MALICE DOMESTIC Mystery Convention: 3rd-5th May, 2013, Washington DC
Malice Domestic is an annual convention held in or near Washington DC every spring. What makes it stand out from other writers’ conferences is that it’s aimed at fans as well as writers, the aim being to promote cosy and traditional mysteries. I’ve wanted to go for years but it’s a long way from Hampshire! This year, though, my first four cosy mystery novels from Robert Hale are to be reissued in eBook format in June and July, so it seemed a good idea to spread the word!!
After our week in Williamsburg we arrived at the hotel in Bethesda, a suburb of Washington DC. This was the venue for the convention and it worked very well for us. I swanned around feeling writerly while The Engineer went sight-seeing – today the Red bus tour, tomorrow the Blue bus, that kind of thing, finishing with a trip on a DKW, an amphibian vehicle, so he’s seen the city from the bottom of the river!
Malice was a large and glossy affair, with nearly 600 attendees, but everyone was friendly and I had a great time. The Malice Virgins were welcomed very cordially but with a warning: Do not pursue authors into the Ladies’ seeking autographs, and particularly Do Not slip a pen under the cubicle door along with a book to be signed! The first day I met up with an internet friend for a long catch-up session, which was fun, and later in the day came the opening ceremonies, a live charity auction and a Welcome Reception where I pigged out on yummy nibbles.
Saturday was the main day for the discussion panels. New attendees were warned not to overdo the panels and take breaks which was good advice as talks began to blur after a while but I attended The Armchair Traveller: Mysteries Set In Exotic Locations, mainly because it was chaired by another internet friend of mine. It was an excellent choice though, because Aaron Elkins (who later received a Lifetime Award) was on top form and had the audience rocking with laughter.
The next one was featured my Malice debut! Tea, Scones & Death: Mysteries set in the United Kingdom – about the perennial attraction of English Village mysteries for North American readers. Many of the discussions took place in side rooms with audiences of around 50 people but Peter Robinson (International Guest of Honour!) was also on the panel so I was slightly stunned to see an audience of a couple of hundred. It was a lively discussion and the audience were very interested.
On arrival we were presented with a bag full of books and goodies but whereas most conferences I’ve attended have provided carrier bags, I’ve promoted my large, strong canvas, zipped (two compartments!), Malice bag for use as weekend luggage! As with most writing conferences you can always swap the books for others and I sneaked in some of my own books as it wasn’t possible to sell my UK hardbacks there. There were also lots of promotional goodies and bookmarks and I brought home a couple of the dafter ones, a bookmark for a doggy detective, with a tiny bone-shaped dog biscuit attached in a plastic bag for No1 daughter’s puppy, and a cat-related mystery series that offered a bag of catnip, though the Fat Lump remains unimpressed.
I was amused by the bookmarks and spotted the Golden Retriever sleuth, lots of cat detectives and cat owners who were detectives, innkeepers, coffee shop owners, bog-body experts, gardeners, farmers, restaurant mysteries and lots of knitting, crafty and quilting ones too. I think someone could do well with a series about a tea shop that sold knitted coffins on the side, for burial in the field next door. With added cats.
The big event on the Saturday night was the Agatha Banquet when the awards were made and on the Sunday we all trooped off to a lavish tea party and closing ceremony.
It was fun but to spend that amount of money again, I’d need to be promoting a book, I suspect – still, it made a great hook to hang the holiday on, so who knows?