Monday, September 29, 2014
CHARLES: I remember my first Bouchercon clearly. We’d just published our very first Rutledge, A TEST OF WILLS, and it was up for an Anthony for Best First. I was the new kid on the block in Monterrey, excited and amazed to find myself elbow to elbow with authors whose names were already legends. Many of these authors have become close friends. But what was really impressive was the warm welcome I was given by the mystery community. We didn’t win, but it didn’t matter. We were accepted by fans and writers alike. Bouchercon is big, but it isn’t overwhelming, and I guess I got hooked by that feeling of community. That’s why I’ve been to so many more since then.
CAROLINE: I didn’t make it to Monterrey with Charles, but I’ve been to many Bouchercons since then. And Charles is right, there’s a strong sense of community among mystery fans and mystery authors. Each year you enjoy different programs, different cities, but all those familiar faces make it a homecoming. I planned one of the panel arcs in Las Vegas, and I found out just how hard the committees work to get the best combinations of talent possible. Ever since then, I’ve had a great respect for what goes on behind the scenes! Which is my favorite Bouchercon? Each one has had so much to offer that I can’t possibly decide. But interviewing Anne Perry in Albany last year was an absolutely marvelous experience!
Monday, September 22, 2014
By Andrew Kaplan
Music is memory. That was the take-away from my first Bouchercon in Cleveland. (Cleveland, really? Yes, Cleveland.) Starting with ceremonies at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’d never been to either Cleveland or the museum and thought it might be hokey, but instead found myself walking through the exhibits and reliving my life in the music. And at the venue, meeting people like Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter, Carol, with whom I once did a Connie Martinson TV show (Connie still does the best book interviews in the business). For an author, there were unexpected experiences, like walking down a hall and having someone I had never seen before suddenly thrust mint first edition copies of some of my out of print books at me and ask me to sign as if he’d been waiting for me. I did a regular book signing for Mystery Mike, a panel with some fascinating fellow authors and a packed room who asked really perceptive questions (trust me, that doesn’t always happen), and went to a HarperCollins cocktail party (the one common denominator in all literature is alcohol), because the best thing about these events is getting together with other writers. My agent invited us to a private party at a Slovenian restaurant (pierogies, sausages, kielbasa, and not a vegetable or anything remotely green in sight) complete with a polka band in lederhosen. Many toasts and laughs there with great writers like Bob Randisi and Mister Cleveland himself, Les Roberts. I wound up sitting next to one of my idols, Sara Paretsky, with whom I also danced a brief polka (brief only because I couldn’t keep up with her). My wife and I went to panels, but we got outside too. It was cool and grey in Cleveland, cold at night. We went for a walk by Lake Erie and ate at a great restaurant on East Fourth Street. Cleveland will surprise you. Most American cities will.
So what will happen at Bouchercon 2014 in Long Beach? I have no idea, except that it will be unexpected. And this time, I plan to dance a flamenco with Sara Paretsky.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Do you know there is a special limited ticketed event to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the creation of Nero Wolfe? Join the Wolfe Pack and members of Rex Stout's family at this gala event filled with song parodies, toasts, themed quizzes, and general hilarity as they celebrate Stout's magnificent legacy. The event takes place on Friday at the Skyroom and requires a separate ticket. All are welcome! Learn more.
Monday, September 15, 2014
By Nancy Allen, Author of The Code of the Hills: An Ozarks Mystery (HarperCollins/Witness Impulse, 2014)
It hardly seems possible that almost a year has passed since I arrived in Albany for my first writers’ conference, as a new HarperCollins/Witness Impulse author with my debut novel still in edits. I was a Bouchercon virgin, and like all virgins, I was pretty nervous.
What a glorious initiation it was! Crowds of talented authors, throngs of their enthusiastic fans; laughs at the panels all day, parties every night. And books. Books everywhere, by all of my favorite authors.
Award for best panel? For my money, there’s no contest: it was the legendary ladies of the Jungle Red. The dynamic of the group was a marvel, and the way in which they interacted with their devoted readers was an education in itself. I’ll never forget the gracious courtesy demonstrated by Hank Phillippi Ryan to all of the fans who clamored for a word with her, and I took note: if I ever had any fans, I would certainly follow the example that Hank Phillippi Ryan set.
