Friday, December 13, 2013

Bouchercon Interviews, Part 9: Michelle Turlock Isler

It is primarily writers who read this blog. That makes sense, as most of its content is geared toward the kinds of things that interest writers. The ongoing series of Bouchercon-related interviews has been no exception. Because Bouchercon is a readers’ conference, it seems only fitting to save the anchor interview for the most important person in the food chain: a reader.

Writers spend a great deal of time alone, making things up for their own satisfaction. Without readers, this is an utterly masturbatory exercise. (As opposed to the mostly masturbatory exercise it is, by definition.) Without readers, writers are the proverbial trees falling in forests with no one to hear them. Worse, actually. Trees serve a purpose, just by being. Without readers, there is no need for writers.

Michelle Turlock Isler is a readerissima. Her voluminous reading habit is surpassed only by her willingness to support new writers. I believe—with good reason—she is the first person to read one of my books (Wild Bill) who did not know me personally. Since then she has been an enthusiastic supporter; it was a highlight of my Bouchercon trip to get to meet her and her husband, Tommy.

Michelle has been kind enough to cap the Bouchercon series of interviews by answering some questions.

One Bite at a Time: What made you decide to come to Albany?

Michelle Turlock Isler: I love Bouchercon. I love meeting new writers and talking with the writers that I only communicate with through social networking. I always hope to find new books and to be introduced to new genres.

OBAAT: What was your experience? Was it what you expected?

MTI: I had a wonderful experience. It was exactly what I expected. So many nice people, great panels, and numerous conversations that I wish would never end. I received some books that introduced me to some really talented writers out there.

OBAAT: What’s the most important aspect of Bouchercon for you? (This year, or any year?)

MTI: I always enjoy the panels. I would attend every panel if possible. I love hearing the writers discuss why they write the books they write and how they research their books. I wish I had more time to visit the panels of writers that are out of my comfort zone (like cozy mysteries or fantasies).

OBAAT: What do you look for when deciding which panels to attend?

MTI: I choose my favorite genre and my favorite authors. I, also, choose the subject matter that intrigues me.

OBAAT: What makes a panel good for you?

MTI: A good panel is a panel that allows the writers to talk and answer questions in depth. I do not like it when they are rushed through and never even touch on the original question.

OBAAT: Would you like to see more or fewer questions from the audience?

MTI: I love more questions from the audience. I dislike silly questions or when a person chooses that time to criticize the writers. I think that is when the moderator should step in and nip that in the bud. The writers are kind enough to give their time and reveal private moments in their writing habits. That is not a place for readers to judge them and verbalize their disapproval.

OBAAT: What’s your favorite Bouchercon story, from this year or any past years?

MTI: You asked for it. I get very enthusiastic when I discuss my experience at Bouchercon events. I went in 2011. I purchased a rare, unedited manuscript of Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais. There are only seven of them in the world. I, also, received a Mystery Scene magazine introducing Robert Crais as an up and coming writer. He was kind to sign both copies for me and they are framed and hanging in my house. This same Bouchercon gave me the opportunity to walk around and talk with Scott Phillips, Benjamin Whitmer, Peter Farris, Keith Rawson, and Cameron Ashley. I was able to talk to Daniel Woodrell and I even had Frank Bill make a list of authors I should read on a bar napkin. (I still have that) All of this took place in one day. At Bouchercon 2013, I was so excited to meet Eric Beetner and tell him how much I admire his artwork. I met some of my favorite new writers like Tom Pitts, Joe Clifford, and Dana King. I was able to curse with Joe Clifford when Gillian Flynn lost Best Novel of the year. Rats. It is always great to put faces on the people you converse with on social network. There are many names I left out, but I know you are limited on space.

OBAAT: Is there anything else on your mind, something I may have left out?

MTI: Two things. I think that when there is a moderator on a panel, that they should ask the question and allow the writer to answer in depth. I do not have much respect for people who ask questions and them turn around and start discussing their own writing experience. It is never pleasant when the moderator turns it into a monologue. I do not respect moderators who choose that time to demean the writers on the panel. My other request is to try and scatter the panels. This year we had two noir panels at the same time. I think it would be great to mix it up and give everyone a chance to see a noir, thriller, cozy, legal, etc. each day.

That is my experience at Bouchercon. I plan to attend more often, now. I am only a reader. I try to review as many books as I can. I always get intimidated with my lack of writing skills and chicken out when it comes to writing reviews. If I could just say – Wow, that was a great page turner – then you would see more. But, I know people have been criticized by writers for only saying something so simple. There are so many books and great writers out there that I am saddened to see how they have to battle to get books published.

Dana, thank you for letting me stick my two cents into the pot. You are a writer that I truly admire and hope to see more from you. Thank you to all the writers that give me so much entertainment.

Thank you Michelle, not just for this interview, but for personifying the kind of reader I think we all have in mind at some level. Your comments, and your gracious support, are much appreciated.

I’d also like to thank the other participants in this series: Jon Jordan, Judy Bobalik, Peter Rozovsky, Thomas Pluck, John McFetridge, Tim O’Mara, Ali Karim, Zoe Sharp, and Jack Getze. Your time and insights are much appreciated. Next week I’ll wrap up the series with what seem to be consensus thoughts (where there are any), and take a stab at the questions myself. It’s only fair.

Goodreads members, don’t forget to go over and sign up for the Grind Joint giveaway, today through December 19. And remember, all readers of Grind Joint can email me at danakingcrime (at) gmail (dot) com to request a free e-book copy of either Wild Bill, Worst Enemies, or A Small Sacrifice.

Bouchercon Interviews Schedule

October 18 – Judy Bobalik and Jon Jordan (organizers)

October 25 – Peter Rozovsky (moderator)

November 1 – Thomas Pluck (author)

November 8 – John McFetridge (author)

November 15 – Tim O’Mara (author)

November 22 – Ali Karim (firmware)

November 27 – Zoe Sharp (author)

December 6 – Jack Getze (author)

December 13 – Michelle Turlock Isler (reader)

December 20 – Wrap-up

1 comment:

Thomas Pluck said...

Wow, Michelle. That Crais manuscript must be wonderful to read. It was great meeting you in Albany! I hope you make it to the next one.