As mentioned last week, Austin Camacho has a finger in every pie on the shelf: author, publisher, and, now, conference organizer. With the inaugural Creatures, Crime, and Creativity conference around the corner (September 13 – 15 in Hunt Valley Maryland, north of Baltimore), Let’s take a few minutes with Austin to see how things are shaking out.
One Bite At a Time: What prompted you to start a conference from scratch?
Austin Camacho: I love the Love is Murder conference, which is a gathering that welcomes readers as well as writers. It attracts a broad spectrum of fans and authors. Mystery lovers mingle with thriller, horror and romantic suspense fans and share what it’s like to be a fan or a creator. It has been my long held dream to hold a “Love is Murder East” expanding the multi-genre concept, and since there's nothing like this for folks in the Mid-Atlantic states, my Intrigue Publishing partners agreed to give it a shot.
OBAAT: The Creatures, Crimes and Creativity conference crosses genre lines, which is a bit unusual for a readers/writers conference. (The web site notes the conference purpose is “to gather readers and writers of mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy and steam punk.”) Why cast such a broad net instead of specializing, as most conferences do?
AC: We were sure that by combining a list of fiction genres that have been overlapping of late we might draw a crowd. Each has its own conferences and it will be fun to throw writers and fans of these genres together. And for the writers it will be exciting to explore the similarities rather than differences. Writing a good thriller, a great mystery, a really fun fantasy story... they are more alike than most people think.
OBAAT: Unlike many conferences, meals are included with registration at C3. What was your thought there, instead of turning people loose to fend for themselves?
AC: A big part of the Intrigue Publishing mission is to bring authors and readers together. It's fine to see writers at a podium or listen to them in a panel discussion, but we wanted to offer the kind of one-on-one interaction you get over lunch, or at the dinner table. Fans can ask the questions they've always wanted to ask a writer, and writers can hand out bookmarks and business cards and explain why you should want to read their books. It's also the best way for newer writers to chat openly with more established authors. I think mealtimes offer the best possible networking.
OBAAT: You got several well-known authors to highlight the inaugural C3 (Jeffrey Deaver, Christopher Golden, John Gilstrap, Trice Hickman). How hard was that to pull off for a conference with no track record to date?
AC: The genre fiction community is very open and welcoming to interested fans and writers... and I'm both. I've met and spoken to a lot of great authors at Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, Magna Cum Murder, Thrillerfest, and other events. When I shared my idea with some of the authors I've met at cons they reacted with "Well it's about time we had something like this in our area" and very graciously agreed to share some time with us. (THAT'S the kind of networking you can do at events like Creatures, Crimes & Creativity!)
OBAAT: C3 has a wide-ranging list of subject for its panels. How did you decide on a schedule, and, maybe more interesting to a lot of readers. How did you place authors in their respective panels?
AC: Our schedule is based on the Love Is Murder model, but we looked at the last couple of years' panels of all the cons I mentioned earlier to choose our panels. Then we got a few great ideas from attending authors. It changed a dozen times before we actually posted the panels on our web site.
Author placement is ongoing, and I think we're doing things a bit differently from the other cons I love. Usually, I get an email saying "you're on X panel at Y o'clock." We have gone to each author and asked for their input to try to match their skills and interests to the panel.
I want to stress that it is not too late for authors OR fans to register. Attending authors' books will be available in our on-site bookstore and there will be dedicated book signing times. They can also sign up for agent pitch sessions. Each attendee will get a goodie-bag full of cool stuff, including our exclusive anthology filled with stories written by attending authors. Plus fun events like book signings, a Twitter contest and a scavenger hunt, with prizes like a Kindle, Amazon gift cards and paid attendance to the Love is Murder conference in Chicago. So go to the web site to register, and tell all your literate friends! It's going to be three days of great fun!