Friday, September 24, 2010

The Place Was Lousy With Authors (but not a lousy author in the place)

Darrell James

For me, one of the best parts of being an author is that you get to associate with so many other great authors and all the wonderful book loving people of the universe.

Trendy Westwood Village, a block off the UCLA campus, centers itself around The Mystery Bookstore, and, on any given L.A. afternoon, the area becomes something more akin to West World. A fantasyland for writers and readers. Mystery authors descend on the store for launch parties or book signings. Fans of the genre share the restaurants and shops with students and sometimes Hollywood’s celebrities.

This past weekend, Diana James and I headed down for the launch party for Sue Ann Jaffarian’s latest book, Murder In Vein. Diana is the very talented owner of PRme! a firm that provides promotion and publicity to numerous authors, to include Sue Ann (and me). We carried buckets of champagne on ice, and jammed through the street melee to reach the store.

Before we could get there we stumbled across authors Brett Battles and Graham Brown. They were on the patio of Barney’s Beanery having drinks and food following Graham’s earlier signing of his first novel Black Rain. Sue Ann arrived just then. And the chance meeting became something of a mini-reunion, filled with handshakes and hugs, and talk of the latest triumphs and challenges of the book world. It was good to see them. A nice surprise. And gave me a genuinely warm feeling to be (now as a published author) an accepted member of the community of writers.

As we entered the store, friend Jeff Sherratt was there to greet us. Jeff is the author of the Jimmy O’Brien mystery series. His next book, Detour To Murder, will be released next month and coincidentally (or possibly not) Sue Ann and I both appear on the cover with blurbs. It’s always good to see Jeff. He and I have signed in bookstores and have appeared on a number of author library panels together. Lori Wolf, another writer, was also present for the event.

Soon, the bookstore was filled, and the launch party was underway. Bobbie McCue, the ever revered and trusted manager of the store, introduced Sue Ann, and Sue Ann shared a very touching and inspiring history of her work as a writer leading to her latest release. There were vampire rubber-duckies, blood red, “red-velvet” cupcakes, champagne toasts and some really great and interesting questions from the audience.

Afterwards, all of us writers headed up the block to BJs for dinner. The place was alive with students from the campus, young women in their club attire, young guys (just trying to keep up). One of the attendees to Sue Ann’s signing was there with her son and facing a long wait for a table. We asked them to join us. Her name was Janet. She was there on vacation from North Carolina to visit her son, Ron, and had come to the advertised launch as a fan of mystery. Ron, as it turns out, is also a writer living in L.A. He writes for the G4 Cable Network and is currently working on a number of projects. It seems you can’t throw a rock in Westwood without hitting a writer. (But, please, don’t throw rocks at the writers.)

The evening was filled with drinks and laughter and camaraderie, and talk of books and film and storytelling.

My short stories have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines, and my first novel will debut in September of next year from Midnight. It’s a thrill beyond imagination. But the most fulfilling part of it all is the friendship and good times to be had with so many great people, writers and readers alike. This past weekend will stand-out among my many memories of becoming a writer.

What about you? As a writer or as a fan of the written word, what’s one of your favorite memories of the book world?


Keith Raffel said...

Darrell, only wish I'd been there with you, Diana, Sue Ann, Jeff, and the gang.

Darrell James said...

Keith- It wasn't quite complete without you!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Gee, thanks, Darrell. Now I don't have to write a recap of the launch party. I'll just send folks here, especially since you did such a bang-up job of capturing the wonderful, chummy feeling of the entire evening.

I love being around other authors socially. I always come away recharged and feeling like I'm not alone in my stuggles to get my best on the page.

This weekend is another great author outing - the annual So. Cal. MWA Gumbo Party at Bill Fitzhugh's. Even though I'm facing a deadline in just over a week, I wouldn't dream of missing it! And Bill's gumbo ROCKS!

Alan Orloff said...

Darrell, I totally agree! Hanging out with other writers is very, very cool (although I feel a little like an imposter who has somehow slipped by security).

Carolina Valdez said...

Living too far away, and the traffic in and out horrendous to boot, I can never make these launchings. When I retired from nursing I thought I'd miss talking nursing with other RNs. Then I discovered how fantastic it was to talk writing with writers! For that reason, I look forward to the meetings of Sisters in Crime/LA and the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America.

Thanks for this, Darrell. Hope to see you and Diana soon.

Dee Ann Palmer

Keith Raffel said...

Alan, you an impostor? With your Mailer-esque swagger, you seem the archetype of a bestselling, larger-than-life author to me.

G.M. Malliet said...

Wish I'd been there!!!

Darrell James said...

Sue Ann- I really did have a great time. Your launch was fantastic!

Alan- Keith is right. If you're faking it, you deserve the Oscar for Best Actor In A Leading Role.

Dee Ann- I thought the same thing about leaving the workplace. But it's amazing how quick you can forget work-stuff when it comes to writing.

Gin- We'll have to plan better next time, maybe have a launch on your side of the map.

Jacqueline Vick said...

Thanks for the recap. I feel as if I had been there! (At least I got to see the vampire duckies online!) One of the most important comments you made, though said facetiously, is don't throw rocks at the writers. Even in comedy, they are laying open a part of themselves, and it's so easy to judge. (LA, especially, is abundant with cynicism.) The mystery writing community is such a caring group that opts to support rather than tear down the "competition". You really got that point across!

That Author Guy said...

Hey, Darrell, thanks for the mention. I totally enjoyed being with you, Diana, Sue Ann, and the others at Sue Ann's launch. Writers talk about royalties, sales, and reviews they've received, but the real valve of being a writer is the friends and wonderful people that authors meet along the way.

Congratulations on your three book deal! I'll be the first in line to grab a copy the minute your book hits the street.

Jeff Sherratt

Kathleen Ernst said...

Sounds like a fabulous time! Wish I could have joined you.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like it was a lot of fun! Wish I could have been there. :)