The Left Coast Crime Conference is a mystery reader and writer conference held annually somewhere along the west coast. This year it was held at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver, B.C., Canada (March 28-31, 2019). They called it the Whale of a Crime. The featured speakers were Maureen Jennings (famous for her Murdoch Murder series) and C.J. Box ( famous for his Joe Pickett series).
I couldn’t resist, so I hopped on a float plane at dawn and traveled to the big city.
There are many activities at LCC conferences, but I focused on a few panel discussions in the time frame I had available over two days.
Here are my takeaways:
Vancouver Noir Panel
(with Sam Wiebe, R.M. Greenaway, Dietrich Kalteis, Linda L. Richards, Robin Spano, Timothy Taylor, S.G. Wong)
This panel represents a number of the authors in the anthology, Vancouver Noir.
- the setting has a powerful effect on a story, and every neighborhood has a noir edge to it
- there is darkness everywhere – you don’t have to look far
- lines I loved, “on the wrong side of the Sky Train tracks in Burnaby,” and a place where “the sidewalks were never clean.”
- And my most favorite line was, “It’s just a bus ride away.”
- btw all my favorite lines came from S. G. Wong
Social Issues in Crime Panel
(with Mia P. Manansala, Susanna Calkins, Libby Klein, Kathy Krevat, Kathy Aarons, and Travis Richardson)
- readers want to see justice done
- almost every story has an Archie Bunker character
- I found it interesting that 2 of the 4 authors wrote light, cozy mysteries – social justice issues don’t have to be marked in dark stories
Maureen Jennings Interview
- Maureen Jennings has always loved reading crime fiction
- fell into writing stories when someone asked her to write a screenplay
- right from the start, she chose to write historical mysteries as she wanted to avoid modern forensics and loves research
- likes to put social issues into her stories e.g., making Murdoch Catholic in a particularly WASPy time period
- the effects of war on people and society, ripples in her books
- refers to the “boing-boing” thing – the thing which excites you and you hope will excite others. For example, in her research, she discovered that starving WW1 POWs would sit around and describe in detail their favorite meal – so she had them in one of her stories return home and open Paradise Cafe, a place with their favorite meals
Lefty Humorous Award Nominees Panel
(with Janet Rudolph, Ellen Byron, Kellye Garrett, Timothy Hallinan, Leslie Karst, Cynthia Kuhn)
Omigosh, this panel cracked me up. I laughed for 45 minutes straight.
- said in a thick Scottish accent: “I think everyone in Scotland is funny. I just decided to move to California and make money at it.”
- many said they layer the humor as they go through the story after the first draft
- “funny” often come from incongruity and situational humor – e.g., a man standing behind you with a gun is not funny, but give him hiccups …
- snarky tones add humor
- generally, they weren’t concerned about their humor offending anyone. “People don’t write letters about jokes, but they will write about details to do with guns.”
- write to the “real of the moment”
- humor is in our lives – show it
- there is nothing we can’t laugh at
- dream to make people laugh and cry
Breakfast with the Guppy Ladies from Sisters in Crime
It was wonderful meeting up with people I had only connected with online. The talent and passion for all things mystery in this group are outstanding.
ps: notice the fish on the table:)
Crafting Twists and Reveals Panel
(with Rob Hart, Ashley Dyer, Harry Hunsicker, A.J. McCarthy, and Thomas Perry)
- cliff-hanger chapter endings
- get in late, get out early
- learn to know when the scene is over
- what kills authors is ego
- your twists and surprises need to conform with real life or you’ll lose readers
Would I do it again? Yes. Absolutely.
What was the crowd like? Comfortable. More laid back than the Thrillerfest crowd and less overwhelming than the RWA conference crowd. I found I could just relax and take it all in. The audience was a mixture of readers and writers. Most were middle-aged to seniors. There were more women than men and few visible minorities, which I thought was odd. Dressed in comfortable clothing with slight bed-head we all looked like we stayed up late the night before reading.
What about the venue? The Hyatt Regency was a great choice. The rooms were spacious and clean. I didn’t feel too cold or too hot. In a few sessions there weren’t enough chairs, but that’s hard to calculate.
And Vancouver shone. Even the mountains came out. (that only happens when we’re not clouded over)
What would you do differently the next time you go to a Lefty? Make more time for the event so I can listen to more panels and take part in other aspects of the conference.
Favorite moment? Meeting the Guppies.