I’m by no means any sort of authority on literary conference maximization. In fact, I’ve only ever attended one conference, but I have attended it five years running, so I’ve learned one thing that always applies: if you’ve any energy to spare at the end of the evening, stick your head into the hotel bar before turning in for the night. Sometimes nifty things happen.
For instance, this past Saturday, I’d had a hell of a day. And by “hell of a day” I mean an excellent day at Killer Nashville, but still, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Patrick Looney and his presentation of the frame by frame deconstruction of the most harrowing security camera footage I’ve ever seen, well, it drove me to drink. I joke quite a bit more about alcohol than I actually drink it, but I honestly had a Bloody Mary for lunch for medicinal purposes. It helped.
Throughout the day, I’d attended presentations and moderated a panel discussion. I’d collected business cards and bought a few books and shared a few laughs. Killer Nashville is invaluable for all of those things, as they have been consistently, all years running. That’s why I drive five hours west every August. Won’t miss it if I can help it.
So after a full day of conferencing, I went to dinner with two of my writerly friends, Carole Oldroyd and Terri Lynn Coop. We did the peek-in-the-bar-before-retiring thing. Who should be sitting there, all alone, but literary legend, Peter Straub? (Ghost Story, Shadowland, The Talisman series, etc) And there were two empty seats to one side of him and a single on the other. Four hours later, I had a great affection for Jefferson’s Straight Rye Whiskey and a wonderful memory of not only one of the most lyrical writers of our time, but a generous and funny gentlemen. It was, truly, the highlight of my weekend.
(none of the pictures with me properly in the frame turned out well, so I’ll settle for looking like a goofy photobomber)