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Friday, September 23, 2016

Michele Drier Reports on Bouchercon

Our speaker for October, Michele Drier, shared this report on Bouchercon, the world mystery convention.

Lee Child on the right.

Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Harlan Coben.

Aching feet, lack of sleep, erratic meals.

David Morrell, Michael Connelly, Catherine Coulter, Catrinona McPherson, C.J Box, Charlaine Harris.

Michael Connelly on the left.

Trying to talk to 2,000 people.

Sisters in Crime breakfast when Leslie Budewitz passes the Seal of Office to Diane Vallere for a new presidential term.

Bouchercon, The World Mystery Convention, was last week in New Orleans and 1,967 mystery and crime writers, fans, publishers, agents, fans…did I say fans?...spent five days talking, meeting, listening, drinking with each other.

Mystery conventions are a lot of fun. Where else can you meet a range of authors—your favorites, prepublished, struggling newbies, stars—in an up-close-and-personal way?

Bouchercon is the biggest convention and can be overwhelming. But if you’re a first-time convention attendee, there are many others you can cut your teeth on before you tackle 2,000 people.

One of the ones I like best—about half the people and closer to home—is Left Coast Crime.  In 2017 it’s in Honolulu and 2018 in Reno.

And if you’re a cozy mystery fan, there’s the venerable Malice Domestic in Bethesda, MD. They cut off registration at about 500, so it smaller, more intimate but packed with authors such as Margaret Maron, Hank Phillipi Ryan and Rhys Bowen.

If you’ve always wanted to visit Boston, there’s the New England Crime Bake. Florida? Try Sleuthfest and Killer Nashville. Some of these are self-developed and some are Mystery Writers of America sponsored. Places, costs and authors change, but each offers writers and fans unequaled opportunities to spend time with like-minded people.

Before I threw in the towel and became a full-time writer, I put together (and attended) probably 20 conventions and conferences across the country in the arts, criminal justice, housing and health delivery.  Held onto my program book or panel list and trudged from room to room. I once walked out of a lunch in Monterey where 250 arts administrators were collectively trying to write a telegram to the National Endowment for the Arts.

But mystery conventions? Hearing top-notch writers tell stories of starting out with 50, 100 or more rejections. Driving around with a trunk full of books. Going to signings where the audience consisted of your partner and two people who came in to get out of the rain.

I recommend going to at least one mystery convention. They’re gatherings of folks who love writing, reading, mysteries, whether hard-boiled noir, serial killers or cozy poisonings by the neighborhood baker.

And Bouchercon? Well, it’s coming to you (almost!). It will be in Sacramento in 2020. Guests of honor are Scott Turow, Walter Mosley, Anne Perry and Cara Black, with Catriona McPherson as toastmistress. And I’m pretty sure Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Sara Paretsky, Harlan Coben and new rising authors we don’t know yet will be there.

Catch a conference. Your feet will ache, you’ll lose sleep, you may even have sensory overload. But it will be exciting, fulfilling, stimulating and just plain fun!

.The guests of honor rode Mardi Gras floats into the opening ceremonies. A second line formed to walk to the theater where the Anthony Awards were held.

Despite 88 degrees, 90% humidity and rain, several hundred attendees followed the Preservation Hall Band, twirling umbrellas and waving bandannas, down closed streets at 5:30 p.m. on Friday night. Band members, stilt walkers and krewe members welcomed people to the Orpheum Theater. 

Diane Vallere accepts the Seal of Office from Leslie Budewitz during the Sisters of Crime annual breakfast and meeting.

--Michele Drier

 Editor's Note: Bouchercon can be overwhelming, but it's the place to see the super stars of the mystery world. And Michele really caught the flavor of what it's like.


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  2. Looking forward to Bouchercon in 2020. Close to home.

  3. Much has been made of Bouchercon as a fan conference without a lot of technical tracks for the writer but it is well to remember that we were readers before we became writers. What a great tool to keep in touch with the audience.

  4. Looking forward to seeing you at LCC 2017 in Honolulu, Michele! Aloha.