Tuesday, June 06, 2006

If Women Ran the World (Malice Domestic)

If women ran the world....................................................................

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Oh. Sorry. Drifted off there, for a moment...

If women ran the world, I have to think it would be something like Malice Domestic. So lovely and organized and sane. So efficient and charming and pleasurable. With such a dark and powerful and lethal undercurrent.

I loved this conference, even though I have to say I was not personally at my best. In California, you see, we don't really have seasons. Therefore we don't have seasonal allergies. In North Carolina, where I am spending half my life these days, there's this thing called Spring. It's amazing. One day the trees are bare and the sky is gray white and the land is brown and bleak and you can see actual distances (with no mountains, but still, a few vistas) and you're wearing five layers to go out on the porch - and the very next morning you wake up with BLOSSOMS!!! TULIPS!!!! DAFFODILS!!! HYACINTHS!!!! DOGWOODS!!!! GREEN EVERYWHERE!!! TOTAL SENSORY OVERLOAD!!!!!!!

These blooms sort of unfold right before your eyes as if you're trapped in a time-lapse photography demo.

And with all this comes seasonal allergies.

When I get sick, which is not often, I lose my voice first thing. Always have (I'm sure there's a metaphorical explanation). And the spring pollen here is not to be believed - it blows through the air like snow. So I drove up from Raleigh to Arlington, Virginia for Malice with no voice at all - a total drag because I couldn't sing along to actually pretty good car radio. Plus the East in the Spring is so green that everything looks the same and you have no idea where you are, ever. I'm used to navigating off buildings, BUILDINGS.

But I did finally get to the Arlington Crystal Marriott - and the first great thing about Malice is that it all takes place in the same hotel. Which means much less walking than other conferences. This is good.

I settled into the Sisters in Crime booth this time as into a huge comfortable couch. Met more of the most charming and witty and amazing Sisters: Sandy Parshall (the picture of grace, with a simmering dark streak - I love her!), Judith Skillings, Tasha Alexander, Rita Harkin, Charlaine Harris, Sue Ann Jaffarian. Doris Ann Norris, patron saint of mystery writers, was very much present, being a patron and a saint.

Everything was so organized - yet completely and smoothly accommodating to any interesting twists that came up. And so inclusive! The second Chris Roerden, who was moderating a panel on novel adaptations to film and television, heard that I'm a screenwriter and WGA activist, she asked me to join her panel (now that was a trip, with BOTH of us down with laryngitis!). Cindy Silverblatt graciously introduced me at the New Authors Breakfast even though I'm not published until September.

There was a fun panel on "Things That Go Bump In the Night", on supernatural mysteries (thank God, or it would all have been just a little too - well, cozy, for me.), and I had a blast listening to my new Sister friends from PLA, Dana Cameron, Donna Andrews, Toni Kelner plus Charlaine Harris, Julie Wray Herman, Elaine Viets and Nancy Pickard during a sometimes, well, heated, panel on Cozy Sex.

Oh - there were men there, too. Really! Robert Barnard stalked me throughout the conference (he swears it was a coincidence that we kept ending up in the same elevator, but hah.)

But I think the high point of the weekend for me was the Sisters In Crime Breakfast.

Now, I love men. I do. Being generally straight (hey, I said straight, not vanilla!) I find them useful for all kinds of things. I work in a male-dominated profession (that would be film) and an even more male dominated genre (thrillers and horror) and a great deal of my work life consists of me in a room with five to seven men, which is undeniably great odds and a lot of fun - I don't mind it a bit.

But I guess I didn't realize how starved I've been for the company of women. And what women! It was really a privilege just to be in the room with them - about a hundred at breakfast, just gathering for a general meeting (There are plenty of men in Sisters and Crime, by the way, but they must not be early risers). The POWER in that room. So much wit and intelligence - so much grace. Goddesses, and regal, every one.

If women ran the world... well, after just a weekend of Malice, I personally would like to see it.

Alex XX

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