Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Unconventional

I recently ran into a fellow who was in New York for BookExpo America as a fan. The man, whose professional affiliation is outside the book business, marvelled at fans' hesitation to mingle with authors outside scheduled events at book conventions. Those fans, he said, pass the evenings in their rooms among their newly acquired books, missing the chance to fraternize at the hotel bar with the people who wrote those books.

I mention this because next up on my list is a book by an author with whom I chatted while sipping dry sherry at CrimeFest 2009: Chris Ewan. Seems to me that sort of thing is part of what conventions are for.

So, here's a question for convention goers: What books have you read because you met the author or liked what he or she had to say at a convention, whether during a panel, afterward, at the bar, in the hotel lobby or otherwise?

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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30 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

This isnt strictly on point but I saw Samuel R Delaney (have you heard of him?) once on the subway and summoned the nerve and struck up a chat. One of the best subway rides of my life: the guy was very free with little stories about Isaac Asimov, Philip K Dick, Walter Miller etc. A very bright, gregarious fellow.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Whats with the comment moderation? Did something happen that I missed? More sex spam?

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I have bought a John Harvey Cold Light and a Bill James Roses Roses after listening to Harvey's interview and his reading from Bill James [who was unable to attend because of family illness] at Crime Fest.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

Sadly, I'm not a convention goer, but I love the title of Ewan's book. Think I'll have to read it.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Dana King said...

I saw Mark Billingham act as Toastmaster at last year's Bouchercon, and chatted him up in the hall a bit. That led directly to reading IN THE DARK, which was one of my Top 5 reads of 2008.

Scott Phillips is another. I met him at Bouchercon as well (thanks for the introduction, Peter)and bumped into him at a bar later. Nice guy, dry wit, and I was familair with the movie of THE ICE HARVEST. I got the book over the winter and kicked myself for waiting so long to read it. I'd probably still have it in the back of my mind had I not met Scott, even for those few minutes.

Val McDermid is another one I became familiar with from Bouchercon panels that nudged me to finally give her books a try after having heard about her for years. Another good choice.

June 02, 2009  
OpenID bookwitch said...

I don't need any new books at all, but I still bought several last year in Bristol, because the writers were so good on panels. Too shy and boring to chat anyone up, though, but did pursue them for their autographs once the books were mine.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

There is, I think, a corollary to your question, which is: What books have you read because you have "met" the author through the virtual community of personal website(s)? Readers without opportunity to attend conferences sometimes stumble upon authors quite by accident through online encounters. I count two (well, actually three) authors in that category: Steve Hockensmith (author of the Holmes-on-the-Range series) and Michael Gregorio (the husband-wife team living and writing in Italy); my very early awareness of those writers came through their personal websites, and now I am quite won over by their works.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

I've never been to a convention, but I've read more than a few from authors I've "met" on blogs, either their own or ones they frequent.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Donna said...

I totally agree Peter - I've found some excellent new to me authors by either seeing them on a panel and being interested/entertained/amused enough to rush off to the bookroom and buy their books, or by chatting to them in the bar (I don't think I've EVER sat in my room at a convention).

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Not exactly a spam invasion, but it's just that Blogger was not letting me delete the spam comments that did appear. But the problem may be solved now.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Samuel R Delaney teaches here in Philadelphia. I haven't read him, though.

Your post is very much on point. Yout chat with him was like mine with Simon Brett at CrimeFest. You author types make entertaining, informative convesationalists, and I was surprised by the New York guy's observation. But I realized he was right. I had never seen many civilians in the bar gatherings at conventions. But this had never occurred to me, because the authors were such regular Joes and Josees.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

Second Mark Billingham, Scott Philips, Laura Lippman, and also John Connelly. Most fans are too intimidated to try and mix with authors in these circumstances. They seem like a pretty tight group to the outsider. Sometimes I am hesitant to approach my own daughter at these affairs.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's the case with me, too, B. Witch. I don't need new books, but I buy new ones by authors whose works I've read and enjoyed or that I haven't, but that look or sound interesting. But it is a special pleasure to buy a book because an author made an unexpected observation, say, that makes me think: "Hey, even if this guy doesn't sound like my cup of tea at first, there may be something unexpected to him. I think I'll take a chance."

