Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Two for Tuesday

I missed posting yesterrday so I have two memories for everyone today.

Up first our ToastMaster. Mark Billingham is an international best selling author.

“In the bit of my brain which I hope will be the last to go, there are no shortage of great Bouchercon memories: Laura Lippman’s bachelorette party; meeting Jim Crumley; the bowling alley in Chicago; seeing John Connolly on a horse...and I know that Baltimore will be responsible for plenty more. THIS was at the Toronto Bouchercon which I thoroughly enjoyed. Actually...I’ve thoroughly enjoyed pretty much all of them, thinking about it.

I was having breakfast one morning with Simon Kernick and Chris Mooney, and Simon was telling us about this horrible nightmare he’d had the night before. He’d dreamt that someone called him at home and told him people were on their way to kill him. He told us how vivid it was, the terrible feeling of dread and horror that went with knowing someone was coming to your house to kill you. Chris and I looked at one another and told him that it would be a great start to a book. Simon looked shifty suddenly. “It was MY dream,” he said. Chris and I spent the rest of the day winding him up, kidding him that each of us was planning to use the dream in a book. Of course, we didn’t and Simon did and it turned out to be the opening of “Relentless” which was picked up by the Richard & Judy Book Club (the UK equivalent of Oprah’s Book Club) and sold a phenomenal number of copies. I STILL think Kernick owes Mooney and I some money...”

Today we also have a memory from Libby Hellmann. Libby has a new book out from Bleakhouse this month.

My most vivid memories -- both the highs and the lows -- are of my first Bouchercon -- 1999 in Milwaukee.
I was unpublished, but had “won” a short story contest that Ted and Gary and the rest of the gang sponsored. As the winner, I was invited to go to a pre-Bcon boat ride on Lake Michigan Wednesday night. That was the year Max Allan Collins was the GOH, and I was thrilled to rub elbows with him, his wife Barbara, and people like Jerry Healy…. Gary Niehbur… Cap’n Bob…. even Ted Hertel… What a rush for a wannabee!! To tell the truth I was feeling pretty smug that night.
I should have known it wouldn’t last.
The next day I had a turkey sandwich in the hotel. By that night I had food poisoning. I managed to eke out the night, but by noon the following day, I was scared, dehydrated, and feeling pretty shitty. My friend Mary Harris took me to the ER where they gave me an IV and told me to wait. Imagine my surprise three hours later when Jerry Healy and SJ Rozan showed up in my cubicle, wanting to know how I was doing. I couldn’t believe it -- they’d come to the hospital just for me? Then I found out that Al Abramson had broken his ankle during the basketball game and was in an adjoining cubicle. When they came for him, someone told them another mystery “person” was there, and they stopped in to see how I was doing.
As it turned out, both SJ and Jerry were incredibly concerned and sympathetic, and I felt very much a part of this wonderful and strange community. I still do… but I hope no one else has to spend 8 hours in the ER to find that out.

See you tomorrow,


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