Thursday, September 1, 2022

Reviving the Annual Bouchercon Post


(What follows is an edited version of a post I make every year right before Bouchercon. The truth doesn’t change just because I won’t be there this year.)

 Readers are, by and large, introverts. By definition, introverts expend energy around other people and recharge when alone. That doesn’t mean introverts don’t like other people, though we may be somewhat more discerning than extroverts when it comes to who we choose to be around. It’s not that we don’t like spending time with people who share an interest, but we’d have to leave the house to meet them and that cuts into our reading time.

 (The Sole Heir™ and I used to have this conversation fairly often when I was between marriages:

 TSH: Do you ever go out?

Me: Not much.

TSH: Why not?

Me: If I go out I’m going to see a lot of people I don’t know.

TSH: What’s wrong with that?

Me: I hate people I don’t know.

After a year or so she came up with the next logical question.

TSH: Why do you hate people you don’t know?

Me: It saves time.)

 Bouchercon is the perfect place for such a person. True, it’s close to two thousand people in relatively confined quarters, but it’s not just that. It’s hundreds of people who are geeked up about the same thing you are, and are often hungry for others to talk to about it. Even better, it’s not just the thousand-plus like-minded readers you’ll see: you’ll also be tripping over the people who write the books you’re so revved up about.

 It can be expensive, but it’s a bargain compared to many other similar events. The conference fee itself is always reasonable and I’m constantly surprised when I see the room rate the committee gets at the host hotel. The only complaint I’ve had is the hotels routinely do not put enough additional staff on the bar. Doesn’t mean I don’t socialize; I just don’t drink as much. The hotel’s loss is my liver’s gain.

 So, dear readers, if you’re curious to see what over a thousand readers and several hundred crime fiction writers look like in the wild, there’s no better place to find out than Bouchercon. Family health issues will keep me away this year, but there will still be hundreds of writers who will happily talk to you and maybe give a few tips on to get the most out of your conference. (No worries, we’ll be fine; it’s more a matter of ill timing. See what I did there? Health issues? Ill timing?) Just exercise common civility when approaching, and wait until they’re not involved in another conversation or eating or taking a dump.

 By way of example, my favorite Bouchercon story began in 2008, in Baltimore, at my first conference, and several years before I was published. Standing on the walkway between hotels with Peter Rozovsky, one of about three people I actually knew then. He asked was I having a good time.

 Me: Sort of.

PR: What’s wrong?

Me: I don’t really know anyone here. (See above statement about people I don’t know.)

PR: (Looks around) Do you know Scott Phillips?

Me: I know who he is….

PR: (Waving) Scott! Come here a second! (Scott Phillips comes over.) Scott, this is Dana King. Dana, this is Scott Phillips. He wrote The Ice Harvest. (Peter does not know I am head over heels for The Ice Harvest.)

SP: (Extends hand) Hi, Dana.

(We chat for five minutes and Scott has to go to a panel.)

PR: See? Now you know Scott Phillips.

 One year later. Indianapolis. I’m on the periphery of the crowd at the bar looking for anyone I know. I see Scott with a group of people, but he’s someone I’ve met for five minutes a year ago, not someone I know. Scott notices me and waves me over.

 SP: Dana, we’re going to get something to eat. You want to come?

 That’s what Bouchercon is like. If in doubt, go. If not this year, then 2023 in San Diego. Or 2024 in Nashville. 2025 in New Orleans. If you’re reading this blog, you really owe it to yourself to go at least once. It’s like Vegas for introverts.



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