Twist Phelan answers: “What Bouchercon has meant to me…”

I travel. A lot. According to my travel planning software, over the past five years I’ve flown over half a million miles to 278 cities in 53 countries, with several repeated (very) often. (Spain! Italy!) I spend almost as much time abroad as I do in the States.

Among those many journeys were trips to New Orleans, Raleigh, Long Beach, and Cleveland to attend Bouchercons. They were the trips I felt as though I were vacationing and not traveling.

This may seem counterintuitive. After all, I’m a full-time writer. Most of my traveling is work-related; I research, plot, promote, and write while on the road. So attending a convention of my peers and fans shouldn’t be considered vacation, right?

Yet the whole time in New Orleans, Raleigh, etc., I was relaxed. I enjoyed attending the panels, catching up with old friends, making new ones. Sure, every day was physically exhausting (I basically get no sleep during these conventions), but at the end of each trip I felt refreshed.

Twist Phelan and Laura Lippman

For almost a decade (and through two hair colors—me), I’ve been doing high-heel yoga with Laura Lippman at Bouchercon.

I love to travel and see the world. It’s a key component of my intellectual and social growth, a chance to learn about other cultures and other histories. I never want to stop exploring the globe. That said, never do I think before leaving on an international trip, “Ah, I’m going on vacation!” That’s because at the heart of it, I’m working, which to me equates to traveling. Navigating my way around Tokyo or Marrakesh may be a memory I’ll have forever, but I don’t find it relaxing or refreshing. (Does anyone?) That doesn’t make it less valuable, of course.



My trips to Bouchercon serve more or less the same purpose for me as a beach or mountain trip might for other folks. It was a good reminder how wonderful it is to do while not exactly nothing, something close. Perhaps a better way to put it is it reminded me how nice it was to experience the familiar in terms of food, transportation, language, and people.Twist Phelan and Laura Lippman

So maybe there are two types of experiences you can have when you pack your bag and take off: travel and vacation. Travel means seeing the world, revving up your sense of adventure and putting your brain to work processing new experiences. Vacation is for re-energizing yourself, enjoying your surroundings at a slower pace and taking a break from stress.

So whether you’ll be traveling or vacationing, come to Toronto! Either way, you’ll return home with memories of a unique and wonderful experience.

Hope to see you there!


Twist Phelan is a member of Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) known for her Finn Teller Corporate Spy mystery series, Pinnacle Peak mystery series, and her short stories, which have won numerous awards. She is one of the Toastmasters at Bouchercon 2017.

This piece first appeared in the June 2017 edition of the CWC members’ newsletter Crime Time, and appears here with the permission of CWC and the author.