Malice Domestic 30: A Very Good Time!

Malice Domestic, the mystery convention, celebrated its 30th anniversary April 27-29, 2018 in Bethesda Maryland and I was there along with 600 mystery fans. Check out book bag that is given (filled!) to every Malice attendee. Attendees included Guest of Honor Louise Penny, Poirot honoree Brenda Blethyn, Lifetime Achievement honoree, Nancy Pickard, and the author of the Vera and Shetland books, Ann Cleeves. It was a three-day fan-girl extravaganza.

On Thursday night before the conference opened, BritBox treated us to a special screening of Vera, season 8 episode 3, with real British Cadbury candy bars for everyone in the audience. Mine was eaten quickly so as not to distract me from the show.

Friday, Toastmaster Catriona McPherson opened the convention, setting the party tone as only she can do with that intelligent and off-beat humor only she possesses.

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You Got Fan Mail panel: Nancy Pickard, Louise Penny, Catriona McPherson, Brenda Blethyn, Verena Rose

There were too many panels to mention, but one of the highlights was You’ve Got Fan Mail with Brenda Blethyn, Catriona McPherson, Louise Penny and Nancy Pickard. I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. That afternoon, Martin Edwards, author of the award-winning The Golden Age of Murder, interviewed Ann Cleeves and Brenda Blethyn. What a treat it was to learn about how it was sold to ITV, the production of the show, and the fierce protection of “their” Vera character from the the lady who created her and the one who brought her to life.

Saturday was the long day with many panels from 9 AM to 4 PM, and then an interview with Louise Penny by her good friend Rhys Bowen during which I came to understand whence the gentle and kind, but formidable, Inspector Armand Gamache came. That evening was the Agatha awards banquet, during which Louise Penny touched all our hearts speaking about the writing journey she traveled with her late husband, Michael, who inspired Gamache. I sponsored my own table, bringing my Alaska-themed swag bags (birch syrup candy, a fridge magnet and a small vial of gold flakes). I thought about collecting some moose droppings and covering them in glitter. Maybe next year. Or, maybe not.

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My banquet swag bag

My panels were on Sunday morning. In the new author breakfast sponsored by Mystery Scene Magazine, newly published authors are interviewed for a few minutes about their book while everyone is treated to fruit and baked goods. Then, I had a lot of fun serving on the Law & Order panel with moderator Robert Downs, and authors Bruce Robert Coffin, Roger Johns, Catherine Maiorisi and Michael Rubin.

That afternoon, Lori Rader-Day interviewed Catriona McPherson. Who knew Catriona has PhD in Linguistics? Who knew her thesis had something to do with things that don’t exist (it was way over my head.)? And that she quite a teaching job at a university to write, moving to an old farmhouse that she wrote into The Child Garden? And that she’s releasing three books this year! The very funny Scot-Free, the next Dandy Gilver coming out soon, and a new stand alone in the autumn.

I always stay for the Agatha Tea on Sunday afternoon complete with finger sandwiches, scones and pretty little cakes. Like any good party, no one wants it to end, and the tea is another chance to linger.

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Official photographer framing the Agatha tea goodies

The new digs, Marriott Bethesda North, was easy, convenient and made us feel welcomed. Ellen Byron and Gigi Pandian escorted this frightened-of-the-big-city Alaskan through the metro (underground railroad) from the airport to just across the street from the hotel. The metro isn’t that bad! It’s kind of like the Disneyland monorail – without princesses.

The hotel had five elevators, all of which worked, a breakfast buffet that included tasty gluten-free choices, a gym that I walked past several times, and a small Starbucks stand. The convention center is attached to the hotel and is mostly above ground. It only took ten minutes to travel from my ninth-floor room to the banquet rooms on the first floor and then another few minutes downstairs to registration, the dealer room, hospitality room, and smaller meeting rooms. And, room service delivered warm, delicious food within 20 minutes of ordering no matter how busy the restaurant was.

Good thing UPS sets up a shipping room on Sunday. There was no way I could get my haul into the one bag I had brought.

Big thanks to Alaskans Patricia Watts and Glen Klinkhart who both donated their books along with mine for our Alaska-themed silent auction package. Together with the other silent and live auction bids, a total of $22,000 was raised for Keen Greater DC’s children literacy program.

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Our Alaska silent auction donation

Mark your calendar for Malice Domestic 31: May 3 – May 5, 2019. Registration discounts are available until 9/30/18. And if you sign up before December 31, you will be asked to nominate your favorite 2018 releases for an award. Visit the website: www.MaliceDomestic.org.

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