I’ve been home from Bouchercon Baltimore, “Charmed to Death,” for a couple of days and I still can’t really sort it all out. It was a wonderful experience and I met so many terrific people, I’m almost afraid to mention any of them for fear of leaving so many others out. And I wish I’d taken more photos! As it was, my camera died on what would have been the best picture day: Saturday when a mob of us hiked over to the Lexington Market for world famous crab cakes, then on to Edgar Allan Poe’s grave a few blocks beyond.
I got into Baltimore on Friday morning, having taken this cute plane from San Luis Obispo Thursday night to Los Angeles, where I grabbed the red-eye to Baltimore, arriving in the Charm City smack-dab in the middle of a gorgeous, balmy dawn.
Once I got into the hotel, it was impossible to move two feet without running into someone I knew, and so much of my first few hours were taken up with the blah-blah-blah, kiss-kiss-kiss that lets you know you have fully arrived in what my dear friend Jodi Pierce would describe as the very heart and center of my tribe.
At two o’clock -- and having already consumed my first bowl of crab soup in the hotel’s lobby bar -- I had to pull it together to attend the karaoke event I’d been tricked into being a part of by the incomparable Kelli Stanley. Kelli had put together a fun group and we ended up turning our karaoke time into a panel on writing and publishing: no singing involved. Simon Wood, Bill Cameron and Laura Caldwell were the other non-singers, and we had a great time discussing the works of our heart with a fairly full room that included gentle-but-pointed heckling from John McFetridge, who seems incapable of ever being in a room without stirring things up.
Though the Shamus Awards were held Friday night, I didn’t attend, electing instead to go to the lovely Authors Without Borders Party at the Radisson across the way, then on to the St. Martin’s Minotaur party at the beautiful Tremont Grand Historic Venue, then a party at a local watering hole (with very steep stairs!) honoring Lee Child, then back to the hotel for still more drinking and chatting. After a day that had begun two days earlier in wine country, I don’t know if I’d ever been so happy to hit my bed!
On Saturday I was part of a great panel called California Dreaming moderated by Cheryl Solimini. I shared the panel with Kit Sloane, Patricia Smiley (who would come to be one of my fellow crab cake walkers) and Edward Wright. I think we made for a great mix with Ed and I writing historicals at the moment and Patty and Kit writing novels set in present day L.A. We had a lot of laughs and I think those of us on the panel learned as much as those in the audience. What fun!
For eight of us, Bouchercon Baltimore ended on an especially high note with an al fresco dinner in the inner harbor with lots of laughter, friendly argument and, for me, still more crab. Pictured are, from left, the indefatigable Ali Karim (Shots, The Rap Sheet, Deadly Pleasures), Detectives Beyond Borders’ Peter Rozovsky, me, J. Kingston Pierce (The Rap Sheet, January Magazine), Jodi Pierce (who came to be affectionately known as “Mrs. Rap Sheet” over the weekend), British author R.J. Ellory, author and reviewer Sandra Ruttan and her partner, reviewer and blogger Brian Lindenmuth. The food was wonderful, but the conversation? Without compare!
And I had a few fangirl moments. Most notably with Otto Penzler, Laura Lippman and Zoë Sharp, all of whom I admire so much I seem incapable of perfect coherence in their presence. Ah well: that too is what conventions are all about.
It was, in all ways, a fabulous convention. A great hotel, super food, helpful and friendly staff. And Bouchercon 08 was beautifully organized. Crimespree Magazine’s Jon and Ruth Jordan and Judy Bobalik did a great job and are to be commended… and in fact are being commended all over the blogosphere even as I write this.
And Baltimore? I’m in love with Baltimore. It’s a beautiful city: vibrant, sad, dangerous, lovely all in one soft-winded breath. I can’t imagine when I’ll get the chance to go back, but I know that a part of my heart won’t rest until I do.
Next week: several events at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival. A different ocean, and a different ball of wax altogether. On October 24th at 1pm, I’ll be doing an event called “Cement Shoes” with Mark Billingham, John Connolly and Lisa Lutz. The festival catalogue says that, “the gang will talk about whose fictional footprints they are following and how they sleuthed out their literary voices.” And on the 25th of October at 10:30, I’ll be doing an event at the Revue Theatre with Lisa Lutz and Leonie Swann called “Femmes Fatales.” If you see me at the Festival, please say “hey.”