The one thing I remember from Bouchercon

(The title of this post is not a joke about how much I drank this weekend but it very well could be…)

Hahaha ok seriously though.

This past weekend, Kellye Garrett won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel for Hollywood Homicide. Attica Locke won Best Novel for Bluebird, Bluebird, and The Obama Inheritance, edited by Gary Phillips, won Best Anthology.

It was pretty incredible to see three major awards go to black authors—especially when the awards are a popular vote by the convention attendees.

(UPDATE: I can’t believe I missed this, but I’m also so thrilled that Kristen Lepionka, who is part of the LGBT community and is a hell of a writer, won Best First Novel in the Shamus Awards!).

But there’s something I’ve been dwelling on since Saturday night, and it’s what Kellye said during her acceptance speech.

She referenced the dismal state of representation, highlighted in this list at Sisters in Crime. It lays out, in a pretty stark way, how unbalanced the crime and mystery field is (and this is just crime and mystery).

There are less than 200 people here who are traditionally-published and not straight and white. Just 81 black writers, 22 Latinx writers, 9 Native-Americans writers, 19 Asian American/Asian writers…

Seriously, give it a look.

Kellye said something important during her acceptance speech: “We need to stop treating diverse writers as a trend and start treating them as the status quo.”

I understand and appreciate the need for diversity, and recently talked about the importance of reading diverse books (both as a writer and as a person). But Kellye’s speech and this list really take the issue and underscore it and highlight it and string it with Christmas lights. It makes the whole thing a little less theoretical and a lot more tangible.

In a large sense Bouchercon was a fun weekend. I was glad to see a lot of folks and a lot of people got to meet my daughter and that was nice. I was going to write a rundown of some of the cool stuff that happened, and the lessons worth sharing… but I keep thinking of standing there in the ballroom, listening to Kellye’s speech, happy as hell for her because she is super cool and it’s a great book, and how I wished more people could hear it, because there are a lot of people in the community who were not in that room.

So, that’s the memory I wanted to share.

Go follow Kellye. She’s a smart and strong advocate for this issue. Bookmark that list and the next time you’re looking for a new book to read, or you’re setting up your own event, recognize it as a resource that is both very valuable but something we should also be sad about.

And congrats to all the Anthony winners. It was a good year.

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