Left Coast Crime Convention, 2014 – wrap-up

LCC 2014 bookWe had a blast. Went to more than the usual number of panels, caught up with friends, the weather was great.

The convention ran from Wednesday, March 20 (early registration) then Thursday, March 21 through Sunday, March 24, with panels and interviews on all four days. When we go to mystery cons, some of the time is panels, depending on the topics and panel members, some is socializing, some time is just out and about. We like to attend panels looking for new authors, so sometimes we just sit in and see what happens. This can result in a few duds, but over all we enjoy listening to what the authors have to say.

We got down to Registration early, got our book bags (see the New Arrivals post on Monday). After a so-so breakfast at a joint up the street, I headed into the book room while Barbara went to Thrills and Chills: Medical and Psychological Thrillers with H.S. Clark, June Gilliam, Bette Lamb (half of the writing team J.J. Lamb) and August McLaughlin. This kind of mystery is right up Barbara’s alley, and she liked it a lot, buying a couple of books right afterward.

Then I joined her for Mysteries in Different Lands panel, with Janet Hubbard, Jane Matthews, Pricilla Royal and Jeffrey Siger. For me, the takeaway from this one was Siger’s Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series, the first of which, Murder in Mykonos, I bought after the panel. I’m a third of the way in, and enjoying it very much.

Next was Bobbies vs. Mounties with Brenda Chapman, Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie and Louise Penny. I’ll go to any panel with Louise Penny. The title had little to do with the discussion, which was mostly about the role of the police protagonists in the books. This was a good one! Then we walked to the Crown and Anchor for good food, good beer.

We had rolls and coffee, some chat and before we knew it, it was time to head for the first of several panels. The first, In the Beginning…Reminiscing was a lot of fun. Jan Burke, Sue Grafton and Marcia Muller just talked about the early days of their first books and the female P.I. Nothing much new to me, but a lot of humor and it was a feel good panel.

When Setting Matters with Timothy Hallinan, Sara Henry, Craig Johnson and William Kent Krueger. Krueger is the other author at LCC that I wouldn’t miss. Caroline Todd did a good job of moderating this and it was a very good panel, focusing on the role setting plays in the author’s books. I have read two of the authors and they do setting very well, especially Krueger, so it was interesting to hear him talk on how he plans setting as an important element in his plots. For me, the best panel of the con.

After some time enjoying the Monterey peninsula, and lunch out, we returned in time for Murder Across the Pond with Laura Anderson, S.K. Rizzolo, Priscilla Royal and Jeri Westerson. We’d never heard of any of these folks, but what the heck. Locations discussed were France and England, and for me there wasn’t much interest generated.

Last panel of the day was Crime Fiction, the Bigger Picture which had Janet Dawson, Guest of Honor Cara Black, Aaron Elkins, Craig Johnson and Laurie R. King. The panel title made little sense, and they ignored it. Unfortunately, Laurie King said little, but it was a pretty good panel.

The day wrapped up for us with a 45 minute interview of International Guest of Honor Louise Penny, conducted by Minotaur Books’ Andrew Martin. For us, this was a highlight of the convention. The following night Penny’s novel How the Light Gets In won best novel set outside the U.S. After the interview, we had a nice dinner at a local restaurant, then returned to the room to read and try for a good night’s sleep.

Again, we started off the day with coffee and sweet rolls in the lobby, then off to Mysteries with a Meaning with Jacqueline Winspear (M), Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie, Louise Penny and Michael Sears. The “meaning” of the panel title was the author’s perspective on crime in the novel beyond the crime-pursuit-solution aspect. It was an interesting discussion, and the type of mysteries each author writes, from traditional British (Cleeves) to police procedural (Penny, Crombie) to thriller (Sears) gave a variety of perspectives. During the audience question period, they had to hush up a fan who tried to ask a spoiler-filled question.

It was at this time we realized we were both so tired we decided to cancel our awards banquet tickets and made plans for a light supper. On to the next panel.

