by Shannon Baker
Wow. Malice Domestic.
This was my first Malice and what an experience! I’m so excited to be able to now put faces to several of the Inkers. I won’t go into too much detail about what kind of faces they are, but almost without exception they were happy and welcoming and I’m so happy to be part of the tribe.
For those of you attending, you know what a great time it is. For those who sadly had to miss it, I won’t rub it in. But I did want to impart just a few choice tidbits I picked up going to panels. I did attend a few, really. I didn’t spend all my time in the bar.
I loved meeting and hearing Harlan Coben speak. What a class act. He’s successful, brilliant and way nicer than I’d expect a super star to be. He’s also not afraid to admit to insecurity. In his panel, he spoke about how he feels when he finishes a book. He slapped that shiny head of his and said, “I’m sure that’s the last one I’ll ever write. Thanks for the ride. I’ll have to go get a real job now.”
He went on to say that all writers are insecure. “Only bad writers think they’re good.” He did not, however, add that if you think you’re bad, you’re actually good. That kind of message might have really made my day. As it is, I can find comfort in knowing that even the great suffer.
I’d like to attribute this little insight to the right person and it might have been Harlan Coben, as well. It’s scribbled on the back of the same bookmark as these other remarks. But it could have been Sara Henry. So much of last weekend is a Jackson Pollack of thoughts, faces and great ideas in my mind. Anyway, the smart writer spoke about how each reader brings their own experience to every book. A writer might have one thing in mind but every reader experiences the images through their own filter. “Ideas in readers’ heads are like snowflakes, each one is different.”
My favorite line from the weekend’s panels again came from Harlan Coben. (Okay, a little hero worship going on here.) The panel members were talking about how they write, quick first drafts, followed by subsequent edits, or painstaking first drafts nearly perfect when finished. Coben said he’s a quick-first kind of guy, then said that for him first drafts were like illicit affairs. They are new and exciting and all-consuming. You can’t stop thinking about them, you want to be with them every second. There is no downside. He added that later drafts are more like long relationships and take work but have their own rewards.
A huge thank you goes out to the conference organizers. I can’t imagine the level of sacrifice it takes to pull off something so wonderful.
Finally, it would be a crime for me to let this opportunity pass without mentioning Midnight Ink’s own, Catriona McPherson and her big win of the Agatha for Best Historical Novel. Congratulations!