Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

The Friends of Bouchercon 2011

Sometimes, the planets align just right and I get to attend an event that’s as fun and memorable as others have described. Let’s face it, anticipation can ruin things sometimes. Gatherings get built up to such a degree, there’s no way for expectations to ever meet that kind of escalation. I’m happy to report Bouchercon 2011 surpassed that presumption. The world mystery convention (for crime and mystery writers and their fans), held in St. Louis, Missouri this year, blew it all away. It’s really an odd state of affairs that those who write about mysteries and some of the darker aspects about the human condition are some of the most welcoming, generous, and warm people around. I know, I’ve met them.

The well attended convention, going on since 1970, was one that was on my radar for a couple of years. Chiefly, because I’ve learned to appreciate the genre during that time. And in doing so, it gave me a chance to take part in a conference where one of my favorite authors (Robert Crais) was among their guests of honor, along with the chance of meeting up with others who felt even more connected to this special community of writers and readers than I. This event offered the opportunity of finally meeting up with the bloggers and other online friends in person for the very first time. And it didn’t disappoint.

The Highlights

  • everyone was so frickin’ nice! I don’t think I’ve ever been to a convention where everyone was so damn happy to meet you (whether you were old and funny looking strangers, like me, or not).
  • there was almost never not something interesting to do (whether meeting people, attending discussion panels, or having bowling, singing, or firearms somehow involved… really).
  • as expected, ‘Bob’ (I get to call him that after years of harassment) Crais was his usual quiet and demure self 😉 [all kidding aside, his interview, conducted by good friend and thriller writer Gregg Hurwitz, was a blast for new and old fans alike]
  • presenting a ‘Craisie’ baseball raglan jersey to Robert Crais (distinctly and beautifully designed by Naomi, with name ‘The Boss’ on the back)
  • my good and long-time friend Jen Forbus’ interview with author Val McDermid was the other ‘interrogation’ peak at the con that was a riotous good time for all attending
  • author Sean Chercover recognized my name and extended his hand before I had a chance to tell him who I was! [and it was just about a year ago when I and Pat Wahlquist won his READING @WORK contest and were contacted via email by the writer — which is simply awesome]
  • Hilary Davidson won another award (a well deserved one, I’d add — even if all the men at the con loved her while all the women there hated her 😉 )
  • I found out Brad Parks has a glorious singing voice (besides the ability to snap out one-liners like bullets from a Beretta)
  • the Shadows Rising panel on the ‘Movies for the crime fiction fan’ with Jeremy Lynch, Megan Abbott, David Corbett, Russel McLean, Todd Ritter, and Wallace Stroby was an eye-opener for the film knowledge these authors have, along with the lively contention that can arise when talking about Hitchcock, and the really fantastic and forgotten crime movies they cited
  • the I Got The Right to Sing The Blues panel on music and crime fiction was easily as contentious as the film panel with the authors (and musicians) Mark Billingham, Roger Ellory, Bryan Gilmer, Jonathan Hayes, Rochelle Stoab, and Wallace Stroby — who knew Billingham hated Phil Collins so much!
  • downtown St. Louis was a great place to be situated for the event, what with the restaurants, hotels, transportation, Gateway Arch, and Busch Stadium all nearby [too bad the Cardinal’s were on the road]
  • my wife can confirm this, but I love checking out new markets — and getting to go to the place that is Culinaria (on 9th and Olive), in-between con panels, was simply nirvana for me
  • just about any panel with Eion, pronounced ‘Owen’, Colfer (of Artemis Fowl fame) on it; the man has a wit and charm that was infectious [he sold more of his début crime fiction novel just by personality alone, I figure]
  • as I expected, author Duane Swierczynski won an Anthony Award for Expiration Date (and remains one of the most approachable and friendliest of authors around — even if a good many of his characters suffer horribly in his tales 😉 )
  • it was great to meet the magnanimous blogger otherwise known as pattinase (Patricia Abbott) who just so happens to be writer, editor, and contributor to such great things like Discount Noir, and the rightfully proud mother to author Megan Abbott
  • the impromptu hallway discussion with author Peter Spiegelman about the crime saga classic Heat and the new movie Drive convinced me to go to Nicolas Winding Refn‘s film while in St. Louis
  • winning the rare ‘Elvis Cole’ six-pack cooler at the St. Louis County Library live charity auction [run by Mark Billingham (at his cheekiest) and Laura Lippman (at her leggiest)] was, I reckon, a once in a lifetime occurrence
  • being on the same flight home as Gregg Hurwitz — the man is a real Mensch
I’m not going to waste energy on the rare lowlights there were (coughGo Express, take the subway to downtown). But, the meaningful, high-water moments had to be meeting and mingling in person with the bloggers who’ve become very real friends through a virtual world. Namely encountering for the first time Naomi Johnson and Lauren O’Brien, and renewing friendships with Christine McCann, Paulette Feeney, the blogger and copy editor extraordinaire otherwise known as Pop Culture Nerd, and of course the sweetheart that is Jen Forbus, made it all very special indeed. I don’t know how many more of these I’ll get to attend, but if this was my one and only, I had great friends and memories that came of it and made the occasion beyond worthwhile. My sincere thanks to all those mentioned here.

