Meanwhile, if you are on Facebook, I now have a fan page, which will be updated with news, events, etc. Just click here to view it.
Here I am again, hiding my head in shame. I have all these wonderful intentions, then...excuses, excuses. I will make only one resolution this New Year's Eve--to blog, blog, blog.
When I was a kid, next to Christmas, Hallowe'en was my favorite holiday. We lived in a small neighborhood in Philadelphia, near a Woolworths where extra candy could be bought in an emergency if we underestimated the number of trick-or-treaters who came to our door.
I had the misfortune to be in New York City when the Phillies won. I don’t have a TV here, but I listened to the game on the radio, wearing my Phillies cap. When it was over I was so excited I wanted to celebrate with someone, but I was alone. I called my brother in Philly, but he had turned off his phone, so I went out and roamed the streets of Manhattan at 10:30, looking for fellow revelers. You would have thought somebody important had died, the streets were so quiet and empty. I paused outside a neighborhood bar trying to catch a glimpse of their TV screen, but it was showing FOOTBALL! I continued on to my favorite diner, open 7/24, where the only occupants were two sleepy waiters. At least their TV was tuned to the right channel.
“I’m from Philadelphia, and I just wanted…” I trailed off.
“Oh,” said one sleepy waiter. “You won.”
“Congratulations,” said the other, in the midst of a yawn.
Back to sleep.
The manager of the team was holding forth on the screen. There were no views of the players free-for-all. After a few minutes, I went home. I donned my Phillies cap again and toasted the team with a glass of wine—all alone.
The next morning I called my husband in Philly and found he had slept through the whole thing. Geeeez!
One thing I learned from this tragic experience, after ten years living in New York, I'm still a Philadelphian at heart!
In my last blog (sometime in April) I promised to regale everyone with stories from Malice Domestic. Six months have gone by and I don't remember much so you will have to make do with tales from Bouchercon
...would start a blog the day before leaving on a book tour. Let me introduce myself. Yep, that's what I did, and that's why you haven't heard from me for almost a month. The book tour was great, however. I was accompanied by Caroline Todd (the mother half of the Charles Todd duo, and Elena Santangelo, famous for her Pat Montello series. We set off under the guise of "Three Ladies of Mystery" and made tracks from Lancaster to Harrisburg and back to Collegeville and Doylestown, stopping at numerous bookstores along the way. At some point we were accused of "Menniniting." This is a Menninite tradition of traveling without stopping at public hostels, but staying with friends instead. Our friends were very hospitable. At one home we shared bed and breakfast with 1 dog, 4 cats, 1 parrot, 1 rabbit, 2 snakes, 13 white rats, and a half dozen Brazilian cockroaches. (Actually, the rats, snakes and roaches occupied separate beds.) And we all found food for future stories there. The Mechanicsburg Bookstore was one of our nicest stops. We lingered to browse, rest, and chat with Debbie Beamer whose shop is a goldmine of mysteries--old and new. Debbie took charge of our sales at the New Cumberland County Library, giving us time to socialize with our audience and pig out on the array of Pennsylvania Dutch baked goods provided by the "Friends of the Library". One of the high points of our tour was the appearance, not once, but twice, of the owners of the RAC Bookstore. Ann and Robin cheered us on from the front row in Lancaster and New Cumberland. Way beyond the call of duty and deeply appreciated. We missed them at Malice this year. Which brings me to the next blog: Malice XX. Tune in tomorrow...
Recently my daughter took my grandson Luke to see "Horton Hears a Who" It was 7:30 on a Wednesday night and the theater was totally empty. It really spooked him out. "Where are all the people?" he asked, and burst into tears. (He's four yrs.old.) Julie reassured him that it was just an off night and how great that they had the place to themselves. They could put their feet up on the seat in front, stroll up and down the aisles and talk as loud as they wanted. Once the movie began he was fine. But the incident made me think of other places that had spooked me out. Theaters, when the lights go down, stadiums when the cheers evaporate, silent amusement parks, where the amusements are shrouded in canvas. Remember "The Third Man"? And one of my favorite films "Stage Fright" where there is a chase to the death in a deserted theater.Recently I was in Cape May, NJ. I was doing research for a spy story set in WWII. It was early March and the boardwalk was deserted. My footsteps echoed hollowly. And most eerie of all, all the obstacles had been removed from the obstacle golf course. Brrr!
