My Big American Adventure, Part I: New York and Indianapolis

Tuesday, October 27, 2009, 12:09 AM

So, it’s been a while. As you may be aware, I’ve been on a jaunt across the United States of America to promote THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST, and as of this writing I find myself in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Tech Center in Denver, Colorado. Outside it’s snowing, and inside there is an entire world of bizarre. But I’ll come back to that...

I landed in New York just less than two weeks ago, and I’ve intended on blogging ever since then, but just haven’t had the opportunity. Nor have I answered many of the emails I’ve received since then. Frankly, every spare moment I’ve had has been spent trying to catch up on some sleep. So, here is a summary of my adventures so far:

New York

I arrived in NYC on Monday 12th of October. This was my third visit to the city in two years, and somehow it felt like I’d never left. My first engagement was a dinner date with none other than the lovely Moonrat. And guess what? We wound up drunk. Though I, unlike a certain someone else, didn’t fall asleep on the subway and end up riding the train into the small hours.

The official launch party for GHOSTS took place at Partners & Crime on Greenwich Avenue on the Tuesday evening. It was a great event with an excellent turnout and enthusiastic audience who asked great questions and bought a decent amount of books. My thanks go to all at Partners & Crime for putting on such a wonderful event, and especially to Kiz for walking me along the avenue to see the famous commemorative tile wall for 9/11.

The next day I called in to see the staff at my agent’s office (Nat Sobel was attending the Frankfurt Book Fair, so alas had to miss the book launch) where I got to meet the people who have helped me so much over the last eighteen months. From there, I journeyed downtown to the Mysterious Bookshop where I signed a pile of books and met the famous Otto Penzler, who is a most charming and knowledgeable gentleman.

Bouchercon and Indianapolis

Stupidly early on Thursday morning, my publicist Justin Hargett and I flew to Indianapolis, stopping off briefly in Cincinnati where we both had Chinese food for breakfast. Upon arrival in Indy (as I believe the locals call it) we headed straight for the Hyatt Regency where the 2009 Bouchercon crime fiction festival was taking place. I had a room overlooking the hotel’s massive central atrium from nineteen floors up.

I didn’t have a great deal of time to enjoy the view, however, as I had to run to an afternoon panel with Ruth Dudley Edwards, moderated by Kathryn Kinneson, on fact and fiction in Irish crime writing. It was a lively debate, well attended despite stiff competition from other panels, with plenty of audience interaction. Of course, Ruth offered a far greater insight into the history and politics of the conflict in Northern Ireland than I ever could, and I learned as much as the attentive audience did.

Then it was off to the bar, which became a recurring theme for the weekend. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the social scene is the single most important aspect of Bouchercon. I met so many authors that I couldn’t possibly name them all, but just a few were Australian historical mystery writer Gary Corby (who was charming company throughout the event, including at 3:00am on the Sunday morning), Jason Pinter, and Jason Starr (who was very tolerant of my drunken ramblings by the elevator bank). I also met the formidable but friendly Janet Reid, and the ever amiable Peter Rozovsky. Then there was the Soho Press contingent that included James Benn, Cara Black, Leighton Gage, Martin Limon and Peter Lovesey.

(l-r: Peter Lovesey, James Benn, Martin Limon, Justin Hargett, Cara Black, Yours Truly, Leighton Gage)

I have to say I found downtown Indianapolis to be a strange place. It’s a curious mix of old and new. Much of it is made up of hotels, restaurants and a huge shopping mall, all joined up by walkways so that you can explore the area without ever going outdoors. North of there is Monument Circle, which in turn leads to a beautiful war memorial and gardens. Just west of that is a more desolate area that I explored whilst on a fruitless mission to buy Bacon Salt from a nearby supermarket. All of this is within one or two square miles of the convention hotel.

All in all, I had a blast at Bouchercon, and wild horses couldn’t keep me away from next year’s event in San Francisco.

In the next instalment, it’s westward-ho to Scottsdale, Arizona, the northern part of the Sonoran Desert, with fellow Soho authors James Benn and Peter Lovesey.

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Blogger Ello said...

Wait! What about the drunken ramblings?!!! I want to hear about them!!

Sounds like you are having a blast! Enjoy yourself! You so deserve it! And since you aren't coming to DC, you must do some signed plates so I can at least have a semi-autographed copy!!!!

1:33 AM  
Blogger Gary Corby said...

Hey Stuart, you're great company as well as a brilliant writer.

You're right, making all the new friends is the highlight. See you at the next one.

4:02 AM  
Blogger Jamie Eyberg said...

Sounds like a blast. I need to start making money so I can go to some conventions.

2:20 PM  
Blogger moonrat said...

you totally cheated! you didn't HAVE to ride the train!! that's the ONLY reason you didn't fall asleep on it!!

3:05 PM  
Blogger Betsydv said...

The panel with Ruth was brilliant, one of the best of the conference. I am sure many of the listeners immediately went out and bought your book. We are looking forward to great reads from you.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Sara J. Henry said...

Don't forget you met me, who is Not Sarah Weinman.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Gary Corby may be ever amiable. I, on the other hand, am crotchety and irritable far too much of the time.

I'd have loved to meet Peter Lovesey just to say how much I admire his apparently effortless versatility.

I'd agree that your panel with Ruth was one of the more provocative of the convention. And don't forget, you met Reed Farrel Coleman, too. Finally, I have met both Sara Henry and Sarah Weinman. Neither one of them is the other.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

12:54 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

The need to sleep is an infuriating inconvenience. ;) Glad you had such a great time!

6:56 PM  

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