Bouchercon is the world's foremost mystery fan convention (sorry other ones, Bcon IS the cat's pjs)
I've attended many of these cons over the years and each year I learn something. The year I went to Indianapolis I learned not to take any work. I was gone from the festivities for so long (working on a line edit) that my clients sent a recon team to make sure I was still alive.
In San Francisco we all learned to make sure the bar would be open past ten.
This year we really learned the hard way that walking uphill to the convention center from the closest hotel was a bad idea. Several regular attendees who have limited mobility were restricted from full full participation and that's so not-cool. Even otherwise able-bodied folks who'd had injuries and were using canes during recuperation found the back and forth to be very difficult.
And I'll probably back down on this one but right now I'm forswearing attending any Bcon that doesn't have a hotel attached to the convention center. Not being able to run up to my room for some down time, or to drop a bag o'books, or check my email ended up being exhausting to the point I had to miss a big chunk of Saturday.
And someone always has to learn the hard way that getting drunk and trash talking an author is a fast way to land in purgatory forever. One thing I know from attending a bunch of these is that there may be 3000 people there, but we all know each other. (This wasn't me or any of the Fabulosity)
There were some real highlights as well:
Katrina Holm moderating the "Don't Ask Me Why: my characters have a life of their own" panel was pure joy. She'd clearly spent time doing careful preparation. She was not only familiar with the authors, she was familiar with most of their books. She asked interesting and innovative questions. At the end of the panel I wanted to buy and read ALL the books by the authors. That's gold for an author.
Dana Haynes doing an author choice segment on getting from start to finish in a novel was eye-opening. I know Dana's a talented writer: he's my client! But I'd never seen him teach a class and I'd really never heard him talk about his writing process. At the close of the 30 minutes I'd learned more than a few things and I have made it my mission to get him in front of more writers. He was great! If you don't believe me, ask any of the 20 or so people who were there too.
Josh Stallings. My pal Chris Holm plied me with liquor on the first night and mentioned Josh's memoir and his novels. I just happened to see Josh pass by in the hall at the end of a panel the next day. I waylaid him and mentioned Chris's rave review. Josh had a copy of his memoir which I was glad to take and read. It gave me great pleasure to flummox him enough that he could not remember his email address. Tormenting writers...the highlight of my day.
Laura Lippman. One of the stars of the mystery writing community of course, but you'd never know it from hanging out with her. She's fun and approachable and genuine. I was talking to her about shoes (of course) with two other people. A fan came by, paused briefly, then turned away. Laura immediately reached out to reel her back and include her in the conversation. I admire Laura tremendously. It doesn't hurt that she's an amazing writer to boot!
Gilbert King. Oh my dear godiva, I may have sprung a lung shrieking with delight to meet him. Gilbert King is the author of Devil in the Grove and if you haven't read it, go buy it immediately. I think every person in America should read this book. I may have said that so often this weekend that people think I have a stake in that book but I don't. Farley Chase is Gil's agent and he's brilliant.
Charles Benoit. A bunch of us were lounging on the bar couches when I spied a man who was clearly a writer but sitting by himself. Are you here for Bouchercon I inquired. Well, yes he was. And what is your name I asked? Charles Benoit. Well! I recognize that name and readers of this blog should too. "Did you write a book called YOU?" I asked. No sooner had he said yes than the estimable Brooks Sherman leaped to his feet, thrust an elbow in my path, shook Charles Benoit's hand and extolled the virtues of YOU for five minutes. Wait! I shrieked, WAIT! I loved that book TOO! No matter, I was roadkill on this lovefest. Those two became bosom buddies and I was left to swill my drink.
But the moment that was utterly surreal tops it all. A total stranger walked up and hugged me. Now, I"m not sure if blog readers know this but my friends and clients all do: Do.Not.Hug.The.Shark is a standard practice here. I don't like it, and I don't do it. To have a total stranger come up and embrace me was so odd that I thought perhaps she'd confused me with someone else. Next year, I'm bringing a purse size cattle prod just in case.
And next year is in Long Beach, California. Time to register, make your hotel reservations and clear your calendar!