Sunday, January 9, 2011

ALA Mode

This is a short one, and I apologize in advance.

I'm in San Diego and have been all weekend for the winter convention of the American Library Association.  For a book freak, this is paradise; everywhere you look, you see writers, librarians, and books.

Three terrific mystery writers, Rosemary Harris, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Naomi Hirahara, talked the ALA into something new: ALA Mystery Day.  We took over a wonderful stage area that wasn't being used, and Naomi, Hank, and Rosemary came up with a program that involved a baker's dozen of additional mystery writers in all genres from the coziest of cozies to the (almost) darkest of noir:  Harley Jane Kozak, Kate Carlisle, Jeri Westerton, Dianne Emley, Sue Ann Jaffarian, T. Jefferson Parker, Ken Kuhlken, Gary Phillips, Kelli Stanley, Vicki Doudera, Sophie Littlefield, Joanne Fluke, and yours truly.

We had panels, one-on-one interviews, and signings.  People came in from the convention, sat through an event, and then lined up to get free books and have them signed.  I can say with no immodesty at all (because it was true of all of us) that we were mobbed.

And the best-read crowd I've ever signed for.  They'd all read some of us, and a few of them had read all of us.  I had a couple of people admonish me for the equivocal ending I gave to a character in A Nail Through the Heart; and because William Morrow was so generous in providing several boxes of books, I was able to give each of them a copy of Breathing Water, in which that character returns. 

The last audience of the day was so big and so enthusiastic that the convention hall personnel turned the lights off to make us aware that we were the only people left.  And even so, we practically signed our way out of the convention center.

Oh, yes - and there are free books everywhere.  Like Heaven, but with more interesting people.

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