I apologize for taking so ridiculously long to get this final Bouchercon post finished. But here we go, my final recap for this wonderfully amazing convention.
Saturday in St. Louis was the big day for me, and I started it off by attending my good friend Erin Mitchell's panel. She was moderating a Bouchercon panel for the first time this year, and actually she moderated two panels. This panel included one of my heroes, Gregg Hurwitz, the exceptionally talented Lisa Unger and a relatively new-to-me author, Linwood Barclay.
Erin was well prepared and did a wonderful job leading the panel. All of the panelists were humorous and generous. And one of the links among the panelists is their tendency to create ordinary characters and put them in extraordinary circumstances.
Gregg emphasized the importance of relationships in the stories. One of his goals as a writer is to encourage his readers to invest in not only the characters but the relationships they have throughout the books. And he's moved away from writing villains. As he's matured as a writer, he's turned more to antagonists than villains. (I just love that statement. I think it's often what makes the difference between a good book and a great book.) In terms of his protagonists, he's also shifted. His early books dealt with characters whose jobs it was to investigate the crimes involved. But as Gregg's shifted more to common people as protagonists, the motives for what draws them into their circumstances becomes wide open.
Linwood believes that his background as a humor columnist paved the way for his career writing fiction - he always had a rather careless regard for facts, he says. Linwood likes to write about people who are ill-equipped to deal with bad people...as opposed to folks who are well-trained (i.e., P.I.s, cops, military, etc.). Part of his reason for this is that he doesn't know what it's like to be "well-equipped" to deal with bad people and he's extremely lazy; he doesn't want to have to research for months to find out what it IS like to be these people. Instead he wants to know what people like him would do if faced with those bad people; for Linwood, it heightens the suspense. He also pointed out that there's more room for transition in the character because they have to overcome a lot more in order to triumph.
For Lisa, it's always a character that she hears speaking to her or one that she's seen that pulls her into writing a novel. But while writing FRAGILE, The Hollows, her setting, started to evolve as a character and have its own personality and a "beating heart." Above all else, Lisa feels it's imperative to have an equal level of compassion for all her characters. That compassion lends itself to authenticity in the creation much more than researching "people." Lisa also believes that writers are first and foremost observers. They are acutely conscientious to who and what goes on around them.
The panel was a most wonderful way to start the day. My only regret is that more people weren't able to experience it. One other perk of this panel was snagging Will Lavender who was in the audience and getting this picture.
If you haven't already read my raving about his book, DOMINANCE, I encourage you to do so. After having met Will in person now, I know that he's not only talented, but an extremely wonderful person as well.
Another author I caught up with on Saturday was Bill Cameron. He was signing at the Crimespree table and I stopped by so he could sign my copy of COUNTY LINE. I cherish all my pictures with the authors I meet, but I have to say, I really like this picture a lot:
O.k., so I already yapped and yapped quite a bit for this final post, and this isn't even a fraction of what happened on Saturday. Before I give you the grand finale, I have to congratulate one of the most wonderful people in crime fiction...Hilary Davidson, as you know, won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. And I have to memorialize that here at the blog. If you've ever been so happy for someone's success that it completely eradicated your own disappointment for yourself, then you know how monumentally excited I was for Hilary to win this distinction. Congratulations, my friend! No one deserved this more:
And one more thing. I promise, this is it. I GOT TO MEET AYO!! This is Ayo Onatade who is part of the Shots Blog crew, and she is just wonderful. She's funny and smart and kind and I have to figure out how she can live closer to me because I started missing her the minute I said good bye. She lurks around here at the blog from time to time, but there's nothing like spending time with her in person. Thank goodness for Bouchercons!
As promised, here is the finale...Please try to overlook my bumbling in the beginning and I apologize profusely for the person who kicked the camera toward the end of the interview and wasn't kind enough to move it back. You can still see both of us, but we're quite off-center... my interview with the spectacular, funny, intelligent, talented, and genuine, Val McDermid - 2011 Bouchercon International Guest of Honor.