The New England Crime Bake, held in Dedham, Massachusetts last weekend, is kind of the home game for the Wickeds. We know the turf and we’ve played here for years. Nonetheless, the conference always surprises, delights and teaches us.
Wickeds, what are your most memorable moments from Crime Bake 2015?
Liz: I say it every year, but this is my favorite mystery conference of all time. It was my first one and has always held a special place in my heart. It’s where I get to spend time with all my Wicked sisters, see old friends, make new ones, and spend time in the company of great writers – like our awesome guest this weekend, Elizabeth George. That said, I think what struck me most about this year was the number of first-timers. That says so much about the quality of the conference, the rave reviews it gets, and the value people feel it brings to the community. It also makes me happy to see so many new faces joining the publishing landscape. And the community of the conference was so apparent, because anyone spotted alone was immediately descended upon by any number of smiling faces, welcoming them and inviting them to chat. In fact, on Friday afternoon in the bar, the amazing Dorothy Cannell saw someone sitting alone and pointed her out to our group. Within a few moments she was happily ensconced at our table and we’d made a new friend. Thanks to Julie, Ray and the whole committee for making this conference better and better each year!
Jessie: For me, the most memorable moment was the acknowledgement of all the debut novelists attending this year. Seeing Julie and Sherry and Jane up on the stage along with so many other smiling faces was so heart-warming. We’ve ll been saying for a long time that Crime Bake is a tremendous resource for mystery writers but seeing all those newly published writers felt like proof.
Sherry: One of the great quotes of the conference came when Elizabeth George talked about struggling with writing — yes, even a writer like Elizabeth George struggles sometimes. She said she told herself: You will not allow words to defeat you. I may chant that from now on. Beyond that Crime Bake is so much about seeing old friends and making new ones! It’s like homecoming and the first day of school all at once. This year I met Penny Piva and Shelagh Smith. I met them Sunday morning at breakfast and they had me laughing so hard I’m surprised I wasn’t escorted out. They also invited me to have lunch with them after the conference ended — it was lovely and so typical of what happens at Crime Bake.
Julie: Crime Bake was wonderful, as it has been every one of the 13 years I’ve been there. This year, as co-chair, I have so many memorable moments. Certainly being a debut novelist was a moment of pride. I was nervous about my interview with Elizabeth George, who is a writer I greatly admire, and was thrilled that it went well. But my best memory? See the guy in the picture? He is writing a mystery novel–an aspiring author. He is also a retired neurosurgeon. Twenty years ago I had a very rare pituitary tumor that was hormone producing. This wonderful man saved my life. Talk about full circle–as wonderful as the weekend was, seeing him was my favorite memory.
Edith: Oh, my, which memory to pick? Agree with everyone about seeing all those fabulous debut authors on stage, and about Elizabeth George. I was heartened to hear that she has the same daily output goal as me: she calls it five pages, I call it 1500 words. Same difference. I guess I’m doing something right! It’s always such a treat, too, to see 200 of my best friends, some of whom I only see annually. And then…there’s the banquet. I’m a great lover of costumes, and of dancing, so I look forward to the themed banquet every year. This year I went as Phryne Fisher, detective, up from Australia, and paired with my old friend Hercule Poirot (aka Cheryl Hollon), also summoned to England by Interpol to solve a mystery at the pub. Or at least that was our cover story…
Barb: I always leave Crime Bake with many wonderful memories. but this year, the best one has to be the Level Best editors, packing their boxes and high fiving a job well done one last time.
Readers: Were you at Crime Bake, this year or in the past? Or do you attend a different annual gathering that means a lot to you? What are your memories?