Book Fest

I had a wonderful time at the Los Angeles Festival of Books. In addition to meeting lots of terrific readers and fans, I also got to catch up with some of my favorite writers and friends like Paul Levine (who just finished writing a new novel), Denise Hamilton (favorably compared to Chandler in the LA Times this weekend), Steve Cannell (who told me he’s releasing all his old shows on DVD, including the late great COBRA, which I worked on for him), Victor Gischler (visiting LA for the first time and catching a prizefight while he was at it), Barbara Seranella (taking her wicked sense of humor out for a test drive), Roger Simon (playing with his new camera), Gayle & Dennis Lynds (Lit royalty from Santa Barbara), Dick Lochte (with whom I love talking shop), Kent Harrington (his DARK RIDE is a noir classic and he’s probably sick of me telling him that all the time), Richard Barre (a great writer and now editor at Capra Press), Gregg Hurwitz (a newlywed), GM Ford (also a newlywed), Scott Phillips (still high from the news his ICE HARVEST is now filming), Tom Nolan (his Ross McDonald biography is a must read), Eric Garcia (just back from the set of the new ANONYMOUS REX TV series), Terry Erdman (Mr. Star Trek), TJ Parker (sharing some of his adventures in television), Mary Yukuri Waters (a wonderful short story writer) Jerrylin Farmer (who always gives me great advice…though this time we shared broken bone horror stories), Nathan Walpow, Gary Phillips, Rhys Bowen, Aimee Bender, Leonard Maltin, Tom Taylor, SL Stebel, and John Morgan Wilson. I also got to meet and chat with Bruce Wagner, Raymond Benson (now writing the Bond books), Sean Doolittle, Leslie Silbert, Joanne Fluke (great cookies!), Rachel Resnick (author of “Go West Young Fucked Up Girl”), Diane Wagman, and John Connolly.

By far, though, the highlight of the weekend for me was the hour or so I spent after the book awards chatting with Donald Westlake (first with Dick Lochte, who introduced us, then later with my brother Tod and Denise Hamilton). We talked about writing styles and techniques, the book business, screenwriting, and the movie adaptations of his work. We also talked about some of our favorite authors and he shared some marvelous anecdotes about Rex Stout, Elmore Leonard, Lawrence Block, Evan Hunter and my buddy Richard S. Prather. I was wowed. He’s a living legend and a hell of a nice guy, too.

For pictures from the Fest, check out Roger Simon’s blog or Aldo Calcagno’s site.

The Reality-Challenged

So I’m sitting here with my two broken arms, recovering from surgery, and someone emails me a posting from the Pax TV discussion board. There’s a Diagnosis Murder fan who apparently is upset by a link in a posting here to her fanfic website, the one hosting the story in which Steve (the character played by Barry Van Dyke) narrowly avoids anal rape while undercover in prison. She believes the link harms her reputation in some way. So she posted this thoughtful note:
I just went back to check out the status on
According to Valerie, Lee broke both his arms, I hope he gets well soon (and I mean that! I don’t kid about other folks’ misery.)
Given those facts I’m willing to give him a few days to remove the link.
I’m sure that he will find a way to show some fair action, that is AFTER he’s had surgery on the one arm. Fair is fair!
N.S.D.!!! – Nie pleuje!
Astonishing, isn’t it?
Naturally, since I heard about this, it’s become my top priority. Nothing matters more to me in life. Which is why I intend to do absolutely nothing about it.
If you were me, how would you deal with people like this?

The Walk

This is a true story…

I was in the offices of a major movie producer who had just read a manuscript version of my new novel The Walk (Five Star, January 2004) and wanted to talk about a possible screen version. The story is about a TV producer who is stuck in downtown Los Angeles when a major earthquake decimates the city and has to walk back home to the suburbs.

The executive loved the book, the human drama, and the action-adventure elements. He only had a few thoughts and concerns.

“Does the guy have to be a TV producer?” he asked.

I was prepared for that question. I knew the character might be “too inside,” meaning too much a part of the entertainment industry, to connect with a wider audience.

“No,” I said, “Of course not. We can give him a different profession.”

“How about if the TV producer was a team of cheerleaders instead?” the executive asked.

I laughed, thinking he was joking. He wasn’t. But he wasn’t done with me yet.

“And what if the earthquake was a tidal wave?”

The book remains unfilmed.