Saturday, 10 May 2008

Hope McIntyre, and crime conventions

Ed Gorman wondered, in a typically thought-provoking blog post the other day, about the value for authors of attending crime fiction conventions. One thing is for sure: unless you are in a very small minority of huge sellers, the cost of attendance will exceed whatever revenue you generate through book sales. And it’s also true that, in order to find time for writing, one has to put a limit on the time devoted to networking at conventions and elsewhere. This is especially true for people like me who also have to juggle their writing with a full-time job.

And yet. A convention can be a great way of meeting old friends, and making new ones, who share a common passion for books. And a convention in an unfamiliar location offers a good excuse for exploring fresh places.

A case in point was my trip to Left Coast Crime in Seattle last year. I knew little of Seattle, and it would never have occurred to me as a tourist destination. But the city massively exceeded my expectations, and even the weather was much kinder than I’d been led to expect. I also met some very agreeable people, and one of them – whom I bumped into in the excellent mystery bookstore – was Caroline Upcher, a fellow Brit currently living in the States.

Caroline writes under her own name, but her crime fiction appears as by Hope McIntrye. Her central character is Lee Bartholomew, who is a ghost writer. Caroline, well versed in the publishing industry, knows a good deal about ghosting and her books are accomplished pieces of work. The most recent is How to Cook for a Ghost, which has a well-researched restaurant setting. It is well worth seeking out, as are its predecessors, How to Seduce a Ghost and How to Marry a Ghost.

In a prefatory note, Caroline mentions enjoying the company of a number of authors at Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, Left Coast Crime and MWA events (she kindly includes me in the list) and I think this is really the answer to the question raised in Ed’s blog. If I went to a convention solely focused on sales and business, I would end up disappointed. But I don’t; it’s all about having a good time in good company. If the readers I meet are tempted to sample my books, that’s a bonus.

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