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Donna, I've mentioned this elsewhere on this blog, but my favorite instance in Bristol involved L.C. Tyler. He described his novels as comic cozies, yet he said he admired Allan Guthrie. Aha, I thought. This could be intersting. So I bought one of his books. Among other things, this was a salutary reminder to keep an open mind about genres and authors I might otherwise miss.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's a similar proposition, Linkmeister. An author approachable online or in person might spark interesting discussion. The discussion could then spark an interest in their books. Think of it as, maybe not a marketplace, but rather a barroom of ideas.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Or, if the place is yours or Teresa and Patrick Hayden's Making Light, a salon.

(They're editors at TOR. Lots of sf authors in the comments.)

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I don't generally like wifty talk of "community" or excessive blather about the liberating power of the Internet, but I'm forced to acknowledge that Web sites and blogs can ease communication between writers and fans. I've had experiences similar to yours: getting acquainted with authors through their Web sites or mine, then reading their books, and, in some cases. met them at conventions. OK, even the curmudgeonly side of me has to admit that sounds suspiciously like building a community.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, that's quite a group. Mark Billingham was so fast with the quips as a toastmaster that I might feel a bit apprehensive about chatting with him. Your post is a fine advertisement for conventions.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, Ewan's protagonist is a mystery writer/burglar whose novels include The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam, the title of Ewan's own first novel. I don't always like self-reference in crime stories, but Ewan has some entertaining examples.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, Bill James will be his own reward.

Does that make sense? Anyhow, you know what I mean.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Patti, if you met Laura Lippman in Baltimore, that's impressive. She was the center of the Bouchercon universe.

And your daughter is approachable. I'll introduce the two of you at a convention some time if you're shy.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, someone once called this blog a salon-- a high compliment.

June 02, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

It occurs to me that an Open Thread at Making Light is actually more like a cocktail party. 20-30 participants or more, all moving from one sub-thread to another at various speeds, interjecting poetry, doggerel, and occasional prose parodies when needed.

June 03, 2009  
Anonymous Chris said...

Hey Peter - Thanks for getting hold of a copy of Paris - I hope the experience isn't too traumatic.

Loren - glad you like the title!

I've read a lot of great books through meeting authors at a convention. At last year's CrimeFest, I met Declan Hughes and then went away and read his second Ed Loy book and absolutely loved it.

June 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Something like this, Linkmeister? Comment strings do have a way of shifting into rambling discussions.

June 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The book is less traumatic than my current visits to dentists, and I'm pretty sure I won't need painkillers when I'm finished.

Declan Hughes is a fine convention guest. He was moderator of an early panel at Boucheron in Baltimore. He did at least as good a job as black coffee at snapping guests into alertness.

June 03, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Exactly like this.

June 03, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Like a rambling conversation at a hotel bar during a convention.

June 03, 2009  
Anonymous Michael Walters said...

Sorry - arriving late in the bar as always. I'd read Chris's book before meeting him as we shared a panel at Crimefest, but both the book and Chris himself made me want to read more.

I was struck by the reference to Samuel R Delany who was one of my writing heroes as a teenager - one of those people who made me want to write as well. I don't do too much science fiction these days, but I still think that 'The Einstein Intersection' is an extraordinary book. They say you shouldn't meet your heroes so I'm delighted to discover that he was as interesting as his books.

June 04, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

This bar never closes.

Wow, Delany was not just a hero but an inspiration, it sounds like. The closest I'd have come to meeting a hero of mine would have been Bill James at CrimeFest.

June 04, 2009  

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