Last week, I had the chance to visit with readers from all over the country as I attended Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Activities spread between two large hotels, and I’d have to guess there were about 1,000 readers, writers, reviewers, and others from the publishing industry. If you ever want to steep your soul in crime writing and reading, Bouchercon is the place to go.
The panel discussions were thoughtful, humorous, and sometimes provocative, as we listened to writers cover such topics as “Just the Facts: The Police Procedural,” “Mysteries: Small Towns/Big Secrets,” or “American Guests of Honor Spotlight with Kathy Reichs, Tom Franklin and Oline H. Cogdil.” More than three days of this left me with my head in a creative swirl and full of gratitude for the many readers who came, bought books and asked authors for autographs.
Much of my time was spent with authors Catherine Dilts and Patricia Coleman as we visited each others’ panels and enjoyed a “death by chocolate” evening sponsored by the Raleigh chapter of Mystery Writers of America.
Some of the take-aways for writing I garnered included:
- Writing mystery is a great way to get to know the victim. If you explore your victim’s life through the sleuths, suspects, and witnesses, your story has a richer texture for your readers–Oline Gogdill
- When writing short fiction, find the one interesting thing that happens and focus on it in your writing–Pam DeVoe
- The author gives a blank coloring book to the reader with his/her story. The reader has the crayons to color it in. Keep the crayons in the reader’s hands–Chantelle Osman.
- Great fiction comes out of problems–Tom Franklin.
Another reason to like Bouchercon is that so many writing recognitions and awards are announced there. These awards include the McCavity, The Derringer, and, of course, The Anthony awards.
The McCavity is named for T.S. Eliot’s cat, McCavity, and is awarded by the Mystery Readers international group. The Derringer is awarded for excellence in short mystery fiction as voted on by members of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. And the Anthony, named for William Anthony Parker White, pen name Anthony Boucher, is awarded by the people who come to the Bouchercon convention.
Stop, You’re Killing Me editors Lucinda Surber and Stan Ulrich keep an up-to-date list of all these writing awards on their site. They were at Bouchercon again and helped people find more great reads.
Next year, Bouchercon will move to New Orleans. Should be great.