Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To The Mystery Bookstore, With Love

Just found out that The Mystery Bookstore in L.A.'s Westwood neighborhood is closing. How do I begin to express how sad I am and what a sad thing this is for Los Angeles?

Perhaps, best to begin at the beginning. I had long been a patron of the store's original West Hollywood location on Beverly Boulevard when it was called Mysterious Books, run by Sheldon McArthur.  He and assistant manager Richard Brewer knew everything and everyone in the mystery genre, in both the creative and business sides. 

After I'd sold my first book, Cold Call, in 1992 (published in 1993 under the name "Dianne Pugh"), I attended one of Mysterious Books' birthday parties which were always packed with authors and fans. I was exicited to attend as a "real" author.

The book Connelly signed for me that day.
After chatting with Shelly, he pointed out a bespectacled man standing alone.  "That's Michael Connelly," he said. "His first book is out. It's fantastic. You should buy it because Connelly is going to be big." I thought that was a bold statement, but I went over and introduced myself and asked Michael to sign a book for me. We chatted. I asked if he was contracted for another book and he said he was writing a second book "on spec."  I remember feeling a little smug because I had just inked a two book contract... 

With Bobby McCue and Linda Brown.
Fast forward fourteen years to 2006.  With five books in my Iris Thorne series by Dianne Pugh behind me, I took a hiatus from writing for a few years and pretty much retreated from the writing world, which is a story for another day. Mysterious Books was now The Mystery Bookstore and had moved to its Westwood Village location. I'd landed a book contract for my new Detective Nan Vining series under my newly minted married name "Emley." I headed off to Westwood (my former home as a UCLA student) to sign The First Cut. I was thrilled when "Dark Bobby" McCue ("dark" because of his tastes in crime fiction) had selected it as his pick for the month. I met Linda that day, too. We had a great event and a great chat during and I signed the "jailhouse register." On the front table were a few of my Dianne Pugh books. They'd been her fan as well and had wondered where she had gone.

Me mugging with a Nancy Drew standee (taken by Bobby)
So many fun Mystery Bookstore book launches (mine and friends), parties, and stories. So many great book recommendations by Bobby and Linda, who, of course, knew everything and everyone in the genre. 

We had some silly fun at my last signing there for Love Kills in March 2010. In the window was a cardboard standee to commemorate Nancy Drew's 80th birthday. Of course, I had to have a photo with it. Might they have a prop I could hold? A fake gun, perhaps?  Linda and Bobby scurried around and came up with a magnifying glass. We took some photos, all of us giggling like kids, and they put one of the photos in their newsletter.

When Kirk Pasich and Pamela Woods bought the store, I thought, "Whew, the store dodged a bullet."  I admired their dedication to mystery books and authors, and I admired their bravery, taking on an independent bookstore in this day and age. I applaud you, Kirk and Pam, for taking a stand, even though the bullet was out there, waiting. And Bobby, Linda, Stephen, Clair, Emily, Graham, Ingrid, and Allie, and all the staff I've gotten to know through the years (forgive me if I've missed anyone), thanks for the memories. Los Angeles is lessened by the store's passing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

ALA Mystery Day January 8 and a Wooden Pal

The sugar, butter, flour, measuring cups, and measuring spoons have all been put away for now. We're writing, dieting, going to the gym, and being completely serious. Well, within reason.

What's up the road... A head?
Here's my first event in 2011 and it's a pip. On Saturday, January 8, I'll be speaking at Mystery Day at the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting.

There will be a great line-up of crimewriters all day. After my panels, I'll be signing and giving away copies of my books. Yes! Books. Gratis. Until they run out.

Here are my two panels:

11-11:45 California Girls

Naomi Hirahara, Jeri Westerson, Dianne Emley, Sue Ann Jaffarian, moderator Hank Phillippi Ryan


3-3:45pm Laugh or I’ll Kill You

Vicki Doudera, Jeri Westerson, Dianne Emley, Rosemary Harris, moderator Sue Ann Jaffarian

I'm looking forward to both panels, but I'm really intrigued about being on a humor panel. I've spoken on many types of panels, but never one about humorous mysteries.  All my books are laced with dark humor and I think I have a pretty wicked sense of humor, so this discussion will be an interesting first for the new year.

On Friday, January 7, at 5:00 stop by Mysterious Galaxy bookstore for a meet and greet with many of the crimewriters who will be speaking at ALA's Mystery Day. I'll be there, too. 

About the photo with my watchful buddy... Anyone who knows me knows I can't resist mugging whenever there's a prop around.

Hope to see some of you this weekend.