This weekend I was in Baltimore attending Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. It’s the biggest of the many conventions, attended by most of the heavy hitters of mystery fiction.
I got a big bear hug from Harlan Coben which felt great, got to hear Margaret Maron, Gillian Roberts, Louise Ure, and Dorothy Cannell, who can make a stone burst out laughing. Laura Lippman was the guest of honor.
The best was discovering a new author-new only for me- John Harvey, who was the international guest of honor. I just finished reading the second book in his new series-Ash and Bone. I’m told he’s not that well known here and I can’t understand why. I avoid noir novels-reading the newspaper is enough bad news for me-but I couldn’t put Ash and Bone down. Gobbled it up in one day. Anyone who wants to learn about writing-genre or literary-should pick him up. His strong spare prose showed me how few words are needed to paint a heart grabbing picture. I will read more of him.
I was on a panel with three other Soho authors titled “I’ll Take You There,” monitored by our publicity director, Sarah Reidy. The reason for the title- the other authors write series that take place in foreign lands or foreign cultures. Cara Black has bodies crop up in Paris, Grace Bophy in Umbria, Michael Genelin in Slovakia and Henry Chang in New York’s Chinatown. Despite the fact that The Price of Silence isn’t part of a series and it takes place in Manhattan, a young Chinese student is a pivotal character, which sort of made me fit in. Clever Sarah announced to the audience that since I was Italian, Manhattan was a foreign land in my eyes. Maybe they bought it.
That night-Friday-Sarah and Ailen Lujo, the marketing director, took us to a fun restaurant—The Bicycle—where we had a great time eating, drinking and getting to know each other. I spent Saturday attending panels, keeping an eye out for old acquaintances. I hadn’t gone to a mystery convention in over ten years. There were a lot of new faces, and for a bit I felt like a fish thrown out of water, but after sighting a few people I knew from the old days when I was writing the Simona Griffo series, I settled in.
Mystery conventions are exciting and exhausting, and they are a necessary part of a crime writer’s life. For months, even years on end, we sit in front of a computer with only our characters for company. It feels good to break out and mingle with like-minded people. Some of the famous may not give you the time of day, some are still pushing to be better known, some are hopefuls who are eager to learn from you. All are lovers of writing. That’s the best company there is.