Monday, November 17, 2014

Report from Bouchercon

I mentioned on Friday that I was out of town at Bouchercon.  Those in the mystery community will definitely know what I’m talking about, but for those who don’t, it’s the biggest mystery convention in the country.  People come from all over to attend – authors and readers.  It’s named after Anthony Boucher, who was a critic during the twentieth century.  (And they give out the Anthony’s during the conference.)  I’ve thought about going for several years, but usually it’s too expensive by the time you add in plane tickets and hotel.  But this year, it was in Long Beach, which is just an hour south of me with no traffic (took me almost two hours on Thursday but I made it home in just over an hour).  How could I pass that up?

There were some preliminary things (tours, etc.) early in the week and then the conference actually started on Thursday.  I had a can’t miss deadline at work, so I couldn’t go down until after it was over on Thursday, but I was there for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (which is only a half day).

There are panels.  Lots and lots of panels.  That’s essentially what happens during the day every day.  Several authors are on each panel and they are prepared to talk on a certain theme.  Hopefully, the authors also fit that category – that certainly seemed to be the case this year.  There were some panels for cozy authors, some for noir, some for police and PI’s, and some for everything in between.

Friday, I only wound up making it to three panels.  The first was one on super fans.  Suddenly, I felt like a slow reader and minor collector when I heard how many books some of the panelists had and how many they read a year.  Essentially, some of them are book a day people.  There’s no way I could do that.  Heck, I didn’t even do that when I was unemployed this spring.  Then I went to a fun panel on humor in mysteries.  However, the funniest panel I went to that day was “Been There, Wrote That.”  Essentially, it was four authors who were quizzed on their books by Gar Anthony Haywood.  It was hysterical!  I’ve fans of two of the authors on the panel, and I couldn’t get those questions right at all.  It was very hard, specific stuff.  But it was a lot of fun.

Saturday was more panels – one on culinary cozies (which was another very funny one) and a howler from four of the authors on the Jungle Red blog.  They essentially played Balderdash, asking us to correctly identify obscure people or words.  We, the audience, got most of them right, but there were lots of laughs all around as we played.

Sunday was only a half day, but I still got two panels in.  The one on duos who co-author books was very interesting and fun.  I also enjoyed one on mysteries for Middle Graders.  After all, I do still read some of them.

After every panel time, all the authors who were on panels signed books.  I spent a lot of time in the signing hall.  In fact, I packed a big suitcase full of books I wanted to get signed.  I was very thankful I drove – no added baggage fees.  I was constantly going out to my car swapping books around.

And the rest of the time?  I was hanging around visiting with authors and readers and just generally having a good time.  I automatically had something in common with every person there since we all love mysteries.  I spent a lot of time with my friends Sue Ann Jaffarian (who also happens to be an author), and Heidi Van Der Akker.  Saturday, I arranged to meet up with Karen MacInerny, who had a panel I missed on Thursday.  She graciously signed all the books of hers I had brought and we chatted for quite a while.  At one point Donna Andrews joined us, and I enjoyed listening to the two of them talk shop.  I find all the changes in the world of publishing fascinating, and it’s fun to learn exactly how everything is shaking out.  I made some new friends Saturday night when I joined Sue Ann and Heidi with their friends Paul, Amy, and Michael for dinner.  Friday night, several of us from the DorthyL listserve were going to get together for dinner, but it only turned out to be myself and Ruth Donald, but we have fun at dinner together just the two of us.  I also got to chat with author Catherine Dilts and a friend of hers that night, during the auction.

And I know I shouldn’t have started naming people because there is no way I can name them all.  It was lots of fun and many great conversations were had during those few days.

Honestly, I was sad when it was over on Sunday.  I was ready for another couple of days.  Due to my work schedule, I don’t know if I will be able to make another one in the future, but I’d love to think so.  They are definitely a lot of fun and well worth it.

I’ve been joking all day that I was at work recovering, but that’s actually pretty accurate.  It was certainly an adjustment to get back in work mode when I got up today.

10 comments:

  1. It sounds like a lot of fun, Mark. I've not made it to a Bouchercon yet, but perhaps next year, when it will be driveable for me. Maine to Raleigh is a much longer drive than your hour or two, but my first book will be out in April, so I think I must join the fun.

    Thanks for your report!

    Brenda

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    1. You really should try to go because it is a ton of fun.

      And congrats on your first book!

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  2. oo...I'm so jealous :-) I've always wanted to go to Bouchercon but life has conspired against me. Thanks for the blow by blow, really enjoyed your report.

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    1. This was the first time I'd have a chance to go, so I understand the frustration. And next year, I'll be jealous of those who are there when I'm not. Hope you get to go at some point.

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  3. What a great time you had! I really want to go to another book conference. The ones I've attended were tons of fun. Is Bucheron in Raleigh next year? If so, I'm there!

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    1. Yes, Bouchercon is in Raleigh next year. Have fun! I'm sorry I won't be able to make it - timing doesn't work with my job.

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  4. Cool! Well Bouchercon is coming near me too then next year. Goodness, between Bouchercon, the SIBA show and Wizard Con next year, Raleigh is the place to be! I am going to have a busy year. This sounds like a fun conference though I don't read nearly as many mystery books as I used to.

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    1. Wow. I wonder if I can move to Raleigh for the year. Sounds like it is the place to be.

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  5. Mark, it was such a treat getting to meet you at Bouchercon. I'm glad to hear you had fun. I hope you make it to another one soon. I am debating Raleigh. We'll see....

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    1. I'd love to go to another one. We'll just have to see if it's really in the cards for me or not.

      And it was wonderful to get to meet you, too.

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