Bouchercon 2016 in New Orleans

Bouchercon was a whirlwind this year, and not only because I fell into a Twilight Zone episode for a day (I broke my glasses!). This is the "world mystery convention," the biggest of the mystery conventions, and there were over 1,800 attendees this year. 

The day before Bouchercon began, Sisters in Crime presented a SinC Into Great Writing workshop for writers. This year the topic was Writing to our Differences: Doing Diversity Right. Walter Mosley was the keynote speaker, and he gave a brilliant talk about writing authentic characters.

Walter Mosley was the keynote speaker at Sisters in Crime’s SinC Into Great Writing workshop. He is absolutely amazing.

Walter Mosley was the keynote speaker at Sisters in Crime’s SinC Into Great Writing workshop. He is absolutely amazing.

The other speakers at SinC Into Great Writing were Linda Rodriguez, Frankie Bailey, Greg Herren, and Cindy Brown (with Midnight Ink editor Terri Bischoff joining the Q&A session), who spoke about being true to both life and your books by writing characters who are racially diverse, LGBT, and with disabilities. 

SinC Into Great Writing presenters: Terri Bischoff, Linda Rodriguez, Catriona McPherson (moderator), Greg Herren, Frankie Bailey, and Cindy Brown.

SinC Into Great Writing presenters: Terri Bischoff, Linda Rodriguez, Catriona McPherson (moderator), Greg Herren, Frankie Bailey, and Cindy Brown.

On the first official day of the convention, the opening ceremonies were a blast--and unique.  A New Orleans-style parade was held inside the hotel ballroom, with each honoree riding down the aisle on their own decorated float. (Alas it was dark so my photos didn't turn out!)

My day had begun with a Sisters in Crime board meeting. I'm serving on the national board for a second year, both because it's a fabulous group and also because I've gotten so much out of the organization in my writing career that I want to give back to this wonderful community. This year is especially exciting because it's our 30th anniversary! 

Sisters in Crime board members and staff. Top row: Sarah Glass, Kendel Lynn, Lori Roy, Beth Wasson, Susan Shea, GM Malliet, Julie Hennrikus. Bottom row: Gigi Pandian, Catriona McPherson, Leslie Budewitz, Diane Vallere (incoming SinC president), Karen Pullen.

Sisters in Crime board members and staff. Top row: Sarah Glass, Kendel Lynn, Lori Roy, Beth Wasson, Susan Shea, GM Malliet, Julie Hennrikus. Bottom row: Gigi Pandian, Catriona McPherson, Leslie Budewitz, Diane Vallere (incoming SinC president), Karen Pullen.

To kick off SinC's 30th anniversary, I worked with New Orleans videographer Julius Evans of Red Clay Films to shoot some interviews with Sisters in Crime former presidents and members on the morning of the SinC breakfast.

SinC has so many amazing members, and one of my highlights from this project was getting to interview Sara Paretsky. We're editing these videos, plus creating more of them, and SinC will be posting the videos throughout our anniversary year.

Creating videos to celebrate SinC 30th anniversary.

Creating videos to celebrate SinC 30th anniversary.

Speaking of anniversaries, my favorite panel at Bouchercon was the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 75th anniversary panel. I love the Golden Age of mystery fiction, so it was fun to hear stories about the team who created Ellery Queen and authors I love, like Clayton Rawson and John Dickson Carr. And yes, Shelly Dickson Carr is John's granddaughter! Her first novel is great, so talent definitely runs in the family. 

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 75th anniversary panel: Steve Steinbock, Otto Penzler, Janet Hutchings, Ted Hertel, Brendan DuBois, Shelly Dickson Carr, and James Lincoln Warren moderating.

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine 75th anniversary panel: Steve Steinbock, Otto Penzler, Janet Hutchings, Ted Hertel, Brendan DuBois, Shelly Dickson Carr, and James Lincoln Warren moderating.

My own panel was a discussion of the solitary process of writing a novel, and it was so interesting to chat about how  different  each of our processes are! Learn to be Lonely panelists: Terrie Farley Moran, Julie Hennrikus, Gigi Pandian, Kim Fay, Wendy Tyson, Kate White, and moderator Hank Phillippi Ryan.

My own panel was a discussion of the solitary process of writing a novel, and it was so interesting to chat about how different each of our processes are! Learn to be Lonely panelists: Terrie Farley Moran, Julie Hennrikus, Gigi Pandian, Kim Fay, Wendy Tyson, Kate White, and moderator Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Since we were in New Orleans, of course I had to slip out of the conference hotel to do some exploring.

Stacy Allen, my partner in crime for the Haunted History hour and the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum tour. Stacy and I are treasure hunt sisters, and I’m envious that she’s a diver so her treasure hunt thrillers feature underwater treasures!

Stacy Allen, my partner in crime for the Haunted History hour and the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum tour. Stacy and I are treasure hunt sisters, and I’m envious that she’s a diver so her treasure hunt thrillers feature underwater treasures!

Accidental Alchemist research at the historic New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

Accidental Alchemist research at the historic New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

Apothecary wares from the 1800s at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

Apothecary wares from the 1800s at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the haunted bar in New Orleans that’s been around since the 1700s.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the haunted bar in New Orleans that’s been around since the 1700s.

I donated an item I'm very excited about to Bouchercon's silent auction: an original Jaya Jones work of art by graphic novelist Dale Berry. The drawing depicts my favorite scene in Michelangelo's Ghost (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery #4), and I printed a limited edition print run of 100 copies, which Dale and I numbered and signed.

The book comes out next month, so I'll be using the printed pieces as promotions, but first and foremost, I love that I now have an amazing Jaya Jones illustration for myself that beautifully complements the stunning book cover. 

Jaya Jones original artwork by Dale Berry, donated to the Bouchercon charity auction.

Jaya Jones original artwork by Dale Berry, donated to the Bouchercon charity auction.

A huge thanks to all the volunteers who made the convention come together seamlessly: Convention co-chairs Heather Graham and Connie Perry, Bouchercon board chair Jeff Siger, Mike Bursaw, Dave Magayna, Judy Bobalik, Jon Jordan, and the rest of the team.