BOUCHERCON 2016: THE FEELS
Bouchercon, you hit like a truck.
Since Bouchercon 2016 was held in New Orleans (or NOLA, as the locals say,) perhaps the thing that hit me was a zombie, or even a pissed off Swamp Thing. Whatever. The point is, Bouchercon has come and gone. And left me with THE FEELS.
And a ton of laundry.
If you’re reading this, then chances are you know that Bouchercon is the name of the worldwide mystery conference. Held annually in any number of host cities, Bouchercon is a fan-friendly event that gives readers the chance to meet, greet, and drink with their favorite authors. Readers and writers are a notoriously solitary group. But once a year, Bouchercon becomes the capital of the empire. All roads lead to Coruscant. As a four day event, Bouchercon primarily lets fans have an insight to the workings of their favorite author’s brains through panels during the day, and an open and friendly attitude at the hotel bar. The Bouchercon bar is historically the beating heart of the event. Fans are encouraged to step up and say hello to their favorite authors, while others use the bar to catch up with authors and other fans who rarely get to see each other during the course of the year.
Kate and I have only been to one previous Bouchercon, 2011’s event which was held in St. Louis. This was not long after we had started interacting with the mystery community, and needless to say, our minds were blown and we spent the entirety of the event standing in various corners, and then going to bed by 9:45 each night. Needless to say, we have been anxious to get back to Bouchercon. As fans first, our goals and expectations are maybe a little different than others may be. While some folks may bring the entire body of Lee Child’s work to the convention for signatures (which is totally cool) our goals were to meet the folks that we only know on social media, catch up with others that we see only once or twice a year, and while I didn’t bring an entire library with me, I did bring a few special tomes to get signed. Like I said, I’m still a fan first.
And this is where THE FEELS come in.
In an effort to sort out said feels, I’m going to put them into list form. I hope they don’t come off as too “inside baseball,” but here goes. In no particular order of importance:
- Surprise KitKat bars from Gretchen Beetner.
- Kind words from Kristi Belcamino and Harlan Coben.
- Looking like a doofus in front of Joe R. Lansdale
- Erin Mitchell introducing me to Lawrence Block, and being able to tell him that THE BURGLAR WHO THOUGHT HE WAS BOGART was the first mystery novel outside of the Hardy Boys that I ever read, and the book that made me continue reading the genre.
- Cringing while Angel Colon told us all the very gory details of how exactly he became a “failed” piercer. It’s a hell of a story.
- That time Josh Stallings and Lou Berney “hit a guy with glasses.”
- The majesty of Kristin Sullivan’s mohawk.
- Bryon Quertermous sneaking up on me all damn week like some kind of nerdy ninja.
- No one signs books like Lou Berney and Laura Lippman. These two get it.
- The look on Hillary Davidson’s face as she witnessed firsthand the strange shit that happens to me.
- Standing in the bookroom with Kate, Neliza Drew and Sarah Weinman and we all tried touching our toes. Gotta stay flexible, people!
- SABRINA OGDEN AND THE SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT GROUP SELFIE.
- Russel McLean confused me with Jay Stringer. Really, Russel? REALLY???
- Those stupid elevators.
- Watching Kate make her Bouchercon moderating debut, and rocking it like a boss.
All of the 1,800 people in attendance have their own takeaways from the event. These are just mine. Every year, a different assortment of readers and writers will attend the event, and the mix will be a little different, the vibe that much more unique because of the people mixing together. And that is how the magic happens.
Every year at Bouchercon.