On Saturday, November 17, I had the great pleasure of participating in the thirteenth annual Men of Mystery conference in southern California. As one of the invited “gentlemen of this genre” I, along with fifty other men of mystery (each more talented, more accomplished, wealthier, and better looking than me) spent the day talking with mystery lovers from all walks of life. I had a blast. Here is what I learned:
1) I felt honored to be surrounded by best-selling authors, and I felt honored to be surrounded by readers who cared enough to shell out some money and dedicate the better part of their day to their favorite genre. Without them, we couldn’t do what we do.
2) For reasons I cannot truly fathom, standing in front of a crowd talking about myself is vaguely terrifying. I am a college professor. I stand in front of rooms of people all day long, and it doesn’t bother me at all. But talking about my books made me self-conscious.
3) That being said, I came to celebrate my archaeological mystery American Caliphate, and I was going to do right by my book, my publisher, myself, so I had to work up some nerve. If you want to know how I did that, see number 4.
4) As I was writing my speech that morning, I had the TV on and I saw a news item about the singer Taylor Swift. I am not aware of having ever listened to a Taylor Swift song, but she looks to be quite young, somewhere between eleven and nineteen years old. And there she was on TV as comfortable as could be. And I thought to myself, if an eleven-to-nineteen year-old girl can stand up and talk without fear, then so can I. And so I did.
5) Hotel breakfast buffets are overpriced, but you wind up with way more bacon than would otherwise have been likely.
6) Sitting at a table autographing copies of your book feels pretty great. I am grateful to everyone who stopped by to say hi or to let me sign their copy of my book. I wanted to hug every one of them, but I think I would have gotten in trouble.
7) Nobody thinks its funny when you offer to autograph a book that someone else has written. I offered to do just that on several occasions, and I chuckled each time. But I chuckled alone.
8) Taylor Swift is actually pretty cute.
9) No matter how famous or well-known, or no matter how obscure and unread you are, you have to work it. Publicity is vital if you want to make it in this line of work. To that end, if you’d like to learn more about American Caliphate, or my other mysteries, or if you just want to earn frequent flier miles, please visit my website - www.williamdoonan.com
10) I am a man of mystery. On November 17, I felt like a real writer. I still do.