Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bouchercon 2015 Redux

By Kay Kendall

I know, I know. You may be asking yourself right now..."What in heck is a Bouchercon?" When I was new to the mystery-writing scene, I asked myself that too. Now I know it's the world's largest mystery fan-and-writers conference, held yearly in different cities, and offering one fattening feast for the mystery-lover's soul!

Actually the full name of this beloved conference is quite a mouthful: Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention. No wonder it is AKA Bouchercon! This yearly event honors Anthony Boucher (pseudonym of William Anthony Parker White, 1911-1968). He was a writer, editor, and critic of science fiction and mystery who became known as the cornerstone of modern mystery analysis. He championed crime-writing greats long before the mainstream literary establishment recognized their talents and remained an indefatigable fan and insightful reviewer of all kinds of crime fiction.  From the 1940s until the end of his life, he reviewed mysteries and science fiction for The New York Times and other US papers. He helped found Mystery Writers of America in 1946 and served as its president in 1951. The Anthony Awards are also named for him and are given out each year at, naturally, the Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention.

Panel discussions held on a wide variety of topics form the backbone of the conference and are designed to encourage interaction among readers and writers. Typically four or more panels are concurrent, and my heart broke when some of my faves were up against each other at the most recent Bouchercon, held in Raleigh NC October 8-11.

In the last five years I've attended four Bouchercons--the first two as an aspiring author and the last two as a published author. At both of these last two cons, I've participated on a panel.

This year I moderated a panel on historical mysteries, called The Past Is Never Dead. Author-panelists Joyce Elson Moore, Rosemary Poole-Carter, Deanna Raybourn, and Holly West spoke passionately about the historic periods and characters they write about, and the audience responded enthusiastically. The large room was packed, and no one left. And that fact alone is amazing. Afterwards members of the audience came to tell us how much they enjoyed our talk, and we five left on a high, eager to have a repeat performance at next year's Bouchercon.

GAYLE LYNDS, queen of spy fiction
Speaking of which--the overall buzz is already high about Bouchercon 2016, to be held in New Orleans September 15-18. The conference hotel is almost filled up, a whole year out, which is almost unheard of.

No doubt next year's location will be terrific, but the event itself will have a hard time matching this year's programming. Many famous authors were there, but if forced to pick a favorite panel I'd choose the one about espionage fiction, before and after the Edward Snowden top security breaches. Everyone on this panel had some experience in the spy field, from a former CIA analyst to a US marshall retired. Authors were Gayle Lynds (called the queen of spy fiction), Terry Shames, Marc Cameron, Susan Elia MacNeal, and moderator Mark Greaney. The book I'm writing now has a spy theme so you know I was really enthralled. And if you've never attended a Bouchercon before, I encourage you to consider going one of these years. You are guaranteed to be equally enthralled.
Kay Kendall’s historical mysteries capture the spirit and turbulence of the 1960s. Kay’s degrees in Russian history and language help ground her tales in the Cold War, and her titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff too. DESOLATION ROW (2013) and RAINY DAY WOMEN (2015) are in her Austin Starr Mystery series. Austin is a 22-year-old Texas bride who ends up on the frontlines of societal change, learns to cope, and turns amateur sleuth. Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. In her former life as a PR executive, Kay’s projects won international awards.

1 comment:

  1. I loved all the Bouchercons I've attended. Not flying anymore--but if I'm around in 2020 plan to take the train to the one in Sacramento.