When Bad Things Happen to Good Detectives with Cara Black, Janet Dawson, Libby Fischer Hellman and William Kent Krueger was a good one. Krueger talked about all the bad things he’d put his protagonist Cork O’Conner through, and the others countered with the trials of their characters and how to get them into – and out of – the kind of jams the plot called for. I’d hoped to talk to Krueger after this panel, but he was mobbed after the panel and there was a very long line for his signing. At the awards ceremony, Krueger’s Ordinary Grace won best novel set in the U.S.

IMG_0187_2After a nice lunch with friends Kate Diere (left), Ted Hertel (2nd from right) and Thom Walls (right), followed by a walk, we returned to the hotel and went to Mystery Aficionados: The Books We Love and Why, with Les Blatt, Deborah Lacy, Barbara Fass Leavy and Donus Roberts. This panel promised to be good but let us down. The only connection to the genre one of the panelists had was having written a critical study of the novels of Ruth Rendell, which might have been fine if she’d had anything at all to add to this panel other than to state that she was an academic and didn’t have any favorite mysteries. (!) Another of the panel members only reads “classics” for reviews on his website so only mentioned Sayers. This left Blatt and Lacy to toss a few favorite authors at us, and the panel was highlighted only by a snafu with the air conditioning system requiring windows to be thrown open.

An hour later it was time for Historical Murder Around the World with Ann Parker, Sharon Newman, Frederick Ramsey, John Maddox Roberts and Priscilla Royal. I like historical mysteries, so I enjoyed hearing the authors talk of the setting and era of their books, and just after the panel I bought Newman’s recent short story collection Death Before Compline. I really should read more historical mysteries.

That was it for Saturday. We had a light meal, read. I finished the book I’d taken to the con, A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake. I then started Murder in Mykonos by Jeffrey Siger. We were asleep before the banquet was half over.

Last day of the con. These things always seem like they’re suddenly over. There were hardly any people in the lobby except for a few checking out. We’re staying another day but the place was already almost deserted. There is one more panel on our list: A Day on the Beach: Murder at the Seashore with Larry Collins, Christine Finlayson, James Preston and Mara Purl. We’d never heard of any of them, they’re all new authors who were put on a last day panel. The person we found interesting was Finlayson, mainly because she lives in Portland and sets her mystery (she’s working on a second one) in Newport, on the Oregon coast. Of course we bought her book and had her sign it.

The last thing on the schedule was an interview with Lifetime Achievement Honorees Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini. The interview was conducted by J.J. Lamb who talked about his personal friendship with Marcia and Bill, and had a batch of questions which allowed one word or single sentence answers, causing a lot of silences and awkwardness. Still, stars will shine and it was a mostly interesting wrap-up to the con.

From there on we had a relaxing day and a half before the drive home. We stopped on the way on the first day to visit Art Scott, a friend from when I was in DAPA-Em, a mystery APA. Had a great visit and tour, then back on the road. We stopped at the The Olive Pit, and bought some stuff, then stayed in an awful room in Redding. Next day we had a very stormy drive through the Siskiyou mountains and up the Willamette Valley to home sweet home.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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23 Responses to Left Coast Crime Convention, 2014 – wrap-up

  1. macavityabc says:

    My envy knows no bounds.

  2. Evan Lewis says:

    Sounds like it was a thrill a minute. Glad you got to meet Christine. You are now acquainted with 1/3 of my mystery critique group.

  3. Glad you were able to visit Art Scott. His collections are astonishing! I really enjoyed reading about your experience going to the panels.

  4. Wonderful summary. I’m so sorry I didn’t get to see you both. So many people, so little time. 😦

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Glad you had such a good time. There was an article in the last Deadly Pleasures about Siger’s Greek series that made it sound very interesting so I have the first book on its way. GMTA

  6. Richard says:

    Bill, I know you would have had a good time.

  7. Richard says:

    Evan, I sure didn’t see that coming. I need to take you up on a visit to the group, I’m sure it would be interesting to be an observer. It’s too bad she got stuck on the last day for her panel, but new authors have that happen. Let her know the nice couple who bought and had her sign her book are friends of yours, will you?