Last weekend I went to a conference in Philly called NOIRCon, sponsored by Deen Kogan. Go next year! It is one of the best conferences I've been to in a long time. If there was an Edgar Award for conference givers, Deen would win. No Contest. I've always loved noir books and movies, but when I try to write noir I always fail miserably. When I began my Jo Banks series I was aiming for a darker story than my Dr.Fenimore books, which are definitely cozies. But somehow I always come up with a happy ending. Very un-Noir. For example, take this review of my latest Jo Bank's, SLEIGHT OF HAND. "Jo Bank's story is overflowing wth charm...Finally, there is a wholesome quality to Sleight of Hand that means you could comfortably recommend this book...to your grandmother, your maiden aunt, your adolescent niece, or anyone else..." So much for the dark side. Now don't get me wrong, I'm happy for any good review and I'm happy writing traditional mysteries. That's the key word "happy." I'm just not unhappy enough to write noir. This is probably because I had a happy childhood. I've always been afraid that no one can be a good writer if they had a happy childhood. But I will still continue to enjoy noir novels and noir movies and experince my misery vicariously. And I can't wait for Deen's next NoirCon!
This is my first blog and I have no idea what I'm doing. Please bear with me!
Let's see--how to begin? First of all I want to reassure you that I won't be doing
this every day and drowning you in the minutia of my, on the whole, pretty dull life.
Only when something exciting happens that is relevant to the mystery world will I
put pen to paper, er, fingers to keyboard, and let you know about it. Recently I told an
octogenarian writer friend of mine that I was starting a blog, but I didn't want it to
be too personal. I planned to stick to historical annecdotes about Philadelphia and South
Jersey--the settings for my books.
She said, "Oh, Robin, nobody will read it! You have to tell us about your sex life!"
This person is a good friend and I usually follow her advice. Maybe if interest lags...but
...many writers are afraid to have their mothers read their books or blogs, but I'm afraid to have
my children read them. And my grandson enters kindergarten next fall...then
I will have to be really careful.
I think that's enough for my first blog. My feet are damp and if I keep on I'll be slogging instead of blogging.
But please note the date for the launch party of SLEIGHT OF HAND, the 3rd Jo Banks book:
Partners & Crime
44 Greenwich Ave. (bwt. 10th & 11th Sts)
New York, NY
Tuesday, April 8th, at 7:00 PM
And please check my calendar for future signings.
Now, as a famous newscaster used to say, "So long until tomorrow," , or the next day, or...
Sleight of Hand
by Robin Hathaway
St. Martin's Minotaur
Hardback available April 1, 2008
Excerpt: Chapter 1
It was a beautiful October morning and I was heading for the hospital, on my motorcycle, to make my early rounds. The road stretched out in front of me, smooth and empty, begging me to turn up the throttle. The speedometer had barely touched seventy when I noticed that the sweep of road ahead, usually deserted, was clogged. I decelerated back to forty. State police cars lined both sides of the road and troopers milled around--crossing and re-crossing. A small cluster of spectators ogled something by the side of the road.
A deer, was my first thought. But why would a deer attract so much attention? Deer accidents were a dime a dozen in these parts. Butting my motor, I trolled over to an officer and asked, "What's up?"
"Move on!" He tried to wave me through, taking time to cast a disdainful glance at my shoddy Honda.
I trundled over to the pack of people by the side of the road and repeated my question. A disheveled blonde wearing a sweatshirt with the label
"Cowtown Rodeo" looked up. "Dead man," she said succinctly.
I decided not to linger. I'd had my fill of dead men for one year. A band of bikers had invaded my motel a few months ago and one of them had been murdered in the parking lot. I had even been a suspect for a while. I wasn't anxious to get involved in another crime scene. I caught myself up short. Crime scene? Why not a simple hit-and-run? "What happened?" I asked the blonde.
She looked up again, her eyes glazed with excitement. "Two bullet holes in the back of the head."
A burly man in a plaid shirt and stained overalls turned to me. "I found him," he said proudly. "I live right across the road." He waved at a small frame house that was almost hidden from view by the huge American flag hanging from the porch. Congratulations, I thought. But I said, "No one you know, I hope."
He shook his head. "A stranger." Did I detect a note of disappointment? "No ID yet," he added, in his best Law and Order tone.
An unmarked car pulled up and a man I knew only too well got out. Detective Hiram Peck. He had been in charge of the biker case. Time to move on. A trooper with the same idea came over and began shooing us away. The little knot of rubberneckers scattered and I turned up the throttle. I could learn all I wanted to know at the hospital when they brought the body into the morgue.
©2008 Robin Hathaway