Sniff! Sniff! Let me pause a second to mourn just for a moment. Malice Domestic 31 is over! The authors have gone home. And the tables and chairs have been taken down. I met so many amazing people this weekend, many authors and many readers (we were admonished not to call ourselves “just” readers because without us to read the books, the authors wouldn’t ever get published!). I met many people in real life whom I’d met online, reviewed, and interviewed, and it was such a delight to get to meet these and so many other fabulous people face to face!
I also discovered that a lot of people don’t look much like their author headshots or Facebook picture does! But then, I have a confession to make too. I haven’t put up a new picture on Facebook or Fangirl Nation since cutting 18 inches off my hair to donate last fall, so I’m sure many people wouldn’t have recognized me either! Fortunately, we all wore nice name tags, so even if I didn’t know a face, I could recognize people by their names. And I got the added bonus of having a green Press ribbon on the bottom of mine, with Fangirl Nation printed right below my name. Though I was told there were a couple other people with press ribbons, I didn’t spot them, so I felt very special!
So before I get too sentimental here, let me recap my experience at the last day of the convention for you. I almost overslept and missed the first panel, which would have been a terrible shame because it was fabulous! It was called Book ‘Em: Book- Loving Sleuths and featured Mary Angela, Kaitlyn Dunnett, Victoria Gilbert, Linda Wiken (a.k.a. Essie Lang), and Jane Willan. All write books that deal with books, whether set in an academic setting, a library, or even (in the case of Jane Willan’s creative-sounding books), a convent in Wales. I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion about setting, research, and love of books, and I have now added some new names to my TBR (to be read, for those not familiar with the language of bibliophiles) pile.
I then attended a panel called Tasty Murder: Culinary Mysteries. It was moderated by fellow culinary author Cathy Wiley and featured Ginger Bolton, Catherine Bruns, Tina Kashian, Maureen Klovers, and Shawn Reilly Simmons. The members of this panel and similar others have done their level best to keep me from losing much of that excess weight that my doctors really want me to shed! How am I supposed to get rid of pounds when these authors describe such delectable desserts and other foods and send me to the kitchen and sometimes even the store for goodies? So, to you members of that panel, I’ve got my excuse on whom to blame next time the doctors bring up my weight! YOU! But for all that, I had a fun time at this panel. I learned that Ginger Bolton writes about donuts; Catherine Bruns writes three different series about food, including Hawaiian and Italian; Tina Kashian writes about Armenian food; Maureen Klovers writes about Italian food; and Shawn Reilly Simmons writes about the movie catering business. So we have a wide variety of foodies represented here.
By now, I had collected a whole lot of souvenirs and especially BOOKS! After all, what do you at a book convention but acquire more books, right, everyone? (Actually, mostly what I acquired were more audiobooks from Audible, so if anyone from Audible is reading this, you can credit Malice for the sudden increase in your purchases this weekend!) Fortunately for me, the wonderful folks from Malice were generous and had a room reserved just for all of us to ship our stuff home with UPS. So I went back up to my room to take my backpack full of books that would have never fit in my suitcase and taken it way over the weight limit at the airport, and now I won’t have to carry home. But what my husband will say when he sees all these books is another problem! (Hint: He thinks we don’t have enough space for the books I already get. Silly man!)
I then hurried back to attend the final session of the day before the Agatha Tea and Closing Ceremonies, and that was a toast to the toastmaster, the incredibly funny and prolific writer Chris Grabenstein! If you’ve never heard of him, talk to a middle grade reader or look at the small print beneath many of James Patterson’s books, with whom Grabenstein writes several books a year. I really enjoyed hearing him discuss with Jeffry Cohen (a.k.a. E.J. Copperman), next year’s toastmaster, the arc of his career and how he became a children’s author and loves doing so. There were no more books of his in the bookstore for me to get for him to sign, but not only did he happily sign something else for an 11-year-old girl I mentor, he offered to send me an autographed book for her too! She is eager to start reviewing middle grade and YA books for Fangirl Nation, so hopefully we’ll be able to publish a review from this girl before too long!
The final event of Malice Domestic was the Agatha Tea, which consisted of dainty sandwiches, scones, and other treats. So now I can actually say I have eaten a cucumber sandwich! It’s not just two pieces of bread with a slice of cucumber between them, and was quite good.
I am sorry to see Malice Domestic 31 go, but I will be saving my pennies, nickles, and dimes in the hope of making the trek from Los Angeles to Bethesda next year. This has been one of the friendliest groups of people I have ever met (one author explained to me that they ban the mean people and make them stay in New York), and I have loved every minute of my time here. My aunt, Anne Gewe, who doesn’t read nearly as much mystery as I do but still enjoys the genre and came along for the fun of the convention, made the comment to her sister, “I came away with lots of swag and a new vocabulary.”
Malice 31 may be gone, but the memories and the friendships will remain! I hope all mystery lovers will have an opportunity attend Malice someday.