Why We Love Bouchercon

I asked a bunch of folks one question, Why do you love Bouchercon. Here’s what they said.

bc (28)Because not only do I get to see many of my colleagues that I wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to see, but because I love the interaction with the fans and readers. The convention is for them and I try to remember that.
Reed Farrel Coleman

It’s like a family reunion. All your friends are coming, there are lots of very good panels for excitement, and if boring Uncle Joe shows up there are enough people around to dodge him. You have a great environment to explore, unlike going to Aunt Hattie’s every year, and lots of new foods to try–and you learn something about your craft, hopefully sell lots of books, and make new friends for next year. If the Poison Lady is there you discover new ways to bump off characters, and the book room has the books you’ve been searching everywhere for–and jewelry. Better than a vacation! The big difference is, you come home with recharged batteries, not sunburn and sand in your shoes.
Cheers, Caroline Todd

Bouchercon Madison was my very first industry conference, and I’ve adored it ever since. It was the place I learned that mystery folk are family folk, and generous to a fault. If ever I miss a Bouchercon I feel bereft, like I’m missing a big, wonderful reunion with all the writers, readers, and mystery-lovers I love, and am sad, sad, sad.
Laura Benedict

I love attending Bouchercon for the opportunity to renew the friendships I’ve made over the years. My first Bouchercon was in 2005, and I’ve only missed one since. The best part is, of course, the after-program gatherings with pals, mostly at the bar or over dinner, a chance to catch up on families and career happenings. Being on panels is fun, and hearing friends’ panels is fun, and meeting reader-fans is great, but yeah, it’s all about the bar… But of course, because I’m a tax lawyer by day, I want to emphasize that it’s strictly a business trip!
Les Klinger

I could talk endlessly about why I love Bouchercon. What it all boils down to is that it’s an annual event for me to catch up with some of my favorite people on God’s green earth. To talk books, to collect hugs. To share a drink, a cup of coffee and/or a meal with people I don’t get to see nearly as often as I’d like. I seem to smile, laugh and cry more during those few days than the entire rest of the year – I wouldn’t trade those magical days for love nor money.
Kaye Barley

Writing is such a solitary act. All the hard parts, you have to go alone. That can really wear on you. Then you get to Bouchercon and you realize: You are not alone.
Rob Hart

bc (21)I’m sitting in an airport as I write this. I love airports – the anticipation of an adventure, even when I’m traveling for stupid business reasons, makes the hassle worthwhile (usually 😉 The sense of anticipation when I’m traveling to Bouchercon is the best of all. Visiting a city I’ve probably never seen before, talking books (and everything else) with my friends, making new friends, finding and meeting great writers; it’s the best vacation ever. I might not have seen my pals for a couple of years, but when we meet at B’Con, it’s as if we saw each other yesterday – the conversation picks up right where we left off. Bouchercon is the greatest hang out in the world – nice, friendly, funny, like-minded people who enjoy each other’s company. What’s not to love?
Rae Helmsworth

Why I love Bouchercon? One word. Camaraderie. The explosion of friends who gather together united by the love of books in the crime fiction family. A once a year event where I get to see old friends and meet new friends in places I not only dreamed of, but get the opportunity to visit. That’s why I love Bouchercon.
Dru Ann Love~ dru’s book musings

At this stage of my so-called career, I don’t attend each Bouchercon what with the expenses and what have you. But when certain factors come together, like this upcoming one in New Orleans, I still dig being on panels hearing insights from others in my craft, hanging out with fans, loosing at late night poker and browsing the book room for those great lurid 1950s-’70s paperbacks from the likes of Fawcet and Gold Medal.
Gary Phillips

bc (15)Why I love Bouchercon…Hmm. I love seeing people I haven’t seen in a while (even if it’s just since last year). I love meeting authors who, for the most part, are gracious & generous with their time. Las Vegas was my first B’con & I was terrified. The first person I met who wasn’t Mitchy was Reed Farrell Coleman, who looked at my home town on my name tag, declared that he used to live the next town over, and HEY! we’re neighbors, come have a drink! Laura Lippman not only recommended a good place to go for crab cakes in Baltimore, but gave me her phone number and said “Call me when you get there, we’ll meet up for a drink.” (I’m sensing a theme here….) Sharing a shuttle to the airport with Laurie King & being too nervous to say anything. Babbling like an idiot at Sara Paretsky – I still don’t know what I said, but I think I basically thanked her for being Sara Paretsky.
People who’ve seen me at B’con will never believe this, but I’m actually VERY introverted & I hate crowds, so the fact that I can go to an event like this & feel comfortable… It’s a wonderful thing, & I’m grateful for it.
Jen Santos

