By Steve Weddle
I’ll be at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville this week and moderating a swell panel on Saturday.
Whether they’re labeled conventions, conferences, festivals or tailgates, these literary events are everywhere. Bouchercon. Noircon. Left Coast Crime. Malice Domestic. They’re growing and growing and I hate them so much.
Why? How can I possibly hate these literary events? Well, back in 2010 I went to Noircon in Philly. That started it, and it’s only gotten worse. Here’s why.
- I always go broke. See, at all these places they’ve got book rooms. At Bouchercon in 2015, I bought a stack of books at one table. Eleven books. Because the authors were there and I wanted the books signed and/or I wanted to read the book because it seemed cool. I was down $158 so far, not counting the expense of the convention and the gas and food and all. Just on books. Down $158. Then I remembered a couple other people who were there and I wanted their books, too. But I hadn’t seen the books. Turns out, there was another bookseller in the room with those books. And another bookseller with other books. I ended up down $319 on books alone. And I was only at the convention for a total of four hours.
- I have to interact with authors. I like to have signed books. I have a shelf of autographed books with a huge range of authors – everyone from James Dickey and Tom Wolfe to Dave White. So I wander around like a spastic ginger trying to get $319 worth of books signed. Well, that’s not true. I also brought along some other books and magazines for authors to sign. See, at Noircon I’d brought alone a baseball bat for authors to sign. George Pelecanos. Christa Faust. Megan Abbott. Even Dave White. That was much easier to manage than three tote bags full of books. Although, hooray tote bags. Still, I looked like your grandmother at a Kohl’s red tag sale.
- I have to interact with people. If you’re like me and you go to these writer events, you’re probably mobbed by fans. You can’t help it. You write a book people love. You get a story in a great magazine. And these people come from out of nowhere wanting you to sign your book that they just bought at the book table or some magazine they’ve lugged to the event, and you try to be nice about it, even though there’s a line of people behind them getting impatient. Like I said, if you’re an author like me, you’re probably mobbed all the time like that. At Bouchercon for me, it wasn’t so much a mob as John McFetridge. And it was so much aggressive as it was his saying it was good to see me and how was it going. But, still. I imagine it must be terrible to be a successful author and get mobbed by fans asking you to sign their dumb baseball bat or whatever.
- I get a runny bottom worrying about which panel to attend. Thing is, these places usually have two or three panels at a time that look pretty awesome. And they never have all the people I like on the same panel. Holly West might be on this panel at 2, but Chris Holm is on this other one at the same time. And at 2:30 I’m supposed to me Jedidiah Ayers and Jay Stringer back in the bar to talk about movies. So I feel as if I have to be all over the place or clone myself into three or four people (which is an option no one wants, believe me) and so I get nervous and sick end up picking whichever panel happens to be close to the restroom. This panel is always a Bryon Quertermous panel. I don’t know why.
- I am always reminded of that time at Noircon in which I punched Dave White in his man junk. Oh, this is supposed to be what I hate about literary events. I don’t know how this one got in the list. That was pretty awesome. #sorrynotsorrydave
- I always come away wanting to read more than I write. I get home with books by Lou Berney and Hilary Davidson and Johnny Shaw and Joe Clifford and S.W. Lauden and Kristi Belcamino and Thomas Pluck and Alafair Burke and Rob Hart and Chris Irvin and Eric Beetner and all I want to do is sit down for an uninterrupted month and read. So my writing time suffers.
- I always come away wanting to write more than I read. I get home after talking with smart writers and I feel inspired by something they’ve said or written and I can’t slow my fingers and I get to scrawling sentences into notebooks and I forget to read and forget to eat and it’s just generally a complete mess. Awful.
Anyway, I can think of a dozen more reasons these things stink. Wasting time in a bar talking to fellow writers about great books they’ve just read or books they’re working on. Meeting authors I’ve read and loved and making myself super nervous that I’ll Russel D. McLean all over their shoes. Spending so much time tracking down Kathy Reichs in an elevator that I never get to listen to Jedidiah Ayers explain movies to me. I don’t know. They’re terrible. I hate them so much. If you hate all this as much as I do, join me this weekend in Charlottesville. It’s sure to be a horrible mess of readers and writers talking about what they love. I have to go get nervous sick now.
Sat. March 19, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Omni Hotel - Ballroom C
212 Ridge McIntire Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903
Rebecca Drake (Only Ever You), Mary Louise Kelly (Bullet), Lisa Lutz (The Passenger), and Sarah Weinman (Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s) discuss their crime novels and compilation. Steve Weddle, moderator