Spirited in St. Louis

September 20th, 2011

Robb is coming, but first an update about Bouchercon in St. Louis.

If you don’t count the fact that I didn’t win that award, Bouchercon was everything I hoped it would be, but better.

As is suggested by the photo, in which I’m talking at the same time as moderator Jeri Westerson, thereby stunning into silence panelists Adrian Magson and John McGoran, I talked so much I lost my voice, which I’m sure was a relief to those around me.   It’s been thirty years since I chatted with so many folks in such a short period. It was like high school, but with interesting people.

My memories are fragmentary (you have to realize that I usually see one or two people a day and spend almost all my time with my fingers on a keyboard), but I met many wonderful people from all over the world, writers I’ve admired for years (Laura Lippman put her arms around me!  Charlaine Harris came up to say how much she likes my books!), writers who are new to me, and literally thousands of amazing fans.  This genre is in good hands.

I got to hang with my new roommates at Soho, including Cara Black, Lisa Brackmann, Stuart Neville, Martin Limon, Leighton Gage, Colin Cotterill, James Benn, and Agneta Friis, a Danish writer who co-authored (with Lane Kaaberbol) THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE, which was being given out in ARC form by Soho, and which turns out to be exemplary.  (And Agneta is a great dinner companion.)

Soho was also represented by the dynamic duo of Bronwyn Hruska, the publisher, and Juliet Grames, the editor, whom I’m thrilled to be working with for the continuation of the adventures of Poke, Rose, Miaow, Arthit, and the other denizens and lurkers who pop up in the books.

The other group I hung with were the writers from my “other” site, MURDER IS EVERYWHERE, Cara Black (again); Stan Trollip and Michael Sears, who are joined at the pen as “Michael Stanley,” Leighton Gage; Jeffrey Siger; and Yrsa Sigurdardottir, who brought with her, all the way from Iceland, a “delicacy” made from the head of a sheep that had been so extensively abused and tormented it looked like it got Harvey Keitel mad at it.

Yrsa, bless her rebellious Icelandic soul, not only hauled this decaying horror through U.S. Customs (“Oh, that, officer?  It’s a scourged sheep’s head.  I take it everywhere.”) but also bamboozled the staff at the hotel into giving her plates and implements so it could be laid out in the bar.  Where.  People.  Actually.  Ate.  It.  (I was not among them.)

We MURDER mavens did our own panel, complete with matching MURDER IS EVERYWHERE T-shirts Leighton willed into being, and had a great dinner together.  Well, okay, great companionship, but not such a great dinner.  What is it about Tapas?  Why do people like it?  Why not just wander through a regular restaurant, snatching a bite or two off everyone’s plate?  And Jeff Siger’s dinner took so long to arrive that the species that was to have been cooked had become extinct.  I finally had to get up and go all Harvey Keitel on the manager to get Jeff served.

Here’s the T-shirt, hanging against an appropriate backdrop of books.

The little hiccup of Jeff’s dinner to one side, it was great fun.  Despite sharing a site every week, most of us had never actually met in person. Only Dan Waddell wasn’t present, and that was okay because it gave us someone we could gang up on.

And finally, I hope this doesn’t sound self-serving, but the most revelatory thing for me was the way many people seem to feel about my books. At least 100 people came up to say they loved the series,  that they want to adopt Miaow, to ask how Arthit’s doing with his grief, and to talk at great length about individual books, mostly QUEEN, but I was asked about all four of them over the course of the convention.  Friday, for some reason, at least a dozen people wanted to talk about the last action scene in QUEEN — just that scene, all day long. One woman threatened me with bodily harm if I ever kill Miaow. (Please! She’s my only daughter!) It was pretty overwhelming. Especially since I’m in some trouble on the new one — this was like a transfusion.

All in all, a great four days.   The Royeriad will return as soon as I get my head on straight — maybe 2-3 days.

(The photo above was taken by the redoubtable Brett Battles.  My T-shirt says UNRELIABLE NARRATOR.)

20 Responses to “Spirited in St. Louis”

  1. Dana King Says:

    See? What have I been telling you? You really need to get out more. You’re a much bigger deal than you think you are.

    I’m sorry I missed going this year, but household events took precedence. Hopefully you’ll get another nomination for something that will get you to Cleveland–or a tour that will bring you to the DC/Baltimore area–and I’ll catch up with you there.

  2. EverettK Says:

    Please Dana, his head is big enough already (well, big enough to match the rest of him, anyway…) He just got about two years’ worth of eog-boost in less than a week. If we keep piling on, there’s a serious danger that his head might actually explode, and then where would we be???

    Please, people, use your heads, save Tim’s! Join SOFAH (Save Our Favorite Author’s Head) today!

  3. Philip Coggan Says:

    “like high school, but with interesting people.” Great line 🙂

    “I usually see one or two people a day and spend almost all my time with my fingers on a keyboard.” Yeah. So where’s the experience coming from that drives the novels? I’ve heard the same thing from other writers. It’s a puzzle – they spend 25 years living and the next 50 writing about it?

    “What is it about Tapas? Why do people like it? Why not just wander through a regular restaurant, snatching a bite or two off everyone’s plate?” Very true. There’s a very expensive tapas restaurant in Phnom Penh – maybe Poke could visit it one day.

    Your last para but one sums up the appeal of the Poke series – the characters. And maybe the setting, but mostly the people.

    Congrats mate, it’s going gangbusters.

  4. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    It sounds like a great time was had by all, and I agree with Dana-you do not know how much you are revered by your public.

