. . . and loving every minute of it, here at Bouchercon 2011 in St Louis. It's a rough crowd, but we all look the better for being in this gorgeous old Grand Hotel.
And don't think I'm not working. Look at all these bags full of books:
Okay, I didn't fill them, or stack them, but look at me balancing on them for a photo!
And yesterday, I spent an hour - a solid hour! - asking questions that interested me of sharp, funny, talented women that I really like. (Of course, being without identified use so far, I forgot to take a picture of them.) But Donna Andrews, Sandy Balzo, Jess Lourey, PJ Parrish and Sarah Shaber gave me the easiest job in the world when I moderated their panel.
And as though that weren't enough toil, today I spent another hour - another solid hour! - in conversation with more of them. Them and their generosity, and their advice, and their gorgeous accents and their couldn't-make-it-up life stories:
LtoR - Gwen Mayo, an inspiration, Carolyn Wall, wise woman, DM Pirrone, making it look soooo easy, and Charlotte Hinger.
Yeeeeees, Charlotte Hinger, who's given me probably my favourite quote of Bouchercon so far. She recounted the time when her mother was dying and got to talking about past times. Another relative asked Charlotte to put a question to the old lady. "Did Aunt X kill Aunt Y?" Her mother answered, "Well . . . I always thought so. Ask Aunt Z." (Imagine all of this in the softest, sweetest of Kansas accents.) Charlotte asked Aunt Z who answered: "Charlotte, honey. We may be murderers but we are not gossips."
Other contenders for Quote of the Conference come from SJ Rozan, talking about her feelings re. the fact that a really good crime novel is often described as transcending the genre: "they take the cream off the top and then complain that the milk is skimmed!" Don't you love that? Doesn't that sum up everything wrong with snootiness and indeed snottiness about genre fiction?
And finally, Todd Ritter, talking about Alfred Hitchcock yesterday, said: "he taught me that it's okay to write entertaining books about murder. We're not committing it; we're just enjoying it."
Of course, I'm saying nothing about what Val McDermid reported overhearing in the Harrogate Turkish bath, but having spent many steamy, eucalyptus-scented hours in there myself, I believe her.
Nor am I talking about what those two women said they'd like to do with Russel McLean. Yet.