Monday, October 12, 2015

Laughing All the Way

What we love about crime fiction conventions?

- from Susan

With so many of us at Bouchercon, or still recovering from one of the other great gatherings of readers and writers held throughout the year, we thought this week would be a good one to share thoughts about them.

When you sit alone in a room, or inside your bubble at Starbucks, writing away, trying to make characters come alive and plots make sense, you can feel lonely, invisible – or, worse, an idiot to think you can write. So, stepping off the elevator and into a crowd of hundreds of people who are either, like you, blinking at the sudden wall of cheerful talk or else scanning your name tag in the hope that you’re someone whose books they’ve read can be intimidating.

It can also be a great high. These people know what it’s like to confront the need for 2,000 fresh words today. These people want to read your finished books, want to know when your next book will be out, hope you will sign their copies of your past books, want to have a drink and discuss book contracts. My god – you have landed on your planet!

By the time this is published, I will have moderated a Friday morning panel at Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The topic is humor in crime fiction and the panelists are such pros: Elizabeth Little, Johnny Shaw, Ingrid Thoft, and Brad Parks. All I’ll have to do is say, “Ready, set, go” and then stand aside. How can we write funny about shootings and stabbings and kidnappings and gang warfare? Who sets the gold standard in humorous crime fiction? Talk about the most outraged reader feedback you ever got.

I wonder myself why it doesn’t bother me to have my protagonist think something inappropriate when she sees a garroting victim. In real life, I’d faint. Dani comes awfully close to fainting, but when she gets over it, her inner cynic can’t keep quiet. Where in me does that come from? I love that critics think my books are “witty” and “wickedly funny.” When I started writing them, that wasn’t the goal, however. How odd is that?

We will be talking about the strangeness of pairing humor with violence at our panel, about stories that cry out for the balm of humor and characters who get by by injecting their skewed sense of what’s amusing into truly awful situations. For those of you who went to Bouchercon, my biggest hope is you heard the audience guffawing as you walked by our room and decided you had to check out what was so funny. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here are a few good books by the writers I’ll be talking with in my session:

Elizabeth Little: Dear Daughter
Johnny Shaw: Plaster City
Ingrid Thoft: Brutality
Brad Parks: The Player
And, a little self-promotion, if you’ll pardon me:

Susan Shea: The King’s Jar


Meredith Cole said...

It was great to finally get to meet you at Bouchercon, Susan! I hope the rest of the weekend was a blast for you...

Alan Orloff said...

It was great meeting you in person! The Minds were well represented!

Susan C Shea said...

I was thrilled to meet you both. Saw Paul a couple of times , said hi to Art, and hung out with Catriona. Lovely!