Friday, October 23, 2009

Notes from Bouchercon 2009

I finally got my Bouchercon notes together. While debriefing myself, deciphering my handwriting, adding books to my Amazon wish list and movies to my NetFlix queue, several thoughts and questions came to mind. Please comment at will.

Do readers—other than those with a local connection—really care about where a story takes place as long as it’s appropriate and done well?

Interesting point from Peter Rozovsky’s Translation panel: it’s not just the language. Legal terminology and responsibilities also differ and have to be accounted for. Footnotes are frowned upon as taking the reader out of the story, but Tiina Nunnally and Steven T. Murray said later that a glossary can sometimes be used, which will accommodate those who need to know without hanging up those who already do.

Curious about the demographics of mystery readers. There are a few persons of color, but Bouchercon is basically as white as a Manitoba hockey tournament.

Why is it, the more irritating the ring of a cell phone, the longer it takes its owner to stifle it in a public place?

Among the coolest things about Bouchercon is spending time and listening to people who consider reading to be an important part of their lives.

I really have to read some Richard Stark/Parker novels. I’m tired of people telling me how good they are and not knowing first hand.

The overwhelming majority of crime fiction writers, regardless of status, are as refreshing and unpretentious as anyone you’ll ever meet. The bonhomie on almost every panel I went to was infectious.

Victor Gischler’s idea of noir is, not only are you screwed, but people are laughing at you.

Charlie Newton summed up the essence of noir as the protagonist is always hopeful things will turn out all right, even though you know they won’t.

Christa Faust said the difference between noir and hard-boiled is, in noir, you’re fucked. In hard-boiled, the situation may be fucked, but you have a chance to get through it.

Christa Faust’s sperm and egg theory of getting published. Some writers nurture a single project for years, editing, perfecting, accepting suggestions, hoping it will someday be good enough. This is the egg school. The sperm school believes in submitting a lot of stuff and hoping at least one gets lucky.

When asked about the reports of the death of the PI novel, Michael Koryta drew attention to the size of the room. The panel was given a small room, and the audience overflowed it out into the hall. PI fiction is in better shape than people want to give it credit for.

The Cozy Ladies with their extravagant hats remind me of Code Pink protestors. I’m never really sure how to take them.

The Telling Women’s Stories panel evoked a comment that serial killer stories are popular with women because justice always triumphs, so they feel safer. What about all the women the killer got to before justice prevailed? How safe were they? (This was one of several comments my genitalia prevented me from interpreting properly. It didn’t occur to me until the next day that choosing Hooters for dinner may have been an unconscious reaction to this panel.)

The Continuous Conversation was a great idea. The Book Bazaar was, too, though they could have used more room. It was like Filene’s Basement on the day after Thanksgiving.

As always, the best takeaways are the time spent with the other attendees. In my case the experience was enhanced by meeting, or re-acquainting myself with, Cara Black, Jack Bludis, Austin and Denise Camacho, Sean Chercover, Stacia Decker, John Desjarlais, Michael Dymmoch, J.T. Ellison, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Naomi Hirahara, Steve Hockensmith, Rick and Nancy Joyce, Con Lehane, Ed Lin, Jon Loomis, Barry Maitland, Stuart Neville, Scott Phillips, Peter Rozovsky, Mary Saums, Leon Shure, and a few others whose names were, unfortunately, lost in the commotion and lateness of the hour. I’m also grateful to Max Allan Collins, Steven T. Murray, Tiina Nunnally, and Tom Schreck for their graciousness and generosity when accosted by a large stranger with many questions.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Wish we had met. Next year.

Peter Rozovsky said...

What a cool, concise wrap-up. More information here than in any other I've seen.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"</a

Dana King said...

Thank you, Peter. I was trying to strike a balance, and I appreciate the compliment from such a respected source.