Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Magna Cum Murder

Last week I previewed what I’m writing about this week. After the fact, I can tell you lots about this adventure.

I make it a point to visit a new (to me) conference every one or two years. Malice Domestic is my mainstay since at least 2006, but I’ve also gone to a couple of Left Coast Crimes, Mayhem in the Midlands, Murder in the Woods (that may not be the right name—it was in Boise ID), a few Killer Nashvilles, two Writer Police Academies, Murder in the Magic City, Alabama Writers Conclave, and one in Plano whose name I don’t remember.

Online I’ve done one Poison Pen Webcom and Mystery Thriller Week.

So this year, my new one was Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis. I was talked into it by Margaret Hamilton, who met me there. It was our first face-to-face meeting after knowing each other online for quite some time. As you can see, from the number of conferences above, I know quite a few writers who go to them. It was VERY fun to see some that I already knew, plus meet some I knew only online, and also to meet brand new writers and others, as well, I hadn’t known at all.

The venue was the Columbia Club, which, I was told, is NOT a hotel. It was stressed to me that I should not tip the waitstaff since they’re paid better than normal. I didn’t tip the maid either, and I hope that was okay!

A man in the lobby, who worked there, told us the history of the place. He said it was the third building on the site. One previous one was used by Benjamin Harrison to stage his campaign rallies. The present edifice was built in 1924 or 1925, before The Crash. It’s over the top ornate in the wood and plaster carvings. The lobby holds a piano that was played by Hoagy Carmichel, a table that was in the oval office of Harrison, and a huge golf trophy with an interesting history. An “obscene” history, our guide said.

The trophy was given to the winner of a golf tournament held each year between the Columbia Club and the Indianapolis Athletic Club. Each year, the winner made the trophy larger, until it’s now taller than a person. In 1935, a woman from the competing club draped her diamond necklace on it. When The Columbia Club won it, they took it home, diamonds and all, and quit the tournament, retiring the trophy to their lobby! That does seem pretty underhanded.  

Anyway, the conference was held Friday through Sunday, October 19-21 and the panels were all well done and well attended. I was on two of them. Down These Mean Streets, with a PI theme, during which I discussed my Imogene Duckworthy PI spoof series. The panel was moderated by M. Ruth Myers and done by me, Terence Faherty, Dianna Collier, and Jim Doherty. The others knew a LOT about the history of PI novels.
Down These Mean Streets taken by Elaine L. Orr

My other panel was called The Mists of Time, about historical fiction and, in my case, prehistory. Moderated by Fedora Amis, the rest of us were Caroline Todd, Albert Bell, and Bradley Harper. 

Reavis interviewed by John Gilstrap
Peter Lovesey at the banquet
Guest of honor was Reavis Z. Wortham (with whom I’m privileged to share pages in the first Austin Mystery Writers anthology, Murder on Wheels.

International guest of honor was Peter Lovesey.

Unfortunately, I had to attend in a surgical Cam Walker boot, but had a blast anyway. Karen Maslowski and I amused ourselves in the bar one night. I also dined with Molly and Andrew Macrae, Susan McDuffie, and two friends of Molly's Friday. 
Friday dinner, Julia Kellman, Susan McDuffie, me, Molly MacRae, Andrew MacRae, and Phil Miller

Me and Karen Maslowski
And a few more pix.
Joe, T'Gracie Reese, and me

me with Susan McDuffie

Me and Bradley Harper on The Mists of Time


  1. It's a great conference, and I've always met old and new friends there, including readers. Because it's much smaller than Bouchercon (and Malice) and because the it's easy to talk to a lot of people at meals and just milling around, the atmosphere is great. And the panels are always interesting.

  2. It was great to meet you in person, Kaye, boot and all!

    1. Same here. And thanks so much for inviting me to go with you on Friday.

  3. I've been curious about this conference. Thanks for posting about it. It seems like what I'm looking for - not too big and interesting panels. The venue is beautiful. Is it held in the same place every year?

    1. I believe so. It's run by Ball State University in Muncie and used to be held there, but it moved to downtown Indy and I think it's staying there.