I just returned from Left Coast Crime (LCC) in Los Angeles. LCC is a writers conference that brings thriller and mystery writers together with fans. Being a solitary profession, I think many writers enjoy getting together to talk shop, meet fans, and share a few laughs (and a few too many drinks).

Jamie Freveletti, Boyd Morrison, CJ West

If you are a super fan, this is the place for you. One of the things that always surprises me is how friendly and approachable everyone is. As a writer, I make a point to introduce myself around to anyone who seems interested in talking. If you are a fan, realize that the writers are here to talk to you. There are panels where authors discuss every aspect of writing. There are interviews where popular writers discuss their work. But more importantly, there is all that other time to shake hands and say hello. Take a look around at the writers you’d like to meet and just say hi. If you are looking for a longer conversation, the bar is usually the place. There were about 200 writers at LCC this year and I had the pleasure of meeting some emerging talents including: Sophie Littlefield, Boyd Morrison, Graham Brown, Stephen Jay Schwartz, and Jamie Freveletti. Every one of them is delightful to talk to (besides being talented).

California Forensic Science Institute

Besides schmoozing, there is always something to learn. I attended Forensics Day, which was an all day course at the California Forensic Science Institute. This working crime lab hosted 75 LCC participants for a full day of education. This was clearly the highlight of Left Coast Crime for me. Not only did we get to network with our fellow attendees in a more intimate setting, but we heard presentations on trace evidence, handwriting, DNA, toxicology, firearms and much more. We heard all about the Phil Specter case directly from the person in charge of analyzing the evidence and it was fascinating to see behind the scenes of a trial we had all heard of and wondered about. By the end of the day, I think we were all suffering information overload.

Gregg Hurwitz, L.J. Sellers, CJ West

Since the conference was in LA this year, there were dozens of television and movie writers in attendance. Lee Goldberg moderated a great panel on film adaptation and got dozens of laughs. An online friend and former blog talk radio guest, Gregg Hurwitz, showed how funny he can be as he interviewed Lee Child. Lee needs no introduction. Gregg wrote a fantastic thriller last year, Trust No One, and also writes for film and comic books. He is a riot in person. I also discovered that an online buddy of mine, Craig Faustus Buck, worked on Simon & Simon and Magnum P.I. I loved those shows and I’m still impressed by his work. Lucky for me that I stopped him to chat.

Meg Gardiner, CJ West
Meg Gardiner, CJ West

Yesterday I hosted Meg Gardiner on my blog talk radio show. I never would have met Meg if not for my trip to Bouchercon in 2009. I guess what I’m saying is, take the plunge. Get out to Santa Fe next year for Left Coast Crime or better yet, get to San Francisco for Bouchercon this October. If you do, don’t forget to say hi.

Investigate C.J. West at www.22wb.com