What could be better than Malice? With great panels, meeting old friends and making new, and the wonderful Berkley dinner, Malice is a tough act to follow. However, the folks at the Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, did just that. Each year on the Monday after Malice, they put on the Festival of Mystery.
I'd heard about this mythical one day event last time I was at Malice. Talk of many authors, many books sold in just a few hours. So Joanna and I climbed into their rental car and made the 400 mile trip to PA.
The next day a volunteer, Joyce Tremel (whose mystery is with an agent, fingers crossed for her), picked me up at my hotel and we drove through the rain-slicked streets of Pittsburgh to get to the first event, a tea thrown by the libraries of Alleghany county. We mingled with the librarians and locals, some book club members, some Friends of the Library and I introduced myself to authors I’d missed at Malice.
From there it was on to the Greek Church Hall for the main event. There was a line of people outside. Did I mention it was raining? I learned later that they’d come from all over and started lining up hours earlier.
We entered through the kitchen, glamorous as always. I found my name on a table piled high with my books. Right next to Elaine Viets and Heather Webber to one side and Heather Terrell and Marcia Talley to my right.
The doors opened and the place was packed. Readers, armed with their lists, gathered up books from their favorites. My books were new to them but many were willing to take a chance on a new author. I got the feeling that they’d discovered many wonderful authors at this event, and so were open to try new series.
After the first hour, Richard Goldman interviewed the authors on a little stage in another part of the hall. The audience, sated from their book buying frenzy, sat in rapt attention. He was a gracious host, as was Mary Alice Gorman. The event lasted four hours with all the authors being introduced and fans lingering even as clean up (by a crack team of volunteers) began. Afterwards, it was back to the bookstore for pizza and down time.
According to their email, over eighteen hundred books were sold, a 15% increase over last year. 8 books a minute!
What a wonderful event for both readers and writers! I enjoyed every minute of it. I hope Richard and Mary Alice continue doing this. One way to ensure this is to support them and other independent book stores. You can order directly from them at www.mysterylovers.com. I’m going to buy some of the books I saw last Monday night.