Bouchercon highlights

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Another Bouchercon is in the books. For those of you who don’t know, Bouchercon is the premier conference for crime and mystery writers, named after famed editor and author Anthony Boucher.

This year’s con was in New Orleans, where the humidity, the proof of the beverages, and the abundance of fried food all hovered somewhere around 90 percent.

As with most cons, the aftermath (and hangover) leaves ample time for reflection. Here were the highlights, from my end: 

  • Losing the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Yes, this was a highlight. I didn’t really expect to win, and the old adage is true: It was an honor that New Yorked got nominated. Especially considering this was the first year that my publisher, Polis Books, was eligible. The winner, Glen Erik Hamilton, wrote a hell of a book. It was an honor to share the billing with him, Art Taylor, Patti Abbott, and Brian Panowich. Of course it would have been nice to win, but I don’t have a single regret with the outcome. Only that I wore a jacket. It was too hot for a jacket and I don’t think anyone would have blamed me if I didn’t.
  • Seeing Chris Holm win for Best Novel. The Killing Kind is a great book, and the folks at his publisher, Mulholland, are great people—it was both proper and deserved.
  • Seeing so many of my friends. The nice thing about living in New York is that, sooner or later, everyone has to schlep through for one reason for another. But there are a lot of folks I wish I could see more often.
  • Seeing so many of my friends end up on panels and award ballots this year. I am not getting into a blame game or lobbing criticism, but I think it’s fair to say that the crowd at Bouchercon skews a little older, and in years past, so did the panels and events. This year felt much more inclusive for the younger crowd, and I hope that continues, because it’s one of the keys to keeping Bouchercon vital.
  • Having my wife along for the ride. Besides that everyone got to see how lucky I am to have such a smart and pretty spouse, it was nice to share the fun stuff with her. She’s been an incredible partner in my writing career, giving me the time and space to write and sell my books. She deserves to party, too.
  • Special shout-out to Ro Cuzon for hosting a fantastic lunch at his home across the river. It was a journey that sometimes felt conceived by Dante Alighieri—at one point the sun came out and radiated off the blacktop in a way that made me wish for the sweet embrace of death. But I ate the best jambalaya I’ve ever had. Ever.
  • I did my first Bouchercon panel, and it seemed to go well, in that I didn’t vomit on myself or accidentally say something inappropriate. I was joined by Craig Faustus Buck, who I’ve met before, but also Susan Alice Bickford, Barbara N.S. Nickless, and Lisa Turner, none of whom I met before, but were all brilliant. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot from the four of them.
  • I didn’t buy a lot of books because I don’t buy a lot of books in hard copy anymore (we have too many books in our house and anyway I do most of my reading on my commute and my Kindle is easier to carry), but I was pretty happy to come home with a galley of Steph Post’s new novel, Lightwood, and Erik Storey’s Nothing Short of Dying, which I started on the plane and is really good.
  • I’m going to get self-indulgent for a second: I was blown away by how many strangers told me they read and enjoyed my books. A lot of friends and acquaintances did that too, and it meant just as much, but there’s something special about making a connection like that with someone you don’t know. It made me think my mom was hiding behind the bar and bribing them to do it. To the woman who was waiting for me at my signing, and gushed about New Yorked, and then apologized for gushing: Don’t apologize. Moments like that, it’s all I can do to keep from openly weeping, because this is a hard fucking business, and stuff like that makes it worth it.
  • How many people told me they were excited for South Village.
  • The Malmons. It’s always nice to see the Malmons.

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