Monday, September 8, 2014
My First Bouchercon by Ovidia Yu
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.