I slept in a bit this morning, but still had time for breakfast. When I got to the buffet, I sat with Frank Zafiro and we chatted a bit, agreeing that the convention has been a blast, even though we’re reaching the point at which the days are starting to run together. Things got even better when the server put my breakfast on Frank’s bill — as it happens, Frank’s breakfasts are comped thanks to some sort of loyalty package, and so mine was as well. Mondoville College will be grateful, I’m sure.
I caught the shuttle to the Vinoy and after talking to a few friends, I made my way to a session on turning true crime into fiction. Reed Farrel Coleman moderated the panel, which included Peter Blauner, Julia Dahl, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and R.G. Belsky. I have to admit that I wasn’t as attentive as I might have hoped, as I had received a message from Lawrence Block telling me he had a book for me. I told him to pick a time and place, and I’d be happy to meet up with him after my noon panel.
As it happened, I didn’t have to wait — both L.B. and Jill D. Block showed up for my panel. I have to admit — doing a panel with an MWA Grand Master in the front row is something I never expected when I started my fictioneering career. As for the panel itself, it was great. I sat between S.W. Lauden (who has drummed for several notable punk and power pop bands, and is the author of the Greg Salem “Punk Rock P.I.” series) and Rex Weiner, who wrote the original Ford Fairlane stories for the LA Weekly and once threw a pie in Joey Ramone’s face during a dispute at CBGBs. Meanwhile Nadine Nettmann (guitarist and sommelier) and Paul Charles (former band manager) rounded things out.
The conversation was a great deal of fun, and the audience seemed to have a good time as well — even putting up with my Bo Diddley beat as I backed up a recitation from Rex.
Afterward, Ell Bee had a gift for me — the Taiwanese edition of Alive in Shape and Color.
I introduced Jill to several of my friends, and was glad to extol the virtues of her book as well. Block the Elder, meanwhile, told me that he’s already registered for next year’s B’con in Dallas. So there’s something for me to look forward to as well.
From my session, I headed to the book room for the traditional signing. I sat next to Rex and signed a few books. One buyer even complimented me on my handwriting, but she may have been charitable. Rex and I talked a little about a play he has written about Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
My next stop was a panel on P.I. fiction. There was apparently some scheduling confusion, but we got to hear from Jack Fredrickson, Naomi Hirahara, Stephen Mack Jones, and Kelli Stanley, with moderator Steph Cha arriving a little late, but keeping things upbeat and interesting. Although the panel acknowledged that the private eye novel is a subgenre that rises and falls in popularity, they also agreed that as long as there are mean streets, writers will makes sure that men and women will go down them.
The 3 p.m. hour brought an interview with Sean Chercover, whose recent work has added elements of paranormal fiction and sf to the mystery scene. Chercover is funny and engaging, and I think I’ll need to investigate his work.
The final two sessions had the feel of an all-star jam session. Jill D. Block hosted the first one, which engaged the process of inspiration and writing this stuff we love to read. The panelists included Peter Blauner, Philip Friedman, Laura Lippman, Robert Olen Butler, and the moderator’s dad. The audience was treated to the stories behind the stories, both old favorites and forthcoming material.
Once that wrapped up, Lawrence remained on the stage for an interview with Ian Rankin, author of the well known Inspector Rebus series. I’ve known about Rankin by reputation (and from hearing him at Noir at the Bar the other night), but this was a reminder for me that there’s always more cool stuff to read.
As that wrapped up, I caught the shuttle back to the Hilton. I made another run to the Chinese restaurant I visited the other night, but this time I brought it back to my room.
It’s been a good day.