Bouchercon is an annual convention for readers and writers of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense, and I attended as both—a writer and a reader of those genres. I’ve written on the great diversity workshop sponsored by Sisters in Crime and a few of the best tips I got from panels as a writer. For mystery readers, the perks started once you step in the door.
Immediately after registration, participants had access to new releases that filled dozens of tables in a very large room. Tickets were provided to select from among the hundreds of novels available—from cozies to hardboiled to noir to police procedurals.
A panel of historical writers–Tasha Alexander, Laurie King, Lyndsay Faye, C. S. Harris, Deanna Raybourn, and Susanna Calkins—introduced me to authors and work that I might have missed before. I found one of Laurie King’s books, Dreaming Spies—one of a series of novels featuring Mary Russell, married to Sherlock Holmes—in my local bookstore. I heard about her writing process along with those of the other women on the panel. Tasha Alexander studied English and Medieval History, helpful for her bestselling Lady Mary series. Lyndsay Faye started her career with a novel of the Jack the Ripper murders from the perspective of Dr. Watson. Candice Proctor, writing as C.S. Harris and C.S. Graham, puts her research skills and PhD in European history to work with works in settings from London to the United States south. On the book table, I picked up a copy of New York Times bestseller Deanna Raybourn’s A Curious Beginning before I heard her speak, and her participation in the panel made me happy I did. And Susanna Calkins, also with a PhD in history, authored several books based on her interest in 17th century England that have received numerous awards, including a Macavity Award presented during Bouchercon—the Sue Feder Historial Mystery Award for The Masque of a Murderer.
While my tastes often lean toward darker and very serious novels, I find that I occasionally need to read something completely different. I never considered that I would be a cozy reader until I attended the panel on food mysteries, featuring writers Leslie Budewitz, Lynn Cahoon, Maya Corrigan, Edith Maxwell, and Nancy Parra. Each woman took an aspect of food and food culture as a context for a good mystery. After the panel, I went by one of the conference bookstores and picked up a couple.
Fans of Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, R.L. Stine and other big name authors would not have been disappointed by the interviews and participation in panels of their favorite writers. I hope the same will be true for Bouchercon 2019, planned for Dallas and featuring James Patterson. I mention Dallas because I’m a member of the committee working on that convention. we’re excited to be hosting it in its 50th year of convening writers and readers at this premier global mystery convention.