After a year of communicating with my mystery peeps on-line or on the phone, it is life-giving and SO MUCH FUN to be with them in person. Writers, readers, editors, publishers, agents, librarians…a whole huge convention of folks who love crime fiction and have brains that work the same as mine. Heaven!
Judy Clemens /JC Lane

When Jon Jordan asked me to contribute a Bouchercon Memory, I naturally agreed, but had to scratch my head. I have so many memories and anecdotes; I’d fill the next few issues of Crimespree with them, as to select just one would be impossible.
Ali Karim Jon Jordan Bouchercon BaltimoreInstead I thought of the James Bond game I play due to my enthusiasm for Ian Fleming’s upper class British Secret Agent. When in a bar with thriller fans, I often ask the following question.
“Tell me what is your favourite James Bond Film?”
Then after they respond, I ask a second question.
“Tell me what was the first James Bond film you ever saw?”
And 99% of the time the film they name, is the same in response to both those questions.
So as I have been to many Bouchercons and had many great times; and although from many quarters, the Las Vegas Bouchercon in 2003 has been maligned by some, but not by me. I would qualify that by adding that it was the very first Bouchercon I attended, and it changed me. And despite all the great Bouchercons I have attended since, which has resulted in ultimately getting myself professionally involved with the Organisational Board that is Bouchercon; the Las Vegas Bouchercon in 2003, [like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service] remains my favourite Bouchercon.
There are far too many anecdotes from that event to recount, way too many, though particular mention should be made that it was my very first meeting with Team Jordan, with Jon, Ruth and Jennifer.
Prior to Bouchercon 2003, Mark Billingham had remarked, when he heard I was coming to Las Vegas “this is a serious global threat, as Ali Karim and Jon Jordan meeting is akin to Matter and Antimatter coming together”. Mark was right, but the result was “all good”.
I especially recall meeting Jon, Ruth and Jennifer for Breakfast on the Saturday, and as we chomped on our eggs, and washed them down with flagons of coffee, Jon whispered in my ear “…we’re thinking of starting a magazine…….” And then Ruth winked at me.
The rest they say is history, the same history that you hold in your hands, CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE and its inception – a very treasured memory and a very treasured time I shared with Jon, Ruth and Jennifer Jordan.
That is what Bouchercon is all about, very dear friends sharing their time together, as well as making new friends, and rejoicing when we meet at this annual gathering.
Much happened in Las Vegas in 2003, and though the saying is “what happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas”, but that was before the internet, so if you go to this link > http://goo.gl/H3QUm8 and this link > http://goo.gl/vclIu2 you can see all the memories in text and a plethora of photos, recalling the events of days now passed, but which live on in our memories; memories we can use as a crutch when the world turns dark and grey as it does from time to time.
See you at Bouchercon New Orleans, as the crime and mystery community converge to celebrate the darkest edges of literature as well as being in the comfort of our friends.
Ali Karim
Photo of Jon Jordan and Ali Karim taken at Bouchercon Baltimore 2008

It’s where I met most of my best friends! Also: I owe my hollow leg to it.
Megan Abbott

Bouchercon has readers — lots of readers. Serious readers. Voracious readers. So many other genre cons seem to be mostly writers. At Bouchercon I get to talk to readers. I like that.
F. Paul Wilson

bc (34)Oh how can I count the different ways why I love Bouchercon? To be honest I don’t think that I can, as there are far too many. I will however try.

