Mesdames Jane Burfield, M. H. Callway and Melodie Campbell joined several fellow Canadian crime writers in Phoenix, Arizona for this year’s Left Coast Crime conference.
Phoenix offers southwest architecture, fiery Texmex cuisine and sunny, 75 degree weather – what’s not to like! Frozen Canadians need no excuse to head south in February and Left Coast Crime offers a great way to connect with fellow crime writers, fans and readers.
Mmes Melodie and Mad were both featured on panels this year.
Melodie, our Queen of Comedy, shared her comedic flair on “What’s so Funny about Murder?” And Mad was delighted to be on the panel, “A Brief Dance with Death: Short Mystery Fiction” with several accomplished Los Angeles members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.
LCC works especially hard to connect authors and readers on a personal level. This year, organizers piloted Author Speed-dating on Thursday, Feb 25th. Pairs of crime writers rotated through 18 tables of readers and pitched their books at each table for 2 minutes. Exhausting!
Mme Mad had a terrific partner in L. C. Hayden, a critically acclaimed author who is published in a variety of genres. L.C. lives in El Paso, Texas. (Yes, the Texas city right across the border from Mexican murder capital, Juarez!) The infamous tunnels the drug cartels use are historical, built for smuggling during the 19th century. They are a key element in L.C.’s latest thriller, Secrets of the Tunnels.
LCC features Author-Reader connections where authors host short private events for fans. This way Mad met Tim Hallinan, author of the Simeon Grist and Junior Bender novels. Tim treated everyone to coffee, cookies and chatted for over an hour about the art and craft of writing. He has just completed a book on how to finish a novel. Stay tuned on where and when to buy a copy!
Mad also had lunch with 3 amazing women authors: Ellen Byron, who writes the Cajun Country series; Chris Goff , author of dark thrillers and bird watching mysteries; and Leslie Karst, who pens culinary cozies. A wonderful opportunity to bond over the challenges faced by women crime writers, especially women thriller writers. Men readers shy away from buying thrillers penned by women authors.
We Canucks certainly know how to party both with each other and with American friends. We enjoyed two fine dinners together: an American grill, one evening and one fine Texmex, the other. Freshly made guacamole and pitchers full of Margarita’s – yum!
On Friday evening, the Crime Writers of Canada hosted “Meet the Canucks” to raise the profile of Canadian authors with our American friends. Canuck authors were stationed at tables and Americans fans circulated to get the answers to a quiz. A great way for writers to chat with new readers. Prizes, of course, were Canadian books and maple syrup. The hotel chef even made poutine! By all accounts, a smash hit with everyone and sure to become a standard event at future conferences in the USA.
The big highlight of the conference was the day the Canadians took Guest of Honour, Ann Cleeves to lunch. Ann is a delightful person who also happens to be one of the world’s leading crime writers. She is the author of the popular Vera Stanhope series and award-winning Shetland / Inspector Jimmy Perez novels. Both have been successfully adapted for television.
The Lefty Awards were presented at the conference banquet and we are delighted to report that Jane’s friend, Donna Andrews, won the Lefty for Best Humorous Novel, for her book, Lord of the Wings.
Award banquets can be a little long on occasion, but the evening sped by, hosted by the wonderful Catriona McPherson who moved things along with deft humour while raising $10,000 to benefit a children’s literacy charity. Mme Mad had great fun thanks to table companions, new writer, Bill Syken and new friend, Gay Coburn, whose working dog, Koa, stole the evening. Gay is heading up next year’s LCC in Hawaii. Until then, aloha!