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Printer’s Row 2017—Bloodshed at the MWA Tent


Heather Ash gets chalk outlined at the MWA tent

You’re dying to know about the bloodshed, aren’t you? I’m sorry to tell you you’ll have to keep reading. I’m burying the lead on that one. Aren’t I the worst? Here’s a chalk outline to keep you until then.






TAKE MY MONEY. (They did.)

I’ve never had the pleasure to attend Printer’s Row in Chicago before, and it was basically catnip for book lovers. Stalls lining several streets in the shadow of gorgeous art deco buildings where the publishing industry used to reside in downtown Chicago. And those stalls. Publishers and booksellers side by side—it was a dangerous place. I recommend bringing lots of cash—I had to hit the ATM several times once I hit upon a cache of vintage mystery paperbacks, and then the stall selling wood typeset letters. Bliss.


The flash fiction contest winner receives his prize

This doesn’t even cover the fantastic speakers and presentations that were available. I didn’t get the opportunity to see any of them, but I heard reports from the field that they were fantastic. Al Franken was a huge draw, and he was apparently both hilarious and gracious. From the mystery world, Scott Turow was in conversation with Joseph Kanon and Charlie Finch. Jamie Freveletti led a thriller workshop, Megan Abbott was in conversation with Jennifer Finney Boylan and a team from MWA judged a flash fiction contest with prizes for those brave enough to participate.

Mystery genre aside, there was a wide array of speakers and panelists both diverse and interesting—it seemed like a lineup that guaranteed a little something for everyone. Personally, I spent my afternoon in the Northwestern ER with a MWA friend who had a sharp-scissors-finger-stabbing accident that required stitches and an ambulance ride, so I didn’t see any of the panels. It has been years since I got to ride red light and sirens though, and everyone was fine in the end, so. Bonus: the ER was air conditioned. (There’s your bloodshed, friends. Not as exciting as you wanted it to be.)

My recommendation? Plan to come to Chicago next year for the festivities. Pack your water bottles and sunscreen, and get ready for a great time with your fellow bibliophiles.