Tuesday, April 20, 2010
A Mystery Fan Guest Blogger: Cheryl Delano
In the immortal words of Monty Python, "And now for something completely different...", a huge fan of the mystery genre, Cheryl Delano, has agreed to be a guest on my blog to talk about her mystery conference experiences. It's a timely topic since we're in the middle of the spring conference season. Cheryl also sent me photos of herself with a couple of her favorite authors, one with Tim Maleeny and one with Barry Eisler. Here's what Cheryl has to say.
I have always been a reader, but when I retired from teaching (32 years of 7th, 8th and 9th grade English and reading), I vowed I would never again read what I was “supposed” to read. I would read what I wanted to read. I spent about two years with romance novels. Yes, the good old bodice rippers, and particularly time travel, but that wore thin. Slowly, I moved into the mystery section. It wasn’t a drastic move since I had grown up with Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton. I have gone from cozies to thrillers and am now familiar with most aspects of the genre.
Much of that familiarity comes from attendance at various conferences during the last few years. I had heard about them, read other fans’ blogs and thought about attending, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. Then in 2004, Bouchercon was held in Toronto, which is about a 90 minute drive from my home. I couldn’t resist; I registered and made arrangements with my son to feed the cats for five days. Needless to say, I became hooked. Names that I had only seen on book covers suddenly had faces, voices and personalities. I met authors I had never even heard of, bought loads of books and got their signatures in my program.
Things slowly expanded from there. I stayed with Bouchercon in Chicago and Madison. Each year, I knew more people, collected more hugs and expanded my reading interests. My signed programs became signed books, and I now have two full bookcases dedicated to signed copies. I added Left Coast Crime in Seattle, went to Thrillerfest when it moved to New York City and attended Love is Murder in Chicago. I now regularly attend three conferences each year.
Why? You ask. Because it’s fun!! I enjoy the panels and learn a great deal, but now I can sit in the hospitality room or the lobby with a cup of coffee and have people (both writers and other fans) stop to chat. These informal talks are great, and I have found that knowing the authors makes reading their books twice as interesting. I can hear the author’s “voice” as I read and I can call a number of them “friend.”
Writers come to these conferences to make readers aware of their product. They are approachable and interesting. Those who aren’t quickly find that no one is buying their books or waiting in line to have them signed.
If you get the opportunity to attend these conferences, I can only say GO. You won’t regret it, and if you see me sitting there with a cup of coffee, come on over and introduce yourself.
What a great article, Cheryl, and doesn't it make everyone want to sign up for a mystery conference right away? I'll be attending the Malice Domestic conference next weekend and the Festival of Mystery on May 3rd, and I can't wait! So, readers, which is your favorite mystery conference? And do you have a meet-and-greet story to tell of finally meeting a favorite mystery author face-to-face? Cheryl and I would love to swap conference tales with you.