Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Malice: A Forethought, Part II

Sheila York
On the night table: The Question of the Missing Head, EJ Copperman & Jeff Cohen
(who are the same person)

Too bad there isn't a legal term Malice Afterthought. Or Malice After-anything, actually, as far as I can determine. 

So I have to settle for Part II as the title for my follow-up to last week's blog & my visit to the Malice Domestic mystery writer/fan convention over the weekend.

To recap, Malice (as everybody calls it) celebrates traditional mysteries, which are, by Malice's definition, those "...which contain no explicit sex or excessive gore or violence." There is a traditional-mystery subcategory, called cozy, which would certainly add “no profanity".

Thursday, following the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards  Wednesday night, I took a midday train down to Washington DC. Leisurely, quiet – well, okay, I giggle-snorted most of the trip at comments from buddy Judy Bobalik, who is one of the funniest people I know and one of the biggest "bookies". You mention it, she's read it. Judy's been one of the movers behind several past Bouchercon conventions, including being co-chair of the 2008 BCon in Baltimore. 

That's Judy, fourth from left, hugging on Charles Todd (third from left) outside The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC at the launch party of the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook on April 27

Charles gave No Broken Hearts a rave review. I should be the one hugging on him!

When Judy and I weren’t disporting ourselves, we helped a colleague – whose name we will protect to preserve any dignity he has left after hanging out with us – download apps. I always enjoy helping people who know even less than I do about tech.

Malice is held each year in the first weekend of May in Bethesda, and you can ride the Washington DC Metro from Union Station to the Bethesda stop right under the hotel, so there's no cab fare, and this year I traveled light, having finally got around to buying a 22-inch bag, which is just the perfect size for those of us not encumbered by the need to wear more than 2 outfits all weekend. Of course, it won't hold all the books you want to buy written by all the terrific writers you want to read, but that's what Malice's shipping service is for! 

Thursday night, Judy and I went out to dinner, and our restraint, such as it is, lasted just as long as it took for us to spot a burger with whipped goat cheese on the menu. In truth, healthy eating is not something I can often be caught doing away from home. Then I collapsed into bed, hoping I would not be punished for eating more red meat than I generally get in a month. [I was not.] 
Alice writes a series about an ex-nun turned PI.
The latest is Second to Nun

Friday, I got up early and eased into the day in the hotel's lobby catching up with people I hadn't seen in a year, and meeting some new folks, including Alice Loweecey, who would be one of my Saturday panel-mates. Here we are caffeinating together.

Even ignoring the caffeine contribution, the rest of Friday flew by, with panels by Agatha Award nominees, and so I was left at the end of the day to deal with my requisite obsessing about my own panel. To distract me, my writing buddy, John Billheimer (John lives on the West Coast, but we exchange chapters for gentle critique), took me out to dinner and then to Eno’s in Georgetown, my favorite wine bar. Okay, I've never been to any other wine bar in Washington DC, but the first time I went there, a few Malices ago, I was having trouble reading the wine list in the dim lighting, and the server gently pointed out that the cell phone beside me had a flashlight. I thanked him. He bowed and said, "Sommelier and tech support." I was won over. 

Saturday started with the Sisters in Crime breakfast, overseen by President Catriona McPherson. How can a woman be that funny at 7:30 in the morning? (Pick up her The Day She Died, nominated for an Edgar this year.) 

Then, at 10:00a, my panel: Cozy Noir?: Private Eyes. Why had I been worried? How can a girl go wrong on a panel with Sara Paretsky, Elaine Viets, Alice Loweecey, Lane Stone, and moderated by Marcia Talley? The room was packed (thank you, Sara and Elaine!), and it was as if we were all old friends, easy give-and-take on the subject and plenty of laughs for the audience. 

The full-panel picture taken by the Malice photog won't be available for a while. Trying to get an amateur group shot before or after was impossible because of the crush of attendees wanting to chat. (My favorite kind of crush.) But here is one taken during the panel of me and Lane Stone (author of the Tiara Investigations series; we are sisters in hair color).

It was a glorious ride. Thanks, ladies, and especially to Marcia, who stepped in at practically the last minute as replacement moderator. And well done, Malice!

And while I was away for only 3 days:

Copyright 2015 Sheila York


  1. This was fun! I felt I was right there with you! Love your sense of humor! tjs

  2. Oh, Sheila! I thought I was the only person who used the word "disporting." I feel so much better now. I'm in excellent company.

  3. Thank you both! Steph, I love the word 'disporting'. It sounds demure and naughty all at the same time. Which of course we were.

  4. Sheila, how I wish I could have been there to cheer you on. Too bad for me that my characters have sex. The people who do it are just to much in love to resist. And I don't have the heart to stop them. It is not prurient, but it is clear that they are not just holding hands.

    1. I wish you could have been there, too. We could have disported ourselves! Our panel was all about the spectrum between Cozy and Noir and of course touched on the number of writers -- myself included -- who have "sexual situations" (though not actual descriptions of the activity) and an occasional bit of profanity in their books, and still define their books as "traditionals". So many writers/readers of traditional mysteries don't follow the defined path any longer.

  5. To have all love stories with no sex is to forget how we all got here! tjs