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.
- 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