Saturday, October 31, 2009

Graveyard Tourism

CNN has an interesting article up about people who treat cemeteries as tourist attractions. The money quote (as Fake Steve Jobs would say):
At first glance, the idea of graveyard tourism may seem ghoulish. But for visitors who seek out headstones, this sort of destination travel is about more than death and grief-seeking. It can be a form of entertainment and inspiration, a history and architecture lesson, a cultural appreciation course, a genealogical journey and a source of relaxation.
Color me ghoulish as charged. As I explain in an upcoming post for The Rap Sheet, it was on a trip to La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires that I got the inspiration for my latest novel, The Big Wake-Up.

The whole novel, in fact, could be considered a sort of guidebook to San Francisco Bay Area cemeteries, and it is illustrated with black and white photographs of statuary that I have taken in cemeteries throughout the world.

Click here to see a Flickr slide show of the photos.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Booklist Weighs In

As we spin through the final days before release of my latest novel, The Big Wake-Up, more reviews are starting to crop up.

Here's the word on the book from Booklist. Got to love that last line!
PI August Riordan is back for his fifth outing (following Runoff, 2007). This time the hardboiled, wisecracking San Franciscan finds himself enmeshed in the Evita Perón mythos. Coggins extrapolates that Evita’s body, actually stolen and moved several times, isn’t really in the Argentine tomb claimed by the government as her final resting place. A run-in with a machine-gun-toting cable-car brakeman launches Riordan on a guided tour through the cemeteries of San Francisco, hunting for Evita’s perfectly preserved corpse. Riordan’s deadly cat-and-mouse game involves surviving both the murderous intentions of members of Argentina’s ruling class and the seductive advances of some beautiful Latin American women. First-person narrative, first-class yarn.
--Elliott Swanson

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Stanford Connection

I attended my 30 year college reunion at Stanford University this past weekend, and one of the events I participated in was the "Alumni Authors Meet and Greet" at the Stanford Bookstore.

I've never had a signing at the bookstore, but after I got set up with a stack of Runoff paperbacks behind a table, I realized that the store had a special connection to my writing career. It was there that I first purchased the novels of Raymond Chandler, whose work inspired me to try my hand at detective fiction.

I had a further epiphany when I registered that the author two down on my left was thriller writer Meg Gardiner--and that she and I graduated in the same class. Meg lives in the UK, but had come across the pond to attend Bouchercon and the reunion. When I checked out her blog, I was surprised to find it filled shots from Indianapolis (as mine is), yet we hadn't run into each other during the entire conference.

I enjoyed meeting the authors to my immediate left and right as well. On my left was children's book author Betsy Franco, whose son James recently co-starred in the film Milk. On my right was Joanne Jacobs, who has written a book titled Our School about a charter school in San Jose.

I also meet and spoke with Stanford alum Suzanne Shaw as she was browsing for books. Suzanne was a former anchor at Bay Area TV station KRON and is currently the editorial director for NBC Bay Area.

All in all, it was a much more impactful event than I expected walking through the door of the bookstore after an already long reunion weekend!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Max Allan Collins

Max Alan Collins, signing at the 2009 Bouchercon.

Max Alan Collins

Jeffrey Marks

Jeffrey Marks accepting the Anthony Award for Best Critical Nonfiction Work at the 2009 Bouchercon.

Jeffrey Marks

Julie Hyzy

Julie Hyzy accepting the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original at the 2009 Bouchercon.

Julie Hyzy

Chris Grabenstein

Chris Grabenstein accepting the Anthony Award for Best Children's Novel at the 2009 Bouchercon.

Chris Grabenstein

Sean Chercover

Sean Chercover accepting the Anthony Award for best short story at the 2009 Bouchercon.

Sean Chercover

Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly receiving the Anthony Award for Best Novel at the 2009 Bouchercon.

Michael Connelly

S.J. Rozan

S.J. Rozan, serving as toastmaster at the Anthony Awards at the 2009 Bouchercon.

S.J. Rozan

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sue Grafton

Sue Grafton at Bouchercon 2009.

Sue Grafton

Michelle Gagnon

Michelle Gagnon at Bouchercon 2009.

Michelle Gagnon

Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky at Bouchercon 2009.

Sara Paretsky

Two Michaels

Michael Connelly in conversation with Michael Koryta at Bouchercon 2009.

