I recently had the pleasure of attending Bouchercon, the international convention for mystery writers and readers, in St Louis. I’ve been in the publishing business for decades but until this year, I never published a mystery and never had a good excuse to attend. I think I need to write another mystery just so I can go back.
My background is as a romance writer. Yes, I’m an avid science fiction and fantasy reader, and I’ve sold several urban fantasies (not yet on the market), but I’ve spent years attending romance conferences and conventions. I love meeting readers and talking to my friends at these get-togethers, but I hate the tension of two thousand writers and wannabes in the same hotel, competing for attention. The need to be “on” all the time is overwhelming for an introvert like me.
Perhaps it’s because I have only the one mystery to my credit that I didn’t feel the pressure at Bouchercon. I had only one panel to moderate. I didn’t know any of the participants in advance. I was intimidated by the level of knowledge of my fellow historical mystery panelists, but I didn’t feel as if I had to compete with them. We were all there to entertain our readers. We could wear jeans or funky hats but it wasn’t our looks that readers cared about, it was what was in our heads. Which, admittedly, is a pretty scary place to be given the level of knowledge of murder and mayhem in this group!
I know sf/f has pure fan conventions, but I’ve not yet had a reason to attend one. Can anyone tell me if these are all about the reader experience as well? Or if I go, will I end up telling would-be writers that the market stinks, they’re better off self-pubbing, and that they have to learn grammar and composition before their fantasies can be translated to readable format? I’m plumb out of the magic elixir that will transform anyone into a writer. I want to talk books!
My one contribution to the mystery genre can be purchased here at Book View Cafe: Evil Genius