What a night. After traveling for almost 2 hours in rush hour traffic I made it to the Mystery Bookstore and the party was in full swing. I was immediately greeted by Kent Harrington who promptly introduced me to Victor Gischler
Sean Doolittle . Sean and I had actually met before but neither of us could remember exactly when. Kent was asking my son Kasey how the baseball season was going while I got to know Gischler. Since Gischler and I work in the world of academia we had a few stories to share. Gischler's Gun Monkeys and Doolittle's Dirt were a few of my favorite books of early 2002 and turned me on to the whole UglyTown scene.
I turned around and saw my good friend Scott Phillips
who was looking fresh and relaxed and busy signing books. Could it be because Ice Harvest is filming? All the excellent reviews of Cottonwood and a second printing on the way? Maybe all of the above. Next to Phillips was the multi talented Stephen Cannell signing his latest and greatest Vertical Coffin. I went to back of the store where the signing area was and I found Donald Westlake and Stuart Woods busy signing books. Sheldon McArthur, the main guy (Shelley as we know him) was busy trading stories and keeping these two guys busy signing stock.
I ran into Terrill Lee Lankford , as I usually do, making the rounds in the store. Lee has just finished his latest novel Earthquake Weather and will be on tour with Michael Connelly promoting his new book in May. Lankford also directed Connelly's DVD called Blue Neon Night which will be released with The Narrows.
I went to outside to get some air and in walks Gregg Hurwitz and his wife to sign The Kill Clause. The Hurwitz are newlyweds of a few week and both are radiant and all smiles. I followed Gregg back into the store and we mingle with the many guest and friends. I told Gregg that I'm excited to read his new book, The Program which will be out in August and to hear that Paramount has picked up The Kill Clause.
While talking to Gischler and Doolittle about their UglyTown beginnings, Richard Barre,
exceptional author and editor at Capra Press walks up with the Limited Dia de Los Muertos with the signed forward by James Crumley. After a few minutes, Rich leaves to go the signing table to sign his new stand alone suspense novel Echo Bay (Highly recommended) and to join John Connolly.
I stop buy to say hi to John and we talk about how big my daughter Bridget is. It had been a little over two years since John last saw her when she was 3 months old.
At a smaller table in the middle of the store legendary writer Peter Lovesey was holding court and signing books with Cara Black and children's author Lady Georgia Byng. I sent Kasey over to Lovesey to have some backstock signed and he teased Kasey about who the books were really for. Lady Georgia (her official Royal title) was rather charming and all smiles. I purchased two of the books for Kasey, but I want to read them too. Kasey actually introduced me to Lady Georgia. Not bad for a 12 year old. Jonathon King was scheduled to sign during this time but was not there. I found out the next day that his flight was delayed in Indianapolis for political reasons (more on this in the next blog).
Standing nearby was another local favorite Denise Hamilton (left). She was there with her son and Kasey quickly made friends. Denise was signing her new Eve Diamond mystery novel Last Lullaby. We chatted about how busy she is with touring and how she finds it difficult to say NO. Ironic how this former Los Angeles Times reporter is interviewed by her former employer.
At 8 o'clock the literary power duo of Dennis and Gayle Lynds arrived. They quickly set up court at the signing table with local fave Barbara Seranella. Gayle's book The Coil is the Mystery Bookstore's Crime Club selection. I talked to Barbara about what was the status of the development of books for TV. All is good and we should see Munch come to life sometime in the near future. As for now Barbara was signing her brand new book UNWILLING ACCOMPLICE .
I spent the rest of the evening eating dinner with Scott Phillips, Victor Gischler, Sean Doolittle, Terrill Lankford, John Connelly, Jim Pascoe of UglyTown and Richard and Claire of the Mystery Bookstore. What is probably more correct to say is that I spent the rest of evening drinking beer with these guys. Pascoe asked me to describe what literary meant and I think I was able to get my point across. Toward the end of the evening we sent the bill to Connolly and my son Kasey offered him some money for his food. John had some wonderful advice for him about holding on to his own money and taking his share out of my wallet. Geez, thanks John!