Bouchercon 2011

So I have now attended a Bouchercon.

I’ve attended so many SF conventions that they’ve become, if not normal, at least comfortable.   I pretty much know what to expect.  Bouchercon, while in many ways similar to an SF convention, is different enough that I felt like a newbie and a bit like an outsider.  I don’t know the players, I don’t know all the rules, and I didn’t know what to expect.

There were no costumes, no gamers, no room parties (at least not open room parties), no art show, and an absence of what I like to think of secondary and tertiary effluvia in the dealers room—that is, tables of jewelry and fake weapons and action figures and the like.  The dealers room was almost all books.  There were a few DVDs and CDs, but 95% of it was books and magazines.

By Saturday I felt pretty comfortable.  These are people gathered together for the love of a genre and some of the conversation on the panels bridged the gap to SF, confirming that the critical divisions are not between genres but with an Academic snobbery that basically says if it isn’t James Joyce or Hemingway or Pynchon, it’s garbage.  I understood that and subsequently I could talk to these folks without a translator.

I got to chat (briefly but not frivolously) with Val McDermid and Laura Lippman.  I did attend one publisher’s party, but I ended up leaving soon after arriving because I simply couldn’t hear in the crowd.  An age thing, I think, I’m beginning to lose the ability to separate out voices in groups.

Bought too many books.  Again.  But then I brought more than twice as many as I bought home—there is a big publisher presence in the form of free copies.  I have stacks to go through.

As to that, I feel like I’m starting over.  I am profoundly under-read in mystery and thriller.  I recognized many names but then there were so many more I had no clue about.  But that makes it kind of exciting.  I really do have ideas for this kind of fiction.  It will be great to have a chance to write some of it.

As to whether or not I’ll go to another one…that depends on the status of the career.  Next year’s Bouchercon is in Cleveland.  The year after that, Albany, then Long Beach, and then Raleigh.  If I’m doing well enough, quite likely we’ll go to couple of them.  Wish me luck.

Published by Mark Tiedemann