Friday, September 28, 2007

Greetings from Anchorage and the start of the 2007 Bouchercon

I arrived late Wednesday after the expected travel hassles and delays and have taken up residence in the Hilton, where I am already a regular at the hotel’s overpriced bar. As with most trips I’ve ever undertaken, I didn’t do a bit of background research on Anchorage so it’s all coming as a pleasant surprise – especially these mountains right up close to the city, just to the east if my sense of direction works this far north. It’s not cold, with the temps in the high 40s, what the early fall is supposed to be like in Rochester (where it was 92 earlier this week). In fact, Anchorage reminds me of Rochester – about the same size with sort of the same feel to the place. I’m sure residents in both cities would disagree but that was my first impression anyway.

I’m always torn at these mystery conventions. One part of me wants to run off and see the sites, the other part knows that I can’t treat these events as vacations – they are work. In the end I’ll do what I always do, a little bit of site seeing (usually in the early AM or late, late PM) and lots of networking, session-attending, people-meeting, mingling, brain-picking and book shopping. Fortunately the program is filled with numerous must-see events, the highlight being the panels of which my editor, Barbara Peters (The Fan Guest of Honor), will be a member. Oh sure, there’s my panel (Setting the Scene. Authors Charles Benoit, Stephen Booth, Sharan Newman, and Ruth Dudley Edwards talk about why on earth they put their characters there on earth. Moderator: Laurie King Fri: 11AM) and the cocktail party launch of Noble Lies, but – as strange as it may sound – there are more interesting things to see than me.

Naturally Vicky and I will be bending elbows at the watering hole, as is the local custom. And naturally I’ll meet all these really cool authors and even cooler mystery fans, and I’ll buy way too many books and step out to buy a Diet Coke just as the one panel people will talk about for years is getting started – just like every other convention I go to. But this time, there’s even more.

I will be participating in the Authors in the Field program sponsored by the Alaskan State Government. On Monday I’ll be flying out to Point Hope, Alaska where I will teach a 3-day writing workshop in the community center. Where’s Point Hope? You won’t believe me if I told you, so go to Google Maps and see for yourself. I’m very excited about the opportunity as you can guess and really have no idea what to expect, that “Ignorant Traveler” approach yet again. I’m bringing some books about Rochester for the library (as well as my own) so in case any residents of Point Hope ever visit Rochester they won’t be as ignorant as me. Other than running the workshop, I don’t know what I’ll be doing in Point Hope, but one thing I am looking forward to doing is picking up two stones at the very edge of Point Hope (see that map again). One I’ll toss in the ocean, my mighty arm sailing it out almost ten whole feet. The other I’ll drop in the mail.

Yeah, it’s cool.

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