Tuesday, January 23, 2007

So good, it had to be in the book

From Shooting Gallery:

Le Cheval was on Clay between Tenth and Eleventh, a brisk fifteen-minute walk from my apartment. During the weekdays the streets and sidewalks of downtown Oakland were clogged with hordes of government employees and businesspeople, who crowded into the coffeehouses, sandwich shops, and supply stores. After five o'clock these folks disappeared into the suburbs and Oakland's formerly grand downtown felt more like a ghost town. The Merchant's Association has been working hard to change that, so as I crossed Broadway's faded glory and hurried past Old Oakland's renovated Victorian town
houses, I was not surprised to hear the strains of a rock band at the Washington Arms pub competing with a jazz trio at Jesso's Seafood Cafe. San Francisco was chic and Berkeley was funky, but Oakland was down-t0-earth and friendly, and its fierce partisans, like me, were sure it was on the cusp of rebirth.

Le Cheval was mobbed, the cavernous space sufficient to accommodate only a fraction of those in search of good Vietnamese food served in a lively ambience, and as a regular I had known to reserve a table as soon as the restaurant opened this morning. A tiny woman in black jeans and a sparkly red top led me to a table in the center of the room where my mother waited, dressed in a navy blue linen suit and matching Hermes scarf.

Try it. You'll love it. I promise

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Last Friday I went with my friends Anna and Suzanne to visit Donaldina Cameron House, “a Chinatown-based multi-service agency serving Asian communities in the San Francisco Bay Area…serving individuals, immigrant families and youth since 1874.”

The day started with Suzanne guiding us off the freeway and across the sometimes confusing Market Street and Financial District areas. Suzanne’s family came to San Francisco from China several generations ago, and she still has strong connections to the Chinatown community.

Also, since she spent much of her childhood riding Muni around the City, she has a much better sense of urban direction than I, and makes brutal fun of Annie Kincaid’s travails making her way up and down one-way streets (Annie, quite coincidentally, shares my knack for getting lost).

We were a little early for our scheduled tour of Cameron House, so we stopped off in a tiny Stockton Street bakery for a snack of tea and char siu bau, or steamed buns stuffed with barbecued pork. I’m not a pancake-and-eggs kind of gal, so this was just my kind of breakfast.

I am interested in Cameron House because in Book 4 of the Art Lover’s Mystery Series – (yet to be named…any title ideas? Send them on over!)--I wanted to explore some of the tunnels that are rumored to criss-cross parts of Chinatown and Nob Hill. Suzanne told me she had heard whispers about such things, but assumed the stories were myths. Anna said she had seen tunnels under parts of L.A. A little research on the web turned up discussions (and sometimes pictorial evidence) of similar tunnels in Vancouver B.C., Portland, and…Red Bluff, of all places (a small city in California’s Central Valley.)

What were the tunnels used for? As Suzanne’s cousin Jon told us over a delicious meal of dim sum later that day, “they were used for anything you didn’t want people to know about.” Hmm. To a mystery writer, those words are just begging for a little more explanation… perhaps with a judicious application of artistic license, just to make things really exciting.

Suzanne’s cousin Shellee works at Cameron House, so she gave us a little history of the place and a tour. The building is a beautiful brick structure on the corner of Sacramento Street and . One of the first things we noticed as we walked toward building were the unusual, twisted bricks that speckle the walls in a pattern. Shellee told us these are called “clinker” bricks because they were partially melted from the heat of the flames and explosions during the 1906 earthquake. Apparently Cameron House survived the initial earthquake (amazing for a brick structure) and rampant fire that spread through the city, but was then dynamited to provide a fire break in an attempt to save the nearby Nob Hill mansions (this turned out to be a futile effort – all but the Flood Mansion were destroyed.)

According to legend, Donaldina Cameron braved the National Guard with “shoot to kill” orders in order to rush back into the building for the papers that gave her guardianship to dozens of girls. Without these documents, the Presbyterian missionary feared the girls would be taken out of her control and given back to their “employers.” Donaldina Cameron spent much of her life rescuing immigrant girls, mostly from China, who had been brought to the United States under false pretenses and forced into lives of prostitution or near-slavery as house servants.

As Shellee showed us around, she told us about the wonderful summer programs and youth programs and after-school programs offered at Cameron House, and showed us the elevated basketball court with a great view of San Francisco recently used in the movie, the Pursuit of Happyness. Finally, we descended the basement stairs, wound through several elders packing grocery bags in the pantry, and Shellee opened the doors to cabinets full of sports equipment. As she said, it didn’t really look like much. The ends were capped with wallboard, but according to Shellee, these were once entrances to the tunnels where Cameron had allegedly hidden her rescued girls from their captors.