22 Responses to “The Friends of Bouchercon 2011”

  1. Jen Forbus

    I am so, so glad you were able to come, Michael. Being able to share a Bouchercon with you and all those you mentioned is a true treasure. #1 in my Book of Awesome! Love you, friend!


  2. Elizabeth

    So jealous, but also so happy for you that it not only lived up to your expectations, but sounds like it surpassed them. Très cool! 🙂


  3. Naomi Johnson

    You summed it all up beautifully for me, too, Michael. I am so happy to finally have met you and Elyse, not leaving out Paulette, Lauren, and so so so many others.


  4. Kevin (Col Mortimer)

    Sounds like a great event, I have to admit that i never actually heard about it until this post. Glad you had such a fun time. I too like checking out small local grocery stores. Did you like Drive? I really dug it, and wow Refn knows how to make Los Angeles pop visually.


  5. Marce

    I came over from Pop Culture Nerds blog. This event sounds dreamy, I definitely need to look into this for the future.

    You captured the feeling well. Love the story about the shirts.


  6. John D

    Sounds like a great time. I’ve been wanting to attend a B’con for several years now, but the stars have never aligned. I’m hoping to be in Cleveland for Bouchercon 2012, but it’s far from certain. I will be hitting the con in 2013; it’s in Albany, just a short drive from home. Once in a great while, I catch a break.


      • Naomi Johnson

        Michael, I doubt I’ll be able to do more than take in one day of B’con-Cleveland. But John D, if you’re going to be there and if I manage that one day, I’d like to meet you. Love your blog (tho I admit to skipping the wicked weasel days).


        • le0pard13

          Well, I hope to hear on whatever day you get to attend, Naomi. If John attends in Cleveland, and you two meet up, so much the better. Thanks.


  7. Pop Culture Nerd

    I’m still swooning with joy because I got to experience this with you and all the other lovely people you mentioned. You touched on many of the same highlights for me, including eating at Culinaria (yes, I EAT at grocery stores), which I visited quite a few times.

    Nice recap, Michael. Thanks for the memories.


    • le0pard13

      It was a great and wonderful surprise you could make this, Elyse. It all added up to something wonderful. Thank you for the comment (along with Culinaria and the subway recommendation)!


  8. Christine McCann

    After missing LATFoB this year, I was thrilled that I’d have another opportunity to see you this year! It was wonderful to have our group together. This was a great roundup! Thanks, Michael!


    • le0pard13

      Yes, getting the group together in St. Louis turned out great! Sorry you missed LATFoB this year. We’ll make up for it next year, Christine. Thanks.



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