All over the internet people are posting their thoughts on the recently completed Bouchercon before the memories slip away (most as soon as the alcohol leaves their body) so I figured I'd do my part.
So, my first B-Con and I had a great time. I didn't sell any books. Nope, not a one. Do I care? Did it lessen my experience? Not a whit. It's so not about that. For me it was meeting with people I'm getting to know better like - Rebecca Cantrell, Sophie Littlefield, Kelli Stanley, Reed Farell Coleman, Duane Sweirczynski, Deborah Ledford (and watching Rebecca and Sophie win awards to boot) - and meeting new authors I had mild fanboy moments with like Jason Starr and Marcus Sakey.
My biggest book nerd moment had to be when I ran blocker for Linda Brown as we powered our way through the crowd at the Mulholland Books party to catch Sara Gran before she left. Linda and Pam talked with her about the Mystery Bookstore and she was gracious and thankful for their support. I waited until the love died down and then awkwardly shook her hand proclaiming, "I'm just a fan and wanted to say hi." Dope was the only book I brought from home to have signed. Could she be any cuter?
I finally got to meet my agent face to face and that was great. We had a brief meeting about the new book and I got some final notes on it and then had the pleasure of hearing multiple times, "Oh, you're David's new client. I've heard good things about you." from people out and about. Score one for the word-of-mouth campaign.
I had a good time getting to hang with Eddie Muller for a while, meet his wife and sit to chat Film Noir Foundation stuff and felt glad for him that the Giants won.
My one panel was a lively affair. Seth Harwood was the only other person I knew going in but we were joined by one other author and three people from the publishing world, big and small. Seth, as you surely know, is perhaps the foremost practitioner of new media promotion for his work. He pioneered podcasting his novels for free, he is a master of beating his own drum. Plus, he has experience working with a bigger publishing house and now with a smaller one so he knows the world from both sides. He and I were touting the new model of giving away work, letting an audience find you and we found swift and adamant rebuttal from the oldest of the old school panelists who insisted on retaining an outdated publishing model that is currently broken and dying. I compared it to turning around a ship whereas guys like us on our own or indie presses can be swift and nimble. The old guard wasn't having it. I think the room was on our side though. The discussion could have gone on all day. The best was when I took the microphone Seth and I shared to give a rebuttal but Seth stopped me and said, rather darkly, "I want this one." The man has opinions on the subject.
I kind of felt bad for our moderator, J. Kingston Pierce of The Rap Sheet - a daily stop for me - that we all took over in the verbal sparring and left him with not much to do.
The panels were good, sometimes uneven and the little challenge they ran asking people to guess the theme of the panel's titles would have been fun if the titles they chose (all names of episodes from The Streets of San Francisco) had something - anything - to do with the topic at hand. It made it hard to find and/or choose what I wanted to attend. But there was some great stuff. Too much, really. I had to miss out on many panels since there were 7-8 to choose from at any given time.
Of course Bouchercon is a social gathering above all else. A big party. The highlight for me was getting to meet several of my cronies from the online world in the flesh. I knew them immediately when I saw Jason Duke, Jimmy Callaway, Matt Funk and Cameron Ashley all clumped together. Add in Kieran Shea, Greg Bardsley, Dan O'Shea, Aldo Calcagno breezing in for the last day and my Film Noir Foundation brother-in-arms Vince Keenan and my weekend was made. It felt a little like a reunion with people I hadn't actually gone to school with but who are better than most people I did. I had some great talks about books, some playful joking around (a very funny batch of cats) including my favorite inscription I've ever been able to write in one of my books (to Cam), and these friends I'd never met gave a sense of comfort and belonging I don't normally experience at this type of event. I'm too quick to retreat to my room or be a wallflower and these guys helped tremendously to keep me out and social and meeting people.
Man, what else? Some little thoughts that come to mind are that Hilary Davidson is truly as kind and generous in person as she appears and seeing her navigate the crowd soaking in praise for her work seemed justifiably deserved. Stacia Decker is awesome. Glad to be even a little bit in her glow as she goes out and hocks those anthologies. At the risk of objectifying anyone I was privy to confessions of book-crushes on Megan Abbott (I won't say who) and the stunning-in-person Alafair Burke (who became the 100th person to tell me I look like Will Arnett). If there is any sort of vote after the fact I pick Christa Faust's green silk dress as my favorite.
My sister continues to make an impression on writers as Laura Caldwell, Jamie Freveletti and Marcus Sakey all remembered her fondly from their recent meetings. How long before she attends a B-Con? Come on Gretchen! Come to St. Louis. She'd be a great asset to me since she could do all the drinking I don't do - she might even be able to give Callaway a run for his money.
I had a few self-gratifying moments when people actually knew who I was. One woman even blurted out, "You wrote my favorite short story in crimefactory!" Now, of course, I don't remember her name and that makes me look like a dick but I met about 500 people over the past 72 hours so sue me.
So, like everyone else, I had a great time. As usual I didn't take any photos because I'm too busy trying to be in the moment and I'm too timid to ask. Some do exist (wait for the next issue of Plots With Guns to see the best one) If anyone has me in a picture let me know. I need to get better at that stuff.
So congrats to all the winners of awards, fair travels to Cameron on the rest of his US tour, wish I could go to NoirCon but I'm looking forward to St. Louis.