  8. Richard says:

    George, I wish there had been time to paw through stuff, all I got to do was follow him from room to room and gaze. Man, he has some great stuff. It was a real pleasure to visit Art.

    We had a good time. I know a lot of the APA folks rarely went to panels, preferring to just socialize, but I still enjoy them.

  9. Richard says:

    Janet, we saw you rushing from place to place or busy on con business, but there was never a good chance to interrupt and say hello. We won’t be in Long Beach, but you can count on us to be at the 2015 LCC.

  10. Richard says:

    Jeff, I didn’t see that one. Siger has a dynamic personality that came across quite well in his panel and in person when I talked with him. I’m enjoying the book so far. GMTA?

  11. I bumped into Janet Rudolph on an elevator at the Albany BOUCHERCON. The rest of the time, I only saw her at a distance moving like the Energizer Bunny!

  12. Richard, it was great to meet you. Thank you both for staying through the Sunday panels (last of the last) and buying a book, too! I’m sure Evan and I could arrange a visit with our writing group–would be interesting to hear a critique from the reader’s perspective.

  13. Richard says:

    George, she’s always like that, it seems. I noticed the same thing at my first Bouchercon (Seattle) many years ago now. Wish I had that much energy.

  14. Richard says:

    Christine, thanks for dropping by! It was great to hear and meet you at LCC, and I’ll be reading your book as soon as I finish the one I’m halfway through. Truth is I’ve already taken a peek and felt the cold, wet mud in that first scene. Evan (Dave) invited me once but I bowed out and have regretted it since, so a new invite would be welcome. Today, a little of that Monterey weather would be welcome too!

  15. Jeff Meyerson says:

    GMTA = Great Minds Think Alike

  16. Patti Abbott says:

    Wow. You guys really worked hard. I had no idea anyone went to that many panels and could manage dinner. Wish I had been there.

  17. Cap'n Bob says:

    Most people think Janet attends the cons for 30 minutes and then disappears for the rest of the time doing ghu-knows-what.

  18. Makes me want to go conning. Glad you had a good time.

  19. Richard says:

    Patti, not hard work, just fun. We only go to panels we think might reveal a new to us author or with a panel member we want to hear. We found out both Krueger and Penny have new books coming in August (already pre-ordered).

  20. Richard says:

    Bob, yep, that’s about it. Janet was active in the con, so she would show up to do something that way, like set up chairs for Muller-Pronzini, then whoosh, gone. It’s like that line from the song “Some Enchanted Evening” (from South Pacific?) about seeing someone across a crowded room. Or something.

  21. Richard says:

    Charles, you gotta pull yourself out of the house and do this stuff once in a while.

  22. Sounds like such a great time. So glad you both got to go and just enjoy yourselves. I too would have went to any panel with Louise Penny on it.

    Mary and I were in our favorite vacation spot for a couple of days last weekend to celebrate her birthday and while driving we listened to the last several chapters of How the Light Gets In. She hadn’t “read” it and it was fun for me to experience the later part of the novel through the audio. The narrator is fantastic. After it ended there was a really nice recorded conversation between he and Louise Penny. One of the interesting things revealed is that he doesn’t pre-read. In fact, at the time of the recording he was only partially through recording the narration for How the Light Gets In and had no idea how it would all end up.

    I looked up info on her new book, due out the end of August, and my excitement for new Gamache is already building.

    Congrats on a wonderful, mystery filled weekend. I’ve been reading the first Maigret novel by Georges Simenon this week. Grabbed it on a pure walk-by whim at BN over the weekend and am enjoying it.

  23. Richard says:

    Carl, Penny’s next one comes out in late August. Glad you had a good time, at (if I recall) a B&B / vineyard place. It would be cool to listen to How the Light Gets In. I’ll see if the library has it. By the way, did you ever track down the book package?

    I like the Maigret novels, and have a lot of them unread. I need to get back to Simenon.

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