|The awesome Sabrina Ogden and my brother from another mother, Josh Stallings.|
I met a whole lot of people in various states of sleep deprivation and Guinness-infused excitement, so forgive me if I forget your names. It is not intentional. I flew in on three hours sleep and it took a few pints of liquid courage to approach my heroes, and the downside of that fortitude boost is the dilution of memory. Neliza Drew and Leah rounded out Sabrina's posse and made fine company. We made a trip to the St. Louis Arch with Josh, and it felt like I was on a walk with an old friend as Josh and I shot the shit, and smelled a lot of it from horse and carriages, and port-a-potties burned to ashes.
The con was a blur. I saw panels with Hilary Davidson, whose infectious enthusiasm was a shot of much-needed espresso. She won best first novel in the Crimespree awards, a much deserved win for The Damage Done. I briefly met Megan Abbott, author of The End of Everything, and was tickled when she tweeted that she was sorry we didn't get to talk more. If you haven't read her work, pick up the L.A. Noire e-book; she has the first story and it will knock you for a loop. Noir at its finest, among a collection of heavyweights, including Duane Swierczynski, who I told to go to hell. His novel Fun & Games, a wild pulp ride through Hollywood conspiracies, won novel of the year. Read it before they make it a movie with Tom Cruise as Charlie Hardy! It's a blast.
|Jimmy Callaway and Glenn Gray. The deal goes down.|
I saved John Connolly from a crazed fan-girl with a phone camera. I accosted Jason Pinter. I escorted Christa Faust to the ballroom, where Max Allan Collins played rock 'n roll. And I learned the extent of Joelle Charbonneau's grace when I bumbled through introductions, and she kindly spoke with the strange man she only knew from Twitter. I met Daniel Woodrell and Scott Phillips, and debated the high and low points of the film ouerve of Dolph Lundgren long into the evening with Johnny Shaw and Christa Faust. Christa and I ended up talking every time we met. I'm reading her novel Choke Hold right now, and if you want a pulp noir trip through the dirty truth of Mixed Martial Arts, from underground fights to the pros, given by a sharp tour guide... look no further. It's the real deal and I'm plowing through it faster than one of Angel Dare's former colleagues would during the final scenes of her movies.
|Kick-Ass Christa Faust and my stoic demeanor.|
|Yes that is a big red salami and it felt good in my mouth.|
But all such Saturnalia must come to an end. I shuffled to the Metro with my bag heavy with books. Treasuring most the copy of Out There Bad that Josh inscribed to me, a book daring enough to grab you by the scruff of the neck and show you the ugliness we ignore every day. A book I'd be proud to write as my last, and it's his second. Thanks again for everything, Josh. Most of all your friendship.
But honestly, thanks to everybody. It's refreshing to go to a gathering of writers where the egos are checked at the door. Where you don't just rub elbows with the legends but clink beer mugs and share stories. I know I missed meeting a lot of people- Brad Parks, fellow Nutley denizen who asked me to smuggle a Jersey pizza. Well Brad, next time you return to Nutley a Michael's margerita pie is on me. I missed noir poet Gerald So, who just started the crime poetry site the 5-2. He's doing new things with the genre, check him out. Todd Ritter, so many others. And because of my refusal to wear glasses and the small surnames on the name tags, I'm sure a lot of people saw a big hairy ape squinting at them and thought who the hell is this guy and do I still have my wallet?
Thanks especially to the Crimespree crew for running an amazing convention, and for choosing to publish my story "Rain Dog."
© 2011 Thomas Pluck