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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
When the panels and interviews ended, there was still fun to be had.
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.
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!
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.
Huge thanks to the team who worked behind the scenes to make the convention a success.