By October 17, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

WHY NOT ASK THE AUTHORS?

I am often asked where I come up with the titles for my reviews and for my book discussion picks.  This gets especially intense when people want to know where I find “good” crime and mystery fiction titles to discuss.  That question is usually followed with a statement dismissing crime and mystery fiction as a good choice for discussion groups.  

I can do a whole workshop on that topic, but recently it occurred to me that meeting the authors is one exciting way to get introduced to great books to discuss.  

I just got back from the World Mystery Conference in Baltimore.  The conference is know as Bouchercon (pronounced like voucher) and is named after Anthony Boucher, author and reviewer from days past.  It was started as a fan convention back in the 1970s but it has grown into a gathering with representatives from every aspect of the crime and mystery publishing industry.

While a conference like Charmed to Death attracting some where around 1,500 attendees, readers like me can expect that about one-third of those there will be published authors of some type.  In Baltimore, that included Laura Lippman, American Guest of Honor, John Harvey, International Guest of Honor, Lawrence Block, Distinguished Contribution to the Genre and Mark Billingham, Toastmaster, along with five hundred of their close friends like Harlan Coben, Laurie R. King, and S. J. Rozan.  

What can you expect at a mystery fan convention?  Besides the three and one-half days of panel, you can visit the book dealer’s room, attend an awards function, see a crime movie or sit in the bar and drink with famous writers until the wee hours.  

What you can also expect is to hear about tons of book titles.  At least two of the panels during the course of this conference were geared specifically to highlighting the favorite reads of the panelists.  

So if this has whetted your appetite for conferencing, why not consider a trip to Bouchercon:  the World Mystery Convention in 2009 when Elementary, My Dear Indy! takes places in Indianapolis.  Besides all the usual offerings, this convention is even offering a unique side trip to see the rare books housed in the famed Lilly Library including a repository of the original manuscripts of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Anthony Boucher and Ian Fleming.  Convention coordinator Jim Huang has pledged to have special programming for librarians and I know he would love to hear from you.  

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About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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