So much breaking news from your Tuesday Femmes!
Hank’s SAY NO MORE is a Library Journal Best Thriller of 2016!
Catriona’s QUIET NEIGHBORS is a Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee!
Hank’s SAY NO MORE is a Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Hurray! And I just realized--the three of us Tuesday Femmes are all past presidents of Sisters in Crime. That is pretty amazing. I remember my first encounter with SinC--I went to a meeting at Janet Halpin’s house--how did I know about it? Maybe...gosh, I don't know. Twelve years ago, I bet. I was so proud of myself for going. I did not know a soul. PRIME TIME was not even finished. But everyone was so supportive. And generous. It was the first time in a long time that I felt involved in a group of like-minded people--who were happy to discuss everything from semi-colons to murder. What was your first connection with SinC?
CATRIONA MCPHERSON: I remember very clearly. It was a phone call from my new New York editor, when I had just moved to the US. She said "You need to join MWA and SinC, sign up for Malice and get down to San Francisco for Bouchercon." And I swear the only words I understood were "San Francisco". I was so nervous going along for the first time - I changed outfits. And I have no memory of the speaker at that meeting. But the friendly faces of the the Sacramento Sisters? I remember them.
LAURA DISILVERIO: Goodness, I'm not sure I remember. I don't think I ever heard about SinC until after my first Lila Dare book TRESSED TO KILL, was published. Maybe my agent suggested I look into SinC? Or maybe I heard about it at Malice Domestic? Is it bad that I can't even remember my introduction to an organization which has meant so much to me? All the Sisters have been supportive and helpful from the get-go. We only got a Colorado chapter last year and I am so happy to be able to attend events locally.
HANK: Well, I agree. And I must say I am reassured that you don’t completely remember, either. I am trying to believe that my brain is so full, that something has to go. I do remember the meeting where I spilled an entire cup of coffee on someone's carpet, sigh. And the time we met at my house and had so many people were had to move the meeting up to our crazy third floor! We also had some photos for your SinC members calendar where we all posed. I was in the shot (taking in our "library" where each of us held one of the weapons from Clue. There were more people than weapons so I just held a notebook. Do you hold meetings at people's home? Or where?
CAT: We (Sacramento) meet monthly in a library - after lunch, of course. In December and again in June, we push the boat out and have a lavish lunch, as the meeting itself, with a gift exchange and games. (Our crime-themed Family Feud is legendary.) The NorCal chapter, of which I'm also a member, meets in houses and offices. One notable meeting was in a law office in a skyscraper with a view of the San Francisco Bay. I still don't understand how any of the lawyers ever get any work done with that view. Hank, I can symapthise about the cup of coffee. I once spilled wine on someone's cream carpet at a party and they refused to mop up. They said they'd deal with it later. And then we all sat there thinking about it. It was excruciating.
LAURA: Our Colorado chapter holds events at public places--libraries, restaurants with meeting rooms--for the most part, usually in the Denver area which is a bit of a haul for those of us in Colorado Springs or points south, but there's no way to get a location that is easy for everyone. We meet quarterly, on a Saturday, and have a craft workshop of some kind in the morning, eat lunch, and then a "content" workshop of some kind in the afternoon. The latter might be an FBI agent talking about something, a gun enthusiast discussing weapons, a coroner . . . you get the idea. Open board meetings follow for anyone who wants to attend, and they're usually at someplace near a good Happy Hour spot . . .
CAT: Okay here's what I'd like to know. Where and how did you get the invitation to be SinC president? How did that feel? Did you say yes right away?
HANK: Ha! Cathy Pickens. At…some place, I actually forget, but I think it was Bouchercon….she said: can I chat with you for a moment? We stood in the hallway, and then she asked me. I was one hundred per cent shocked. I’m sure my jaw dropped. I never would have predicted….anyway, you know what? I said no. I was in the midst of writing THE OTHER WOMAN, or we were just about to launch it, and I just knew that I would not be able to do justice to either one if I tried to do both. Honored as I was! So she asked...how about next year? So of course I said yes. I will admit I looked at the list of past presidents, and tried to comprehend that my name would join that incredible group. How about you, Catriona?
CAT: We were at Malice in 2013 and Laura DiSilverio - someone I knew from sharing an editor - asked for a quick word at the quiet seats round the back of the escalators. Intriguing, I thought. When the question was put to me I was flabbergasted. (Remember that three years previously, I didn't know what SinC was.) I think I laughed and tried to explain that I didn't know enough and didn't have any of the necessary talents. Laura was adorably unreassuring. What I mean is that when someone as organised and experienced as Laura says she can handle it and adds the fact that Hank can handle it that says nothing at all about whether the likes of me is going to be any cop. But . . . I love SinC and was honoured and I think my life as a youngest sister kicked in. The boss sisters were telling me I could do it. Who was I argue?
LAURA: Hank called me from out of the blue. I was working in my office. I was totally unprepared for the honor of being asked and I took a few days, or a week--do you remember, Hank?--to think about it before I said, "Yes." I wanted to be sure I would have enough time to do the job right before I committed to taking it on. Hank was very reassuring and honest, filling me in on how much time she'd spend on the job, and where some of the pitfalls lurked. Ssh. Let's not mention those in case it keeps someone else from accepting the position somewhere down the road.
HANK: Yes, I do remember, of course! I think you took..um, well, it seemed like forever. Because what would we do if you had said no? And yes, exactly. Our secret. My biggest accomplishment, I guess, was editing the WRITES OF PASSAGE anthology—which I still adore! And we created a new motto and a new mission statement and a reorganization of the SinC structure. And Laura and I, as past presidents, set up the Speakers Bureau. How about you two?
CAT: Great question! The thing you don't know when you start is that the year after your presidency is the one with all the work! That's the year you do the pre-Bouchercon workshop (Hank - your forensics day in Long Beach was amazing) and lead the team on the publishing summit report. I think the publishing summit report is the thing I'm most proud of. Report For Change was an investigation into what life is like for writers of colour, writers with disability and LGBTQ writers in the mystery genre. It was unlike anything I've ever done. Definitely the steepest curve I've ever ascended.
LAURA: I agree with Catriona--putting together the Publishing Summit report was a lot of work. Mine was about the health and well-being of indie bookstores and we put together a survey, sent it out to pretty well all the indie bookstores we could find email addresses for, and collated the results from 100+ stores that responded. It was great to learn so much about what it takes to open and run a successful bookstore these days. A labor of love for many people.
HANK: Love this! How about you, Femmes readers? Are you in Sisters in Crime? What has it meant for you?