Monday, September 23, 2013

Back from Bouchercon 2013

I'm home from Albany and have had a nap, so here goes.

I didn't attend as many panels as planned or see as many people as hoped, due in part to the attendees being divided among a number of hotels surrounding the labyrinthine Empire State Plaza. I stayed at the Hampton Inn, not running into many others who did. Still, I never get to see everyone I wish. I embrace the unpredictability of who I'll see and for how long. Knowing glances, quick words suffice, even at times just orbiting old friends and those I want to meet as they chat with others.

At my last B'con, 2011 in St. Louis, I only got to wave to Ali Karim, and couldn't be sure someone I'd seen was Joseph Finder. This time, I chatted with them both together, and John McFetridge snapped a photo follow-up to 2008's Gerald and Ali Go to Bouchercon. I call it Gerald and Ali Escape from Albany, coming soon.

Albany's own John DuMond, a member of two of my discussion lists and first-time B'con attendee, was a much appreciated guide. We had dinner at El Mariachi Thursday night and crossed paths and traded commentary throughout the con. Here's video of John I shot from the opening ceremonies before my Flip Mino conked out unexpectedly:

I met Short Mystery Fiction Society President Tom Sweeney and touched base with his perennial con roommate, Jack Bludis, over two cafeteria meals and several panels. I could not attend the informal SMFS lunch Friday at 12:30 or the formal PWA Shamus banquet at 6:30. There's only so much time and so much one can do in a day.

The panel I found most enlightening was one not in my original plan: What Makes a Good Villain? Saturday from 9:00-9:55 A.M., moderated by Barbara Fister with panelists Michael Dymmoch, Steve Hamilton, Joe Lansdale, John McFetridge, and Helen Smith. After that panel, leading up to one in the same room about what's taboo in crime fiction, I got to chat with David Corbett about his experience sleeping aboard a boat to attend this B'con, and his preference for "Damn!" over "Shit!"

I was assigned to the Saturday, 3:10 to 4:05 P.M. What Are We Reading Now reviewers' panel and, thanks to Twitter, felt as if I'd known my fellow panelists much longer than I have. It was a nice mix of reading tastes and voices. Thanks to all who attended, including Canadian crime author Cathy Ace, my Lineup cohort Anthony Rainone, mystery newsletter publisher Chris Aldrich, and John DuMond, who took this photo:

L to R: Gerald So, Lynn Farris, Dave Magayna, Joe Meyers, Jordan Foster, Kristopher Zgorski

Away from the con, I attended Friday and anticipated Sunday Masses at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, just steps from the Plaza's Madison Avenue entrance.

Instead of catching the last panels Sunday morning, I spontaneously had breakfast with Anthony Rainone and we talked until it was about time to pack up and check out. It seems like two days ago, not less than twenty-four hours.

Cheers to everyone I met. Apologies to everyone I didn't see. Here's a rundown of the panels and events I attended:

Thursday 1:20-2:15 P.M. - Angry Young Man - Room 2 - What drives the P.I. with moderator Ted Fitzgerald, J.L. Abramo, Jack Fredrickson, David Housewright, Tom Sweeney, and Richard Lipez.

Thursday 4:00-4:55 P.M. - The Siegfried Line - Room 3 - Crime before, during, and after World War II with moderator Peter Rozovsky, James R. Benn, J. Robert Janes, John Lawton, Martin LĂ­mon, and Susan Ella MacNeil.

Thursday 7:30-9:00 P.M. - Opening Ceremonies - Hart Theater - As part of the ceremonies, SMFS president Tom Sweeney recognized the 2013 Derringer winners, and winner Art Taylor spoke.

Friday 9:00-9:55 A.M. - Worse Comes to Worst - Room 1 - Tragedy as entertainment with moderator Art Taylor, Joe Clifford, Nik Korpon, Johnny Shaw, F. Paul Wilson, and Vincent Zandri.

Friday 10:20-11:15 A.M. - Goodnight, My Angel - Room 2 - Readers' love affair with hardboiled and noir with moderator Peter Rozovsky, Eric Beetner, Mike Dennis, Dana King, Terrence McCauley, and Jonathan Woods.

Friday 12:30-1:25 P.M. - Until the Night - Room 1 - The art of writing the P.I. novel with moderator Ali Karim, Baron Birtcher, Jack Bludis, Brendan DuBois, Charles Salzberg, and John Shepphird.

Friday 1:50-2:45 P.M. - I Don't Want to Be Alone - Room 1 - The art of collaboration with moderator Barbara Peters, Barbara Collins, Max Allan Collins, Wendy Corsi-Staub, Jonathan Greene, and Paul Kemprecos.

Friday 3:10-4:05 P.M. - Light as a Breeze - Room 4 - How far can you go and still be a cozy? with moderator Donna Andrews, Laura Bradford, E.J. Copperman, Liz Mugavero, Katherine Hall Page, and Rebecca Tope.

Saturday 9:00-9:55 A.M. - Big Man on Mulberry Street - Room 6 - Creating the perfect villain with moderator Barbara Fister, Michael Dymmoch, Steve Hamilton, Joe Lansdale, John McFetridge, and Helen Smith.

Saturday 10:20-11:15 A.M. - Shameless - Room 6 - Dead Cats & Bad Girls: The True Taboos in Crime Fiction with moderator Laura Lippman, Megan Abbott, Alison Gaylin, Lauren Henderson, Greg Herren, and Alex Marwood.

Saturday 3:10-4:05 P.M. - A Room of Our Own - Room 4 - What are We Reading? with moderator Dave Magayna, Lynn Farris, Jordan Foster, Joe Myers, Gerald So, and Kristopher Zgorski.

Tell me about your B'con in the comments.


Ellen Clair Lamb said...

Shoot, I wish I'd known you were planning to go to Mass, because that would have been the encouragement I needed to go, too. I thought about it, but never even made it up the hill on Sunday morning to say goodbye to the booksellers. Here's hoping next year is a little easier logistically, and I'll make a point of saying hi!

Gerald So said...

I planned everything I did well ahead of time: Getting up for the 7:15 A.M. Friday Mass, timing how long I needed to cross The Concourse from my Saturday panel to the Madison Ave. exit and the cathedral. On one hand, I wish I could have been more spontaneous. On the other, I'm glad I wasn't. I needed every second I gave myself. Phew. :)

I'm planning on NoirCon 2014 and maybe a Crimebake sometime. Not to worry.

Linda Cahill said...

Hi Gerald,

I was with two other friends at the anticipated mass too, beautiful Cathedral and lovely service also best homily I have heard in a long while.