I am just back from Pittsburgh after a rather turbulent flight. For those of you who know me, I don't much care for flying but always have my trusty Xanax on hand. This was also one of those little planes, the ones that have one seat on one side, two on the other and even the bigger carry on bag has to be whisked away and stored in the bowels of the plane.
The main reason I went to Pittsburgh was to attend this year's 15th annual Festival of Mystery run by the Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, which is a very cute place with lots of little shops and restaurants and the fabulous bookstore and a great library, where all the authors attending were invited to a tea before the festival. I went to the festival in 2006 and 2007, but hadn't been back since. It was as wonderful as I remembered.
Mary Alice and Richard, the esteemed bookstore owners, were just back from New York themselves, where they received this year's Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America. The little raven statue held court on the front counter during the pizza party after the festival. Mary Alice and Richard are amazing people as well as booksellers and any mystery writer who hasn't enjoyed their annual festival should definitely put it on their calendar in the future.
There are usually about 50 authors, and we are seated alphabetically with all our books lined up in front of us. This year I was seated between two writers I'd never met before: Kevin "Vicious" O'Brien and Diana Orgain. Kevin writes serial killer thrillers (someone once wrote him to ask "What's with all the killing?") and Diana writes the Maternal Instincts Mysteries featuring a new mom turned private eye. I haven't read their books yet, but I bought them so I'll let you know what I think. If they're half as good as their creators' senses of humor, then they'll be real winners. We had a ball.
I also met up with friends Hank Phillippi Ryan, Nancy Martin, Kathy Sweeney, Kate Carlisle, Sheila Connolly, and many more.
One of the things I also love about going to Pittsburgh is that I can stay with my friend Sam Bennett, who is also a former newspaper journalist. We worked together at the New Haven Register many moons ago, and she left for Pittsburgh and the Post-Gazette about a year or so after we met. But we've stayed in touch and are great friends. She now edits an economist journal with a really cool gig on the side: Sam is the narrator for the Haunted Pittsburgh dinner theater shows at the Grand Concourse. I was thrilled to be scared by the stories she told Sunday night and equally thrilled with the amazing meal served: top sirloin with gorganzola cheese, fabulous potatoes, and a salad with a dressing that was outstanding but I still can't figure out what was in it.
And Sam is not the only friend I can see when I'm in Pittsburgh. My best friend from college drove up from Frostburg, Maryland, with her husband to spend the day with me on Monday at the festival. It was all the more sweeter because I could see Liz and hang out with her, too.
A potpourri of questions today: Have you ever been to Pittsburgh? A dinner theater? A book festival? Do you like ghost stories?