Bouchercon 2016 in New Orleans

Bouchercon was a whirlwind this year, and not only because I fell into a Twilight Zone episode for a day (I broke my glasses!). This is the “world mystery convention,” the biggest of the mystery conventions, and there were over 1,800 attendees this year. Here are some photos and highlights.

The day before Bouchercon began, Sisters in Crime presented a SinC Into Great Writing workshop for writers. This year the topic was Writing to our Differences: Doing Diversity Right. Walter Mosley was the keynote speaker, and he gave a brilliant talk about writing authentic characters.

Walter Mosley at SinC into Great Writing at Bouchercon

Walter Mosley was the keynote speaker at Sisters in Crime’s SinC Into Great Writing workshop. He is absolutely amazing.

The other speakers at SinC Into Great Writing were Linda Rodriguez, Frankie Bailey, Greg Herren, and Cindy Brown (with Midnight Ink editor Terri Bischoff joining the Q&A session), who spoke about being true to both life and your books by writing characters who are racially diverse, LGBT, and with disabilities.

SinC into Great Writing presenters

SinC Into Great Writing presenters: Terri Bischoff, Linda Rodriguez, Catriona McPherson (moderator), Greg Herren, Frankie Bailey, and Cindy Brown.


On the first official day of the convention, the opening ceremonies were a blast–and unique.  A New Orleans-style parade was held inside the hotel ballroom, with each honoree riding down the aisle on their own decorated float. (Alas it was dark so my photos didn’t turn out!)

My day had begun with a Sisters in Crime board meeting. I’m serving on the national board for a second year, both because it’s a fabulous group and also because I’ve gotten so much out of the organization in my writing career that I want to give back to this wonderful community. This year is especially exciting because it’s our 30th anniversary!

Sisters in Crime 2016 board of directors

Sisters in Crime board members and staff. Top row: Sarah Glass, Kendel Lynn, Lori Roy, Beth Wasson, Susan Shea, GM Malliet, Julie Hennrikus. Bottom row: Gigi Pandian, Catriona McPherson, Leslie Budewitz, Diane Vallere (incoming SinC president), Karen Pullen.


To kick off SinC’s 30th anniversary, I worked with New Orleans videographer Julius Evans of Red Clay Films to shoot some interviews with Sisters in Crime former presidents and members on the morning of the SinC breakfast. SinC has so many amazing members, and one of my highlights from this project was getting to interview Sara Paretsky!

Sisters in Crime video collage

Creating videos to celebrate SinC 30th anniversary.

We’re editing these videos, plus creating more of them, and SinC will be posting the videos throughout our anniversary year. Leslie Budewitz handed over the presidential seal to Diane Vallere at the SinC breakfast, which also included a champagne toast to celebrate our 30th anniversary.

Speaking of anniversaries, my favorite panel at Bouchercon was the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 75th anniversary panel. I love the Golden Age of mystery fiction, so it was fun to hear stories about the team who created Ellery Queen and authors I love, like Clayton Rawson and John Dickson Carr. And yes, Shelly Dickson Carr is John’s granddaughter! Her first novel is great, so talent definitely runs in the family.

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 75th anniversary panel: Steve Steinbock, Otto Penzler, Janet Hutchings, Ted Hertel, Brendan DuBois, Shelly Dickson Carr, and James Lincoln Warren moderating.

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 75th anniversary panel: Steve Steinbock, Otto Penzler, EQMM editor Janet Hutchings, Ted Hertel, Brendan DuBois, Shelly Dickson Carr, and James Lincoln Warren moderating.


My own panel was a discussion of the solitary process of writing a novel, and it was so interesting to chat about how different each of our processes are!

Learn to be Lonely panel

Learn to be Lonely panelists: Terrie Farley Moran, Julie Hennrikus, Gigi Pandian, Kim Fay, Wendy Tyson, Kate White, and moderator Hank Phillippi Ryan.

After the panel I had my signing in the book room, and it was such fun to talk with so many readers who came to chat and have books signed. Huge thanks to everyone who sought out me and my books!

Another wonderful new person I met was Stephane Dunn, this year’s winner of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, an annual grant of $1,500 for an emerging writer of color that’s given out by Sisters in Crime. (I was on the inaugural committee two years ago, and the grant has since been renewed, so it’ll be happening again this coming year. I’m no longer on the committee, but feel free to ask me if you have any questions about the grant.)

Stephane Dunn

Stephane Dunn, this year’s winner of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award


Since we were in New Orleans, of course I had to slip out of the conference hotel to do some exploring.

Stacy Allen at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Stacy Allen, my partner in crime for the Haunted History hour and the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum tour. Stacy and I are treasure hunt sisters, and I’m envious that she’s a diver so her treasure hunt thrillers feature underwater treasures!


Gigi at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Accidental Alchemist research at the historic New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Apothecary wares from the 1800s at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.


Lafitte's haunted New Orleans bar

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the haunted bar in New Orleans that’s been around since the 1700s.

It was HUMID out there, so I was very happy to relax in the AC indoors after exploring the city. The hotel bar was a great place to congregate, but at a convention this huge, unfortunately I still missed seeing several people I’d hoped to see. Though happily I met several SinC Guppies I hadn’t met in person before, connected with Susan Spann to talk about my upcoming trip to Japan (Susan writes the Shinobi Mysteries, which you should be reading), nerded out at the bar with the mystery scholars from the EQMM panel, and made it to the Short Mystery Fiction Society luncheon.

Kaye, Gigi, Maddee, Lesa

At the hotel bar: Kaye Barley, Gigi Pandian, Maddee James, Lesa Holstine.


I donated an item I’m very excited about to Bouchercon’s silent auction: an original Jaya Jones work of art by graphic novelist Dale Berry. The drawing depicts my favorite scene in Michelangelo’s Ghost (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery #4), and I printed a limited edition print run of 100 copies, which Dale and I numbered and signed. The book comes out next month, so I’ll be using the printed pieces as promotions, but first and foremost, I love that I now have an amazing Jaya Jones illustration for myself that beautifully complements the stunning book cover.

Jaya Jones original artwork by Dale Berry, donated to the Bouchercon charity auction

Jaya Jones original artwork by Dale Berry, donated to the Bouchercon charity auction.


And to end with a little history, Bouchercon and the Anthony Awards are named for Anthony Boucher (mystery writer, editor, and founder of the Mystery Writers of America). The Anthony’s are mystery fan awards, nominated and voted on by mystery fans who attend Bouchercon. This years Anthony Award winners were:

BEST NOVEL: The Killing Kind by Chris Holm
BEST FIRST NOVEL: Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL: The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney
BEST CRITICAL OR NONFICTION WORK: Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid
BEST SHORT STORY: “The Little Men: A Bibliomystery” – Megan Abbott
BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL: Need – Joelle Charbonneau
BEST ANTHOLOGY/COLLECTION: Murder Under the Oaks: Bouchercon Anthology 2015, Art Taylor, Editor

A huge thanks to all the volunteers who made the convention come together seamlessly: Convention co-chairs Heather Graham and Connie Perry, Bouchercon board chair Jeff Siger, Mike Bursaw, Dave Magayna, Judy Bobalik, Jon Jordan, and the rest of the team.

I’m already looking forward to next year in Toronto–hope to see you there!