Left Coast Crime

Howdy from El Paso, the ugliest city I have ever been too…which is all the more reason to stay in the Camino Real hotel and hang out with all the authors who are here (who seem to outnumber the fans). Not much to report… I haven’t been to a single panel yet, but I’ve spent a lot of time catching up and talking shop with my friends.

I had a terrific dinner at Cafe Central on Wednesday night with authors Joel Goldman, Twist Phelan, Harley Jane Kozak, Doug Lyle, Bob Levinson, Reed Coleman, Dan Hale, Kirk Russell and a number of others… sharing funny anecotes and horror stories.

I started my day Thursday tooling around El Paso with Joel… and discovering there wasn’t much to see. We were back at the hotel by noon, just in time for the opening of the book room, where I spent too much money buying vintage paperbacks by Vin Packer, Dan J. Marlowe, and Bart Spicer. I caught up with my friends (Bill Crider, Victor Gishler, Barry Eisler, Zoe Sharp, Meg Chittenden, and David Montgomery) and made some new ones, like Walter Satterthwait and Carl Brookins. 

Walter and I had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch under the Tiffany glass dome in the Camino Royale bar, discussing writing, our experiences at St. Martins,  and some forgotten authors from the 50s and 60s.  Later, Carl and I sat for quite a while in the bar, talking about publishing, the TV business, and the late, great Harry Whittington.

After the early evening reception at the El Paso Museum of Art, it was off to a BBQ joint in New Mexico (about 11 miles away) with SJ Rozan, Denise Hamilton, Jim Born, Doug, Joel, Kirk, and Reed where the lively discussion included the pluses-and-minuses of outlining, the insecurities we share about writing, and the best way to integrate "clues" into our narrative. 

I always leave these dinners so energized… the sense of community among mystery writers is really unique and truly helpful. It’s such a relief to know that all the obstacles and set-backs I experience are shared by other writers, too!

Tomorrow morning I have two panels…one on writing tie-ins, another on funny experiences at book-signings. It should be fun.

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