The Femmes welcome Marcia Talley, the author of THE LAST REFUGE and ten previous Hannah Ives mysteries. A winner of the Malice Domestic grant and an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel, Marcia won an Agatha and an Anthony for her story "Too Many Cooks" and an Agatha for the story "Driven to Distraction." She edited two mystery collaborations, and has published more than a dozen short stories. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland and winters on an antique sailboat in the Bahamas. www.marciatalley.com
By Marcia Talley
I'm writing this blog somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, halfway between Baltimore and
Bermuda. At a family funeral several months ago, my three sisters and I were
lamenting how we never seemed to find opportunities to get together for fun
times, so we decided right then to fix that. We found a reliable cruise line --
and by that I mean one that doesn't have the habit of running into solid
objects, like Italy -- bargain rates, and amazingly, a week in April in which we
were all free. The only thing left was to locate our passports and pack our
bags, which for me included the iPad on which I'm typing this.
I didn't really plan to do any email while I was away -- I knew from experience how expensive Internet access can be aboard a cruise ship -- in the present instance, 65 cents a minute! -- but I certainly planned to make use of my iPad's Kindle app to read some of the mysteries on the Edgar Awards short list that I'd recently downloaded. Truthfully, I prefer real paper books, but if you spend several months of the year living as my husband and I do aboard a sailboat with about as much space as, say, your average master bathroom, you quickly realize what an advantage it is to be able to carry a whole library around with you in the shape of an electronic slab.
My husband and I didn't entirely agree on how best to accomplish this. He has a Kindle and I, as I mentioned, have an iPad, each with advantages and disadvantages. The Kindle's screen is easier to
read out-of-doors -- on a beach, for instance -- but the iPad's backlit screen means that I can read in bed with the bedside light off while he snores away peacefully at my side. Unfortunately -- and nowhere is this mentioned in the manual -- moths are attracted to the light emanating from my screen and do
kamikaze runs against it, which has a tendency to distract me from even the tightest Scottoline plot. Falling asleep reading an iPad can be dangerous, too. I once dropped a volume of the Oxford English Dictionary on my toe, which was painful, but until my iPad fell forward, clipping the bridge of my nose, waking me instantly and drawing blood, I never thought that reading could be hazardous
to your health.
My sisters and I were soaking in the hot tub in the ship's solarium the other day, discussing this. We all agreed that reading a Kindle in the hot tub would be a bad idea, and if you forgot your charger on the dresser back home, you'd be up the creek when your battery ran out in the middle of the latest Harlen Coben. Debbie likes the Kindle because you can't lend books, saving you the social embarrassment of having to remember to whom you lent the new Nevada Barr that you hadn't gotten around yet to reading.
As we considered the people sprawled in the deck chairs around us, we decided that you can tell a lot about a stranger by what he or she is reading. "Final Sail" by Elaine Viets? I think I might like that person, while -- not being snobbish or anything -- I'd be unlikely to initiate a conversation with someone engrossed in a Jackie Collins novel. The trouble is, when somebody's reading on a iPad, Nook or Kindle you can't see the cover, so you don't have the slightest clue what they're reading. This would be a serious disadvantage, we decided, if you're on the prowl for guys. Hot or not? With a Kindle, it'd be hard to tell.
I wonder what the other passengers thought about us as we sat on deck in our matching blue t-shirts emblazoned with "What Happens With Sisters, Stays With Sisters." Susan's reading No Mark Upon Her by Deb Crombie in hardback, Debbie's almost finished with Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick in the tradepaper edition, and Alison's well into Lisa See's Dreams of Joy, also in hardback, while I sit comfortably with my iPad, privately reading Mo Hader's riveting Gone, leaving my neighbors clueless.