I was already over the moon, but then I really scored: I was invited to a HarperCollins party that evening and got to hang with Elizabeth Haynes and Lou Berney. And Hallie Ephron was there, in the flesh! I followed her around like a stalker on crack. It’s a wonder she didn’t dial 911. Maybe she didn’t have her phone on her; I dunno.
So I’m counting the days until Bouchercon 2014, which features another stellar list of attendees: my Jungle Reds will be back, as well as Lee Child, Karin Slaughter and J.A. Jance. It’s time to mingle with the stars. And though I’m dead certain that Lee & Karin & J.A. will be begging for a spot on my dance card, when the hour comes for the Jungle Red panel, they need to move out of the way, because I want a front row seat. Baby, I’m baaaaack!
Saturday, September 13, 2014
There is a special limited-ticket event aboard the legendary Queen Mary with Eoin Colfer and more than 20 additional Y.A. authors on Sunday, November 16th at 1:00pm. All proceeds will go to the LB Public Library Foundation for their Family Learning Centers programs, designed to promote literacy, and academic success. Price includes luncheon and transportation to and from the Hyatt Regency. You can find out more here.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
A few of the most important moments in my life took place in Long Beach, California, home to this year’s Bouchercon.
When I first moved to Long Beach in 1989 to attend college, I was still exploring who and what I wanted to become. I was both excited and a little bit afraid. The whole world lay before me, but was I ready for it?
Well, it was ready for me.
My visit to Long Beach will be haunted by ghostly memories of my college life — the day I had to flee a restaurant on Second Street when police told the owners to close up shop because the rioters were only a few blocks away burning buildings; afternoons spent in the CSU Long Beach school cafeteria listening to local band Sublime play a set; moments spent meeting two of the most important people in my life …
Twenty-three years ago, I met my husband in Long Beach.
Me and my European friends — chic Spanish and Greek women — headed to a local coffee shop, Midnight Espresso, to attend a poetry reading.
The café was packed and the crowd overflowed onto the sidewalk. We parked ourselves on a bus stop bench and sipped our lattes. A guy we knew, Dumas, came over to say hello. He was carrying a Baudelaire book and was with a guy I barely noticed. Boys who wore baseball hats were not my type.
But then this boy began to entertain us, standing in the middle of the street like it was a stage and reciting poetry, acting out the words, twisting his body and twirling. Who was this guy?
My girlfriends said they were going across the street to check out the cute waiter at the other café, The French Riviera. Was I coming?
At this point, the baseball cap boy was sitting on the bench beside me, speaking poetry into my ear.
I stayed behind, not even aware that my friends had left.
Twenty-four years ago, I met my best friend in Long Beach.
I went to a college party with a German exchange student and was introduced to Manisha. She was exotic and glamorous with with her proper British accent and her giant, kohl-rimmed black eyes and gobs of luxurious black hair.
Although on the surface we were nothing alike — she had been raised in a traditional East Indian family in Zimbabwe where she had a crocodile for a pet — we both instantly recognized one another as kindred spirits and have been best friends ever since.
Twenty-five years ago, I debated whether to change my major at Cal State Long Beach from business to creative writing. I had dreamed of being a writer my whole life. I tossed and turned with the decision and ultimately was afraid that the degree would be meaningless. As a compromise, I decided to study journalism. I became an editor at The Union student-run newspaper and fell in love with journalism, discarding my dreams of being a fiction writer.
It took a long time for me to become brave enough to try my hand at fiction. In reality, it took letting go of my fear of failure — something that could have only come with age and maturity.
So, now, when I go to Bouchercon, I will take a day to walk the same streets that a young, idealistic college girl did so many years ago. I will remember the moments and places where I met my husband and best friend. I will recall the excitement of being in my 20s with the whole world before me.
A quarter of a century later, I will return to Long Beach, this time as a published fiction writer. I will embrace the girl I once was — with all her fears and hopes for the future — with the woman I have become.
