Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Malice Domestic

I'm back in the UK from another wonderful Malice Domestic in Washington DC (my luggage, however, evidently decided to take an extended vacation in the States...) It was a breathless trip, not helped by a very late arrival in the small hours after an unscheduled half-day stuck in an airport, and a melodramatic return journey, but the tireless team running the convention surpassed themselves and I'm indebted to them for a number of personal kindnesses. To Verena, Joni, Janet, Shawn, Angel and company - thank you.

One of the joys of attending such conventions, and a reason why I strongly recommend them to others, is the chance to combine renewal of old friendships with meeting new and delightful people. The social side is, for me, at least as important as the "business" side of the panels. It's impossible to mention everyone I enjoyed meeting, but there were several highlights. These included the honorees' dinner, to which I was invited because I was co-representing the "Malice Remembers" honoree, the late Patricia Moyes, with the charming Katherine Hall Page, and brunch with Janet Hutchings, editor of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and a group including Josh Pachter and Art Taylor, who had won another Agatha award the previous evening.for another fine short story.

On Friday, there was a dream dinner for any Golden Age fan. Drinks with a group including Michael Dirda, the Pulitzer Prize winning critic, were followed by a hugely convivial meal along with Doug Greene, Steve Steinbock, Brian Skupin of Mystery Scene, multi-award winning author of fiction and non-fiction Dan Stashower, and "impossible crime" expert John Pugmire. I'd never met Michael, Dan or John before, and it was a real pleasure to do so.

As for the events on the programme, Katherine and I talked on Saturday about Patricia Moyes' work, and some other aspects of post-Golden Age whodunit writing. Sunday was hectic. After that brunch, Doug moderated a Golden Age panel including Steve, Dan, and myself (photo courtesy of Gigi Pandian.) All I need say is that, as throughout the week-end, I felt quite humbled by the kind things said about The Golden Age of Murder. Finally, I interviewed the International Guest of Honour, Ann Cleeves, and the chance to pay a personal tribute to such an old friend was really the perfect way to round off the convention.

Naturally I succumbed to temptation and acquired more books, including the latest from Katherine Hall Page and Shawn Reilly Simmons, and the newly translated (by John Pugmire) The House that Kills by Noel Vindry, "the French John Dickson Carr". I had less time for sight-seeing than I'd hoped, but managed to squeeze in a tour of the International Spy Museum, which was fun.

Later, as I sat for a very long time in a departure lounge, listening to an unhappy US Airlines passenger screaming because of the way she'd been treated, before she was led away by a large man with a large dog, I cast my personal vote for US Airlines in the Worst Airline of the Year awards (I'd already suffered a sense of humour failure when I was prevented from taking a flight to Washington that I'd paid for months in advance, because they sold more seats than existed on the plane and was offered one dollar in compensation), and wondered wearily whether I'd been unwise to embark on such a frenetic trip. I don't think so. The upsides far outweighed the hassles of travel. I am keen to go back to Malice Domestic as soon as I can.

1 comment:

Art Taylor said...

Glad Malice's goodness outweighed some of those travel woes (so sorry to hear about that on each end!)—and glad that we got to get together for a little while. Can't wait to read the new book!