28 February 2014
by R.T. Lawton
And yes, I will be at the Long Beach Bouchercon. Conference Director Ingrid Willis asked me to put on my Surveillance Workshop. In the past, it's been performed at a Left Coast Crime Conference (Denver), two Mystery Writers of America chapter outings and two Pikes Peak Writers Conferences. And, each time I have been amazed at how good some of the civilian attendees have conducted themselves at this type of endeavor, plus how much fun they have while doing it.
So now, you're wondering how this works and if you should get involved in it. You get two choices; sit in on the lectures or become a player in the game of spies, law enforcement and targets to see and feel what it's actually like. I say register early and join one of the surveillance teams. Here's a rough outline of what the workshop entails.
It's scheduled for Thursday of the conference week. Six to eight celebrity authors are being selected by the Bouchercon Committee as rabbits. Some authors have already been chosen and/or have volunteered. At least two of them I'm aware of have been rabbits in previous workshops, so they should be pretty good at this. On Thursday morning, I will brief the rabbits and have their photos taken and their descriptions written down.
In early afternoon, there will be a one-hour session for any conference attendee who wishes to sit in on the class. During that presentation, they will learn about conducting foot surveillance in teams of four to six people per team. Thirty to forty plus of those class attendees (according to whatever selection process the committee uses) will then be formed into surveillance teams. Each team will receive a street map of the playing area, a description and photo of their rabbit, plus the starting point of their rabbit.
That afternoon at the designated time, the game is on. For one hour, each team has to follow their rabbit on foot through the city streets and businesses. In case they somehow lose their rabbit, each team leader will have my cell phone number so I can tell them where they can relocate their subject at fifteen minute intervals.
At a social hour that evening, there will be a debriefing of team captains on the surveillance results and happenings. Anyone can attend the debrief. This is when funny stories come out on who did what and how various players tried to keep from being burned by their targets. Some players find they can be pretty innovative when they get put on the spot.
So, for an entertaining and fun learning experience come on over to Long Beach for the 2014 Bouchercon. You'll be glad you did. Be sure to sit in on the surveillance lecture and debrief, whether you play the game or not.
See you there in November.