Monday, January 27, 2014

An Event to Die For

by Marlyn Beebe.

On Saturday, I attended an annual event that's become one of my favorites.  This year was the tenth anniversary of "Mystery on the Menu: A Luncheon With 15 Award-Winning Mystery Authors*", presented by the Friends of the Cerritos Library, located in Cerritos, California.

The day begins around 11 a.m., though it's advisable to arrive well before that in order to make sure one is able to register, choose which author's table to sit at, and browse the book sale, operated by the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in Redondo Beach.

The agenda consisted of three 35-minute panels, with a 90-minute break for lunch after the first panel.

Unfortunately, I wasn't organized enough to take notes, but I'll share some of the best comments I remember:

Sue Ann Jaffarian recounted how, as a youngster, she would go to the library and insert a card with her name on it into the appropriate slot in the card catalogue.

D.P. Lyle talked about going to the public library after school to do his homework, while waiting for his father to pick him up after work and take him home.  One day, finishing his homework early, he wandered around and was suprised to see that the building was full of books.  He found a novel by Jules Vernes and was soon enthralled, but his dad arrived too soon.  When young D.P. complained that he was only about 10 or 12 pages into the book, he was thrilled when he was informed that he could actually take the book home with him!

Naomi Hirahara  shared how her father, though he had read her books in English, was very happy to be able to read a Japanese translation, and pass it on to his friends.  He later asked her when her next book would be coming out, because his friends wanted to know.

Gary Phillips explained that he became a writer because he couldn't draw.  Enamored with Marvel comic books, he and his friends wanted to create their own, and it fell to young Gary to write the stories because he had no talent for illustration.

And last, but not least,  the inimitable Bill Fitzhugh, who upon being asked what advice he'd give to aspiring writers, responsded "Marry well!"

Authors, left to right:  Denise Hamilton, D.P. Lyle, Dianne Emley, Pamela Samuels Young, Marcia Clark,Carol Costa, James Preston,
Dick Lochte, Jeri Westerson, Betty Hechtman, Naomi Hirahara,
Gary Phillips, John Shannon, Bill Fitzhugh, and Sue Ann Jaffarian.

Seated in front: members of the Friends of the Cerritos Library, with librarian Padmini Prabhaker (black jacket) in center.


  1. What a fun event! I'm glad you get to do stuff like that. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    1. I'm so fortunate to be living in an area where events like this happen relatively often, LJ.

  2. I think I've heard about this before. Was Tim Hallinan a participant a couple of years ago?

    What a fun event!

    1. Yes, Peg, I first met Tim at Mystery on the Menu a year (or two) ago.

  3. Marlyn, thanks for your great recounting of a very fun event. I was so happy to have you as one of my table mates!


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