Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Con

It's Saturday night and my vocal chords have been shredded to terrycloth by three days of shouting affectionately (sometimes adverbs do clarify) at people in crowded, deafeningly loud hotel ballrooms and corridors.

I've had the time of my life, and so have a hundred or more other writers and about 1500 amazingly sweet and patient fans.

Yes, this is Bouchercon, the annual gathering that brings together the blood- and ink-stained wretches who produce the annual reams of crime fiction, literally hundreds of thousands of copies' worth, and the brave souls who read it.  And if this is 2012, this must be Cleveland.

What happens in Cleveland, as they say, stays in Cleveland.  So I have no real photos to share with you.  Michael Sears took a zillion at Leighton's orders during the Murder Is Everywhere panel, and I'm sure he'll be putting them up.

So what happens at Bouchercon?

Fans meet writers.  Writers meet fans.  Writers become fans when meeting certain other writers. In addition to the MIE writers, all of whom I admire, I met half a dozen people whose work turns me to soup and many others whom I deeply enjoy.  And I had the uniquely writerly thrill of learning that writers whose books I've devoured have also devoured mine.  Two or three exchanges like this are enough to have me walking on air.

I had two fans seek me out just to tell me that my books had meant something special to them as they navigated the treacherous shoals of raising adopted children.  Hearing this particular sentiment is like being microwaved gently until I am perfectly done.  Never having raised a child, adopted or otherwise, this just boggles my mind.

It was a good conference for all the MIE writers who attended.  Stan and Michael won the Barry for Death of the Mantis and were also nominated for the Anthony.  Here they are with their richly deserved swag.

Yrsa told us officially that she's a best-seller -- the top-selling writer in Iceland at the moment, and burning up the charts in other countries, too.  Jeffrey got a chance to talk about his phenomenal sales in Greece (and in Greek translation, too), which is a unique distinction for a non-Greek writer who's writing about Greece.

My wonderful publishers at Soho Crime had plastered the place with a little red book called THE JUNIOR BENDER READER containing the first three chapters of the first three Junior Bender books.  Here's a shot of one of the stacks.  (There were thousands of these things.)

Cara, sadly, had a death in her family and had to cancel at the last moment, and Leighton had business elsewhere, although that didn't keep him from cracking the whip.  One of the most frequently-heard sentence-openers among us was, "Leighton says that . . ."

The Murder Is Everywhere panel, masterfully moderated by Peter Rozovsky of Detectives Without Borders, was an apparent success, by which I mean it did not seem to last several lifetimes, there were more questions than there was time for, the answers were thoughtful, and there were a lot of laughs.  Some of them came from Stan and Jeffrey and Lisa Brackmann, sitting in for Cara, but Yrsa got the biggest laugh when she explained that crime fiction came a bit late to Iceland because Iceland doesn't have any crime.  Last year there were exactly two murders.  Things have changed, though, she says.  Iceland now has its own Hell's Angels. There are three of them and they're presently in jail for pulling out someone's hair extensions.

Mean streets indeed.

My Soho colleagues were here in force: Stuart Neville, whose new novel, RATLINES, was a focus of the convention; Martin Limon; and James Benn; plus publisher Bronwyn Hruska, chief ediitor Juliet Grames, communications/marketing maven Paul Oliver, and marketing associate Rudy Martinez..

After three days packed into rooms with mystery writers, publishers, editors, and fans, I can say with total confidence that murder and mayhem attract some of the biggest-hearted people in the world.

So.  A great time, and congratulations to all my friends who won awards: Stan and Michael, Jeffrey Cohen, Thomas Perry, and the others.  I can't wait until next year.

Tim -- Sunday


  1. "...microwaved gently / Until I am perfectly done."

    This scans almost like "The quality of mercy / Is not strained" and is nearly as vivid and beautiful a sentiment. Many thanks for making that panel an enjoyable 55 minutes,

  2. Tim, I told you this face to face, but I will say it here for all to see. Junior Bender is pure comic genius. You had me for life when I got to the troop of Balinese girl scouts at the top of page two. I leave Cleveland with swell memories of a great time and the Junior Bender Reader clutched in my hand. I'll go back to New York laughing all the way. I just hope the Hallinan induced hysterics don't have me thrown into a straight jacket when I exit the plane in LaGuardia.

  3. Sounds like a great time! I'm only sorry that I couldn't have been there to soak in the joyous ambience.

  4. What a time you all had. Sounds wonderful. Not only are you all big hearted, but you are all very funny. I'm with you in spirit.

  5. Peter, I stand by my statement, and the whole panel stands with me. You were an amazing moderator. So there. Suck it up.

    Annamaria, you have made me very, very happy. Send me an address by email ( and I'll send you an ARC -- but do it fast because I leave the country on Thursday.

    Everett, it was a great conference. I don't think I've had a much better time entirely legally in years and years.

    Hi, Lil -- wish you could have been there. Yrsa was hilarious and the people at the convention were almost all aces -- and some wonderfulk writers.

  6. Here’s another short sample of the panelists’ wit and widsom. All panels were recorded, then offered for sale in the bookroom and, presumably, afterward from the guy who recorded them. For some reason, I don’t think the Bouchercon Web site mentions this.

    Just as the panel before ours ran ten minutes long, the recording of "Murders Is Everywhere" runs ten minutes short. What remains is of entertaining substance and high technical quality, so thanks again, guys.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

  7. Thanks, Peter. I didn't know about the recordings, either. Are they on CD?

    And they cut us off? How dare they? Obviously didn't take the name of our panel seriously.

  8. Tim: Here’s what was available from Bouchercon 2011. I assume the same will be available for this year once the guy who runs the company gets home from Cleveland and unpacks. I bought CDs, but I think MP3 files were available as well, or were last year, at least.

    Yeah, the cut-off eliminated the charged-by-an-elephant comment, among others.

  9. Sounds like a truly great time, Tim! Wish I had gotten affectionately shouted at by you...maybe next year.