How many mystery writers does it take to change a light bulb? Two: one to screw it almost all the way in and one to give it a surprising twist at the end.
OK – I’ll leave the humor to Jeff from now on. I’m still a bit off the planet although I’ve been home from Bouchercon for almost a week. There were enough mystery writers in Cleveland to change all the light bulbs in the city, or so it seemed. Add to that publishers, agents, publicists, editors, librarians, booksellers, and fans of the genre. Sounds like a Dead Guys reunion, which sort of almost happened. Sorry I didn’t get to meet more of my fellow bloggers (see “Ups and Downs:Bouchercon”) but I’m sure everyone had 3 to 5 conflicting places to be at the same time, as I did most of the weekend. There’s always next year, and I’m already excited about it.
Coming back to the real world after four days of living in a community of crime fiction lovers is similar to re-entering life after a religious retreat. Everything is just as you left it (same things still undone and screaming for attention, same daily routine, same friends and family and co-workers), but you’ve had a chance to focus on one aspect of your life to the exclusion of others. For me, at least, Bouchercon was a welcome opportunity to remind myself why I do what I do: Love of the written word and crime fiction in particular. Although physically exhausted, I’m full of energy to follow up on the new ideas, contact all the authors whose cards I collected, review all the notes I made, and share all the wonderful books with readers.
It’s hard to go into specifics about the experiences I had, partly because of time and space constraints, and partly because mentioning certain people might make it seem that others were less impressive or important to me. The truth is that my mind keeps revolving through all of the people I spoke with or heard speak, and the ones on my mind tonight will be replaced by others tomorrow. The memories are all there, but are so numerous that they can’t all be “front brain” at once.
One aspect of the experience bears mentioning. Having coordinated several comparatively small events, I know how much time and effort goes into planning them. I cannot wrap my mind around what it must take to put Bouchercon together. My admiration of Marjory Mogg and her staff of volunteers goes beyond any words I can think of. Everyone who attended should send a thank you. The information beforehand was useful for planning, with constant e-mail and Facebook updates. During the event, the morning greeting outlining the highlights of the day helped me remember what day it was and where I wanted to be (yes, there were times I really wasn’t sure what day it was!) This week there have been follow-up posts on Facebook, and e-mails with more information. For example, I had forgotten that I wanted to order CD recordings of some panels I had to miss. A reminder of where to order them caused me to go back to my list of the ones I needed, a list that might otherwise have sat in my pile of paper for weeks. If there were glitches during the proceedings, I wasn’t aware of them. All seemed to flow smoothly; such coordination should not be taken for granted, but applauded. And the pictures! You can still like “Bouchercon 2012” on Facebook and see them.
I am looking forward to the next Bouchercon in Albany. I have talked so much about this year, both before and after, that the entire mystery reading group at my store is planning to go; instead of, or in addition to, our annual holiday outing, we’re talking “Road Trip!” Even more fun, with more friends around! They have posed an interesting question to me (as if I had any expertise), and I’m going to solicit some help from readers of this blog. They want to know what books they should be reading now that may be award nominees next year, so they can vote intelligently when the time comes. What are the “must reads” of 2012 that may be award nominees next year?
I’m sure the glow and energy of the whole Bouchercon experience will wear off sooner or later. But I’m enjoying it while it lasts!