I (Elizabeth) often tell writers and agent friends that the mystery community is one of the most fun, supportive groups around. It's one of the reasons I choose to rep the genre. To say it's a lively bunch is a serious understatement. Past experiences at the Book Passage Mystery Conference in Corte Madera, CA and Thrillerfest in NYC have taught me to expect some wild nights and pack my Advil for the next morning. This is an incredibly welcoming group, with legendary, award-winning writers embracing newcomers, everyone offering advice and enthusiasm. I enjoy their company immensely.
The Bouchercon World Mystery Convention took place in Indianapolis earlier this month and I asked my mystery client Rebecca Cantrell (author of the A Trace of Smoke and other forthcoming titles in the Hannah Vogel series) to report from the front lines.
I love readers. I grew up in a family of readers, but once I entered school I discovered that most of my classmates did not yearn to sneak away and read during recess. They wanted to play soccer or Frisbee or jump rope. I was aghast, but muddled through, convinced that I was the last reader left in the world.
Then I grew up, wrote books, and discovered conferences, most recently Bouchercon. Unlike my elementary school, Bouchercon is full of people who love to read. Everyone read under their covers at night, everyone knows fictional characters that are more influential than real ones, and everyone wants to talk about their favorite books.
Where else can you have a passionate discussion about the merits of cover art before you even order lunch? (Sorry about that, Dan) Or last thing before you stumble off to bed? (You know who you are, David Liss and Reece Hirsch) Books matter and their covers matter too. And not just to me.
Where else can you have a serious discussion on the effects of war on characters in crime fiction to a standing room only crowd when the lunch hour is barely over? (Thanks, Suzanne Arruda, Charles Todd, James Benn, and Martin Limon, fellow panelmates).
Where else could I meet my delightful editor, Kristin Sevick, and fellow Tor authors, including the charming Loren Estelmann, Tony-the-man-who-knows-literally-everyone-Hays (I should have introduced him to Kelli-the-woman-who-knows-everyone-Stanley) and have a fascinating conversation with Mitchell Graham about fencing and the silver medalist at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Helene Mayer, also the only Jewish athlete competing for Germany, someone whom Mitchell had actually met in person).
I signed countless books (OK, it was 88), and talked to writers and readers until the wee hours. All of this helped get me through the six hour time difference. Getting up at 2:30 in the morning my time to get over to the book bazaar required iron discipline and old-fashioned caffeine. It was worth it when I got there to see folks lined up, anxious for a chance to get free books. Books, books, books!
It was like coming home.
Rebecca Cantrell - www.rebeccacantrell.com
"A Trace of Smoke"
Forge Books May 2009