Monday, September 8, 2014
I had no idea what to expect—just coming to America from Singapore for the launch of my book was already a dream come true and then some. On the train to Albany I remember feeling sorry to leave NYC even for a moment, then tempted not to get off when I saw the train line terminated at ‘Niagara Falls’ and was amazed when the young man in the next seat casually said he was en route ‘to photograph Marina Abramović’s latest project’. Could anything at Bouchercon match that?
Oh Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes.
My top favourite event of Bouchercon was the panel where Rhys Bowen, Deborah Crombie and Louise Penny chatted together as though they were just regular old friends with common interests meeting up—and as they chatted about their writing lives and each other’s books (and swopped name tags!) these wise, wonderfully witty writers made all of us in the audience part of their magic circle of book loving friendship too. In person as on the page, they made us feel special and valued as readers.
Then there was seeing Sue Grafton (life long literary crush) accepting the Lifetime Award and telling us to remember never to let the gratitude fade. And Anne Perry talking about her writing and psychic connections with her late grandfather. And Tess Gerritsen on how her emphasis on accuracy only let her down once—on a matter of parking space availability…
But Bouchercon was more than just seeing literary lumineries on stage speaking.
I got to help pack book bags and glimpse the immense ‘backstage’ work going on. I saw SJ Rozan whizz by. She walks faster through crowds than I can sprint so I didn’t get an autograph but I saw she really isn’t Chinese though before that I was swearing she had to be because in her books Lydia Chin’s family is totally like families I know all too well here. I got to meet writers of books I hadn’t heard of then but which I bought and enjoyed and I would like to put it on record here that I got a cup of sake from Barry Lancet’s own hands before Japantown and Tokyo Kill made him world famous!
It was even good that there were hardly any eateries open on Sunday because that’s how I met Dru Ann Love who directed me to the food truck. I’ve discovered so many new books and authors from her Dru Ann’s Musings book blog but that Sunday she introduced me to pulled pork sandwiches and Malteses.
I also learned there were new Nero Wolfe books written by Robert Goldsborough (I love Nero Wolfe—how could I not have known that?) I met the Laurie King book club members and got treated to drinks and supper and wonderful book chat.
Yes, a big part of the Bouchercon magic was in the book chat and finding people willing to talk books everywhere. Waiting for the shuttle bus from my hotel we started talking about Louise Penny’s (then) latest book and who we would want to be if we lived in Three Pines and whether Clara Morrow would ever leave Peter. One woman who hadn’t read it yet stuck her fingers in her ears and sang la-la-la every time she thought a spoiler was coming up and we called her ‘Ruth’. Over evening drinks at a pub people were discussing where in the convention centre we would hide bodies or body parts and ladies in the loo were worrying about what Sue Grafton would do when she reached the end of the alphabet.
It felt like I had found a tribe of people speaking my language.
Of course I really enjoyed buying books and picking up free books too. And I collect bookmarks so I was totally thrilled to get advertisement bookmarks. Fortunately there were arrangements for us to ship book buys home so all my book loot arrived safely. And Joanne and Danielle from Harper Collins were there and looked after me and my book signings beautifully, (only laughing at me a little).
The hardest part of Bouchercon was having to make decisions about which panels to attend—but either I made great decisions or they were all good. And the easiest part was signing up for Bouchercon 2015.
I still haven’t seen the Niagara Falls but I’m glad I got off the train at Albany.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
We've got everything in greater Los Angeles. I often talk about that being both our blessing and our curse: you can find anything and everything you want in the LA area ... but you may have to drive to get there. Hey, it’s why we have so many freeways.
But back to the positive: we've got everything. What do you want? Beach, mountains, deserts? City center, suburb, or rural areas? We've got industry and tourism, socio-economics that range from Bel Air to Compton, and ethnic diversity only found a couple other places in the nation.
And what's true of greater Los Angeles is especially true of Long Beach, where I've lived for most of a decade. Here, in a single city of half a million residents, we've almost got it all. Almost.
One study I saw online ranked Long Beach as the fourth most diverse city in the nation—behind Oakland, Sacramento, and New York, and ahead of Chicago. I've heard Long Beach is home to more Cambodians than anywhere but Cambodia, and certainly, if you want Cambodian food—or Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Ethiopian, Indian, Mexican … even raw, vegan, vegetarian, or other specialty cuisine—you've got a variety of options.
