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Rockin’ Bouchercon by Christine Husom

I attended my first time ever mystery conference/convention–Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland, OH–earlier this month. Cleveland is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum, and birthplace of DJ Alan Freed who coined the phrase “rock and roll” in the 1950s. Two of the reasons the committee chose “Crime Fiction Rocks,” as the convention slogan.

Named after author Anthony Boucher, the first Bouchercon was held in Santa Monica, CA in 1970. All but four were held in the United States. Two were in Canada and two in England. People travel from around the world to attend this event for many reasons: to take in the panel discussions by a wide range of guests; to be witness to the award presentations; to socialize with authors, agents, publishers, editors, and others who love the mystery genre. Special guests this year included Doris Ann Norris, John Connolly, Les Roberts, Robin Cook, Elizabeth George, and Mary Higgins Clark.

Panel discussions began on Thursday morning, but my schedule didn’t allow me to arrive until that afternoon. Then it was a challenge to pick from the four panels that were running at any given time. I popped into “WHAT AN AUTHOR WILL DO FOR A STORY, Stories of dangerous research for their books” , which made me wonder how brave I really was. In the last time slot I chose, “50 SHADES OF COZY, Pushing the limits: Not your mama’s cozy anymore.” Very entertaining.

Chris Husom and Deb Ledford

I had really looked forward to meeting fellow Second Wind author Deborah Ledford, so it was a treat when we connected before the opening ceremonies that evening. We took the trolley to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum for the festivities. The museum is awesome, in architecture and in all the treasured exhibits it holds.  Deb and I posed by one of the giant guitars in front of the museum.

I was honored to be selected as a panel guest, particularly because of the others on the panel. The title was “YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT, Murder and Criminal Justice Systems,” moderated by Jim Doherty. Other panelists were Michelle Gagnon, bestselling thriller author;  Connie Dial, twenty-seven year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department; Vicki Delany, acclaimed Canadian author; and Amanda Kyle Williams, Shamus Award nominee.

Mary Higgins Clark and Chris Husom

And then after the panel ended, we went into book signing room, and I got to sit next to Mary Higgins Clark! She had lived in Minnesota for a while, about 12 miles from my home, and we chatted for a minute about that. I’ve read most of her books over the years. She’s a natural storyteller and an all around delightful person, and deserved to be recognized as the Lifetime Achievement Guest.

I attended too many informative and entertaining panels to mention, met countless people, and made valuable connections. But rather than writing a chapter length synopsis, I’ll touch on a few of my convention highlights.

~Serving as a table host at a breakfast Friday morning honoring Mary Higgins Clark. Mary is a joy to listen to, and I met many wonderful librarians there.

~Spending time with Deb Ledford and her friend, Roni Olson. It was wonderful sharing meals and conversation, getting to know them better, and exploring the Rock and Roll Museum together.

~Sitting elbow to elbow with famous authors on our panel, and meeting so many others.

~Attending the panel discussions of fellow Twin Cities Sisters in Crime bestselling authors, Erin Hart, Julie Kramer, Jessie Chandler, and Stanley Trollip (the Stanley half of Michael Stanley) whose book, Death of a Mantis, was short listed for the Edgar, Anthony, and Barry Awards.

~Signing books next to Mary Higgins Clark, and two away from legendary Elizabeth George. I wonder why their lines were so much longer than mine?

~Attending a mutual interview between Michael Connelly and Michael Koryta. Honest and compelling.

~Bringing home a large stack of books to read. I don’t have room on any of my bookshelves, so they are temporarily resting on top of a cabinet.

I’d love to be able to attend more mystery conventions, as time, and mostly money, allows. Tell me about your favorite ones. And if you attended, Bouchercon, what were your experiences?

Christine Husom is the author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, An Altar by the River, and The Noding Field Mystery.


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