03 December 2014
Short thoughts from Long Beach
by Robert Lopresti
I was in Long Beach, California back in mid-November for Bouchercon, the International Mystery Convention. Attached is a photo of the SleuthSayers who were in attendance: Rob, Eve, Melodie, and Brian. R.T. was apparently demonstrating his skill at disguise.
Bcon - four days of 2000 readers and writers - is overwhelming, so I don't know what to cover. One highlight, new to me, was Speed Dating. A continental breakfast was provided. You picked yours up, sat at one of about seventy tables and every five minutes a bell rang. When it rang two writers would trot over to your table and each would have two minutes to explain why you wanted to read their book. I definitely copied down some names for future purchase.
But my favorite parts of the Dating event were two: Lisa Fernow describing her book as "sexy cozy." Doesn't that exactly capture it? And Michael H. Rubin was able to rattle his elevator speech off so perfectly that it was as if a trained actor was reading it off the book cover. He got applause at every table.
Another highlight for me was the panel "Short but Mighty," in which I discussed short stories with Travis Richardson, Barb Goffman, Art Taylor, Paul D. Marks, and Craig Faustus Buck. During a discussion of Plotters versus Pantsers (do you plot or fly by the seat of your pants?) Barb Goffman took a firm stand: "I'm a plantser."
Plus I got to chat with my two of my favorite editors, Linda Landrigan and Janet Hutchings, and meet another: Andrew Gulli.
And I have to admit it was a great joy to pick up my Derringer Award (as I'm sure Melodie would agree). Thanks to everyone at the Short Mystery Fiction Society for making that possible. If you want to hear my brief acceptance speech, here it is.
As you probably know, I love a good quote, so I will leave you with a bundle from Bcon. Each was copied feverishly into my notebook at the time so I apologize to anyone whose words I garbled. Some of the quotations would benefit from context, but I am not going to give you any. Here's why.
By the time you are halfway through a Bouchercon you are so overstimulated that everything seems out of context. (Notice our picture above seems a little blurry? That was taken on the last day and we really were blurry.) So consider this an accurate reenactment of the experience. Enjoy.
"All great novels are mysteries." - Sharon Fiffer
"Short stories exist only to stun you." - Jeffrey Deaver
"Does this novel make me look fat?" -Mara Purl
"I write short stories for the purpose of procrastination." - Craig Faustus Buck
Moderator: How do you avoid cliches?
Brad Parks: I take it one day at a time.
"This is a really British novel. Not cute British. The other British. Everyone's got a bad cough and a brown couch." - Catriona McPherson
Waitress: So you're with the mystery convention! Are you writers or readers?
Steven Steinbock: We are all murderers.
"I got a letter that said 'are you retired or are you dead?'" -Thomas Perry
"I have a short attention span. I'm like a goldfish on cocaine sometimes." -Jay Stringer
"Nonfiction is about facts. Fiction is about truth." - Mara Purl
"I'm the wrong person to ask about that, but I'll answer it anyway." - Steven Steinbock
"If my story featured a hemophiliac it would take place in a razor blade factory." - Simon Wood
"Put him down for a whimper, not a bang." - Brian Thornton
"The story is not the plot." -David Rich
"Westlake said to the movie producer: 'If you don't like the book why did you buy it? Do you want to punish it?'" - Thomas Perry
"Don't kill your darlings. Just lock them in the basement." - Jon McGoran
"Panelists, do you have any questions for the audience?" - Kevin B. Smith
"Everyone's in the cake. No one's in the frosting." - Seth Harwood
"You don't choose your obsessions. They choose you." - Jodi Compton
"I'm not ashamed to say I write to a formula. We don't get into a car that hasn't been designed to a formula." - Jeffrey Deaver
"Good storytelling requires that you be a good listener." - Steve Steinbock
"I had ethics in those days." - Thomas Perry
"I'm going to turn it over to the crowd. They're dangerous because they're hungover and they're punchy." - Claire Toohey
Craig Faustus Buck: How many lungs do you have?
Max Allan Collins: How many do you need?
Next time: the odd phenomenon of books, those flat dead tree things, at Bouchercon.