Friday, September 02, 2005

Bouchercon - Day 1

On Wednesday, August 31, I left South Florida for Bouchercon, the worldwide conference of mystery writers and readers. There are over a thousand people here, including a bunch from Florida, so I’m much more comfortable here than I was at Saints & Sinners. And frankly, the people here are so much nicer than the people at Saints & Sinners were. There, I thought everyone was very clique-y, yet here, everyone is much more approachable and friendly.

After I got in, I went shopping on North Michigan Avenue—hitting every chocolate shop in town, I think. Then on Wednesday night, my friend Eileen drove in from the suburbs and we went to dinner at a great – though very rich and fattening – French restaurant. Then she drove me around Chicago for a while, proving a great tour guide.

Thursday began the first day of the conference. I sat in on a panel on sex, which was actually pretty dry, then a demonstration of K-9 dogs. In Chicago, they use Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds and Dutch shepherds. The dogs are actually trained in Europe, and then purchased by the city when they are about a year and a half old. Seeing them made me want to incorporate a K-9 dog somewhere in a book or story.

I had lunch with Christine Kling and Fred Rea at a little cafĂ© near the hotel, and made it back for a panel on anthologies, where I actually picked up some tips for the anthology I will be editing with Sharon Sakson. Though we haven’t gotten the official word yet, Alyson Press will be publishing a collection of true stories about gay men and the bonds they have with their dogs. It was very interesting to hear the experiences of the anthology editors.

The last panel of the day was on series characters and whether they age or not. Some characters, like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, age only a few months at a time, while others, like Joseph Hansen’s Dave Brandstetter, age in real time. It was very interesting to hear the panel talk about these issues.

After some email and relaxation, I went to the Hammett Awards and welcome reception, then hung out with Chris for a while before going to the Akashic books party. Again, everyone I’ve met so far has been very nice and friendly. I think it helps that I have that little red dot on my badge that identifies me as an author—though only a little.

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