Am I talking about the freedom to love who or what you want?
No…well, yes, but no.
The freedom to love yourself.
The freedom to love the Independent Party?
…shaking head…no. A thousand times no.
I mean, you’re free to love all those things, but I’m talking about true independent love. The love of the independent bookstore.
I kind of think of independent bookstore like good Irish pubs. You can go into any and feel at home. But you always have your local, the one right around the corner, where they know you so well that you can just drop in for a chat and not even buy a drink, or a book…though buying is always appreciated.
My local is the wonderful Mystery Bookstore in West Los Angeles, California. It’s probably no more than five or six miles from my place, but due to the particulars of my fair city (ah, traffic, and stop lights…how I love thee), it’s about a twenty minute drive (fifteen if I’m really, really lucky…and am not stopped for speeding.)
Confession: I never visited the store before I’d become a soon to be published author.
Now it was not because I had no interest, rather it was because I didn’t know the place existed. (I blame my own ignorance.) But once I did know I made it a point to drop in and say hello. My first visit was either on December 30th, 2006 or January 2nd, 2007. I remember because it was definitely right around New Year’s Day, and just six months prior to when my first novel was to debut.
I met the incredible Bobby McCue that day. He’s the manager of the store. I also met the absolutely wonderful Linda Brown, the assistant manager. (Both of whom have helped me above and beyond on numerous occasions since.) I introduced myself, told them about my book coming out, and said that I was also local. They took me under their wing immediately, and I’ve been returning over and over again since.
Their staff is also wonderful, and is always welcoming when someone they know shows up. The funny thing is, they’re just as welcoming when someone they don’t know walks through the door for the first time.
Last year, the store came under the new ownership of Pam Woods and Kirk Pasich, and the only thing that seemed to change was that the place got even better.
I’ve chosen this moment to talk about them because this is the BIG WEEKEND. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is Saturday and Sunday within walking distance of the Mystery Bookstore on the UCLA campus. As always, the store has a PRIME location for their booth (#411), and an outstanding schedule of signings. (Me…I’m signing on Saturday at 2 p.m. with T. Jefferson Parker, Robert Crais, Gregg Hurwitz, Ed Decter, and my good friend and Murderati compadre Robert Gregory Browne…a signing group you don’t want to miss!)
But wait! That’s not all!
Every year on the Friday evening before the festival, the Mystery Bookstore throws a huge party. I’m sure upwards to two hundred people show up throughout the evening. My guess would be that 75% of the attendees are authors, and the rest are lovers of the genre. It’s a ton of fun with people who think like we think, and enjoy the things that we enjoy. In other words our friends, whether we’ve met them before or not.
Most parties, you’ll either find me along the wall just observing or not even there. Not this party, this one is like coming home.
In fact, that’s what going to the Mystery Bookstore is like everyday. Coming home.
If you’re in the area, coming to the party. If you’re not, try to make it next year! You won’t regret it.
Tell us about your “local” or favorite independent bookstore. And are you coming to the festival this weekend?
(Apologies for potential lack of responses as I’ll be traveling a good part of the day and unable to check the internet. But I promise to read everything, and, hopefully, see many of you this weekend!)