by Korina Moss
What a difference a year makes. A few weeks ago, I attended Malice Domestic, a weekend-long mystery fan convention in Bethesda, MD. Mystery writers and readers, alike, get to attend panels on topics ranging from Nancy Drew to book influencers, sit in on interviews with blockbuster authors like Ann Cleeves and Hank Phillippi Ryan, and get your favorite mysteries signed. It’s a chance to meet, literally, hundreds of mystery authors. I also get to catch up with my writer friends who I mostly only get to see at occasions like this one. When I attended my first Malice last year, I was one of the new kids—my first book had just been published a few weeks prior. This year I have three books published and that first book, Cheddar Off Dead, was among the nominees for an Agatha Award! Here are some highlights of events I participated in at Malice Domestic 2023.
|Photo credit: Dorothy McFalls
Think speed dating for books. My friend and fellow cozy mystery author, Rosalie Spielman, and I partnered up to participate. A total of 26 authors, in pairs, had two minutes each to pitch our books to a tableful of readers eager to add to their TBR list. Sounds simple enough, right? Multiply that by 23 tables, which was how many tables we visited in 90 minutes. Since each table of readers would be getting two new authors every four and a half minutes, Rose and I decided to liven up our pitches. Rose writes two series, one set in Hawaii (Aloha Lagoon) and one set in Idaho (Hometown Mysteries), so she literally changed hats as she spoke about each. I write the Cheese Shop Mystery series, so I wore an apron with a quote from my protagonist: “I firmly believe most of life’s problems can be solved with cheese.” We think the humorous visuals were appreciated and we had a blast.
Author Panel: Agatha Best First Novel Nominees
I had the honor of being nominated this year for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel for the initial book in my Cheese Shop Mystery series, Cheddar Off Dead. The Agatha Award celebrates the traditional mystery, best typified by the works of Agatha Christie. My fellow nominees were M.A. Monnin (Death in the Aegean), Rob Osler (Devil’s Chew Toy), Harini Nagendra (The Bangalore Detective’s Club), Joan Long (The Finalist), and Nina Wachsman (The Gallery of Beauties). The panel was moderated by last year’s Agatha Award winner in the same category for Arsenic and Adobo, Mia P. Manansala. It was a fun panel where we shared our inspirations, our difficulties, and our moment of disbelief in being nominated for the award.
Book Dealer Room
|Author SK Golden getting her books signed
Photo credit: Dale T. Phillips
You know how you go into a Target intending to buy some toothpaste and a laundry basket, and leave with $126 worth of impulse purchases? The Book Dealer Room was my Target, where any ounce of self-control (and the knowledge that my TBR list was already about 50 books deep) flew out the window. The bookseller for this event was Mechanicsburg Mysteries, an independent bookshop located in Mechanicsburg, PA. Not only did they have the participating authors’ books available, the authors were there during their scheduled times to sign their books. As I mentioned, I bought more books than planned and was able to get most of them signed. As an author, I enjoyed meeting readers who were excited to start or continue my series, and I was thrilled when a short line formed for my signing and I sold out of books!
The Agatha Awards Banquet
|with author Daphne Silver
This was the highlight of my weekend, as I took home the teapot as the winner of this year’s Agatha Award for Best First Novel. It was a feeling like I’d never experienced (such a happy shock!). As I mentioned in my acceptance speech, to win an award named after Agatha Christie is a full-circle moment for my 12-year-old self. That was the age I read my first Agatha Christie novel—The ABC Murders—and wanted to become a mystery novelist to be able to do what she does. Well, I’m still working toward being able to do what the Queen of Crime does, but becoming a mystery novelist came true with the publication of Cheddar Off Dead. As the win continued to sink in throughout the evening, I held onto the gratitude of feeling so embraced by the mystery writing and reading community. The joy everyone had for me capped off an incredibly rewarding weekend.
If you’re a reader of mysteries, an as-yet-published mystery writer, or a published mystery author, I highly recommend attending next year’s Malice Domestic, which will take place April 26-28, 2024. I’ll be there and I’d love to see you!