Last weekend found my BWB partner and me attending the Mystery Writers of America Convention at the Intercontinental Hotel in Rosemont. It was an impulsive and rather bold move on our part. As budding authors (currently collaborating on a murder mystery with a unique angle), we aspire to hobnob with established authors. My husband was actually the one who saw the newspaper article about the convention, and before we knew it, we were sitting in on some pretty cool lectures. I won’t go into the details of our admission into the convention because it may get us into a bit of trouble with the MWA honchos. But, we got in and that’s really all that matters. Subject closed, so let it go already.
Anyway, without a doubt, the highlight of our day was meeting one of the coolest people EVER. His name is Donald Bain. For those of you unfamiliar with this name, like us, we learned that he is a prolific writer of over one hundred books in every genre and under many pen names. But, his claim to fame (at least we were very impressed by this) is that he, along with his wife, Renee Paley-Bain, are co-writers of the Murder She Wrote book series. Yep, that’s right, Murder She Wrote. Jessica Fletcher. Cabot Cove. We were in the presence of a real celebrity. We found this out after Renee approached us for a friendly chat and we asked her what she did. After her introduction, we slid down in our chairs, in a pathetic attempt to hide behind the people sitting in front of us, who all knew what she did.
Apparently, after the initial success of the television series, Universal Studios decided they wanted a book series to accompany the show. We were truly star-struck listening to him tell great stories of his career, including starting out as a fledgling writer in New York for a men’s adventure magazine in which he and fellow novices would meet weekly to pitch ideas to the editor, in hopes of winning an opportunity to contribute an article. Included in this small cadre of writers were unknowns Mickey Spillane and Mario Puzo, who shared his idea of writing a story about a mob family. We sat, completely enrapt, as Mr. Bain connected so easily with his audience. As we entered the room before the lecture, the incoming president of MWA encouraged everyone to put their name in a drawing to win one of Bain’s books. Since we were trying to stay under the radar of hotel security (don’t ask), we decided the prudent thing to do would be to sit out on the drawing. But, after hearing him speak, we concluded that we just HAD to have one of his books, which he would sign for the lucky winner. So, we tempted fate and daringly dropped our names (pen names, that is) in the box. But, of course, our names were not called because I NEVER win anything.
But, even without a prize to bring home, the day was a blast and we are definitely planning on attending more of these conferences. We might even be able to have our real names written on the name tags, too. A couple of interesting things we came away with. First, no surprise here, but we confirmed the fact that creative, artsy people are not very good business people (don’t ask). And, second, for a group of people who make their living based on double-crossings, back-stabbings, murder and intrigue , they’re actually pretty trusting crowd. Don’t ask.