My love for this wonderful event started before I even managed to attend my first one. I had heard so much about it, it sounded fascinating. My proper connection started with Bouchercon XXXVI • Chicago, Illinois. It was not only the first one I had managed to attend. It was also the first time that I met Jon and Ruth Jordan despite the fact that I had already been writing for Crimespree Magazine (but that is another story). I mean it is the perfect place to go if you want to meet some of your favourite crime and mystery writers, attend interesting panels and get to hear the talk about crime and mystery fiction on so many different levels. I love the fact that volunteers run it and therefore there is no publisher’s influence. I love the fact that the best place to hang out is the bar (even if you don’t drink) and the lobby. I love the fact that everybody is very welcoming and you can end up arranging to go for breakfast with people you made friend’s with at the bar the night before or whilst you were sitting next to each other at a panel. I love the fact that at times the panels are standing room only. I love the fact that at Bouchercon readers with varying tastes in books surround one. Personally I love moderating panels and having to do the homework for it. I love the fact that the book room always makes me drool and that I can always find a book that I have to buy. I also love the fact that it is the ideal place to catch up with friends (even those that you have made online) from all over the world. I love the fact that I leave with at least the names of half a dozen new authors whose books I want to read. I love the fact that I very rarely go to bed at a sensible time. I love the fact that Bouchercon revived my love of graphic novels. Hello 100 Bullets! My continuing love for Bouchercon has seen me so far attend Bouchercon XXXIX in Baltimore, Maryland and Bouchercon XLII in Saint Louis, Missouri. So why do you love Bouchercon? I know why I do.
Ayo Onatade

I love Bouchercon because:

Even though the mystery community is a tight-knit group, it’s incredibly spread out. So while the internet makes it possible to talk to your friends every day, the chance to actually hang out face to face is a rare thing indeed.

Heck, half of the people I consider GOOD FRIENDS, I’ve never actually met in person. Bouchercon is like Coruscant in Star Wars: it’s the capital of the mystery community. Bouchercon is where you go to become connected to your tribe.
Dan Malmon

Why do I love Bouchercon? Because it feels like coming home. The people I’ve met through the crime writing world have become like family — some of my closest friends. And getting them together in one place at events like Bouchercon, where we can eat, sleep and drink storytelling is the very best kind of family reunion. A family that just keeps growing. Long may it continue. That’s why being one of last year’s International Guests of Honor was such an enormous honour and a pleasure.
Zoë Sharp

As long as I can remember I’ve loved reading. I love it the way some people love movies or music. So to me, the people who write the books I love are super stars. And Bouchercon is the ultimate backstage pass to the bold and the beautiful for a mystery reader. Whether it’s a chance to shake the hand of someone who changed me with their writing or an opportunity to hear fascinating tidbits about him/her as a person, the experience is elating.

Writers will often talk about how their jobs are very solitary. Reading is also, but Bouchercon transforms it into a community…a family…affair. Bouchercon is a big, yearly family reunion. The solitary readers and writers find their common DNA thread in each other at the convention. And they all celebrate their love of the genre, the books and reading. There are few better reasons than that to celebrate.
Jen Forbus

bc (37)Bouchercon is home. It’s the nexus point of the mystery community, the family I chose rather than the one I was born into. It’s where I see friends old and new and meet passionate readers and am reminded, again and again, why crime fiction is my first and best love, because of the wonderful people it attracts, who tell the greatest stories.
Sarah Weinman

Bouchercon is a place where you feel nervous about geeking out because so many awesome authors are there, until you see one of your idols geeking out at one of their idols. Then you know you are home. We are all bookish nerds and Bouchercon is the place we can all be free to geek out together, whether you are an author or a fan.
Bryan VanMeter

I love Bouchercon… because it’s the one place you can start a conversation by saying, “So, which MacDonald… Ross or John D?” … because everyone there understands how much the quality of your life improves when you’re reading a great book… because you won’t find a more warm, welcoming, inclusive group of people… because of the bar… and the bar… and the bar… and because I’ve made friends there I know will last a lifetime, and I just can’t wait to hang out with them again.
Brad Parks

“I came to my first Bouchercon as a fan. It was in Monterey, with my two friends from a mystery writing class at UCBerkeley. We prided ourselves on being the boldest fan-girls in attendance. We were on a mission to meet our favorite authors. It reached a crescendo when Peter Lovesey and Liza Cody happened to be late night chatting below our hotel room in the lobby. It’s embarrassing to remember how we ran and accosted them breathless and with books in hand to sign. Always polite to the core, Peter and Liza grinned and chatted for ages with us. This made my Bouchercon. Years later, Peter and I toured together, how incredible was that, on my third book. One day I asked…’do you remember some fan-girls bothering you and Liza…?” He grinned. “I thought that was you…” Maybe that British reserve had held him back. But I love Bouchercon because I am first and always a fan and get to meet my favorite authors and hang out with them.”
Cara Black

The thing I love about Bouchercon is that you never know what connections you’re making. One year you chat with a newbie at the bar, a few years later there she is on a new author’s panel. I’ve met collectors who’ve become booksellers, booksellers who’ve started annual conventions and convention organizers who become publishers. And the fans come from every walk of life imaginable. Everyone is at Bouchercon to have fun and the fun plays out over time in the most interesting ways.
Kate Stine

