- Introduction by Scott Montgomery
This past weekend, MysteryPeople celebrated our fifth anniversary, with a panel discussion featuring local authors Mark Pryor, Jesse Sublett, Meg Gardiner, and Janice Hamrick, and local critic Hopeton Hay. Molly and I moderated the discussion. Afterwards, we all enjoyed celebratory cake, beverages, and most importantly, trivia with giveaways.
After our anniversary party on Saturday wrapped up, we decided to share some of our favorite event moments throughout the history of MysteryPeople. Below, we’ve shared our favorite memories of the fantastic authors who came through and the fun times we’ve had with them during and after our events. Molly and myself picked six standout moments each. As you will learn, Craig Johnson in particular has gotten to be an important part of our store.
Molly’s Favorite MysteryPeople Events
- My favorite Noir at the Bar moment was when I told Jesse Sublett that he was the musician I’d seen perform the most lately, and he told me to get out more. In all seriousness, I love starting an event with a good murder-ballad – it sets the tone for the whole evening.
- My second favorite Noir at the Bar moment was when Jamie Kornegay gave the audience a choice between a sexy scene and a murderous scene, and the audience picked the sexy scene, which turned out to be quite a bit kinkier than the audience had envisioned. The scene stirred equal parts laughter and embarrassment, especially when Scott reminded the audience that they had chosen this scene.
- My favorite MysteryPeople event moment might be the first time I saw Craig Johnson. We set up speakers, and he refused to use the microphone, preferring to sit on the table and chat with the audience. It’s nice when the author matches their character.
- My favorite MysteryPeople event that I helped to design is definitely the Double Feature Film series, where we discuss a book and watch the film version. I knew I had helped create something beautiful when we failed to have a discussion after our screening of Winter’s Bone because everyone (including me) was too choked up to talk.
- We had a workshop partnered with Sisters in Crime when I first started working at BookPeople that took place, I believe, on May Day. The writing exercise assigned by Dennis Tafoya, the visiting author, was to write a few sentences about murder in the workplace. I greatly enjoyed the extra resonance of the prompt on such a holiday as May Day.
- This one’s more of a monthly tradition – after discussion ends at the 7% Solution Book Club, one of two book clubs I co-host at BookPeople, we have an optional group hug. I feel like a group hug after a discussion of murder is exactly what MysteryPeople is all about!
Scott’s Favorite MysteryPeople Events
Monday Night Football Panel with Daniel Woodrell, Frank Bill & Craig Johnson What was originally going to be Craig interviewing Daniel Woodrell turned into something else completely when Frank Bill asked to join. Craig suggested we do it like early Monday Night Football, with me being straightman Howard Cosell, asking the questions and him doing Don Meredith color commentary. What happened was one of the more insightful and, without a doubt, most fun panels with the four of us splitting a six-pack of Lone Star and careening through a conversation about the writing world. It got even better when we all went to Threadgill’s after with authors Harry Hunsicker and Margaret Coel and music legend Ray Wylie Hubbard.
- Megan Abbott and Alison Gaylin (AKA Driving Thelma and Louise) This event was proceeded by a morning road trip from Houston to Austin with me as chauffer as the ladies knocked back their 10AM beers, and we talked about everything except the panel topics we planned to discuss. The event still went off without a hitch and got better when Molly and local authors Ed Kurtz and Mark Pryor joined us at the Chili Parlor bar for an intense discussion about noir. I will always believe Mark was taking notes for his book, Hollow Man, that night.
- Austin Noir at the Bar, Reboot The first time we did our Noir at the Bar at Opal Divine’s. As usual Jesse Sublett kicked off with some music. Barry Graham recited a part of his book he had memorized, followed by two quick and disturbing readings by Jonathan Woods. Peter Farris did an animated reading of his infamous shoot-out-in-a-snake-handler-church passage from Last Call For The Living. Jesse came back to do a reading from his then-work-in-progress Grave Digger Blues, finding a way to riff off Jonathan’s reading after that night, Noir at the Bar was here to stay in town.
- Any Time Ace Atkins Comes To Town It is always a day full of BBQ, beer, movies, music, and great discussions about crime fiction both during and away from our event Q&As. No author takes in Austin like Ace.
- Noir at the Bar, West Coast Invasion Jesse and I invited three L.A. authors to our domain. It was the first time one of my favorites of the hard core, hard boiled set. Josh Stallings read for us. Timothy Hallinan had everybody laughing, reading the opening of Crashed, his first Junior Bender novel. Marcia Clark was a great wonderful headliner and great sport, even when Jesse serenaded her with a legal version of “Wild Thing”. That said, she’s never come back.
- Event for Craig Johnson’s Hell is Empty First time we broke a hundred attendees for my friend who started out as a writer about the same time I was a book seller. They just shot the pilot to Longmire and things were about to change for him. A fun time at Chili Parlor with some local authors and staff, then I had a nightcap at the Driskill hotel bar with Craig and his wife Judy. Afterwards, I remember us sitting there thinking we’d found the right path.