Michael Connelly and Michael Koryta

Reed Farrel Coleman

Shamus Award winner Reed Farrel Coleman at Bouchercon 2009.

Reed Farrel Coleman

Graham Powell and Richard Edwards

CrimeSpot editor Graham Powell and Richard Edwards at Bouchercon 2009.

Graham Powell & Richard Edwards

Jonathan Santlofer and the Clutes

Jonathan Santlofer and Mr. & Mrs. Shannon Clute at Bouchercon 2009.

Jonathan Santlofer & Shannon Clute

Seth Harwood and Graham Powell

Seth Harwood and CrimeSpot editor Graham Powell at Bouchercon 2009.

Seth Harwood & Graham Powell

Gary Phillips and David Thompson

Gary Phillips and Busted Flush Press publisher David Thompson at Bouchercon 2009.

Gary Phillips and David Thompson

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bobby McCue & Brett Battles

LA Mystery Bookstore manager Bobby McCue and Barry Award winner Brett Battles at Bouchercon 2009.

Bobby McCue and Brett Battles

Peter Lovesey

Peter Lovesey at Bouchercon 2009.

Peter Lovesey

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Loren D. Estleman

Loren D. Estleman, signing at Bouchercon 2009.

Loren D. Estleman

Craig MacDonald & Jason Pinter

Craig MacDonald and Jason Pinter, signing at Bouchercon 2009.

Craig MacDonald & Jason Pinter

JA Konrath

JA Konrath, signing at Bouchercon 2009.

JA Konrath

Lee Child

Lee Child, signing at Bouchercon 2009.

Lee Child

Let the Coverage Begin

I'm in Indianapolis, Indiana for the 2009 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention and I will be posting photographs from the gathering over the next few days.

To get you oriented, here's the capital building:

Indiana Capital Building

And here's a detail from the Soldiers' and Sailor's Monument nearby:

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument Detail

Both are just a few blocks from the convention hotel.

More later today...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Wordle for The Big Wake-Up

What's a Wordle?

Similar to tag cloud, a Wordle is visual depiction of the most common words in a volume of text, as generated by the Wordle website.

The words can come from a blog, a regular website or you can even paste in a hunk of text that you happen to have lying around on your hard disk.

That got me thinking ... what's a hunk of text that I happen to have on my hard drive. Of course, my forthcoming novel, The Big Wake-Up. Here's the Wordle for Wake-Up:

Word Cloud for THE BIG WAKE-UP
(click to see a larger view)

You can see that certain words stand out. For instance, Evita, as in Evita Peron, coffin, as in the coffin she's buried in, and Chris, as in August Riordan's cross-dressing sidekick.

There's also Melina, who is Riordan's love interest in the book, and Isis, who is decidedly not Riordan's love interest in the book. She's a villain on the scale of a John Connolly villain, who is an expert at the ancient techniques of Egyptian mummification.

But the Wordle represents only a small sample of the words in the book--and none of the pictures. Check out the real deal for all the words and pictures at the beginning of November.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Richard Dawkins

Last night I attended a book signing at venerable independent Kepler's Books by biologist Richard Dawkins for his new book, The Greatest Show on Earth, which makes the case for evolution.

I've been to many events at Kepler's (including my own sparsely attended affairs) and I have never seen more people packed into the store than there were last night. The staff had placed chairs in every available space, but many people were still left standing or sitting.

It seems a lot of folks in Northern California are concerned about evolution.

As a mystery writer, I don't have a lot to say about the topics Dawkins usually writes about, but for some reason, the two most widely (or should I say the only two things) quoted in various places on the Internet from my books have to do with evolution and fate or determinism.

From The Immortal Game, and quoted by iWise (the so-called "Wisdom on Demand" site):
Carbon atoms on a distant planet rearranged themselves into DNA, microorganisms formed, grew backbones, swam around the ocean, mutated into amphibians and crawled onto dry land—and finally a cab appeared at the mouth of the alley.
And from the same book with this iWise reference:
Einstein said that God does not play dice with the universe. He was right, but not in the way he meant. God doesn’t play dice with the universe because the universe doesn’t need him. The craps table is set up and running. Whether or not God put it there is besides the point.
There must be something to that business about the craps table because iWise "randomly" pasted Robert Crais' photo onto the pages with my quote. I'm not complaining--but Robert might!