There’s a rumor that some writers actually love book conferences. They enjoy being in a huge room with hordes of strangers, all of whom seem far more successful and fascinating than they. For the introverted and envious (99% of all writers), conferences can bring back ugly memories of high school dances. As one Bouchercon attendee said to me, “It’s a little…cliquey.” Those with blockbuster series, awards, and movie deals chat happily with one another, while the rest of us hover with hopes of getting a moment of face time.
Bouchercon is the big mystery conference of the year. If Malice Domestic is for the descendants of Agatha Christie and Thrillerfest is for the heirs to Tom Clancy, Bouchercon is a big noisy family reunion for everybody. Cozies, techno-thrillers, suspense, slaughter-fests, whodunnits, and historicals. Published, unpublished, indie, mainstream, self-launched. And fans who just love books, God bless them and grant them long life.
I have spent some conferences the same way I got through high school: standing on the sidelines and muttering evilly. We’re all that nose- picking loser compared to someone. I can think of maybe five writers who aren’t intimidated by anyone. Well, I can think of Lee Child. And like many people, I hate the idea of approaching another human being with a self-interested agenda. Rather than do that, I have ordered room service and watched Avengers movies. Which is cowardly—as Thor would no doubt tell me.
I loved my first Malice and had fun at Thrillerfest, even if my historical featuring a lady’s maid with no gun or nuclear missile was a little out of place there. So, at Bouchercon, I decided I would go Out There and talk to people. And I would have no agenda—admittedly a privilege I have as a published author. So I talked to everyone: famous authors, mid-list authors, unpublished authors, librarians, fans, and some people because they were standing on the sidelines with no one to talk to. I discussed writing amateur sleuths on a terrific panel led by Ingrid Theft (far right) and made up of Sue Cox, Cheri Baker, Jill Orr, and William Boyle. This is how great the panel was: we all look good in the photo.
Did I make good “connections”? I don’t know. I had a lot of great conversations. Only one person had read my book. No matter. It was fun to hear people excited because they had met so-and-so. Or discovered this book. Or gotten their hands on a copy of their favorite author’s latest. People just geeking out over books.
It was awesome.