Last March, Robin Hathaway urged everybody to sign up for NoirCon, the conference for writers of noir mysteries and their fans. Tomorrow is the first day of the conference – this is Noircon weekend – and in honor of that, we're reposting her thoughts on the festivities – Kate Gallison

It’s a chilly, rainy day here in Philadelphia, a fitting day to contemplate the Noir genre. Noir is not everyone’s cup of tea. But then, cups of tea are for the cozy readers. Noir is for the straight Scotch at one gulp readers. I have tried to write Noir novels, to no avail. The last time I tried, a reviewer wrote, “Hathaway’s latest novel can be safely read by your teenage niece or the country vicar.” Since then, I’ve given up on writing Noir, but that doesn’t prevent me from reading it and enjoying it, or — from attending Noir conventions, such as NoirCon 2012 in Philadelphia, November 8th to 11th.

Deen Kogan and Lou Boxer are a great team that always put on a wonderful show. I’ve been to two of their productions, and there was never a dull moment. This year, Lawrence Block is the winner of the “David Goodis Award.” Goodis is one of our best Noir writers, from the 1940s and 50s. Library of America has just published a collection of his works.

At the last NoirCon, many of us tried to define, “Noir.” We said things like, “Well, er, it’s about losers with, er, no futures, stumbling into criminal activities, uh, making poor life choices, er, leading to self-destruction, uh….” Others claimed it was the setting that distinguishes noir novels. They are more atmospheric than other crime novels, set in gloomy night clubs featuring used-up torch singers surrounded by swirling smoke, or abandoned warehouses, or third-rate motels. After many attempts, we settled for the French translation of Noir, which is simply — black.

Ironically, despite all the gloom and doom, I’ve never been to a conference where there was more laughter than NoirCon. So, if you’re looking for a really good time, in a dark and depressing atmosphere, sign up for NoirCon 2012.

I’ll be there — laughing.

Robin Hathaway