Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bouchercon - the end

As promised, I'll wrap up my Bouchercon weekend and pictures today. Before I get to that, if you'd like to check out an interview that's a little different for me, yesterday Shelf Awareness for Readers ran my interview with Simon Winchester who just published a book called SKULLS. Yes, that's correct, skulls, craniums, brain casings....whatever you want to call them, that's what this book is about. And it's essentially a coffee table book, so lots and lots of pictures of skulls. Mostly animal skulls, by the way. It really was a most fascinating interview, though.

Saturday started out with my second panel moderating and that panel was "Mysteries Made in the Midwest." I had a superb line-up of authors: Carla Buckley, Sharon Fiffer, Michael Harvey and John Rector. I have to admit that when I was first asked to moderate this panel, my thought was, "what the heck are we going to talk about with a topic like that?" But it actually turned out to be engaging and interesting because I had fab panelists. We talked about how the weather came into play in several of the authors' works. We addressed how Michael's setting in Chicago differed from the stereotypical "Midwest." And we talked about how the characters might be shaped and influenced by the Midwest. And the audience was extremely fun as well. I'm very glad I had the opportunity to be a part of the panel.

By the way, if anyone was there and took pictures of that panel, I'd really like to see them. 

The other panel I attended on Saturday was the "Heroes and Villains" panel. This panel I will admit was a bit on the disappointing side for me. I love all the authors who were on the panel: Mark Billingham, Martyn Waites, Karin Slaughter, Alafair Burke, and John Connolly, but I think I was expecting more - or maybe different. Some of the highlights though:

Alafair Burke and John Connolly

John Connolly mentioned that his hero is James Lee Burke, which made Alafair, sitting next to him, grin and maybe blush a little. Karin Slaughter said John was her hero for asking her to interview him for the Toastmaster interview. Martyn Waites' heroes are the people he worked with when he worked in the prison system. His appreciation of what they accomplished was very evident. I hope to sit down with Martyn some time and talk about his experiences working in the prison. They sound very interesting.

Karin Slaughter and Alafair Burke

Appropriate for the celebration of Banned Books Week, Martyn pointed out that he views people who ban books as villains.

Mark Billingham and Martyn Waites

John Connolly dislikes the animosity toward printed books. Personally, I've not really experienced that animosity. I've seen more animosity toward ereaders, but his ultimate statement that he'd like to see the two quietly co-exist is spot on!

As for what people prefer to WRITE, John says goodness is boring to write, so he likes his villains. Alafair says she strives to write characters who are hard to pinpoint as either good or bad.

Following this panel I was invited to a wonderful lunch with Jennifer McMahon. I was fortunate enough to be seated with Oline Cogdill and Janet Rudolph, who I don't get to see nearly enough. We had a great chat with Jennifer. That was a nice opportunity and I look forward to sharing with you about Jennifer's upcoming book in the next few months. I really enjoyed it!
Jennifer McMahon and Oline Cogdill

And the last day of the conference was short. I attended one panel and that was the Politically Charged Plots panel with Mike Lawson, Pete Morin, Allison Leotta, Stuart Neville and Lisa Brackmann as their moderator. Lisa, for the record, did an outstanding job moderating her panel. So kudos to her.

Lisa Brackmann, Pete Morin, and Allison Leotta

All the panelists were great and the content of their discussions was wonderful. I'm sorry more people didn't have a chance to experience it. One of the questions that arose with the panelists was if they get negative feedback feedback from readers on the politics in their books. Mike Lawson said his experience has been that he receives more feedback if he makes a mistake on a gun detail than anything about politics.

Stuart Neville and Mike Lawson

Stuart Neville explained that in Northern Ireland people are suspicious of every politician, yet they vote the same people back into office time after time.

Another question that arose dealt with how much political explanation has to go into books. The general consensus was to keep it lean. Mike Lawson says you'll bog the book down with too much detail and Stuart Neville said you have to trust your readers. They can Google what they don't know about or want to know more about. Allison Leotta said she starts out researching through interviews, then she fills in gaps with Google research and finally, she refers to all the collected data as little as possible so it doesn't come out as an info dump on the page.

I think my fascination with political crime novels has increased in the recent years. And really I credit part of that to Mike Lawson as his books have held me captive one after the other. So, I thoroughly enjoyed this panel. And afterward I was able to meet Mike, so that was fun for me. That was the first time I met him in person. And I was able to meet his wife as well. There's such a humanizing element to Bouchercon. There will always be people who intimidate me, but when you interact with the authors, publishers, publicists, other reviewers and readers at the conventions, it's rewarding and memorable.

I encourage everyone. If you haven't attended a Bouchercon, make an effort to go. If you need to wait for one closer to your stomping grounds, that's o.k., but don't miss the opportunity if it's close. It's really is worth your time and money if you're a fan of this genre.

And to throw in a little pitch for some other great events, I'll remind you that Murder and Mayhem in Muskego is next month up in Wisconsin. It's right outside Milwaukee. This will be my fourth year! I can't believe it's been four years. I drive from Cleveland and I wouldn't miss it. It's wonderful. Great line-up this year. Very affordable. And best of all, there are great crime fiction fans there. Check it out.

I'll be going to my first Left Coast Crime in March. This one is in Colorado Springs and Craig Johnson and Laura Lippman are the guests of honor.  Special bonus, David Corbett is the toast master.

While I won't be attending this year - I do need to stay home some times I suppose - there is Love is Murder in Chicago in February.

And also be on the lookout for general book festivals. I love the LA Times Book Festival. I've been twice and it's amazing. I'm hoping to make the National Book Festival next year. I say that every year, so we'll see. And another book festival on my bucket list is the Tuscon Book Festival. I've heard wonderful things about this one as well. It won't be this year as it's very close to the Left Coast Crime dates, but someday....

O.k. so sorry, got a little carried away there with my book event love. Feel free to leave other events in the comments and let people know where and when they are! Thanks for humoring me. Have a great day and happy reading!


John October 17, 2012 at 1:35 PM  

This is really worth reading, it has too much details in it and yet it is so simple to understand

Online GED Diploma

Allison Leotta October 27, 2012 at 4:54 PM  

Hi Jen,
Thanks so much for coming out to the panel early Sunday morning, and for writing it up so nicely. Would you mind if I grab the photos you took? I don't have any of my panel. Hope you had a great trip, and hope we'll have a chance to chat more next time!

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