Thursday, September 15, 2022

Boucher (rhymes with voucher) Con, by Catriona rhymes with marina

The title of this post is offered in loving tribute to Jess Lourey, this year's co-toastmaster, along with Lori Rader Day. That's Jess Lourey rhymes with dowry, whose next book features a character called Claude rhymes with howdy.

You'll have gathered that I'm ducking this week's question in favour of a Bouchercon round-up. Okay?

I wasn't one of the ones newly released from solitary, falling on friends' necks like parched desert travellers finding an oasis (because I've already been to Left Coast Crime and Malice since the end of the Great Pause), but it was lovely to see people out and about for the first time. For example, Barb Goffman, Dana Cameron and Lisa Alber, gathered in the middle from both coasts and loving it.

My Bouchercon started with a Wednesday Guest of Honour (and hangers-on, obviously) dinner at Wood and Paddle. There was fried cheese curds, there was walleye, and there was this en route: a statue of Mary Tyler Moore, flinging her hat, on the street corner where MTM flung her hat!

I went to quite a few panels on Thursday and Friday: on secret agents, on the hot picks of reviewers and bloggers, on historicals; plus the nominees for best PBO and best novel; and GoH interviews of Alexander McCall Smith, Attica Locke, Ellen Hart and Kent Kruger. The programming was excellent. Kudos to Jessica Laine Mork (here with her husband, volunteer Jessie Chandler, and me, on their anniversary (Wednesday)):

Friday also saw me interviewing the toastmasters. On the one hand, this was the easisest task ever assigned: asking Lori and Jessie to be wise and funny for an hour. On the other hand it was a nailbiting ordeal: we have been friends for years and I feared that a three-way conversation would be what I believe is called "inside baseball". I know what that means - exclusive and off-putting - although I have no idea of the etymology. I think we avoided it. Certainly when any of the many people who said nice things afterwards said those nice things and I grabbed them and asked for reassurance in the needy way that's so attractive, nobody broke it to me.

Saturday was a big day of panels for me. It kicked off with "Humour" at nine o'clock. Yes, that's a panel about comedy at nine o'clock on a Saturday morning. It should have been a disaster. BUT Jessie Chandler, that juggernaut of joy, was moderating and the panel also included:

Charlaine Harris! As well as Rob Osler, Matt Goldman, and Craig Johnson, so all was well. I even got the chance to ask a question. I wanted Rob to explain how he writes funny physical comedy - it's beyond me. His answer was hilariously unhelpful. "I love slapstaick," he said. "So I put it in my books." Great, Rob, I'll do that then. 

Panel number two was a pretty star-studded affair. With a critical mass of Scots, too. Matt Goldman (him again) moderated Alexander McCall Smith, Caro Ramsay, Jo Nesbo, Stan Trollip and me, talking about weather in mysteries. Allegedly. We drifted. Like snow. Also - this is pure bragging - in the course of the pre-panel chat, I learned that AMcCS is (or was on Saturday) reading one of my books. Yeek.

photo credit: Peter Rozovsky
My final Saturday panel - ethically timed for after the voting had closed - was a selection of contributors to the new MWA handbook HOW TO WRITE A MYSTERY, featuring Dale Berry on comics, Naomi Hirahara on historicals, me on humour, Alex Segura on noir and Charles Todd rather poignantly on writing in partnership. I came clean about having to Google "how to write humour" to kickstart my chapter and was NOT kicked off the panel and torn out of the book, but rather was assured that I'm not alone. Who knew?

Photo credit: Jean Steins

Later that evening our book won the Anthony award for best non-fiction. Here is Laurie and co-contributor Oline Cogdill, with me in the background. (Dale suggested it was like the end of A Fistful of Dollars and I'm saying "Reckon things'll be a little quieter in this town from now on . . .". Dale should have written the chapter on humour, eh?)

The full list of winners is here. But briefly, congratulations, Shawn, Shawn, Alan, Jessie, Mia, Hank and Laurie. And congratulations to all the nominees.

Sunday was a blur. 

Actually Thursday was a bit of a blur too. I came back from lunch to the news that the Queen had died. Immediately, I felt far too far from home, intensely sad, somewhat surprised by the level of sadness and generally rubbish. People were very kind. There were toasts to her memory and to the new King (still so weird), texts from home - both homes, hugs galore with no need to account for why hugs were needed and there was also William Kent Kruger. His GoH interview happened to fall a couple of hours after the news and I tell you: it might be hard to arrange but, if you are ever feeling bruised and saddened and discombobulated, Kent's sweet funniness and shining goodness is a great help. 

