Greetings from Cleveland! Since Erin was on her way here Friday, it looks like I’m the first Dead Guy to post from Bouchercon 2012, Crime Fiction Rocks.
First and most important – Congratulations to our own Jeff
Cohen for winning the Barry Award for Best Short Story. The Barry Awards are presented annually by the
editors of Deadly Pleasures
magazine at the opening ceremonies of Bouchercon. “The Gun Also Rises” appeared in Alfred
Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, January/February 2011, but you can read it here. It is a
prequel to Jeff’s Aaron Tucker series, which are now available as audio books. Way
to Go Jeff!!! Well deserved!
This is my third Bouchercon, and, as at the others, by half way through I’m exhausted and exhilarated. For a crime fiction fan, it’s a preview of heaven. There is so much going on that it is hard to keep up. There are so many authors whose panels I want to attend, so many books to add to the reading list, so many old friends to chat with and so many new friends to get to know. There seems to always be a party or reception going on somewhere. I can only mention a few of the highlights of the first two days.
Although the opening ceremonies are Thursday evening, the whole day is full. There are four or five simultaneous panels in each time slot, and choosing is difficult; they are all on interesting topics, with panelists I want to hear. I wind up slipping in and out of some so I can catch at least part of the action.
The Book Room is a must. You would think I would enjoy a few days’ escape from the world of bookselling, but I’m eager to see what my comrades are recommending and chat with them about their experiences. It was great to visit the Crum Creek Press table and see Jim Huang again; there will be some exciting new offerings at the Moonstone Mystery Book Store very soon. I learned that Robin Agnew, my predecessor in this slot, does cover art for Crum Creek Press. Robin and I have not met yet; we keep “just missing” each other, but the Dead Guys are planning our own get-together later today. Many of us, current and alumni, have never met in person, and I’m looking forward to a great time.
The Opening Ceremonies at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were awesome. In addition to the formalities, the joy of seeing Jeff get his award, and endless food and drink, we had the run of the museum. There is too much to see in just a few hours, and as with everything else this weekend, choices had to be made. I chose to relive a bit of my youth, and the 60s and 70s exhibits brought back a lot of memories. My only complaint – too much John and Paul, not enough George, who was my teenage crush.
Friday morning started with panels again. Much as I wanted to, I didn’t get up early enough to attend Val McDermid’s new author coffee at 7:30. I started the day instead with a 9AM panel called “Old Friends, New Friends,” with authors of multiple mystery series discussing how they handle the switch from one series to another. Jeff Cohen was one of the panelists, seeming no worse for the wear after celebrating his award the previous evening, along with Parnell Hall, Mary Jane Maffini, and Libby Fischer Hellman; the moderator was Jen Forbus. For those of you who have never attended a Bouchercon, this is typical of the opportunities to get insights into the way the crime fiction we love comes about.
In between panels, I managed to obtain two cartons from the post office (“If it fits, it ships”), find a Dollar Store that sold the most horrendously difficult to use packing tape in the world (but cheap), pack the cartons with all the books I had collected so far, and get them back to the post office before closing time. You would think that I have enough books without getting more to ship from Cleveland to New Jersey. It’s a disease, I tell you!
The event I most anticipated came at the end of the day. Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels, edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke, was just released in the US this week. It contains personal essays by 119 mystery authors writing about the mystery novels they love most. Some examples: Julia Spencer-Fleming writes about Margaret Maron’s The Bootlegger’s Daughter; Tana French chose Donna Tartt’s The Secret History; Lee Child discusses The Damned and the Destroyed by Kenneth Orvis; Jo Nesbo examines Jim Thompson’s Pop. 1280. Andrew Taylor chose The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, a book dear to my heart. After some words from John Connolly about the concept of having contemporary authors choose the book they would most recommend, and then trying to coordinate their efforts in producing the essays, the authors who were in attendance had a mass signing. My personal copy now has 27 signatures, including Peter James, Charlaine Harris, Val McDermid, Michael Robotham, and Michael Connelly. This collection is one I will savor slowly, and I know it will greatly increase the length of my “books I want to read” list.
I have to confess that I skipped the evening’s receptions and the charity auction out of sheer fatigue. But I followed the goings-on on Facebook, where you can see a multitude of pictures about the events so far.
And on to Saturday, more panels, the Dead Guys get together, and the awards banquet. I am sure I will have more to share next week, as will Jeff, Ben, Josh, and Erin. It will take a few days for my “re-entry” to the real world, but the memories will bring smiles to my face,I have oodles of new ideas for my store, and I’m already anticipating next year in Albany.