10 April 2012

Report from a Left Coast Crime "virgin"

A guest post by Brad Parks.

Hers’ was the very first face I saw at this, my very first Left Coast Crime.

 It was friendly and welcoming and I had barely made it to the registration table and announced my name when I saw it smile for the first of many times. “Oh, you’re Brad Parks?!?” she gushed as she handed me my official Mining for Murder bag. “I’m one of your groupies!” I won’t say her name – I grant my groupies full anonymity – but I will say my first thought upon hearing her introduce herself as my groupie was, "You know, I think I’m going to like this conference".

It turns out I wasn’t wrong. And my groupie was a big part of the reason why. Over the next few days, it seemed like we saw each other everywhere. We bumped into each other in the book room and had a nice chat. We ended up together at the Tough Chicks panel, where Sophie Littlefield charmed us with her moderating abilities. (I think my groupie might also be a Sophie Littlefield groupie. But that’s okay… I encourage my groupies to read broadly and develop their passions for other authors).

We commingled at the bar (naturally) and in the hospitality room and in the lobby and after the social networking panel and, well, just about everywhere. And maybe it sounds like she was taking the groupie thing a little too far – to the point of stalking – but, of course, I was stalking her, too. We chatted about books we liked and books we loved. We talked about reviewing and why certain things got stars and others didn’t. We talked about her daughter’s wedding and my kids’ reading habits and her career and my career and everything in between.

These chats were spread out over the course of several days and they were always getting interrupted by something. But that’s the beauty of a conference like Left Coast Crime. It’s big enough that there’s always something to move onto next but small enough that you know you’ll always have a chance to continue that conversation later. And it gives you the chance to get to know people in more than just a passing way. If anything, my groupie and I got so well acquainted that she’s really not a groupie anymore – I managed to knock myself down off that pedestal in her eyes and become just another guy.

But that’s okay. Because now she’s a friend. And isn’t that one of the main reasons we come to these things in the first place?

Brad Parks is a winner of the Nero Award and the Shamus Award. His latest book, The Girl Next Door, was released by St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books on March 13. 

For more Brad, sign up for his infamous interns’ newsletter http://www.bradparksbooks.com/newsletter.php, like him on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/BradParksBooks or follow @Brad_Parks on Twitter.

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