Monday, March 30, 2009

A place where everybody knows your name

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.”

Ed Thomas and me at Book Carnival in Orange, California

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.

Tom McGinn and me at Mysteries To Die For in Thousand Oaks

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.

Paul Levine and Harley Jane Kozak

Bobby, Paul, Pamela, and Kirk

Paul with fans. That's me standing over his left shoulder.

Have you hugged your Indie bookseller today? And by the way, where do you go where everybody knows your name?

Happy Monday!


  1. What a lovely post, Patty. :-D

    OMG, Groupie died?? :-o Oh, I am so so sorry about that. I loved his comments. Hugs to all who knew him.


  2. Groupie AKA Tom T.O.'s passing was all the more shocking because it was so unexpected. His date stamp expired way too soon.

  3. "And by the way, where do you go where everybody knows your name?"

    Work--but sometimes even they forget.

  4. Go-Lo......unfortunately, Groupie left much too early.....but he also left us during the Naked's there was no tribute post to him------- which is somewhat disappointing.


  5. You're right, Jon. I will remedy that. I was just reading his last e-mail to me, smiling through tears at his humor and humanity.

  6. Blogs are odd. We didn't know Groupie's name until now, but we knew Groupie. On blogs, everybody knows your....

  7. Yes, and what about Mims? Hmmm?

  8. James O. Born3/30/2009 7:22 PM

    I love our own Muder on the Beach.

    I miss Tom. he was a great guy.

    Paul looks as good as his novel's cover.


  9. I've never been to Murder on the Beach but hope to do that some day.

    Yeah, I know what you mean about Paulie's book cover.

  10. Unfortunatley,they know my name at our local teacher's store.

    They may not have known my name, but they knew my face and my reading habits and my shopping partner (my mom) at a Crown Books that I used to go to at least once a month to stock up. I walked in one Saturday and one of the clerks stopped me and said I set this book aside for you as I know you read all of this author's books.

    When I finally was able to go back after my mom had died, I had to explain when they asked where my book buying partner was. There expresions of concern touched me greatly.

    Unfortunatly that book store has since closed.


  11. What a great story, Gayle. Sorry about the loss of your mom but I'm also sad that you lost a great bookstore. Hope you've found another one with caring and informed people.