Fun At Left Coast Crime

Whale of a Crime

Left Coast Crime writer’s conference: Thursday panel discussing different types of publishing. Panel members are (left to right): Robert Downs, Anne Barton, Russell Hill, Cathy Ace, and Anne Louise Bannon (moderator). Photography by LCC photographer Darrell Hoemann.

Thursday through Sunday. Twelve to fourteen-hour days. Half day on Sunday. Two floors of the Hyatt Hotel. Every place where I needed to go was down a long corridor on the other floor from where I was. Exhaustion! But I had a whale of a time. Pun intended as the conference was called A Whale of a Crime.

There were four panels at a time, six times a day. I got to quite a few of them in between manning the Sisters in Crime or the Crime Writers of Canada tables. Topped off by a huge banquet on Saturday night. I needed that, as I hardly had time to eat anything else. My creaky eighty-seven-year-old bones were complaining enough that I would end up taking a taxi the two or three blocks to the hotel where I was staying. Neither my retirement income nor my writing income is enough that I can justify staying at the Hyatt.

I was on a panel on the subject of ways books are published, probably because of my experiences with a variety of them, resulting from publishers going out of the e-book or print book business or going bankrupt (one of the reasons for my writing income not being what it should have been.) Other panels were more exciting, with former cops, lawyers, private detectives and one judge talking about police procedure, courtroom scenes, and other such things that come up in any crime novel or non-fiction crime book.

When you go to a writers’ conference, the first thing that happens when you register is that they give you a bag full of books donated by publishers. I brought books of my own to sell at a bookstore, set up at the far end of a long corridor, of course. I sold some, bought some more and, to lighten my load on the way home, I gave some away. Of the donated books in the bag given to me, I put three on the exchange table and kept one. It was an excellent one, written by a federal prosecutor in the US about the American justice system: Doing Justice by Preet Bharara. I highly recommend it.

Since carrying bags of books around all day was a bit of a chore, many people would just dump their book bag temporarily. A man who did not belong at the conference should have looked at the exchange table and and noted the type of books that the 400 plus authors had written. One of the detectives at the conference decided that this man was up to no good and took him into custody. Nothing like having a bunch of cops at your party!

Mid-morning Sunday I stepped across the street to the beautiful Christ Church Cathedral (Anglican) to attend church, as I like to do whenever I’m in Vancouver on a weekend. I sat closer to the front of the nave than I usually do and observed something I had never noticed before. There is a section set aside for people who are hard of hearing, with a translator giving them the entire service, as it happens, in sign language. Besides having an award-winning choir, organist and choral director, Rupert Lang, Christ Church lives up to its motto, which is “Open doors, open hearts, open minds.”

The flight home to the Okanagan Valley was beautiful, with the snow-covered Coast Mountains rising up ahead of us just at sunset.

Anne Barton
Author of The Simple Life Is Murder. Life in an isolated mountain valley is not so simple. In fact, it can be murder.

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