Tuesday, November 10, 2020

And Then There's the One About

Terry Shames here, talking about some of my most memorable stories from traveling to book festivals, conferences, and conventions. I have many wonderful memories from book events, but I only remember one about the actual travel. I was in the Phoenix Airport on the way to the Tucson Book Festival, going through the TSA line and a TSA agent looked at me, her eyes widened and she said, “You’re Terry Shames! I love your books.” And she threw her arms around me (no, not to cart me off to jail.) I can honestly say I’m the only person I know who was ever hugged with joy by a TSA person. Bouchercon is the biggest writer/fan convention in the mystery world. My first, ever Bouchercon was in 1986, in Baltimore. I was persuaded to go with two author friends, who told me that it would be a bang-up weekend. It’s still right up there with one of the most amazing conferences of my life, for three reasons: One, I was just dipping my toe into writing a mystery and every writer I met was incredibly encouraging and kind. They gave me agent advice, writing advice, and talked to me as if I was “one of them.” I now know that this is the way mystery authors are, but at the time I was stunned and gratified.
Two, I knew very few people, and one night they were all off at parties with their publishers. I went into a restaurant alone and as I was looking around, someone waved to me and said, “You’re here with Bouchercon, right?” I said yes I was, and Mary Higgins Clark said, “Come join us.” And had the waiter pull up a chair next to her. I was dazzled at the time, and I still am. Three, my writer friends were off to join some kind of splinter group that was having a first meeting to see if there was any interest in a group that would support women in the mystery field. They wanted to know if I cared to come along. Sure. A few years ago I had the great pleasure of being the president of our local chapter of this little splinter group—Sisters in Crime. I will never forget seeing Sara Paretsky standing at the front of the room delivering her passionate message.
Here's Sarah with some of the Sisters in Crime National Presidents at one of the Bouchercons. In short, I knew I had found my tribe. The fact that it took many more years to get published seems irrelevant now. Of all the other wonderful experiences through the years, sitting at Bouchercon 2014 in Long Beach waiting to hear the name of the winner of the Macavity Award for Best First Novel was a standout. Hearing my name called, and having Charlaine Harris, who was sitting a few chairs down, and whom I did not know at all, coming charging over to throw her arms around me to congratulate me, and William Kent Kruger on the other side with a beaming high five. And seeing dear Janet Rudolph’s grin light up the podium when she handed me the award. Of course that sticks with me!
So many of the events blur in my memory, but the blur is positive. I love going to panels and hearing the wit and wisdom of writers/agents/publishers I admire.
I love hanging out at the bar to get the latest gossip. I love having a chance to catch up with writers I see only once or twice a year.
There are really too many to recount, but I’ll close by giving kudos to Capitol Crimes of Sacramento for their outstanding Bouchercon this year. The team had worked incredibly hard for two years to make Bouchercon a wonderful conference. When Covid forced them go on-line, instead of whining and moping through a skeleton of the convention, the team made it into an entirely new and inspiring event. Many people were dazzled by their amazing innovation in handing out the Anthony Awards. It was truly almost as good as being there in person.


Dietrich Kalteis said...

You've collected some great memories from going to these festivals, Terry. Here's to many more.

Terry said...

Too many to cover.

Susan C Shea said...

I remember the two of us newbies at the Baltimore BCon, taking deep breaths before venturing into the bar, only to be grabbed and pulled into a group of amazing, successful women authors. That's where I met Deb Crombie, surely one of the genre's friendliest, generous bestselling writers. (Her fans include Hillary Clinton!)

Terry said...

Susan, that's right. Everyone so friendly and ready to support newbies. It's an amazing group.