Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I spent this past weekend in Madison, Wisconsin at Bouchercon, the granddaddy of all mystery conventions. Type M authors Alex Brett and Charles Benoit were also present.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times (or considering the state, should I have said "the wurst of times"?). When you get a conference this large (over 1000 attendees) and many, many of them are authors, whether published or not, the experience can be a bit surreal. Part way in, you get the feeling the entire convention is saying, "Look at me! Look at me!" At least, I felt that way. I had this mental image of the actual mystery fans at the convention being swarmed by expectant authors and being dragged down to the dealers' room, not to be let go until everyone's books had been purchased. Roving gangs of writers would accost Madisonians on the streets, pelting them with freshly printed books. Mayhem would ensue.

It didn't get out of hand like that, of course, but the focus of the convention was certainly on the leading authors in our chosen genre. It is very hard to get noticed in that august crowd. Alex, Charles and myself did our best. Probably the best medium for us was our Meet the Canucks party on opening night. CWC members gave us a lot of books to hand out. Charles did an Ed McMahon to my Johnny Carson (actually, he's A LOT funnier than Ed), and Alex, a brick as always, did a very credible Vanna White with the prizes.

Then it was on to panels. This can be the best way to get noticed -- provided you get on a good one. I was fortunate this time out to have a great moderator, John Rickards, who was well-prepared and really tried to stay out of the way. Not all moderators do that. As a matter of fact, we had to drag this very good author into the conversation. In the end, I certainly enjoyed the topic (The New Wave) because it was wide-ranging and got not only the panelists but the audience involved as well. It also sold a few books for me, and that's always a good thing.

After that, it was down to hanging around, talking to people and taking in the odd panel, mostly friends whom I wanted to support and hear what they had to say. Hanging out in the bar during the evening hours can also be useful for networking.

So why was it the worst of times? My plane back got cancelled, so I had to get back to Toronto via Minneapolis and at a much later time, and I'd managed to get a horrible cold. Landing at two airports drove the thing into my ears and now I'm really down for the count.

But I'll probably still go to Bouchercon next year...


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