed Serie Noire, approached me about possibly doing a novella for them, and more than a few people told me later how much they enjoyed my work. This proves 1) that crime fiction people are some of the nicest folks going, and 2) I don’t get tired of these Pinocchio moments.
Yesterday, Mrs. M and the Spawn headed out to hit the museums and libraries of Philadelphia, while I grabbed breakfast at a local 24-hour diner that looks like the sort of place where one might find Eddie Coyle’s friends, and then walked down to the convention/conference HQ, at the headquarters of the Hotel Brotherhood. I got checked in, received my copy of the most amazing conference program ever:
and settled in to hear about crime, both real and imagined. Speakers included police chiefs, playwrights, and Wesley Stace (who my music-loving friends might recognize under another name). Mr. Stace interviewed Barry Gifford, who founded Black Lizard Press and has written screenplays with David Lynch and several other major directors, in addition to his own series of books. My turn in the barrel is Saturday, but for now, I’m off to get some breakfast before Day 2. More soon!