B-Con Follies, Part 3

Those zillion things I neglected to mention in the first post seem to be breeding. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I can’t possibly remember everything, but there are one or two leftover memories from Friday night that deserve a quick mention before we move on to Saturday. Like my spectacular wardrobe malfunction and the subsequent emergency ladies room sewing circle. Lauren Henderson saw my distress and kindly offered to help with the needle and thread. Control freak that I am, I insisted on shoving a stick between my teeth and stitching up my own décolletage, Rambo-style. It wasn’t pretty, but it kept the big guns securely in place for the rest of the evening. Which was a good thing, considering the fact that this year’s Reacher Party was right there in the hotel bar and open to everybody. I mean every-fucking-body. So if I was gonna flash the whole convention, I’d prefer it to be intentional.

Oh yeah and remember that business about the hotel bar closing at midnight? Well, it soon became clear that this was a 7 day policy, set in fucking stone. Clearly the hotel management was more interested in following ze orders than collecting the thousands of dollars all those thirsty crime writers would have spent if they’d kept the bar open just two extra hours. I don’t drink and even I was intensely annoyed by this. Having a hotel bar where everyone hangs together in the evenings makes it so much easier to find your friends and maximize your socializing. Without that central hub, small groups disappear to alternate locations, making it nearly impossible to find anyone. Guilty as charged, since that’s exactly what I did. I grabbed the four people standing closest to me at the time and dragged them up to Eddie’s suite. So apologies to anyone else who was looking for me Friday night.

In the end, I came away feeling like I’d missed connecting with so many people this year. I think I talked to Megan Abbott for all of ten seconds. I sat on Reed Farrel Coleman’s lap for the amount of time it took to snap a photo but that was the last I saw of him. I’m hoping to make up for that at NoirCon.

But nevermind all of that. On to Saturday.

A little backstory. When Claire Lamb first asked me to participate in the reading of Declan Hughes’ play “I Can’t Get Started,” I said no. After all, I’m a writer, not an actor. Claire assured me that it wasn’t really acting at all, that it would be easy and that we’d just be standing at podiums reading from scripts. Plus, all the cool kids were doing it. What could I say? I reluctantly agreed. Little did I know I’d wind up with one of the toughest parts, half of a husband and wife screenwriting team. The dialog was all rapid-fire snappy patter and precise comic timing. And, to add insult to injury, I’d be paired up with Mark Billingham, an actual actor whose ease with all his roles and obvious natural talent made me feel kinda like the awkward, ugly friend standing next to the supermodel.  Oh, and did I mention that our first (and only) rehearsal would be at 8:30 AM on Saturday morning?

After a late night and very little sleep, I staggered down to the green room at the appointed hour, hanging onto my script like a life preserver. The cast was all friends, Allison Gaylin, Martyn Waites, Megan Abbott, Brett Battles, Declan himself and, of course, my stunt husband Mark. I figured if I was gonna humiliate myself, at least I’d be in good company. But horror of horrors, when I arrived for the rehearsal I quickly discovered that there was no coffee and no breakfast of any kind. Unless you counted the huge jar of Red Vines. Saint Claire saved my life with a large cup of Java and after securing a full pot to keep us all going, we were as ready for it as we’d ever be. Some of us more ready than others.

Mark was really fantastic and leaning on him was probably the only thing that got me through it. He even agreed to meet with me again, just before the reading, to help me go over the toughest section one more time. Thanks a million, Mark. I take back that crack about your nipples.

After all my angst, in the end it was a blast, and I’m really glad I agreed to be part of it. Declan stole the show with his cameo as the creepy brother, but I think I did okay, all things considered. Hey, don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.

The funniest thing about my performance was the number of compliments I got on my crying. I thought I was playing it broad and camp, but all the guys in the audience thought my crocodile tears were amazingly realistic. Too bad I’m not the kind of dame who uses crying to get what I want out of men. I could probably take over the world like that.

In addition to the play, I also had my panel on Saturday. The title was “I AIN’T MARCHIN’ ANYMORE-Genre Wars” and my fellow panelists were Chris Mooney, Dreda Say Mitchell, Christopher Rice, and Simon Tolkien. (Yes, Dreda was still alive at this panel, so I didn’t actually kill her on Thursday night.) A great discussion with a smart, diverse group. Also thanks to Libby Hellmann for stepping in at the last minute to act as moderator.

Once those two commitments were in the rearview mirror, I was footloose and fancy free. Done with everything official for the weekend. Unfortunately, I had to kiss the Harrogate girls goodbye earlier that afternoon, but I finally caught up with Maria again later that evening and the two of us dragged Russel off for celebratory sushi. (Dinner, you perverts! Get your mind out of the gutter.) And speaking of perversion and the Scotsman, I’m still kicking myself for somehow losing/deleting the best photo of the weekend. Even better than Erica’s blackmail photo. All I’ll say about it is that it involved Russel, a fist full of twenties and a can of whipped cream. Later that night, Russel was so drunk that he poked himself in the eye. Enough said.

So that was Saturday. Tune in tomorrow for the last exciting episode of B-Con Follies: The Big Adios, and the Aftermath.

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