If you spend a moderate amount of time enjoying your profession or your hobby, you have probably developed a list of the top relevant people of whom it would a thrill to meet. Anthropologists and archaeologists have their idols, dead or alive,of whom they've studied or wanted to emulate. Police officers would like to talk about the big case with a top cop who was involved.
We all are fans of somebody. If you're into movies and television, you have people you watch and would want to meet. (Note: If you know that Kristen Bell, Steven Segal, or Clint Eastwood might be in my area, please let me
know.) Music lovers sometimes follow their favorite artist around the country or the world for the concerts. (Avril Lavigne is single again, hey, hey, she can be my girlfriend). We have our sports heroes. (Sheesh, look at the world wars at soccer games.) You want gobs of people, go to any comic book convention. You have the true fanatics attending those.
I'm into taekwondo, so of course I look forward to tournaments where I get to meet the masters. I am honored to have known our founder and first Grand Master of the organization to which I belong and have attended a few workouts led by our current Grand Master. When I attended my first World Championships I managed to get the autographs of scores of Masters. I still remember hopping over chairs to chase them down. I ran around that venue feeling like a kid.
Writers/authors/readers are no different. The writers' conventions throughout the year all over the country bring in top authors as guests. At the 2007 Love Is Murder convention in Chicago, I listened to Max Allan Collins and Anne Perry.
Years ago a friend gave me two grocery sacks full of mystery books. I discovered new authors to read. One of them was Nancy Pickard. She also attended the 2007 LIM convention. Since I had never read Perry (sorry), and I didn't get a chance to meet and greet Collins, Pickard was the big star for me. All the authors who attended were open to giving autographs, so I quickly bought up all of Pickard's books I hadn't yet read and presented them to her to sign.
Last year at Killer Nashville, J.A. Jance was the guest. Wow, is she a great woman! When she spoke about her life and her writing and her books, we all were just about enraptured. I even managed to ask question or two one on one with her later in the day.
This year's KN features Jeffrey Deaver. How cool is he? Next year's LIM in Chicago will have two authors I like – F. Paul Wilson and Jon Land.
Conventions are a great way to make contacts and new friends. Even if you are just a reader, there are fan-based conventions. KN is more learning about material to put into mysteries – poisons, forensics, surveillance, DNA. I enjoyed last year's because it had something for the beginner writer to publishing discussions. LIM is a little of both. Plus, you get to meet cool authors.
What I learned from LIM and KN, is that there are a lot of locally based authors with their own fan and friends groups. Although some aren't nationally famous – yet – you can still pick up some great books and learn from those who have had publishing experience. Who knows, you might become a fan.
In the Des Moines area, there are many local authors with books out and due out. To name one, Mike Manno, has his second mystery available the first part of June. For more, you can look in the local book stores, many of which have a section just for Iowa authors. Or for those not local, a little time on the internet search engines might open some new doors.
And, don't forget about that guy in Oskaloosa looking forward to next year.
He'll be looking to drum a fan base of his own. lol
And that's Oskaloosa, Iowa. I don't want Miss Lavigne to get confused if she decides to drop by.