by G.M. Malliet
I've only been to Bouchercon a few times, but each time is completely wonderful, in completely different ways. In Toronto, I (by chance) had a drink at the bar with Ian Rankin. This time, in Baltimore, I had a drink (by design) with Laura Lippman. For a chance to name drop forevermore, it doesn't get much better than that in the mystery world.
Alas, I did not get to have a drink with Mr. Lawrence Block, who was quickly swallowed up by the huge crowd. His signing line stretched about half a mile.
This Bouchercon started out badly, however, and throughout there was a theme of firetrucks and sirens and general mayhem. The worst example: My husband and I had barely arrived at noon on Friday when he took a bad tumble down the short flight of stairs leading to the lobby. He landed on his chin, the EMTs were called, and he was taken to Mercy Hospital, where it took seven stitches by their wonderfully efficient staff to sew him back up. He is fine now--thank you to all who have asked--and there was no underlying reason he fell. (This being a mystery conference, I did have to wonder: Did he fall, or was he pushed? Several people came to grief on those slippy stairs, we heard later, but Bob won the award for falls: nosedive category.)
This being Bouchercon, wouldn't you know: As I chatted later with the EMT technician who helped take care of my husband, she mentioned that she is writing a book based on her life. I hope she remembers to email me. Hers would make a terrific story.
So. After the visit to emergency, things could only get better, right? And they did. I ended up going to very few panels because I kept getting caught up in fascinating conversations in the hallways. Thanks to an introduction from author Ellen Crosby, I met and had a long, wide-ranging talk with Genie and Rebecca of Books & Crannies, a beautiful bookstore in the hunt and wine country of Middleburg, VA. And author Wilfred Bereswill was instrumental in pointing out Bill Cameron, whom I finally got to meet, and in describing Tom Schreck so well I could also spot him (he told me you stood out because you were really ugly, Tom. He lied).
Felicia Donovan and Tim Maleeny were, like Laurence Block, swallowed by the crowd. Next time, guys!
The second emergency of the weekend came on Sunday morning at 8:30, just as the panel I was on (First-time Novelists) was starting. Moderator Chris Grabenstein had literally just opened his mouth to start the introductions when the fire alarms went off, and we were told to evacuate. Resourcefully, Chris simply restarted the panel outdoors. (We were soon able to return to the room, which is good: It is challenging having a panel with firetrucks roaring about in the background.) Panelists (see photo) were Howard Shrier, me (futzing with my gear), Peggy Ehrhart, Scott Sherman, and Meredith Cole. (That's Chris's back--sorry, Chris!)
Now code-named The Fire-Drill Panel, it was a panel no one will soon forget.
I have one more photo to share with you. This is Meredith Cole, my fellow panelist, with Laura Lippman. I won the charity auction for the chance of a drink with Laura. She had just won her two Anthony awards (best novel and best short story) and she was graciousness itself. We spoke of the mysterious ways of Barnes and Noble, among other things.
AND: Laura agreed to an interview here at InkSpot before the end of the year, so watch this space!
I could go on forever, and I have a few more photos which I hope to be able to provide a link to soon. Now I throw it open to the floor for discussion: Wasn't it a fabulous Bouchercon? And who's coming next year, to Indianapolis?