Books, On the Run

On Crime Writers and Convention Centres

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We’d come to Dallas to appear at Bouchercon, which is a very large convention of mystery writers, publishers, booksellers and readers. Don’t feel ill-informed if you’ve never heard of it. I’d never heard of it either, but believe me it’s big. It’s named in memory of a chap named Anthony Boucher, although that’s not his real name. He was born William Anthony Parker White in 1911. You can look him up on Wikipedia rather than read what would be my lazy summary of that entry.

This is Bouchercon’s 50th year and it was held at the Hyatt Regency, just a stone’s throw from Dealey Plaza. The Regency is vast and built for conventions. It has an atrium which is designed, like all atria, to put you firmly in your place. You are small and insignificant and you’d better get used to it. Glass lifts whizz up and down its interior shell and it’s interesting to watch the acrophobics resolutely face the doors, away from the horrifying view. I’d be one of those. I feel ill looking up, looking down is out of the question. Why do architects think that a trip up to my designated floor should have the fear of death thrown in?

There are many, many panels over the four days of Bouchercon and some of them are sparsely attended. I find this reassuring; not in a schadenfreude-y kind of way but just because it’s a reminder that writers everywhere, even at a huge event like Bouchercon, can find themselves in an ego-challenging room. Every writer has a horror story of turning up to a book signing, or a speaking engagement, to find no one there, or worse, much worse, one person. Or worse, much worse, one person who is profoundly deaf. Or worse, much worse, one person who is profoundly deaf and who prefers science-fiction to crime. Or worse, much worse, one profoundly deaf science-fiction fan facing a panel of four crime writers, whose names might have been Robert Gott, Jock Serong, Andrew Nette and Zane Lovitt. Yes, sometimes I wake up screaming.

I hope there’s a special circle in hell for that arsehole who carried a bomb in his shoes. De-belting and de-shoeing at security is very, very annoying.

Our panel at Bouchercon was not like this. It was chaired by Dervla McTiernan, who the previous evening had picked up the prestigious Barry award for her novel The Ruin, and it was a crowded room. The people who came to hear us, the Australians, had no idea who we were, but still they came. A couple of people admitted that they’d come just to hear the Australian accent, and one person said it’s so nice to hear the language spoken properly. Yes, just re-read that sentence and be amazed. Clearly Pauline Hanson is unknown to her. Imagine what a joy that must be.

It would be unseemly to dwell on how successful this session was, so let’s just say that the bookshop sold out of all our titles afterwards and leave it at that. (Was that unseemly enough for you?)

After Bouchercon we explored Dallas on foot and found the Dallas Museum of Art (an excellent Edward Hopper and a John Singer Sargent I’d never seen, among its treasures). And thence a flight to Phoenix. I hope there’s a special circle in hell for that arsehole who carried a bomb in his shoes. De-belting and de-shoeing at security is very, very annoying, although it must be heaven for any employee who has a foot fetish. I can hear the career inquiry.

“I’m looking for a job where I’m around feet.”

“Well sir/madam, have you considered airport security? It’s a bit left-field but I think you might enjoy it.”

For the rest of this series, click here.

One response to “On Crime Writers and Convention Centres

  1. One new word (how did I not know the word for fear of heights? why does it sound like a fear of acrobats?) a gratuitous fetish reference and some unseemliness – its like you never even left.

    Great to hear that you are finding Americans that can read hiding all over Trumpland. May the book sales continue unabated. God knows Australia could use some cultural exports that don’t involve plush koalas or prawns on barbecues.

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