Thursday, February 8, 2024

Hushpuppies, High School, and Joe Lansdale's Head

Wendall--every other Thursday 

Last weekend I was honored to be included in the second CrimeScene Mystery Bookfest at McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, NC. Indulge me while I gush a little. 


Rabbit photo-op.
First, the store sits in the charming Fearrington Village, which features a few lovely places to eat and drink, tons of gifts items, one of the premier eateries in North Carolina—the Fearrington House Restaurant—and a gorgeous Inn. 


Fearrington House is an institution.

Pete and friends in the Village at night.

The whole thing sits amidst acres of hills and ponds and ancient trees, not to mention a few sculptural sheep!


So many lovely places to walk, and stop.

They almost look real. . .

Until you get up close.

It also has the advantage of being a two minute drive from my all-time favorite North Carolina-style barbecue joint, Allen and Sons, where I went with a dear friend I’ve known since I was twelve. Let’s just say hushpuppies were had. . .


An annual tradition.

CrimeScene is the brainstorm of Pete Mock, who curates the mystery book room in the store with the kind of intensity and discernment that landed him on the cover of Our State Magazine. Many of you probably know Pete, either from doing signings in the store, or running into him at one Bouchercon "Noir at the Bar" or another. He loves crime fiction, and his generosity towards writers is legendary.


He has been particularly kind to me, even down to book placement! I can't think of another bookstore where Cyd Redondo would land on a bookshelf with Carl Hiassen, Craig Johnson, Louise Penny, Ace Atkins, and Lee Child.


Fogged Off in proximity to Squeeze Me? I can die now.

The store’s owner, Keebe Fitch, was an incredible host and everyone who works in the store, or came to volunteer, made it one of the loveliest events I’ve ever attended.


The panels all took place in the legendary Barn.
This is just the entrance...

This is the inside. What a great venue.

And then, I met Joe R. Lansdale. He was the Guest of Honor and has been one of my heroes for years. Even sitting behind him was heady stuff. 


Joe's head. Proximity is everything!

He was very tolerant of my blabbering admiration, made me laugh, told some heartbreaking and hilarious stories about working with Bill Paxton and Sam Shepard, bought one of my books (!) and signed his.


I appeared on the “Humor and Homicide” panel, moderated by the wonderful Sara Johnson (The Bone Dead), to commiserate with Tim Maleeny (Hanging the Devil) and Mark de Castrique (Dangerous Women) about the challenges of making murder funny. 


Getting ready.

Our panel. These folks crack me up.

Ready to sign in Pete's Mystery Book Room.

The rest of the day featured an illuminating interview with Joe Lansdale, and great panel conversations with Thomas Mullen, Kevin Powers, Eli Cranor, Rebecca Renner, Martin Clark, Jamie Mason, Katy Munger, JG Hetherton, David Joy, and Juliet Grames. 


Katy Munger interviews Joe from the front.

Pete, introducing Jamie Mason, Tim Maleeny, Kevin Powers, and Thomas Mullen.

Of course, the weekend was especially great for me, because I grew up about fifteen minutes from the store. At one point in the day, seven of my friends from high school (and junior high!) were together in the signing room. It was so great it made my heart hurt. Friends from college, and even my old boss—the former head of the UCLA Professional Program—attended. It was a fabulous day.

Me with people I've known forever. So grateful they showed up.

And a few more old friends.

The other highlight of the day was the awarding of the "Beltie" prize, Pete's choice for Best Mystery of the Year. It went to Michael Bennett's Better the Blood.

The publishing world can be tough, but being part of the mystery community and this network of writers, readers, booksellers, and librarians is a privilege I never take for granted. Thanks, Pete, Keebe, and everyone at McIntyre’s Books for making me so happy to be a crime writer.



  1. The mystery writing community really is super! Coming from the academic world, it was great to find a group of friendly, charming, funny people in the writing world. With stories that didn't involve equations!

    1. I agree! I was (and still am) in academics before I starting writing books, and it's fight or flight every day!

  2. Wendall- you captured the essence of Crime Scene beautifully. There's Mock magic in the air. It's always fun to catch up with you and I can't wait to see where Cyd will take me next!

    1. Sara! You were so wonderful as a moderator-- I really appreciate your taking the time to read Cheap Trills and ask such good questions. Lovely to see you, and back at you with Ms. Glock!

  3. Sounds like a great reunion as well as a fabby event. I'm going to a friend's event tonight- through a storm, the road is blocked, snow is forecast and we are driving in a convoy!

  4. You North Carolinans sure do know how throw a party. You can see the joy in your friends' faces...and justifiable pride in their childhood friend.