The rather fabulous Kelli Stanley (right) is attending Denver’s Left Coast Crime, and has rather fabulously volunteered to blog the experience for us – despite the potentially debilitating effects of high elevation, oxygen depletion and whiskey sours. To wit:
Left Coast Crime – Day One
If crime is a left-handed human endeavour, then for the next few days, Denver is the place to be.
This is my first Left Coast Crime, and from what I’ve seen, it well-deserves its reputation as one of the best conferences for the mystery spectrum. The energy is tremendous ... writers, readers, librarians, booksellers, panels with wacky names and panels that make you think ... panels on sex and violence and panels on why cozies aren’t always about cats ...
I flew in on Wednesday to a cold and snow-flurried Denver, adjusting myself to the altitude by dining on beer cheese and buffalo sausage at the Appaloosa Grill. I adjusted myself further by helping to close the hotel bar that night with a group of friends in true crime writer fashion. One whiskey sour will go a looong way at Denver’s mile high elevation.
There are a lot of new writers at LCC this year, and CJ Lyons, the ITW Debut Author Liaison, launched her novel LIFELINES just three days ago to great reviews. CJ’s terrific Thriller panel was my first to attend, then Rita Lakin’s (her senior citizen Gladdy Gold mysteries are both fun and poignant) and a psychological panel with Laura Benedict (left) talking about her tremendous paranormal thriller, ISABELLA MOON. Then it was time for dinner, visiting Tattered Cover book store and CJ’s signing, followed up by a publisher’s meeting.
How I started the day, though, was a little unusual. They’re trying something new at LCC this year, similar to Bouchercon 2007’s “Author Showcases”. It’s called the “Endless Conversation”, where writers are thrown together in conversation and can soft-shoe, recite poetry or just pretend to be a mystery version of “The View” for half an hour or so.
My gig is today (Friday afternoon), and I figured I’d play my harmonica. It’s easier to tote than a piano, though you can’t really play One for My Baby on a Hohner. Problem was, I hadn’t packed it.
So yesterday, on the first morning of LCC before registration, before the panels, I hotfooted it to a Wedgle’s Pawn Shop and Music on Broadway and 12th street. Yeah, I said pawn shop. They’ve been “serving Denver’s musicians since 1937”, according to their card, and I knew a combo pawn shop / music store was the place for me ... I’m a noir writer! They have every kind of instrument you could think of (and some really cool swords), and I found a blues harp I liked in about five minutes.
Today I play the harmonica, talk about NOX DORMIENDA, Roman Noir and historical mysteries on an MWA panel, go to an MWA cocktail party and generally have a hell of a good time.
Where else but Left Coast Crime can you find a harmonica at a pawn shop ... and where else would you need to? – Kelli Stanley
* With apologies to W.R. Burnett.
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.