Greetings From San Francisco

By John Gilstrap

Generally, I love my Friday slot at the Killzone. Friday is a happy day overall, and, perhaps more importantly, Thursday night is typically a convenient night to jot these missives. There are exceptions to every generality, of course, and for me the exceptions all deal with the big conferences. Bouchercon, ThrillerFest, Magna Cum Murder—you name the conference—always span Friday to Sunday, so I either get to write about a conference that hasn’t happened yet, or about one that is old news by the time my slot comes up again.

So, here I sit at noon (California time), having arrived yesterday afternoon, and having awakened at 5:30 this morning (8:30 bio-clock time), biding my time till the festivities kick off for real this evening. The intervening hours have mostly been taken up with work for my Big Boy Job. (I am forever amazed by how much more productive I am on the road or at home than I am in the office.)

Last night, I met Jeff Deaver at the lobby bar, and then we went out to dinner at the Fog Diner (that’s not really the name, but it’s close). It’s a kitschy place at Battery and Embarcadero that serves an eclectic menu, and has a great wine list. I ended up having a wedge salad and half of a Reuben sandwich. Given the bio-hour of 10 pm (7 pm local time), it was a perfect meal. We went back to the bar, but I could only manage one drink before I had to call it a night. I was in bed and asleep by ten. Really, ten. It’s embarrassing.

Tonight, I’m meeting my friend Ruth Dudley Edwards for dinner, after which the smart money says I’ll be in the bar till later than ten.

Tomorrow, I’m on a panel at 11 called “Deadline: Where do you get your ideas?” moderated by Don Bruns, with Gayle Lynds, Bill Moody, Mary Stanton and Debbie Atkinson. As I understand the premise, someone in the audience is going to choose a headline from the newspaper, and then we’re going to construct a story on the spot. It sounds simultaneously terrifying and fun. Can you say improv?

After the panel, I’ll be off to lunch with my editor and agent, and then I’ll be attending the Kensington Kocktail reception (their spelling, not mine), followed, presumably, by dinner and the evening in the bar. Are you catching a theme here?

To any Killzoners who are here at the conference, please make your presence known. Say hi. Chances are reasonably good that after, say, 9:00 pm, you’ll find me in the . . . well, you know.