Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bouchercon 2010

So I went to Bouchercon and had a great time! I’d been thinking that I wasn’t really a part of the book world anymore – that I’d feel out-of-place. My pal Lita assured me I wouldn’t feel that, wouldn’t be that, and that I should just have fun. So we did.

Some thoughts and memories:

Panels were all over the place, authors famous and not-so-famous spoke or argued or just chatted on a huge variety of mystery/thriller-related topics. The first session I attended was with Jeff Somers, in a “30 on 30” discussion. He was solo, to chat for 30 minutes on the topic “Science Fiction and Crime Fiction: The Most Exciting Combination since Whiskey & Soda.” I remember three things about Jeff Somers: he was funny; I sadly did not answer one of his trivia questions so did not win a cool baseball cap; and he served whiskey! So…Bouchercon…that’s how it’s going to be, eh?

On Friday, Lita and I had hard and fast plans to attend “The Hard Breed,” with our pal Gregg Hurwitz. The topic: Beyond Novels – Writers who Write More than Just Novels. Gregg writes comics and screenplays, and he’s darn funny: when asked why he writes a variety of things, he blurted out, “FUN! I would be a total tramp if I was a girl in high school!” As to writing for a variety of genres, he said, “God, I hate what adaptive creatures we writers are.” (Added to Kate’s Reading list: The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson and The Signal by Ron Carlson.)

In “The Glass Dart Board” panel, with Santa Barbara writer Gayle Lynds, the discussion was about politics. “Champions of a genre have a certain political stripe,” said moderator David Corbett. He was explaining how Glenn Back, on the right, promotes thrillers, while no one on the left does so. S.J. Rozan narrowed it down for us: “The right wing ‘gets’ there are no opposing views of good and evil; the left ‘sees’ the opposing view.” (Added to Kate’s Reading List: Do They Know I’m Running? by David Corbett.)

The big treat of Friday was Gregg Hurwitz’s interview with Michael Connelly. When Gregg asked, “If you could remake any movie…?” Michael answered, “I’d remake ‘Bullitt,’ and I’d be driving the mustang.” We all laughed, as he went on to explain, “I’ve been on ‘Castle,’ and I got my SAG card, so…” Gregg asked, “What's the quality you most like in a man?” Michael promptly blurted, “Tattoos!” and started laughing right along with us! (Added to Kate’s Reading List: Nine Dragons and The Reversal by Michael Connelly.)

Connelly with Hurwitz

Lita and I suffered through the poorly moderated panel about serial killers called “In the Midst of Strangers.” But it was worth it. The panelists were bright and funny and interesting, and brought the ‘serial killer’ world right to the forefront. Jonathan Hayes, a forensic pathologist from Britain now working in NYC as a medical examiner, really put everything into perspective with one quiet comment: “Most murders are sad, brutal things.” True, that. Luckily, Chelsea Cain kept us laughing with her unique view of the genre…and how to use crochet needles to one’s best advantage. (Added to Kate’s Reading List: Dharma Girl by Chelsea Cain, as well as her novels and Precious Blood by Jonathan Hayes.)

Next panel was “The Drop,” with some big names, authors I’ve read and very much enjoyed: Mark Billingham, John Connolly, Denise Mina and Karin Slaughter. It’s always so interesting to learn that mystery writers often have a great sense of humor, and these four were no exception. The topic was the good, the bad and the ugly about the unknown bits of being a writer – the fans, the tours, the rejections, etc. “I take an AA’s look at my schedule – one day at a time,” said Karin Slaughter. The anecdotes flew, as well as the cheerful insults: “John, when you travel and wear sunglasses, do you get mistaken for Bono?” The fact that all four authors all had different – and thick – accents only added to the delight of the audience. (Added to Kate’s Reading List: Denise Mina’s titles, Karin Slaughter’s new book).

Bouchercon Goodies.

My pal Elizabeth Sims was part of the afternoon “Continuous Conversation” panel, about the business of books. I stayed for a bit, but then bopped over to “A Collection of Eagles,” with Martin Cruz Smith, Joseph Finder and Santa Barbaran Andrew Klavan. Always fun to run into pals at a big conference! Spent a bit of time with good pal Harley Jane Kozak as well.

Harley meets fans.

Speaking of pals – although I’m sure she wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a crowd, I worked with Sara Paretsky a couple of times, both in Oak Brook, IL and Indianapolis. So I was looking forward to, at the very least, hearing her speak at her panel, “Timelock.” She wasn’t there, and I never did find out if she had cancelled or what. Sad…would’ve loved to have touched base.

As for the evenings – I had dinner with great friends, Nancy and Bob, from Santa Barbara. They just moved to San Francisco earlier in October and she was eager to show off her new city. They have a nice apartment in a fabulous neighborhood, with a great view - the best of all possible worlds. This is the street view from my hotel window. I'm always so interested in this kind of big-city view from a hotel room; always such a different "beat" than what I'm used to.

Hotel view.

(And yes, I did a bit of shopping in San Francisco, so sue me.)
Saturday, Lita and I went to a Harper Collins party, where I caught up with Mike Spradlin, a wonderful publishing friend. And Sunday, after a yummy brunch with Borders Buddies (former and current), Lita and I went to the airport (thanks again, Kathy!) for the return home.

The Ladies Who Brunch

Next stop, according to Lita – Book Expo in New York City, next year. We’ll see…

Shopping in the big city.


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