Tag Archives: tribute

Peter Robinson answers: “What Bouchercon has meant to me…”

Bouchercon can be intimidating for a writer just starting out.

I remember my very first, when I found myself in the signing room sitting next to Robert Bloch. At least I can now say I shook hands with the man who wrote Psycho! Not so long after, I sat next to Sue Grafton. Needless to say, her queue was out of the door and mine was non-existent, but Sue was kind enough to share her wine with me and even send a few book buyers my way. That’s the sort of thing you remember about Bouchercons years later, as well as the fact that there was only one waitress on duty and the bar closed at eleven o’clock. It’s really the people that make it what it is.

I know there’s a lot of business involved, especially self-promotion, using the opportunity to get your name better known, but don’t forget the parties. I’ve made many lifelong friends at Bouchercons. I even met my agent at one in Pasadena, and he’s still my agent twenty-five years later. So by all means do the business, make the rounds, but don’t forget to take a little time to talk to the fans and make friends with other writers. 

Author of the Inspector Banks Mystery Series, Peter Robinson‘s work has been shortlisted for, and won, many awards, including a record-breaking four Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Novel (in 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2012). He served two terms as President of Crime Writers of Canada, and is still a stalwart member.

This article first appeared in Crime Time, the members-only newsletter for Crime Writers of Canada, in December 2016, and is reproduced here with the permission of the author and Crime Writers of Canada.

Rick Mofina answers: “What Bouchercon has meant to me…”

My first Bouchercon was in Austin. My first book had come out earlier that year. Being shy and introverted it was overwhelming. But I was fortunate to get on a panel. Exciting. Two people showed up to hear four authors and a moderator sit around a tiny table with one microphone.

It looked more like a séance.

After that experience I moped in my room wondering why I’d let my agent talk me into coming. I took solace in doing some writing and flipping through the program in awe of all the big names in the same hotel, Harlan Coben, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly and Walter Mosley, to name a few. All were gods to me. Weeks earlier, I had written to Michael Connelly, whose work I loved, and asked if he would consider a blurb for my upcoming reporter thriller, No Way Back. I never got a response and that was perfectly fine. I mean, I had no right to expect one. We had both been reporters but other than that, we were strangers.

I was thinking about finding my agent and telling her I was leaving on an earlier flight when she said: “Want to go to a party?”

A big publisher was having a swanky invitation-only gathering and my agent got me in.

It was nice, soft lighting, candles flickering on cloth-draped tables. Great food. While stuffing my face in the corner I couldn’t believe it. I’d spotted Michael Connelly amid a circle of people. As I finished chewing I found the courage to approach him and shake his hand. That was my goal, to tell him I enjoyed his work and was honored to meet him. When he was alone for a few seconds I moved toward him without saying a word. His eyes went to my badge and he pointed at me. “Rick Mofina,” he said, “I’m going to get that blurb to you, just need some time.”

I was stunned and within seconds he was swarmed again.

When I walked away my feet weren’t touching the floor.

Later on, instead of hiding in my room, and still buoyed by Michael Connelly, I went to the bar — where Bouchercon tradition holds — fun things happen. My panel moderator saw me, apologized for the poor showing for our panel, said he liked my book and introduced me to the editor of a leading mystery magazine, who, after a pleasant conversation, pledged to do a feature on my work as a new author.

During the rest of Bouchercon I was welcomed into conversations where I met readers, authors, editors, agents and actually made friends. At the book signing, I sat next to Harlan Coben. So cool. The conference flew by. I forgot about checking out early. I was having too much fun. Oh, and when it came time to go, I stood outside the hotel and by chance met an author I had met earlier: Peter Robinson.

“Would you like to share a cab to the airport, Rick?”

I arrived at my first Bouchercon feeling like an overwhelmed outsider.

I left feeling like family.

Mofina at table with friends

A Bouchercon evening in the bar with Lee Child and Friends. Mofina in green shirt.

Rick Mofina has written over 20 books that have been published in some 30 countries. As a two-time winner of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award, a four-time Thriller Award finalist and a two-time Shamus Award finalist, the Library Journal calls him, “One of the best thriller writers in the business.”



This article first appeared in Crime Time, the members-only newsletter for Crime Writers of Canada, in March 2017, and is reproduced here with the permission of the author and Crime Writers of Canada.

Cathy Ace answers: “What Bouchercon has meant to me….”

To answer part of this question I need to ask another first….”Why am I a writer?” The answer to that is “Because I’ve been an avid reader of crime fiction my whole life.” As a reader, my relationship was always with the book, its characters and the world within it – not with the author; I’m not a truly fanatical “fan girl” type, I suppose. But that didn’t stop me becoming an admirer of certain authors whose work always delighted and transported me.

Bouchercon is a fan convention, and a wonderful convention to attend even if you don’t think of yourself as a “fan” but as an “admirer”. I’m delighted to meet the people who’ve created the worlds I enjoy visiting, and characters I have come to know. I attend panels where I can hear them speak about their work, spend time with them at the bar of coffee shop, and, in some happy cases, I have become truly friendly with them and have taken the chance to learn from what they can tell me about writing, and the publishing world.

Cathy Ace and Lee Child

Cathy Ace and Lee Child

There’s also another fascinating aspect to Bouchercon – I’ve met authors whose works I had never read before meeting them, have really liked the person so have read their works… and have found entire new worlds to explore, new characters to follow, and new go-to authors.

And when you’re an author yourself, Bouchercon is a wonderland of fellow authors, readers and potential readers of your work, and gives you the chance to mingle with bloggers, reviewers, publishers and agents; never underestimate the power of meeting those who can help your career face to face.

Sue Grafton and Cathy Ace

Sue Grafton and Cathy Ace

So, whether you’re an author, an unpublished writer or “merely” (and there’s no “merely” about it!) a reader, Bouchercon gives you the chance to meet people whose work you admire, from whom you can learn a great deal, or those who might be able to help you steer your career path. When Bouchercon is in Toronto in October 2017 there’ll be a great chance to meet lots of your fellow members of Crime Writers of Canada too – I hope you come and join the party.

Cathy Ace is the author of the WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries and the Cait Morgan Mysteries, the fourth of which won the Bony Blithe Award for Best Canadian Light Mystery in 2015. Cathy is current Board Chair of Crime Writers of Canada.

This article first appeared in Crime Time, the members-only newsletter for Crime Writers of Canada, in February 2017, and is reproduced here with the permission of the author and Crime Writers of Canada.