By Patricia Smiley
Most crime fiction writers I know have developed a close relationship with independent bookstore personnel. Why? Because Indies are run by people who have a vast knowledge of the genre, who shelve our books even if the big chains don’t, and who hand-sell our work. Best of all, when we walk through the door, they know who we are.
We are lucky to have several independents in the Los Angeles area that either specialize in crime fiction or dedicate significant shelf space to the genre, including Vromans in Pasadena and Book ‘Em in South Pasadena, Book Carnival in Orange, Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks, and The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood, where I often shop because it is a mere hop, skip, and a jump from my house.
Indie owners, managers, and sales people are wise, funny, and caring people. Case in point, a publisher recently asked me to blurb the book of a well-known author. I was stunned to get the invitation because I had never met this writer before and couldn’t imagine that he had even heard of me (Who has?). Shortly afterward when I was signing at Book Carnival, I was surprised to learn that owner Ed Thomas had recommended me to the publisher.
“Why did you do that?” I asked him.
He shot me that mischievous smile of his. “I thought you needed the work.”
I always looked forward to signing for the super women at Mysteries To Die For in Thousand Oaks because my biggest fan Tom McGinn would be there to cheer me on. Some of you old-timers on Naked Authors will remember his comments under the name “Groupie.” Tom was a dear friend and huge supporter of all of our work. He had followed my career from book one, always offering encouragement, insight, and opinion just when I needed it most. Here we are at my signing of COOL CACHE last June, three months before he passed away, leaving a hole in our collective hearts.
We Los Angeles-based writers and our Indie bookstores tend to be a close-knit group. We attend the same events and belong to the same organizations. We share triumphs and tragedies and if we’re lucky, we form lasting bonds. On Saturday, I attended book signings at The Mystery Bookstore for two friends of mine: Paul Levine (ILLEGAL) and Harley Jane Kozak (A DATE YOU CAN'T REFUSE). The fabulous sales staff at the store, including manager Bobby McCue and owners Kirk Pasich and Pamela Woods always treat us like royalty. And they always know our names. Here are a few paparazzi shots.
Have you hugged your Indie bookseller today? And by the way, where do you go where everybody knows your name?