Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On Cyberpals

RO: This past weekend I went to my first New York Dorothy L luncheon. For those who may not know, Dorothy L is an online group of mystery fans and writers. The group is named after Dorothy L. Sayers, author of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, and the NY contingent meets every three months for lunch and chat.

I've been trying to make the lunches all year but something always came up - signings, trips, ...family. We met at Willy's a nice brunch spot on Second Avenue. I was a little early and took a leap of faith that the table I approached was full of DLers and not a group of people celebrating someone's anniversary. When I introduced myself a woman with a dark red spiky 'do said, "Rosemary Harris? Pushing Up Daisies?" Holy cow, had someone actually heard of me? (It was Bonnie. I'm convinced she knows everyone...)

For the next two hours I had a wonderful lunch and lively conversation with 15 people I'd never met before (and 1 that I had met, Liz Zelvin.) I felt as if I was on a blind date that went really, really well. We talked politics and sports - two things that are off-limits on Dorothy L, as well as books, fan cons, etc. I was amazed at the range of topics we covered, from Youtube to Rolling Stone to botanical poisons! I can't wait for the next lunch.

Pre-internet days, I had a phone only relationship with a guy who worked for the same company I did - Waldenbooks, we were both bookstore managers. When he was about to move down south we finally met to say hello and goodbye. Well, of course that was just the beginning, but that's another blog.

I know a lot of DLers (including me) were thrilled to meet Kaye Barley at Bouchercon, after reading her funny and insightful posts on DL. Have you ever arranged to meet someone that you knew only online (or on the phone)? How did it go?

HANK: Well, Kaye Barley, of course, is pretty much the example of the glories that are waiting online. She's exactly like her posts, charming and intelligent and warm. And what a treat to see her nametag at Bouchercon! Usually the names of internet pals are only connected to emails. To see the name on a real person is always such a hilarious moment--I always do a doubletake. Patty Smiley, Nancy Martin, Charlaine Harris...all terrifically talented people I only knew from email back-and-forth until at some conference or other I met the real thing. And of course, they're just like their online personalities. I'm still shy at those meetings, though. Having talked via email doesn't take that element away for me. It maybe makes it worse.

And I had never never met my own web designer, Maddee James. We've worked online together for maybe--two years? Three? With her in Denver at xuni.com and me in Boston. And we finally met in person at Bouchercon.

Now that--was amazing. We were instant best friends. As if we'd known each other for years. Which, of course, we had. The surprise? She's gorgeous.
I'd love to go to a DL lunch. I have mental images of everyone on that list. And it would be such fun to see how reality stacks up.

RO: I met Maddee at Left Coast Crime in Denver last March. It took a second for the name to sink in and then it was as if we'd known each other for years. And you're right she's a knockout. Almost a little unfair that she should be so clever on the computer AND look so good!


  1. I've always wanted to do a DL lunch too. Hank we'll take the train in together next time, ok? DorothyL is always full of interesting characters...

    This seems to be the way of the world these days, meeting people on line first, and then, if you're lucky, in person. One of my good friends now is someone I chatted with on the Princeton writing list years ago. She came in from New Jersey and I from Connecticut to meet in New York for lunch. Honestly, it was like a blind date!

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  3. Oh yeah! The infinite possibilities of meeting in cyberspace and connecting later face-to-face. I've met some wonderful, amazing folks--and some right tossers, too.

    The Patrick O'Brian 'Gunroom' list has been one of my favorite online groups for almost ten years. Smart, funny, well-read--and sociable. Meet-ups, called 'Lissun Gatherings' that happen across the country, are frequent. I owe this group for a meetup that resulted in an impossibly cool colonial re-enactment and the chance to fire an early 19th-century cannon in Marblehead MA in 2000. Psychoanalysts may go to town on this one, but my life was just not complete until I fired a Really Big Gun. }:>

    One of my closest friends is someone I met online in a writing forum 12 years ago -- we ended up writing fiction together, working as sailors on the same tall ship two years running, and collaborating on quite a few websites, ad campaigns, etc. I have to credit her with the working title for my book (which is sure seems like the publisher intends to keep).

    So yep, yep, I feel very lucky to live in an age where it's possible to connect with people half the world away that otherwise it's unlikely I ever would have known--JR writers & respondents among them.

    An embarrassment of riches!

    The tossers are quick forgot.

    -=Susannah "boom!" Charleson