Greetings from the Cincinnati airport, where my flight has been delayed. Bad weather in New York City may strand me there overnight, which would be especially annoying since I had to check a bag through to Portland, and thus have no clothes or toiletries with me. Perils of living in the wilderness.
This year's Bouchercon was another fine meeting, and everyone seemed to have a good time. I managed to get through it without a hangover — a personal first — but I'm so tired now that I'm not sure I'm entirely coherent. What better time to post a blog?
Herewith a few impressions, conclusions and observations about this year's meeting.
1. Fear of the flu hasn't really changed anyone's behavior. Despite signs all over the convention hotel declaring this a "Handshake-Free Bouchercon," the warnings about limiting contact to reduce germ transfer didn't seem to keep people from hugging, kissing and shaking hands as usual — it just made us all feel anxious and guilty about it. Or maybe that was just me. I did see a lot more hand sanitizer this year than in previous years, though.
2. Favorite program innovation: the "speed dating" session with first-time authors, which had new authors hopping from table to table in six-minute intervals, introducing themselves and their books as they went. This was a terrific way to learn about some interesting new titles and authors I might otherwise have missed, and I bought a couple of books as a result.
3. I cannot support the publishing industry all by myself. I didn't buy many books this year — I couldn't afford it, had no storage room in my luggage, and really have no storage room at home — but I did my part, picking up a few new titles. Buying books is part of the Bouchercon experience, and reassured me that the Kindle will never replace the hardcover altogether; authors can't sign a Kindle.
4. Sara Paretsky is one of the coolest people on the planet. I met her at this year's Shamus Awards banquet. "I'm Sara," she said, and I am proud to say that I did not dissolve into a puddle of goo on the sidewalk. Sharp, funny, stylish and very possibly the smartest person in any room she enters; the following day, she read a poem of her own composition in a panel on Poe, and it was excellent. The latest V.I. Warshawski novel, HARDBALL, was one of the books I bought, and I'm already halfway through it. It's hard to believe, but that series continues to evolve and deepen, and so far HARDBALL is one of the best.
5. Although Bouchercon is a conference of authors and fans, it's the authors who hang out in the bar. I'm not sure what the final headcount was at this year's Bouchercon, but it was certainly over 1,000 registrants. The point of the meeting is to bring authors and fans together, but the fans generally don't hang out in the bar, where they'd be most likely to meet the authors. Exceptions (such as myself) apply, but I heard an author last night wonder why the bar at Bouchercon always became the authors' clubhouse. Another case, perhaps, of cliches having their roots in truth . . .