It’s nomination season for the Anthony Awards, which got me to thinking about Bouchercon. Not that I need much prodding. It’s the primary event on my annual calendar. I got to chatting with a fan who’s also a friend of The Beloved Spouse on Facebook, and started looking at it from a different perspective.
Readers are, by and large, introverts. By definition, introverts expend energy around other people and recharge their supply when alone. That doesn’t mean introverts don’t like other people, though we may be somewhat more discerning than extroverts when it comes to who we choose to be around. It’s not that we don’t like spending time around people who share an interest, but we’d have to leave the house to meet them and that cuts into our reading time.*
Bouchercon is the perfect place for such a person. True, it’s close to two thousand people in relatively confined quarters, but it’s not just that. It’s hundreds of people who are geeked up about the same thing you are, and are often hungry for other to talk to about it. Even better, it’s not just the thousand-plus like-minded readers you’ll see: you’ll also be tripping over the people who write the books you’ll so revved up about. What could be better than that?
They’re glad to see you, too. I’ve been to seven Bouchercons in the nine years since I discovered them. I’ve made friends there, cemented acquaintances with people I came to know online, and have created enough of a footprint myself that some people actually recognize me now. I have never once been treated other than civilly, and far more often than not people have gone out of their way to be friendly.**
It can be an expense, but it’s a bargain compared to many other conferences. The conference fee itself is always reasonable and I’m constantly surprised when I see the room rate the committee gets at the host hotel. The only complaint I’ve had is the hotels rarely appreciate how much readers and writers drink and fail to put enough additional staff on the bar. Doesn’t mean I don’t socialize; I just don’t drink as much. The hotel’s loss is my liver’s gain.
So, dear readers, if you’re curious to see what over a thousand readers and several hundred crime fiction writers look like in the wild, there’s no better place to find out than Bouchercon.
* -- The Sole Heir was pre-teen when my tenure at Castle Voldemort ended and I was the classic single divorced father again. We used to have this conversation fairly often:
TSH: Do you ever go out?
Me: Not much.
TSH: Why not?
Me: If I go out I’m going to see a lot of people I don’t know.
TSH: What’s wrong with that?
Me: I hate people I don’t know.
After a year or so she came up with the next question in that conversation.
TSH: Why do you hate people you don’t know?
Me: It saves time.
** -- My favorite Bouchercon story. Baltimore, 2008. My virgin appearance. Standing on the walkway between hotels with Peter Rozovsky, one of about three people I actually knew then. He asked was I having a good time.
Me: Sort of.
PR: What’s wrong?
Me: I don’t really know anyone here. (See above statement about people I don’t know.)
PR: (Looks around) Do you know Scott Phillips?
Me: I know who he is….
PR: (Waving) Scott! Come here a second! (Scott Phillips comes over.) Scott, this is Dana King. Dana, this is Scott Phillips. He wrote The Ice Harvest.
SP: (Extends hand) Hi, Dana.
(We chat for five minutes and Scott has to go to a panel.)
PR: See? Now you know Scott Phillips.
One year later. Indianapolis. I’m on the periphery of the crowd at the bar looking for anyone I know. I see Scott with a group of people, but he’s someone I’ve met for five minutes a year ago, not someone I know. Scott notices me and waves me over.
SP: Dana, we’re going to get something to eat. You want to come?
That’s what Bouchercon is like. If in doubt, go. Look me up. Mention this post and your drink is on me. I’m not paying for it. I’m just clumsy when I get excited.