Last week, I attended the five-day Anthony Boucher (rhymes with voucher) Memorial Mystery Convention, better known as Bouchercon, in Minneapolis, which annually draws creators and readers of all sub-genres of mysteries: Classic/Traditional; Crime; Police Procedural; Noir; Gumshoe; Cozy; and Capers. Anthony Boucher was the pen name of a California author, critic, and editor.
The program consisted of panel discussions, interviews, and book signings. I particularly enjoyed hearing Dennis Lehane (Mystic River) interview S. A. Cosby (Razorblade Tears). The authors spoke about the impact of sudden wealth. “I couldn’t believe my words bought this car,” said Cosby, regarding the first purchase of a new car. Another quote from Cosby: “My stories show the cost of hurting other people.” I’ve read most of Lehane and I’ve ordered Razorblade Tears, which is about the murder of a mixed-race gay couple in Virginia and their families’ pursuit of justice.
Though Bouchercon is really an appreciation fest of readers and authors, I did pick up a few pointers for writers. A panel of agents gave insight into why they rejected mystery manuscripts. Turn-offs included over-explaining, too many characters, dream sequences, solving with magic, and a slow start.
Several panel discussions focused on whether the author planned his storyline or went by the seat of his/her pants (planner versus pantser). Authors spoke of editors/agents becoming active in determining the arcs of their stories, which I found interesting. I enjoyed the conference. It felt good to mingle with people who wrote and loved to read books.
In August, 2023, the next Bouchercon will be held in San Diego, California. I’m planning on going. If you love writing and reading mysteries, you should go too.