It’s been a long day in sunny, stormy St. Pete. Nevertheless, I’m persisting.
I started my morning once again by fueling up at the breakfast buffet, and then making my way to the shuttle to the convention. I made my way to a panel on publishing, which included (among others) Jessica Case of Pegasus Press, the folks who put out LB’s art-themed anthologies in which I’ve placed stories. Although Jessica and I hadn’t seen one another since the Hopper launch in December 2016, she immediately recognized me in the crowd and said hello on her way to the platform. Granted, I’m easy to spot, but it’s nice to be remembered.
From there, I moved to a panel on noir, hosted by Ted Fitzgerald and including Ragnar Jonasson, Caro Ramsay, Dana King, Rick Ollerman, and John Shepphird. The panel was blessedly light on discussions of the “What is noir?” variety, with the writers focusing instead on maintaining toughness in dialogue, description, and setting — a particularly interesting aspect coming from the Icelandic Mr. Jonasson and the Glaswegian Ms. Ramsey.
As an added bonus, after the panel I ran into Dale Phillips, with whom I had partnered for Author Speed Dating at last year’s Bcon. Along with the usual catching up, he told me about his visit to St. Petersburg’s Dali Museum, where I intended to go during this visit.
Next up was a panel of reviewers that included Oline Cogdill of the Associated Press, Jon Jordan of Crimespree magazine, Andrew Gulli of The Strand, and freelancer Katrina Niidas Holm. My buddy Peter Rozovsky moderated the panel, and the hour passed with remarkable speed. Apparently, getting a bunch of passionate, articulate book lovers together can yield lively conversation — who knew?
After that, I got a bonus, as I finally was able to have lunch with G. Scott Oliver, with whom I’ve been twitter buddies for quite some time. We ate at the less formal of the Vinoy’s restaurants, but the service was terrific and they make a very nice Cuban sandwich. Scott had to get back to work too soon, but it was great to actually meet him face to face.
Returning to the panels, I caught one on writing blue-collar/working class characters without condescension. Panelists included Britain’s Elizabeth Mundy, and American Southerners Steph Post and Eryk Pruitt (who is not only up for an Anthony award for What We Reckon, but whose true crime podcast The Long Dance has caused quite a stir. He also hosts a mean Noir at the Bar.) Topics included avoiding stereotyping and capturing the sound of working class and rural voices without resorting to dialect. It was a good time.
From there, I moved to the lobby where I hung out with folks like Danny Gardner, Shaun Covey, and the Down & Out brain trust of Eric Campbell and Lance Clark. But while there were other panels I would have enjoyed, it was time to play a bit of hooky and hit the Dali Museum.
Although I’ve enjoyed Dali’s work since my dad brought home a book about the artist when I was a kid, I particularly wanted to see The Pharmacist of Ampurdan in Search of Absolutely Nothing (1936).
I had read somewhere that the painting was at the museum, but I couldn’t find it. So I spoke to a guard, and a docent, and that’s when I found out that the picture is apparently in Germany. (Insert sad trombone noises here.) Nonetheless, I managed to while away 90 minutes looking at other of the Spaniard’s masterworks.
As the museum closed, I made it back to my hotel to chill for a bit before going to a meet-and-greet sponsored by the Down & Out team. And after a bit of that, I had a pleasant (if warm) half-mile walk back to home base.
I may sleep a little later than usual tonight, but I don’t know — tomorrow’s a full day, and it’ll be my turn in the panelists’ barrel. Details to come!