I'm happy to turn over the blog to Ellen Byron today. Ellen writes the Cajun Country Mystery series.
MEMORIES OF MALICE DOMESTIC
By Ellen Byron
In 2012, after years of writing for theatre and television, I wrote my first mystery novel. I happened to run into a mom who was also a mystery writer and she mentioned she was going to something called Thriller Fest, a convention for fans of that mystery genre. I knew my book was more of a traditional read and thought to myself, hmm, I wonder if there’s a convention for that type of mystery. I did a Google search and discovered that indeed there was – Malice Domestic.
I just returned from my fifth trip to this fantastic convention.
Malice brings together more than 500 authors and readers over the course of a long weekend. I attended for the first time in 2013 when I won a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant for emerging authors. I didn’t know one single person at the convention, but I managed to coerce saintly Louise Penny, one of my favorite authors, into a photo opp.
It’s the only photo I have from my first two visits to Malice. I was too nervous to take any others. I walked around pretending to be on my cell phone so I wouldn’t look like the lost soul I was.
By my third Malice, I’d made friends in the mystery community through my local chapters of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. I’d also joined the SinC listserv and a subgroup of the organization called the Guppies, which stands for the Great Unpublished. It’s such an amazing group that established authors like Hank Phillipi Ryan stay with it long after they’ve been published. That year, 2016, I was lucky enough to be an Agatha nominee for my first Cajun Country Mystery, Plantation Shudders, and boy, did I embrace the Louisiana theme, as you tell from these photos of me in Mardi Gras purple, green, and gold — dig the homemade necklace featuring an alligator! — and of the banquet table I hosted.
By my fourth Malice, when Body on the Bayou was nominated for a Best Contemporary Novel Agatha, I was all in. More purple! More friends! And then there’s Chicks on the Case, the MAB – which I learned stands for multi-author blog – I helped launch. Fellow mystery mavens Lisa Q. Mathews, Marla Cooper, Kellye Garrett, Vickie Fee, and Cynthia Kuhn are some of the finest women I’ve ever met, and I’m honored to post with them.
This year Malice celebrated its thirtieth anniversary and I celebrated my fifth as an attendee. Talk about coming full circle. See this photo of me and Louise Penny?
It was taken after we were on the panel for Best Contemporary Novel Agatha nominees, along with icon Margaret Maron and wonderful authors Annette Dashofy and Allison Brook (aka/ Marilyn Levinson).
That’s right, my li’l book, A Cajun Christmas Killing, was mentioned in the same breath as Louise’s brilliant Glass Houses. Louise won the Agatha. Did I care? Not one bit. Have I mentioned I was on a panel with her AND Margaret Maron? #DreamComeTrue.
I’ve earned my living as a writer for more years than I care to share, but I can’t find the words to express how grateful I am to Malice for launching me into the extraordinarily kind and generous mystery community. As I write this, I tear up thinking of the time I just spent there with authors and readers. They’ve become my tribe. My peeps.
If you love traditional and cozy mysteries, you must put a visit to Malice on your bucket list. I’ll be there next year – celebrating my sixth anniversary as an enthusiastic attendee.
Ellen Byron, author of the Cajun Country Mystery series, is perhaps best known as a former cater-waiter for the legendary Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. A Cajun Christmas Killing and Body on the Bayou both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery and were nominated for Agatha awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. Plantation Shudders, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Mardi Gras Murder is available for presale. Ellen’s TV credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly OddParents. She’s written over 200 national magazine articles, and her published plays include the award-winning Graceland. A native New Yorker, Ellen now lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, daughter, and two spoiled rescue dogs.