Bouchercon 2015

Bouchercon is the World Mystery Convention for mystery writers and readers to get together each year. “Murder Under the Oaks” took place in Raleigh, NC, from October 8 – 11, 2015. It was a bit of a trek to get there from San Francisco, but so worth it!

I attend mystery conventions like this one as both a writer and a reader. With my author hat, I have business meetings to attend, panels where I’m a presenter, and book signings where I get to meet amazing readers. But as a mystery fan, the coolest thing about conventions is getting to hang out with other writers and readers to chat about mysteries. Here are some highlights from this year’s Bouchercon.


Back row: Gigi Pandian, Debra Goldstein, Martha Reed (departing), Julie Hennrikus, Beth Wasson (executive director), Frankie Bailey (departing), Lori Roy, G.M. GM Malliet, Laura DiSilverio, Susan Shea, Diane Vallere, Simon Wood (departing) – Front: Sarah Glass (web maven), Cari Baker Dubiel, Hank Phillippi Ryan (departing), Leslie Budewitz (incoming president), Catriona McPherson (last year’s president) 

I’m one of the new members of the Sisters in Crime board of directors, so the morning before the convention kicked off, I attended my first SinC board meeting (more details about the board and our roles can be found here). Are you a member of Sisters in Crime? If not, why not? Here’s why you should join.

SinC President Catriona McPherson handing the "Seal" to incoming President Leslie Budewitz

SinC President Catriona McPherson handing the “Seal” to incoming President Leslie Budewitz

This year’s Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award winner, Vera Chan, was introduced at the Sisters in Crime breakfast. One of my roles on the SinC board is to facilitate this fantastic award, which is now a yearly $1,500 grant, so let me know if you have any questions about it!



It’s always a treat to hang out with Diane Vallere and Kendel Lynn. I met the two of them early in my writing journey. Kendel is now the editor of my Jaya Jones treasure hunt mystery series, but before that, the three of us collaborated on Other People’s Baggage, a collection of three interconnected mystery novellas. We’re still friends after writing a book together, so I know these pals are the real deal.


Diane Vallere, Kendel Lynn, Gigi Pandian


Big thanks to Karen Pullen for arranging the Guppy Lunch, and to Jim Jackson for making sure we all introduced ourselves to put faces to the names we know on the online group.



And thanks to Art Taylor and Gerald So for arranging a lunch meet-up for the Short Mystery Fiction Society.



I spoke on a short story panel along with three of the authors up for Anthony awards for Best Short Story this year, so as you can imagine, we had a great discussion. We talked about the rising interest in short fiction, what draws us to this form, the craft of writing short stories, favorite stories that inspired us, and of course I brought up my love of locked-room “impossible crime” short stories.


Harriette Sackler (moderating), Art Taylor, Barb Goffman, Gigi Pandian, John Shepphird


I had a story in last year’s Bouchercon anthology, but this year I got to sit back and relax while this year’s contributors talked about their stories — and signed hundreds of copies of the book!

Toni Goodyear, Robert Lopresti, Bonnie "B.K." Stevens

Toni Goodyear, Robert Lopresti, Bonnie “B.K.” Stevens

Hundreds of readers lined up to get their copy of Murder Under the Oaks signed

Hundreds lined up to get their copy of Murder Under the Oaks signed by the contributors


The convention was filled with great panels on just about every mystery-related topic you can think of, plus Guest of Honor interviews. Margaret Maron’s Lifetime Achievement Award interview by Caroline Todd was especially beautiful. The auditorium was packed, so unfortunately I was too far back to get a good photo of that interview!

Mollie Cox Bryan, Christine Husom, Ellen Crosby, Tracy Kiely, Kendel Lynn

Mollie Cox Bryan, Ellen Crosby, Christine Husom, Tracy Kiely, Kendel Lynn


When the panels and interviews ended, there was still fun to be had.

Winning team: Priscilla Caporaletti-Bean, Barb Goffman, Diane Vallere, Gigi Pandian

Winning team: Priscilla Caporaletti-Bean, Barb Goffman, Diane Vallere, Gigi Pandian


Raleigh is a foodie town, so there were many cute restaurants to check out, including the Happy & Hale cafe with organic salads and green juice right across the street from the hotel. (Zoe Faust and Dorian the gargoyle would be pleased.)



The Anthony Awards were voted on by attendees and announced on the last evening of the convention.

Three of this year's Anthony winners: Art Taylor, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Lori Rader-Day

Three of this year’s Anthony winners after the ceremonies: Art Taylor, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Lori Rader-Day

The Anthony award-winning collection from Sisters in Crime, edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan, published by Henery Press

This year’s winners:

Best Novel After I’m Gone – Laura Lippman
Best First Novel The Black Hour – Lori Rader-Day
Best Paperback Original The Day She Died – Catriona McPherson
Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey – Hank Phillippi Ryan, ed.
Best Short Story “The Odds Are Against Us” Art Taylor
Best Anthology or Collection In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon – Laurie R. King & Leslie S. Klinger, eds.

Catriona McPherson had to leave the convention early to attend a wedding in Scotland, so our Midnight Ink editor Terri Bischoff read her lovely acceptance speech. It was so charming that I’m hoping someone recorded it!

Terri Bischoff accepting Catriona McPherson's Anthony award

Terri Bischoff accepting Catriona McPherson’s Anthony award


Another award given out during the ceremony was the David S. Thompson Award, presented by the Bouchercon Board to recognize extraordinary efforts to develop and promote the mystery and crime fiction community. Bill and Toby Gottfried were given this year’s award. The Gottfrieds live not far from me, so I’m lucky I get to see them on a semi-regular basis at Janet Rudolph’s Literary Salons.

Bill and Toby Gottfried

Bill and Toby Gottfried accepting their award (in the background are Janet Rudolph, Jeffrey Siger, and toastmasters Lori Armstrong and Sean Doolittle)


Huge thanks to the team who worked behind the scenes to make the convention a success.

Last year was a blast, too, and I’m already looking forward to next year in New Orleans — hope to see you there!