Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Left Coast Crime

Left Coast Crime

As I wrote last week, Left Coast Crime is my favorite conference. I always love seeing writing buddies and having a chance to talk shop. Some people say they sneak off to their room to write during the conference, but I’m usually too keyed up to do that. It actually feels like a mini-vacation—at high speed.

This year some of the memorable moments were a bit of a surprise. I attended a panel of people who write ancient mysteries. The panelists were Priscilla Royal, Sharon Newman, Judith Starkson, and John Maddox Roberts, moderated by Susan McDuffie. It was so stimulating that at one point I got excited about writing something like that myself, until I thought, “What are you, nuts?”  It has obvious that each of those writers had tken years to learn all they needed to write about these periods. What I took away is that no matter what you write, you have to ground your work in a strong sense of time and place and the characters that inhabit that time and place.

Another panel I liked was Writing Other Cultures, with Tim Hallinan, Jeffrey Stiger, Shannon Baker, and William Kent Krueger, moderated beautifully by Paty Jager. One of the most interesting moments was when Shannon admitted that she was sorry she had chosen to write about the Hopi, because they are such a closed tribe. Which illuminated what the others had to say about being steeped in cultures that were foreign to them but which they managed to immerse themselves in. In the end the takeaway was the same as the panel I mentioned earlier. It isn’t exactly “Write what you know,” It was more like “Know what you write.”

It isn’t just panels where you learn things, though. I had a wonderful conversation with Matt Coyle about writing. His work is very different from mine, but we both take our work seriously and found out we had something to offer each other. I also had a chance to talk with Barry Lancet and Tim Hallinan, learning about their processes and the things that stimulated their writing. Each of them has spent many years living in other countries and were still learning about their adopted cultures.

Another thing that you get at conferences is a chance to interact with fans. I never much thought about having “fans,” and still get a tremendous thrill when someone approaches me to tell me how much they enjoy my books. And I get to be a fan as well, mingling with writers I admire.

One last crazy moment occurred when I finally met Lou Berney. I took one look at him and realized that I had met him years ago—when he was my seminar leader at the Squaw Valley Writers Conference. I admired him then and had even more to admire now that I have read his wonderful book The Long and Faraway Gone. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor. It’s my book recommendation for the week.

Now I have to hunker down and start reading the books I brought home. After promising myself to resist, I felt like a thief sneaking in to buy “just one more book.”


Priscilla said...

It was great to see you at LCC and the LadyKiller breakfast, Terry! Glad you enjoyed the panel too. Susan did a nice job of moderating.

Sasscer Hill said...

I enjoyed this post and am now, truly hoping I can make it to this conference next year!

Ellen Byron said...

Great post, Terry. I'm SO glad we finally got to meet in person. You're an absolute delight and I'm looking forward to reading your work. On a personal note, what you shared about parenting was invaluable. I'm thinking very seriously about putting it into action. (Letting my kid do what she wants, as long as she's safe. We'll see...

Terry said...

Ellen, this is from hard experience, but it worked.

Sasscer, would love to see you at LCC. It's great. In Hawaii next year. Aloha!

Margie Bunting said...

UPS stopped by last night with the books we bought at LCC (we also brought a few home in our luggage). Of course, we had 4 holds waiting for us at the libraries as well. Reading as fast as we can!