Madison, Thursday

British prescriptions will often be labeled by the pharmacist, “The mixture, as before” and that is how travel has become. Whatever new variation on the mixture they come up with, it doesn’t effect the final result: Travel is a pain. The latest ridiculous variation is that they have two uniformed security people with gloves and boxes of one quart sized Ziploc bags in which you can place anything that was totally banned the night before—small bottles of mouthwash, hand cream, what have you. One-quart Ziplocs—latest weapon in our war against terrorism. Along with taking off your shoes and removing the laptop from its bag and putting your jacket in the bin. Honestly, do any of these things make one bit of difference?

But I am a good and obedient flyer who really doesn’t want to be pulled out of line for a complete search-and-scan, so I keep my remarks to mysel and only hope any potential airborne terrorist doesn’t have half the imagination of any of the assembled mystery writers here in Madison. Who I’m sure could bring down a plane with nothing but the items on board.

But the nice thing about mystery writers is, they’re nice. I suppose we work all our fury out on the page, or else we’re so beaten down by the end of the book it’s hard to summon the egotistic energy for violence.

Instead, we assemble together, fifteen hundred to two thousand strong, in places such as Toronto and Madison—and next year Anchorage, sign up now!—and talk about the things that go into the writer’s mixture. Series versus stand-alone; how much violence is enough?; the writing process; the publishing process; the selling process. You get the idea. And of course, there’s a lot of business going on outside the panel rooms as well, with new writers looking for agents, agents looking for editors, established writers looking for their friends, and everyone looking either for a decent cup of coffee or, if it’s after eleven in the morning, for a drink.

Interestingly, the writer Clea Simon told me this morning in the café that there’s been a conference of police officers at this same hotel, just finishing. Too bad they couldn’t have stayed on a day, they’d have found a whole lot of writers eager and willing to take them out for a meal in exchange for a little shop talk.

Last night Les Klinger and I spoke to a great group of readers at Centuries and Sleuths in the Forest Park area of Chicago, about Sherlock Holmes, Mary Russell, research, writing, and a score of other topics. And I told them what I’ll announce here now, that Laurie King’s unwitting feud with international Sherlockianism (is that a word?) is officially over and made up. Yes, I have been asked to speak at the annual dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars in New York this January (please, please no snow) on a topic of my choosing, and I have been promised that no one is allowed to carry ripe tomatoes into the event for the purpose of hurling at the speaker.

This is a great honor, and I am looking forward to it enormously.

But Lord, now I have to write a formal half-hour paper. On what?

More immediately, I need to venture out and find a supply of milk, so I can make myself tea in the morning, and bottled water, since everything chlorinated tastes like poison to me. Then lunch with new friends from Mutterings and RUSS-L, onwhich I shall report next time.

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  1. Roxanne on September 28, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    Ooooohhhh. I want to come to New York in January! Can anyone attend? If so, please keep us updated with details.

    And thank you for writing despite the fact that you must be very busy with BoucherCon.

    (this is my third attempt to publish this comment. I signed up for a blog account just today. Let’s see if it works this time…)

  2. L. Crampton, LAc on September 29, 2006 at 1:33 am

    Anchorage?! Wow. Might motivate me to finally take a cruise up the Inside Passage, assuming seasonal timing and global warming still allow such things in ’07. Congrats on the NY engagement and detente, Laurie. I hope a good time is had by all in Madison!!

  3. Scott on September 29, 2006 at 4:00 am

    Laurie – looking forward to having you to the Distinguished Lecture in January. Keep up the great work (and the horrendous tour schedule) in the meantime.

    -Scott Monty, BSI
    Business Manager, The Baker Street Journal

  4. Erin on September 29, 2006 at 6:07 am

    Ug…the airport is becoming more and more painful. These new security measures are even worse given that the people enforcing them aren’t entirely sure what they are all about.

    The scare with the liquids ban was interesting because the apparent plan was that two liquids, inert when carried seperately but super reactive when combined, were brought onboard with the intention of mixing in flight. A friend who traveled soon after that reported TSA agents confiscating all liquids and pouring them all into one recepticle. Brilliant!

    Hope the conference is as enjoyable as it sounds, despite the pain that is travel. And congrats on BSI invitation=)

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