This weekend I attended my very first Malice Domestic. My brain and my heart are full. I have been delaying writing this blog post because there was just so much to process.
I arrived Thursday evening, a little later than I planned. After checking in and picking up my registration materials, I headed to a fascinating presentation entitled “A Little Spot of Poison.” Known as, “The Poison Lady,” Luci Zahry discussed the lethality of lead. If you are looking for a way to kill someone—in a mystery story, I mean—lead could certainly do the trick.
Friday morning, I woke up early and started writing a brand new short story. I’ll credit the creative energy surrounding me at the conference for this burst of inspiration. I then went on to have one of my most intense and amazing experiences as an author ever. I won the lottery to participate in something called the “Malice Go Round.” This event was billed as “Like Speed Dating, But With Authors.” I was partnered with author Sheyna Galyan, whose Rabbi David Cohen mystery novels are all definitely on my TBR list now. We traveled to 20 tables and pitched our books for 2 minutes each. With 20 author pitching to some 200 people simultaneously, it was insanity—but in a good way! Moderator Jack Cater did a fantastic job of making sure order was kept. I had a blast pitching my debut young adult mystery novel SWIMMING ALONE to potential fans, but it was exhausting.
It took me a couple of hours to recover from the Go Round. I literally had to lock myself in my hotel room and stare at a wall for a little while. But I did manage to attend a few panels later on Friday, including “Simply the Best: Our Agatha Best Contemporary Novel Nominees,” featuring Annette Dashofy, Margaret Maron, Catriona McPherson and Hank Phillippi Ryan and moderated by Shawn Reilly Simmons. After that, I headed over to “Making History: Our Agatha Best Historical Novel Nominees.” The panel featured Rhys Bowen, Susanna Calkins, Laurie R. King and Victoria Thompson and was moderated by Harriette Sackler. I was in awe of the women in front of me—so in awe that failed to take any meaningful notes. They are all so inspiring!
Saturday, there were a number of interesting panels. I began the day attending author and friend Tim Hall’s presentation about a group mystery novel he was involved in writing, CHASING THE CODEX. This novel was written collectively by 24 authors, and I have to say, it sounds incredibly cool. Tim read a bit from the novel, and I really can’t wait to read it. I also thoroughly enjoyed the panel “Getting in Their Heads: The Psychology of Murder,” featuring Sheyna Galyan, R.J. Harlick, Lori Rader-Day and Tracy Weber.
Saturday afternoon I had the honor and the privilege of being on the “Start ‘Em When They’re YAs” panel with Shelly Dickson Carr, Kathleen Ernst, Carolyn Mulford and moderated by Sarah Masters Buckey. We talked about a number of topics, like how much violence is acceptable in a YA novel and whether or not we take the parents into consideration. It’s always a joy to be able to discuss young adult mysteries! After the panel, I had the opportunity to sign books. Every time someone came and asked me to sign a copy of SWIMMING ALONE, my heart swelled up a little. It was just an amazing feeling to connect with readers.
Saturday night I attended my first ever Agatha Awards Banquet. First of all, I was at an awesome table, hosted by nominee Edith Maxwell. It was a thrill to sit with an author I admire so much! For me, one of the most powerful moments of the banquet was when Toastmaster Hank Phillippi Ryan delivered her speech. She talked about being voted “Most Individual” in junior high. This idea of never quite fitting in—of feeling like an outsider—of doing things your own way—I think a lot of us mystery writers have felt this way at some point in our life. And that wasn’t the only speech that made me cry a little that night. (But once again, I was not taking notes!)
I am not even touching on half of what I experienced at Malice. Panels, discussions, the Sisters in Crime Breakfast… the list goes on. I think the best part was running into some of the author friends, and connecting with new friends and fans. I had so many wonderful conversations with people, some long and lovely lunches and dinners, and some delightful chats over at the bar. I can’t wait to go to another Malice Domestic. Next year is going to be a crazy year for me for a number of reasons—my return to teaching full time while wrangling my crazily energetic toddler and attempting to actually meet some writing goals at the forefront of my concerns—but if I can swing it, I will be there.