Monday, February 1, 2016

My First LCC: Lori Rader Day

My first Left Coast Crime was in Monterey, California, in 2014. It was also the first year I could be considered an official author, though my book launch was still a few months in the future when I was asked to moderate the debut authors panel.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that our panel launched some careers. The group of us—M.P (Martha) Cooley, Sherry Harris, Carlene O’Neil, Holly West, and I—had not met before. Several of the panelists had never been on a panel before. But something about our absolute novice status gave us permission to have the most fun we could.

We laughed, we had a giveaway, we each read a snippet of one hundred words from our books. When we could manage to make eye contact with people out in the audience—friends and some of our writing heroes, coming to see us!—we could see that the audience was laughing with us and enjoying and applauding our work.

The thing that I suspected and had confirmed at that panel was that, at mystery reader conferences, the audience is on our side. They want us to succeed. They want to hear our work and learn about us because they’re readers just like us, looking for their next favorite read. They want to have fun, too. Left Coast Crime is one of my favorite mystery conferences, not in small part because of that panel, that generous audience, and those talented women. Martha, Sherry, Carlene, Holly, and I have remained friends. We have supported each other through the eventual launch of all our first books and the great things that have happened for all of us since. When we see each other at Left Coast or other mystery events, it’s a reunion of that panel and that first, amazing year of our publishing careers. And if anyone ever wants to enlist us for that reunion in panel form, we’re in.

Lori Rader-Day, author of The Black Hour and Little Pretty Things, is a two-time Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee and the recipient of the 2014 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. She lives in Chicago, where she serves as the president of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter. Her third novel, An Elegant Hand, will be released by Harper Collins William Morrow in spring 2017.

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