Jeffrey Siger is the author of the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis novels
Here’s my brief but spectacular take on why Bouchercon is an event of unquestioned benefit to authors.
Bouchercon is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to one goal: Bringing fans of all aspects of the crime writing community together each Fall in fresh, exciting venues for an annual four-day celebration of their shared literary passion. At Bouchercon, readers, authors, editors, reviewers, librarians, booksellers, agents, publishers, and media gather together in a relaxed, entertaining environment dedicated to enabling all to meet and mingle with front line professionals of the genre.
It’s the “big daddy” of mystery conventions, and whether or not you’re a published author, if you’re interested in expanding your reach in the mystery community, Bouchercon is the place to do it.
In its family reunion-like atmosphere, everyone is approachable and fair game for striking up a conversation, or perhaps even sharing a meal. And, of course, there’s Bouchercon’s legendary bar scene. Even if you don’t drink, the bar scene is an experience not to be missed, for that’s where everyone comes together in late night revelry, sharing confessional moments among folks who just hours before were but perfect strangers, and forging lifelong personal and business relationships.
Which brings me around to my own life-changing Bouchercon moment. Drum roll please. It took place at Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland, my second Bouchercon ever.
To set the scene, think of the urban legend about an innocent rube who walks into a bar in a Mexican border town, meets three enthralling beauties, and wakes up the next morning in a bloody bathtub missing a kidney.
Now, back to Cleveland.
As a relatively newbie writer, I strolled into the convention hotel’s bar and noticed three ladies sharing a booth. Not wanting to be rude, I smiled and said hello. They lured me over by smiling back. We fell to talking (and drinking) and before I knew it they’d pried my past right out of me—down to the part about being a former New York City lawyer involved in various pro bono organizations. Here comes the kidney part: The next day I woke up and found myself nominated for a position on Bouchercon’s National Board.
At least I still had my kidneys. All kid(ney)ing aside, I was caught up in a what-have-I-done moment, because just a few years before, I’d made a firm decision to give up my practice as a lawyer to pursue the independent life of a writer. Now I was back on a board, with all its attendant responsibilities.
Yet, it turned out to be the right decision, for I found satisfaction in a way I never expected. My five years on the Bouchercon Board allowed me to give back to the mystery community a measure of thanks for all the good fortune I’d found through the writing life, gaining many new wonderful, lifelong friends in the process.
But volunteering was my choice, and not one you need make in order to benefit from attending Bouchercon. All you need be prepared to do is say hello—possibly smile—and you’ll soon find mystery-loving compatriots drawing you into the Bouchercon family. That’s just the way it is, the same as it’s been for almost fifty years.
Don’t miss the opportunity, it could be a life-changer.