  5. Tom Logan Says:

    Glad you’re back, Tim. We’ve missed you. You do have many and great fans–we knew it and are glad you’re finding that out. Listen to Dana and come to the East Coast and say “hello” sometime.

  6. Laren Bright Says:

    Sounds like a great trip. Thanks for taking us with you.

  7. Suzanna Says:

    Thanks for this very funny update! You sound energized and ready to get back to your book. I’m really happy you had such a wonderful time with your fans and colleagues. Keep up the great work, Tim, you’re definitely on a roll!

  8. Sharai Says:

    Fantastic! So many ways to spell success!

  9. Tom Logan Says:

    p.s. I have no unread Hallinans on my Kindle. Why is that?

  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hey, everybody, thanks for welcoming me home.

    Dana, I know I’ve got to get out more. I’ve been staying in until my fingertips get puckered up, and that’s not sufficiently frequent. And I don’t know that I’m a big deal, but one writer who saw a couple of these interactions sais, “They don’t just LIKE your books, you know.” Which was tres cool.

    Everett, I’ve gained and lost a lot of wait over the years, and to my undying shame, my mother insisted on buying me Expand-o-Pants or something like that, that just stretched to accommodate the gradual inflation of the spare tire. I have a specially-constructed line of expanding hats for occasions like this one, as well as for those times when (as I did earlier this year) I let a book defeat me completely and my hat size shrinks to a few millimeters.

    Hi, Philip — Thanks for the quotes. They make me sound clever. (And keep it up with LITTLE ELVISES, too.) You know, ten good minutes can turn into 15,000 words, and 15,000 words, at my usual rate, is about ten days worth of writing. At this rate, if I were Proust, I’d die before I turned ten in the book. Ahhhh, but what a book.

    Thanks, Lil. Every time I read you, I think they should add a flag at car races, on top of the ones they already have to communicate data. It could be the color of Wisteria, and what it means is, “You’re driving extremely well and we like you.” It’d probably take minutes off the world record.

    Which reminds me, I’m sure a million people have done this, but I was the first one I knew. I was leaving a restaurant, and the woman at the desk asked whether I needed a validation, and I said, “Thanks, but I’m already pretty confident.”

    Tom — I got invited to a bunch of East Coast bookstores, so if THE FEAR ARTIST looks good when it’s finished, I may very well do that. Bouchercon is in Cleveland, so I might go farther East from there.

    Thanks, Laren. I wish you had been with me. It probably would have been a lot funnier.

    Suzanna — You wonder, you. You still haven’t gotten the sketch from Michael, and that’s entirely my fault. I PROMISE to get it off in the next few days.

    Tom — You read too fast.

  11. Sheri Hart Says:

    Must feel good to come out of the cave and receive some emotional gratification for your work. Glad you enjoyed your conference.

    Me, I excited about the the Surrey Writers Conference next month. Can’t wait!

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Sharai — for some reason your comment was delayed, but thank you for it. What a nice way to put it. Have you (unlike Suzanna) received your original O’Malley yet?

  13. Sheri Hart Says:

    Me, I excited…me I need coffee…sorry

  14. Suzanna Says:

    No worries, Tim. I’ll pick it up when I sees you next time I’m in town, k?

  15. Robb Royer Says:

    I have the bookend quip to go with your restaurant remark. When they ask if you have reservations, say ‘no, I’m actually looking forward to this’ THEN, after dinner, come with the validation line and they’ll actually do an Oliver Hardy face self-slap.

  16. Beth Says:

    I was considering Bouchercon in Albany but from what has been said, I don’t think I could handle the hordes when I try to meet authors.

    It is wonderful that authors get the opportunity to learn each year that their books are really treasured.

  17. Sarah Cluster Says:

    Oh I am so glad the appreciation for your great writing is so obviously OUT THERE even if the world of awards and commerce and capital punishment (what .. where did that come from, sorry) seems to be completely foreign to me. I plod thru this world not quite understanding anything anymore but “Queen” is one of my favorites and I LOVE THE SERIES and know it should be an updated “Thin Man” with Miaow replacing the little doggie and Brad Pitt and Angelina being Poke and Rose. I will hold onto that and hope that someone will produce that movie. I will know then that I am back to understanding the world again.

  18. Sharai Says:

    Yes I did receive my coveted O’Malley. Thanks for asking. I didn’t want to bring it up on the blog for fear that my competitors -er, the other lovely people on this blog, would think I was gloating. But, since you did ask, he sent me a hilarious caricature of myself. Quite a miracle since we have never met! I can’t thank both of you enough for making me feel so special!

    Congratulations again for having such a good time in St. Louis, one of my favorite cities.

  19. Bonnie Says:

    FWIW, I don’t think losing to Louise Penny is exactly a disgrace, as she is also a very fine writer. Wheres Bruce da Silva; well, we’ll see. I’m one of several holds at the library. I’m glad you made a point of attending Bouchercon, anyway, Tim, as it sounds like you got a lot of the positive feedback you truly deserve.

    Slightly different topic: for those of you who do not belong to the DorothyL group on Facebook, Julie Smith recently recommended a terrific new mystery blog: http://www.readmedeadly.com/

  20. Larissa Says:

    Whew-I go away for a few weeks and look what I miss! All sorts of fun! I’m MO treated you well and that the public was not at all bashful in coming up to tell you that you’re awesome and talented. 😀 Keep it up as you do, really, get out more. It’s a beautiful world out there!

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