Bouchercon 2016: A Love Letter

Bouchercon is one of those things that I always knew I’d get to eventually, though I had intended to make the trip maybe after I sold a book, or established myself more as a writer. This year, though, between the lure of the location and the amount of people I knew who were going, I caved and bought a ticket. Fairly late into the game, sure, but it was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year.

For starters, oh my god, New Orleans. I stayed at The Renaissance Pere Marquette which was about three blocks from the convention hotel and basically across the road from the French Quarter. I wandered around the quarter some every day, and could have still spent another week exploring that area alone. The buildings were gorgeous, the stores amazing, and the food… I’ll go back for the food alone. Being unable to eat most everything lately and cutting loose in Louisiana made it worth the trip by itself. I had at least three Po’ Boys. I had oysters. Shrimp. Crayfish. Gator. Eggs Benedict  over boudin. Four trips to the Cafe du Monde.

Four.

Shit, now I’m hungry again.

Basically, New Orleans was fucking amazing, and I know I only saw a small fraction of it. My only regret was not finding time for a swamp boat tour, because airboats crack me up and I want to ride one. Someday, though. Maybe once I get the mechanic down the road to sell me his for $20 and a crisp high-five.

But onto the convention. Oh. My. God. The venue was great, the programming offered a lot of good stuff, but nothing beat the people. Granted, meeting these friends I’ve had online for months and years was most of the reason I went. Not only did they not disappoint, people exceeded my wildest expectations with their easy acceptance, friendliness, enthusiasm and kindness.

I don’t even know where to begin with the people.

Oh, I know.

The Malmons, am I right? Hard to top Dan and Kate, I was so happy to not only get to see them again, but to hang out with them for days. I got to see Kate moderate her first Bouchercon panel, and Dan get fiestier and more vulgar as the weekend went on. I was downright proud of him by Sunday.

Angel Colón, man. What a fireball. I knew I could walk up to that guy at any time and not only be welcome, but be damn entertained as well. See also: Most cringe-inducing piercing story ever.

I had the best chats with Thomas Pluck, too.  I enjoy everybody’s different outlooks on the writing game but Tommy’s kindness and excitement and passion is going to influence the next steps I take and the direction I’m heading for sure. Some of my favorite moments occurred when I was hanging out with Tommy and his partner in crime, Sarah. She’s my kind of feisty.

And Josh Stalling, along with his lovely wife, Erika. Talking kids and life with Erika felt so natural, like we’d been friends forever, and Josh, man–I could have spent all weekend just hanging out with Josh. Good people. The best people. Inviting myself along to dinner with them Saturday night remains one of the best decisions I made all con, just to get to hang out with Josh, Erika and…

Sabrina! Oh my god, Sabrina…if you’re reading this I love you and I loved talking to you and finally getting to hang out in person. ❤

There’s so many others. The Jordans being delightful and full of life all weekend long. Ron and Colleen Phillips, such kind and lovely humans and thank you for asking me to submit more, Ron, I was (still am) incredibly flattered. Meeting Tom Pitts and chatting with Steve Lauden.

Did I mention I almost died when Christa Faust came up to me? True story, heart almost gave out.

Spending all day Sunday wandering the French Quarter with the incomparable Holly West and her lovely husband, Mick.

Having dinner with Gretchen and Eric Beetner while Dana Cameron and I laughed at Dan Malmon nearly stoking out over the waiter’s inability to charge us for dinner.

The Bouchercon basketball game! So happy I didn’t chicken out and went. Met a lot of people I might not have otherwise and it felt great to get out and play, even if I can’t make a basket to save my life.

The VanMeter French Quarter walking tour, and Bryan’s lovely sister.

Getting to chat with Johnny Shaw and Jay Stringer at the Crimespree party.

Watching Chris Holm accept his Anthony for Red Right Hand, and finally getting to meet the delightful Katrina Holm.

I know I’m forgetting a thousand other people but even writing all this, I’m filled with joy at the memories of the time I had. I’ve been to a lot of conventions and had dozens of great experiences but I can say that crime writers are unrivaled in their friendliness, the way they greet you with open arms. Normally by the end of a convention everybody is fairly done  but I could have dealt with another couple-three days of Bouchercon in NoLa.

So thank you, everybody, who welcomed me, who invited me along, who made this convention a singularly magical experience for me. I feel honored to call so many of you friends now, and I can’t wait until we can all hang out together again.

Kristin

 

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