Hmm. Were they really tunnels? Are there other tunnels? Are any of them still connected? What are they used for? Perhaps Book 4 will tell all….

Monday, January 15, 2007

more sights - THE MISSION

The Mission District of San Francisco shows up in Shooting Gallery a number of times. Here are some quotes and a little visual tour. ENJOY!

I rushed across town and found Bryan tapping his foot on the sidewalk outside his Mission District apartment building.

I knew of no easy way to get from the Mission to the Avenues, so I skirted Laguna Honda Hospital, passed through the Forest Hill neighborhood, and went up Noriega to Thirty-first.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

See you in Seattle

Saturday, Feb 3, from 12-2pm,
I’ll be signing at the Seattle Mystery bookstore:
117 Cherry Street in Pioneer Square,
Seattle, WA 98104 [(206) 587-5737].

I will be there with a “cavalcade” of other authors in town for the Left Coast Crime Conference

Megan Abbott signs her new hardcover, The Song is You.
Cara Black signs her Parisian mysteries.
Robert Gregory Browne signs his new hardcover
Denise Dietz
Jo Dereske signs Bookmarked to Die.
Naomi Hirahara
Hailey Lind signs her art mysteries.
Claire Matturo signs her new hardcover, Bone Valley .
Jana Oliver
S.J. Rozan
signs her new hardcover In the Rain.
Theresa Schwegal, last year’s Edgar winner, signs her new hardcover, Probable Cause.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Just in case you have a lot of free time and unlimited frequent flier miles (and a love of mysteries, of course), here is a list of upcoming conferences.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Making Tracks North by Northwest

I am thrilled to be headed to Seattle to participate in the Left Coast Mystery Conference, February 1-4, 2007.
Saturday, February 3rd at 9:00 am I will participate in a panel discussion. Here's the description from the program:
TRACK A - AND THEN THERE'S CHICK LIT: "Hip, modern, stylish women's Mystery" or whatever It's being called Why do so many of us identify with it? Is it the way to reach the younger reader? Do younger women find VI, Carlotta, and Kinsey boring and want women with job and footwear challenges?
M - Claire Matturro
Panel: Leann Sweeney, Hailey Lind, Deborah Donnelly, Susan Slater
If you would like to join in the fun, here is the registration info.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Not Michael's Heist

My Michael X. Johnson (aka Michael Collins, Colin Brooks, David, Patrick, Bruno, etc), if that really is his name, would never pull a heist such as this.

In fact, his specialty is stealing famous paintings without the owner realizing that it has been stolen. That is to say, he sweetly replaces the paintings with fabulous reproductions.

Well, and if Michael has a mother-in-law with whom to get into this kind of trouble, we haven't heard about it YET.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hailey's Tourist Tour

From Shooting Gallery:
I braked quickly to avoid plowing into a gaggle of bewildered tourists attempting to cross the street. Burdened with cameras and totebags, sweating in heavy fall clothing, and clutching mangled street maps, they were out of place in this industrial area of the City. San Francisco's economy was heavily dependent on tourist dollars, so I muffled my impatience, plastered a welcoming Tourist Bureau smile on my face, and waved them across. Had I more time I might have directed them to the attractions they were undoubtedly seeking: the cable car station on California, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, the Embarcadero, and the Depression-era murals at Coit Tower.

Cable Car

Chinatown Gate

The Embarcadero

fishermanwharfFisherman's Wharf

pier39Pier 39
coit Coit Tower

Depression Era Mural

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

We have a winner!

Barbara Hussey, of New Orleans, is the lucky winner of a portrait to be painted by Julie, the Oakland-based-artist-half of Hailey Lind (some examples of Julie’s work).

Barbara and her husband were forced from their home last year because of the Katrina disaster – and have been forced to move another four times this year! While living in a FEMA trailer outside of Baton Rouge, Barbara happened upon Feint of Art, the first book in the Art Lovers Mystery Series, and said reading the novel allowed her some respite from her overwhelming troubles.

What better praise for an author? Barbara has requested that the portrait be painted of her late mother. Unfortunately, many family photographs were lost in the flood, but Barbara is gathering copies from friends and relatives. With a little artistic license, Julie hopes to create a beautiful portrait honoring Barbara’s mother.

Check back to see periodic updates on the portrait as it develops!

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!

Hailey Lind's Top Ten Reasons Why It's Great To be an Artist:

10. You get to wear comfortable, paint-splattered clothes all day.

9. When you're young, it drives your parents crazy.

8. When you're an adult, it drives your children crazy.

see the rest of the reasons here.