Tuesday morning began with breakfast at Pershing Square, a restaurant tucked under the peculiar overpass that circled Grand Central Station. Nice place, despite the odd setting, and SJ Rozan and I seem to be making it a part of our annual Edgars week. It’e2’80’99s noisy, until everyone goes off to their jobs, but the whole wheat pancakes are a great way to brunch (sorry, but 9:30 isn’e2’80’99t breakfast even with the three hours’e2’80’99 time change.) Again, it’e2’80’99s great to be allowed a long and leisurely conversation with a colleague I see once a year if that, which seems to be how most writing friendships are maintained.
Anyway, after our two hour breakfast we walked up to the 57th street Borders to egg on those nominees and panelists who were signing books, and I had a great opportunity to chat with, among others, Sarah Weinman, of whom readers of this blog will know that I am a great fan. She’e2’80’99s another of those people I never see except in ten-second segments on elevators at BoucherCon. And I had a talk wit Charles Ardai, whose first novel was a nominee for Best First last year when I chaired the committee, and whose crime imprint, Hard Crime, is bringing some great noir-ish novels to print, and back into print. We talked, among other things, about his wife’e2’80’99s books on the Napeolonic Wars-with-dragons and somehow got onto unicorns from there, and I said I’e2’80’99d heard that Peter Beagle (once a near-neighbor, and rumor has it a fan of LRKing) had a new unicorn book coming out, so Charles whipped out his Blackberry and tried to hunt it down, ending up calling his wife for the lowdown. (And if you’e2’80’99re interested, the title was apparently announced and orders taken, but has yet to appear.)
Tuesday was the day for the MWA seminar, and during the afternoon we heard from writers famous and not about the craft. I enjoy these discussions, and often go to panels at conferences I attend because, even after thirteen years in the business, I learn stuff all the time. First after lunch (or in my case, breakfast) found four lawyers (one a judge) talking about writing legal crime’e2’80’94Catherine Crier, Jim Grippando, Paul Levine, and the ever-great Lisa Scottoline kept us rolling. And after then, Reed Farrell Coleman tried to keep Megan Abbott, Laura Lippman, Michele Martinez, and SJ Rozan in line (with little success) as they tackled the question of how Hammett and Candler influenced modern women crime writing: If the classic male mystery is that of the knight errant, the outsider who comes in and sets things aright and then leaves, how do female protagonists fit into this? A woman in that role, who wanders unattached, who beds the good-looking victim or fellow investigator, then snips the threads of attachment and moves on, would frankly be looked upon as severely disturbed. Even fictional female assassins are given mates or even, a la Zoe Sharp, babies.
We then had Barry Zeman interviewing this year’e2’80’99s Grand Master winner, Stuart Kaminsky, about his varied career and many talents.
In the hour’e2’80’99s gap while the room was being transformed from lecture hall to party room, some of us retreated across the street for soup and a sandwich, and then returned for the Agents and Editors schmooze fest. I met some old friends’e2’80’94I didn’e2’80’99t even know Sharan Newman was in town’e2’80’94and new, then slipped away into the dusk, walking the 18 blocks down Park Avenue (the tulips are always on the way down during Edgars week, poor planning on the part of the city gardeners’e2’80’a6) to my hotel
Day the second.