Terrible pic, but that's Kent in the hat

Of course, free speech means you can open a thread in the comments about the trouble with monarchy, and the disgrace of hereditary privilege, and the reasons people shouldn't mourn public figures. But you don't have to, just so's you know. You can think things you don't say. (I haven't seen much knee-jerk cool-kid sneering, thankfully, but I haven't seen none. And you know what I did? I thought things I didn't say.) 

One thing I did manage to do on Sunday, besides meet Helen from Mullholland Press at the UPS store (because they generously included shipping in their bundle of books for the auction*) was take probably my favourite photo of the convention: Wanda Morris, debut author, and Kellye Garrett, mainstay of the community, in the bookroom:

*Did you like the way I slid in the information that I bid on a box of twelve books at the auction? Well, the Women's Prison Book Project is a good cause, and I had only read one of the twelve, and that one was Kellye's LIKE A SISTER, so I can put that in a wee free library in my small town (see t-shirt, above).

My one regret is that I didn't snag a picture with our newest Mind, Gabriel Valjan, despite the fact that we sat together at the Anthonys and shared a drink at the "Underrespresented Voices" reception. Ocht!

Apart from that, it was a wonderful Bouchercon, even given the weird Thursday. Three cheers to organisers Terri Bischoff and Devin Abraham for their vision, their values and their sheer graft.



James W. Ziskin said...

“You can think things you don’t say.” Love this.

Bouchercon sounds—and looks—like it was a blast. Wish I could have been there. Great post, Catriona.


Gabriel Valjan said...

I had a wonderful time. I met many new authors and authors, who were but a name on the screen until Bouchercon. Thank you for the drink and for sitting at my table during the Anthony Awards, Catriona. Now, I CAN'T kill you on the page. San Diego next year...

Anonymous said...

Great Bouchercon roundup!! You’re the best Catriona!!

Deb W. said...

It was truly a wonderful Bouchercon- both for catching up with everyone and for the top notch panels. And I understand your shock on Thursday. My nephew had texted me the news and I immediately thought he was pulling my leg - it couldn’t be true. Then the fact no one was mentioning it at the panels I saw - I figured they didn’t know. Like we were in some weird bubble cut off from the outside world.
She was an amazing woman, whose sense of duty and civility has stood as a beacon thru many tumultuous times.

Art Taylor said...

Such fun to read! and reminds me (again) how sorry I was not to make it to his year's Bouchercon.... Glad folks had fun! And see you another time for sure. :-)

Dietrich Kalteis said...

What a blast. Thanks for sharing, Catriona.

Catriona McPherson said...

Thank you, Dietrich, Art (you were missed and your FOMO pic was hilarious!) Anon (ann?), Gabriel, and Jim. Deb - you'll like this: the Minneapolis coffee shop ran out of tea (that's British threat level 4, btw), because so many people were having a cuppa in memory of HMQ.

Erynn said...

Fantastic summary of the conference! It was my first Bouchercon; and it was a whirlwind. As a pre-published writer, it was wonderful to meet so many talented authors, readers, and publishing industry folks.You and so many other authors were kind enough to share helpful advice, stories from your own writing journeys and encouragement.

Richard Koreto said...

Smashing round-up. Next year, we'll give you a microphone so you can do a "play by play" for the folks back home.

Ann said...

What Jim said

Ann said...

What anon said — not me tho

Ann said...

Thank you for this great summing up C. And for letting me be sad with you. Next year somewhere for sure. I miss your face. Xo

Susan C Shea said...

Your post was almost - almost - as fun as being there must have been. I hope some of the interviews are posted somewhere. Will look for them. Next year....

Greg Herren said...

Whew. Thanks for this, Catriona! I didn't do a round-up because it was all a blur but yours is perfect!

Terry said...

It was a wonderful Bouchercon, and even getting Covid didn't dampen my enthusiasm. I hoped for an inspiration on how to fix a particular problem in a book I'm working on, and Sunday morning, just before my panel I attended a panel that gave me just what I needed! That's Bouchercon for you.

Catriona McPherson said...

Thank you, Terry, Ann, Susan, Greg, and Richard. Richard, I've got a list of people I didn't see enough of and you are on it, for sure.