Crimelandia: Left Coast Crime, Portland

Who says it always rains in Portland?

Left Coast Crime is a mystery/thriller conference of writers and fans, held every year in a town somewhere vaguely around the Left Coast, which tells you something right there. This year it was “Crimelandia” in Portland, a beautiful city rain or shine. And we got both. Even a “rainbow” bridge.

LCC is a community of witty, smart, and generous people. I appeared on an espionage panel, “The Spies Have It,” and our conversation ranged from important writers of the genre–John Le CarrĂ©, Graham Greene, Alan Furst–to geopolitics and technology. Did I say, smart? Hats off to my stimulating panel-mates, (from right:) Brett Battles, Arthur Kerns, Tim Tigner, and Ryan Quinn. 

I got out of the hotel a few times and walked across the Steel Bridge, built to last in 1906. 

Thanks to author Vinnie Hansen for the photo!

Of course I (re)visited Powell’s Books.

And discovered the Chinese Garden, created by a designer from the ancient garden city, Suzhou, which my husband and I visited on our honeymoon. Many thanks to author Michael Sears and artist Barbara Segal for the suggestion!

Portland really is a city of bridges, ships, and trains. (Beer and books too, of course.) Here’s Union Station and more bridges.

The last evening, I applauded some friends, Catriona McPherson and Gigi Pandian, who won awards.

And another wonderfully talented nominee, Martha (M.P.) Cooley.

I love this conference for the friends I’ve made, from acquaintances to lasting friends in the blink of an eye. Being a writer is not the easiest life and there is that shared bond as a subtext to all the laughs at the bar. I deepened some older relationships and connected with others whom I already adore–Stacy Allen, Valentina (V.M.) Giambanco, and Sarah Lovett. I look forward to seeing them next time and until then, reading their books.

As I said, it’s a community of readers. We’re all quirky and curious. On the way home I flew with a pair of Berkeley academics, Carlo Vennarucci (, and Lyn Reese ( These are the kind of people who attend LCC, smart and very cool.

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