We've got other kinds of neighborhoods, as well. You can visit the projects where Snoop Dogg grew up or tour the country club neighborhood where Ferris Bueller and Donnie Darko lived (cinematically, at least). In between, we have a host of friendly, character-rich neighborhoods. And did you know one of the CSIs is filmed here? That's right, make the pavement wet, and Long Beach becomes Miami. So we’ve got Florida, too.
Up near the Long Beach Airport (which I recommend flying into), we've got some remnants of World War II era airplane manufacturing, which we're told will become an automotive plant in the next few years. We've got a couple factories of the mind also, in our community college and a state university.
If all those weren't enough attractions, we've got real ones. There's that big boat (the Queen Mary), a fantastic aquarium (the Aquarium of the Pacific), and the waterfront area that's been revitalized, in part due to a bunch of cars zooming around every April (the Long Beach Grand Prix). We've got great weather here, even for LA, given our waterfront status (proximity to the ocean means we stay more temperate than a lot of areas).
But honestly, even with all that, we don't quite have everything. I live and work in Long Beach, and I write mysteries about a female race car driver. Long Beach has some auto racing for me, but I've had to leave town to find my mystery writing tribe. Until this November, when you're all coming to town.
Now I feel like a nervous host. Will everyone like each other? I hope that Long Beach enjoys a bunch of mystery authors running around for most of a week. But more, I hope that every one of the Bouchercon attendees enjoys and appreciates Long Beach as I do.
So when you get here, look around—from the air, from a vehicle, and from your hotel room. Appreciate the kookiness of a whole lot of very different people calling one city home. And think about bringing a little mystery to this vibrant, thriving city. I think it's about time!
Enjoy your trip, and let any of us who live here know if you have any questions or need any recommendations!
Tammy Kaehler’s career in marketing and technical writing landed her in the world of automobile racing, which inspired her with its blend of drama, competition, and friendly people. Mystery fans and racing insiders alike praised the first two Kate Reilly Racing Mysteries, Dead Man’s Switch and Braking Points, and she takes readers back behind the wheel for the third time in Avoidable Contact. Tammy works as a technical writer in Long Beach, where she lives with her husband and many cars. Find out more at www.tammykaehler.com.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Today author M.P. Cooley joins us with a guest post all about her first Bouchercon...
I attended my first Bouchercon in 2009 in San Francisco. At that time, I was struggling through a bad first draft of Ice Shear, hesitant to call myself an author. That said, I had no hesitation calling myself a fan, and was dizzy with the crush of fellow crime fiction lovers, authors and fans alike. I attended the conference alone, but after sitting next to the same people in several consecutive sessions, we bonded. The group of us strategized to make sure everyone got to meet their favorite authors. After the parties we’d grab dinner, sharing stories from sessions we attended, and having friendly debates on whether Dashiell Hammett or Ross Macdonald was the better author. (Since I can get the last word in here, the answer is Ross Macdonald. Sorry, Caitlin!)
On day three of the conference, I got my hands on a galley of Lawrence Block’s A Drop of the Hard Stuff. I grabbed a bottle of water, found a bench at the end of a deserted hallway, and proceeded to read half the book in one sitting. After dragging my bag full of books to Caltrain, I read the second half on the ride home. I felt the quiet joy of having found a secret prize, not just the Block novel, but the whole conference.
That sense of quiet joy was present when I attended last year’s conference in Albany. Ice Shear galleys were a few months away, but my publisher William Morrow came up with a genius giveaway: Ice scrapers. At the opening reception curious people came over, and once they stopped laughing, had me sign a scraper. Ice Shear is set in the Albany area during a long brutal winter, and I bonded with the local fans about why the area was a perfect place to set a murder. Several authors pulled me aside, telling me about their own debut year and giving me tips. While there, I met Hank Phillippi Ryan for the first time, and she generously agreed to read the book, giving me my first blurb.
This year, I will be attending with book in hand and will be participating on a panel for the first time. Despite some low level butterflies, I’m looking forward to it. Already excitement is building among all the authors and fans I know, and there is no question for me that I will come home with new friends, new stories, and new books to love.