Thursday, February 12, 2009
Finding Someone Weirder Than Us
By Meredith Cole
When I go to mystery conventions, I have noticed that the mystery fans and writers are frequently the weirdest people in the hotel. Usually we’re paired at a conference center with some incredibly normal group like dental hygienists, real estate agents or insurance salesman.
I don’t say this to disparage mystery writers or fans at all (since I have been one myself for years), but people get a funny look in their eye when they step into the elevator with us all wearing our “I see dead people” pins or badges that read “love is murder” and discussing if we’re going to the poison panel or to the crime scene talk next. I know what’s going through their heads. They’re thinking: watch out, these people are dangerous.
So last weekend at Love is Murder in Chicago (a wonderful small conference where I went to introduce my debut novel Posed for Murder), we were delighted to find people much weirder and more obsessed then we were: reencactors.
I kept calling them reincarnationists by mistake, and perhaps some of them were that, too. All weekend long, women in hoopskirts, knights in armor, men dressed as WWI soldiers, jaunty WWII sailors, Roman soldiers, Colonial troupes and Civil War soldiers wondered through the lobby. They made me feel… well, normal.
I talked to a WWI pilot for a while, who was interesting and charming (despite his total and perhaps unhealthy obsession with WWI). He told me that the joke they tell is that a real reenactor has $3,000 invested in gear and they drive a $300 car. Sounds like a mystery fan, except the $3,000 is invested in books.
So in the end the reenactors didn’t seem so strange or different from us. If they spent some time talking with us, too, they would have discovered that mystery writers and fans are some of the nicest people anyone could ever meet. We get all our violence and hate out on the page. And there’s nothing we love more than a good book… and a good party.
Meredith Cole directed feature films and wrote screenplays before writing mysteries. She won the St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition in 2007. Her book POSED FOR MURDER, will be published by St. Martin’s Minotaur February 17, 2009. She blogs at http://www.thedebutanteball.com/