Got back yesterday from my very first Bouchercon. As it was a topic of rabid discussion with the friends Greg and I stayed with while we were in St. Louis for the conference, I’m going to tell you outright what Wikipedia doesn’t.
It’s pronounced BOW (as in to bend from the waist)-chur-con.
Bouchercon is a conference for mystery writers and readers. I’ve been to several writing conferences by now, but this is the first mystery-specific conference I’ve attended.
I’m in love with Bouchercon.
Hundreds of people who are geeks for the same thing I am? Yes, please. Books and books and more books? The second I signed in at the registration table, they handed me a 60-pound book bag full of freebies. But was 60 pounds enough for me? Nay! I spent lots of time in the book seller’s room, finding 10 more pounds.
I left home with one single book and came back with 15.
Someone on Facebook asked me what the 15 books were so here we go—
1. A Bad Day for Sorry– Sophie Littlefield (Took it with me to read, but never got the chance. Got it signed, though. Sophie was very nice and had some thoughtful things to say during one of her panels about how the publishing industry needed more diverse characters, in particular women over 26. I agreed and put in that some of them could maybe be larger than a size 4. If you’re looking for some reading like that, pick up Sophie’s book above to get started with her series, and also take a look at The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe.)
2. Missing Persons– Clare O’Donohue (Purchase. Met Clare, a Chicago writer, after one of her panels. I think she needs to be my friend. She’s cute as a button and this book is really good. Just finished it this morning.)
3. Crimes in Southern Indiana– Frank Bill (Purchase. Like I was going to pass that title up. Would only be more perfect if it were Crimes of Central Indiana.)
4. The Boy in the Suitcase– Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis (This was a free ARC I got for attending a release party in the hotel bar. Bribe me to take a free book by Danish authors along with a free mojito, Soho Press? Win, win, win. Met the authors and they were delightful.)
5. Murder Most Persuasive– Tracy Kiehly (Purchase. Met Tracy and she was also adorable. I’m not sure I think it’s fair that cute girls can also write. Leave the not-cute girls something, OK? This is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with a murder mystery, set in present day. This is not one of those Jane Austen as detective books. Yes, Kim, you can borrow it when I’m done.)
6. The Matters at Mansfield– Carrie Bebris (Freebie. This is one of those Jane Austen as detective books. I’ll…let you know.)
7. The Devil’s Bed
8. Blood Hollow– William Kent Krueger (Freebies. I just started his Cork O’Connor series this summer and love it. Was very excited to see Blood Hollow in the freebie bag, and I’ll definitely try the other one, which is a stand-alone.)
9. Shop til You Drop– Elaine Viets (Purchase. I know what you’re thinking, but give me a second. These books are about a woman who meets up with murder and mayhem on the job. The interesting thing to me—besides the fact that the author seemed really funny and charming when I saw one of her panels—is that the jobs are all Nickel and Dimed jobs, low-paying, low-skills-building jobs. I wanted to see how that was handled.)
10. The Messenger of Athens– Anne Zouroudi (Freebie. I know nothing about this book.)
11. Heads You Lose– Lisa Lutz and David Hayward (Purchase. I already own this book, but I lent it out. I got this one signed to give it as a gift, but if I don’t get my other copy back, this is mine. Lisa is really funny and she and David have a funny relationship that made everyone uncomfortable at the panel they did together. I really like this book. If you want to write funny mysteries, read it. Also, more of you should be writing funny mysteries. I was very happy to see how long Lisa’s signing line was, because I want to write funny mysteries, too.)
12. A Trace of Smoke– Rebecca Cantrell (Freebie.)
13. The Sixes– Kate White (Freebie.)
14. Delta Blues– ed. Carolyn Haines (Freebie.)
15. Spycatcher– Matthew Dunn (Freebie. Almost didn’t bring this one back with me, as it doesn’t look like something I would ever pick up. But who am I to look a gift-book in the mouth?)
So… besides picking up a lot of free books, I also just loved being in a room with people who liked the things I did. The panels I went to were great. I caught glimpses of people I’d only ever seen in author photos (including Harlan Coben, who retweeted that I spotted him on the escalator. Which is charming enough that I need to read one of his books now.)
I really liked that the writers at this conference weren’t just on the panels. They were sitting in the audience. At AWP, the people in the audience are mostly the people who want to write and don’t or do, but aren’t published, or are still students. The published are either on the panel, or they don’t show up in the room at all. Bouchercon, on the other hand, had a nice, friendly, inclusive vibe. I met a lot of people I only knew from Twitter, and got to tell some really good writers in person how much I liked their books.
All in all? I can’t wait for next year. And, one of these days, I can’t wait to be on the other side of Bouchercon’s signing table.