I was very fortunate to be able to attend the World Mystery Convention, September 6th-9th, in St. Petersburg, Florida! Otherwise known as “Bouchercon”, named after editor, author, and reviewer Anthony Boucher (pronounced like the English word “voucher”), the conference is a gathering of publishing professionals, booksellers, bloggers and reviewers, podcasters, librarians, authors, and fans. Bouchercon welcomes anyone related to the world of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense, and takes place in a different, most often North American, city every year. While this was the 49th annual event of its kind, it was the first time attending for Mystery in Minutes, and it was a crime fiction lover’s dream! I made some new friends (hi J.!), and I was able to meet people representing, and sharing a passion for, the wide and wonderful spectrum of mystery fiction, from cozy mysteries, to historicals, to political, international action thrillers, to dark and gritty psychological suspense, and everything in between! Many of the authors at the convention were well known to me; some authors I was not previously familiar with or had not yet read, and I am now looking forward to reading their work in the future!
The structure of the conference was that at the top of the hour, there were usually four or five separate 45 minute author panels covering different topics, occurring in different spaces within the convention site at the same time (because there are only so many hours in each day), and as an attendee with my own unique preferences and admired authors, I was free, each hour, to choose which topic and group of authors sounded most interesting and informative, or to spend the hour at the historic Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club’s Veranda Cafe enjoying a coffee, or sitting on the hotel terrace overlooking the marina with a friend and a glass of wine. As you can imagine, these were very tough choices to make, and I wished that I could have “cloned” myself on more than one occasion! After the panels, the authors would go to a space adjacent to the “book room”; the book room was where the authors’ latest releases were available for purchase. The authors would then be available to sign books either brought to the convention, or purchased at the conference, and they always seemed happy to chat for a bit with their readers. If you were very lucky, as I was on a couple of occasions, you might even have scored an advanced reader copy of a yet-to-be-published novel!
Elly Griffiths (left) signing a book for a fan at Bouchercon 2018
A few of the panels that I attended were:
In The Papers - Journalists In Fiction
The Knives Are In The Kitchen - Writing Domestic Suspense
Messing With Their Minds - Playing With The Mind Of Your Protagonist
Pistols Not Parasols - Strong Female Protagonists
Remington Steele Goes Digital? - Writing the Modern PI Novel
Smaller Isn’t Safer - Small Towns In Crime Fiction
The Stars Are Out Tonight - International Stars
What Goes Bump In The Night - The Paranormal
The “International Stars” panel with, from left to right, Abir Mukerjee (UK), Ian Rankin (Scotland), Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland), Sean Chercover (Canada), Mark Billingham (UK), Sara Blaedel (Denmark), and moderator Rick Ollerman (USA) at Bouchercon 2018
One of my favorite tidbits of trivia came from Danish crime writer Sara Blaedel in the “International Stars” panel, when she explained that she set her latest novel, The Undertaker’s Daughter/The Daughter, in Racine, Wisconsin, because, according to Ms. Blaedel, Racine has the largest community of Danish emigres anywhere in the world, other than Greenland.
One of my favorite questions at Bouchercon 2018 was asked by moderator Nadine Nettmann of the “Pistols Not Parasols” panel. She asked Sara Blaedel, Elly Griffiths, Nic Joseph, Amy Stewart, and Lesley Thomson: “Because mystery takes research, what are you most worried about being in your web browser history?” The authors’ varied answers elicited gasps and giggles from the attendees!
The special author interviews that I attended included:
Lawrence Block interviewing Ian Rankin
Alafair Burke interviewing Karin Slaughter
Michael Connelly interviewing Mark Billingham
Karin Slaughter (left) being interviewed by Alafair Burke at Bouchercon 2018
I listened to authors participating in panels, and, at the convention, saw writers too numerous to mention. I had the great pleasure of actually speaking with many authors at the conference, including:
Linwood Barclay, Lou Berney, Sara Blaedel, Karen Dionne, Mark Edwards, Meg Gardiner, Kellye Garrett, Elly Griffiths, Sherry Harris, Ragnar Jonasson, Nic Joseph, Jess Lourey, Lise McClendon, Laura McHugh, Katy Munger, Paula Munier, Nadine Nettmann, Shari Randall, Riley Sager, Joanna Schaffhausen, Alex Segura, Alexandra Sokoloff, Kelli Stanley, and Heather Young.
The 2018 Anthony, Barry, and Macavity award winners were announced at Bouchercon. The 2018 Shamus award winners were announced at the 2018 Shamus Award Banquet.
Anthony Award 2018 Best Novel: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Barry Award 2018 Best Novel: The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
Macavity Award 2018 Best Novel: Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Shamus Award 2018 Best (PI, Hardcover) Novel: The Room of White Fire by T. Jefferson Parker
Congratulations to all of the award nominees and winners in all categories at the World Mystery Convention!
It was such a privilege to be able to spend a long weekend amongst other mystery and crime fiction professionals and enthusiasts, and I am very much looking forward to my next conference, whenever and wherever in the world that may be!
Laura, Mystery in Minutes
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