I attended my first Bouchercon in 2009 (Indianapolis), because two of my favorite authors, Sue Grafton and David Liss, were scheduled to be there. I’d begun writing my first novel (which would become MISTRESS OF FORTUNE) about six months earlier and during that time, I met Ali Karim through Twitter. He kind of took me under his wing in Indianapolis and introduced me to, among others, Jon Jordan of Crimespree Magazine. Later, at the PWA Shamus Awards banquet, I squealed when I saw Sue Grafton in person for the first time and Ali said, “Would you like to meet her?” A minute later, I found myself in conversation with the woman who’d inspired me to write crime fiction. Afterward, bolstered by several gin & tonics, I introduced myself to David Liss in the bar and we immediately became best friends. He might remember it differently but whatever. The point is that these were my rockstars and I met them and many others at Bouchercon. Now, as a published author, I’ve had the good fortune to participate in Boucherchon at a level I only dreamed of at that first conference. In fact, each year I attend it feels more like a family reunion than a conference. But I first attended Bouchercon as a fan and a fan I’ll remain.
Holly West

As a mystery fan (short for fanatic), I didn’t find the Magic Kingdom in Anaheim or Orlando, but in Philadelphia in 1998 and in every other city that has hosted a Bouchercon since that date.
Four librarians from Ohio decided that we just had to go to a mystery convention. It was between two conferences and we selected Bouchercon. Anthony Boucher was one of my favorite mystery reviewers and I also loved his books. We were told that we might want to select a “smaller” conference for our first one. But we had all attended ALA conventions which have 20 to 25 thousand attendees. 2,000 didn’t seem that large.
We arrived at the hotel and at first were overwhelmed by the many authors we saw in the lobby. We were sitting there and a handsome young man by the name of Parnell Hall sat down and introduced himself. Of course, as mystery readers and followers of DorothyL, we knew Parnell. But we instantly felt “at home.”
That whole weekend I felt that I had died and gone to heaven as I saw favorite writers and even met many of them. I began friendships that have grown through the years. We went to a panel every session and spent much of our time in the bookroom
I must admit that I don’t attend as many panels as I used to. There are people to talk to that one only sees once or twice a year in person. And I still leave the bookroom with a lot less money, but feeling richer with all those books I bought.
I’ve found people at Bouchercon (and other mystery conventions I’ve attended) to be very friendly and welcoming. After all, we share a passion for the printed word..especially when those words include murder and mayhem.
If you haven’t attended a Bouchercon, do so and, if it’s been awhile, think of what and who you are missing.
My favorite time of the year is when Bouchercon rolls around. As someone with few family members around, it always feels like I’ve come home…no matter in what city the conference is held. And I’m certainly looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones in New Orleans, which is one of my favorite cities to visit for any reason.

Doris Ann Norris, the 2000-year-old librarian

My first mystery event was Bouchercon in St. Louis. I had just found out (from another writer) that I was probably a mystery writer (surprise!) and so I signed up for this huge event and wandered around in a daze of wonder. It was like I had just been sent my owl from Hogwarts and here I was, formerly a Muggle, among the magic. I try to go every year now, because I get to see my friends. And, well, magic.

Lori Rader-Day


Bouchercon is homecoming, with the biggest pep rally for crime fiction anywhere. I go to see folks I don’t get to see anywhere else, to learn about new books and writers, and to talk, talk, talk about crime fiction and writing in all its forms. It mixes work, friends, and just the right amount of celebratory chaos.
Dana Cameron

Bouchercon is like one big family reunion. Only, one you actually WANT to attend. You may not see cousins Laura (Lippman) and Lisa (Lutz) and Todd (Robison) and Wally (Stroby) as often as you’d like, so you relish the opportunity to hang out at the bar and toss back a few like civilized adults. (Well, “civilized” for the first hour or two, anyway.) Everyone loves gathering around the campfire with Uncle David (Morrell), or listening to a spooky story or two from Pop-Pop (R.L.) Stine. Whippersnappers like Lil’ Baby Bryon (Quertermous) and Davey (White) keep things lively, for sure. And there’s always the opportunity to meet new members of the family. Of course, I still feel shy at these things, even though I’ve been attending for 10 years now. So you’ll probably find me hiding in the book room…
Duane Swierczynski