Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Bouchercon, part the Fourth

Mes Amis

Okay, now the hangover's kicking in. Yeah, this is the morning I don't feel so good. Still I'm up and around somewhere close to nine-ish and piss around in the book room for ages. Arange to meet people for coffee and fail to turn up (I'm distracted by all these wonderful booksellers: including one who thanks me for reccomending Stuart MacBeard last year as apparently he's a top seller - good one, Stuart and you owe me a tenner at least!). I'm spending far more on books than I realise and by the end of this I get a nasty shock when three boxes worth follow my flight by post!

Anyway, I bump into Sean Chercover and he's awaiting, with great unease, his panel that afternoon. To calm down, we heard for lunch at a grill-house down the road. Huge burgers, fat-ass chips (sorry, sorry, "fries") and a cute wee serving lassie. Sean starts the day with Guiness. Its probably just as well.

We head back and realise Sean's late for meeting his panel. Apparently others are also late so that's okay.

I meet Bryon and John outside and we go in to say, "yay, Sean"

Except Bryon and John soon leave. I'm on the verge of joining them.

The moderator for this panel is appalling. At some stage in his life Sean must have slept with her granny because there is no other reason for the appalling way he is treated on this panel. Everyone else gets detailed (if dull) questions on their books and then Sean is asked how he pronunces his name. No, folks, its not a joke. Its a fucking travesty! This is not helped by the fact that, even when she's interested in a writer, our moderator fails to provide any spark. Its a dull-ass panel and everyone aside from the lovely Michelle Martinez and our man Sean have their books in front of them; generally a sure sign of a snore-fest to me (don't sell your books: entertain me and I'll seek em out!). But, alongside Brett Battles, I wait this out. We want to ask Sean real questions. Having read by this point only sixty pages of the arc I know more about Big City Bad Blood than our moderator (who claims to have the read the bloody thing: aye, right!). So after Brett's insightful question, I stand and ramble on about something to give Sean a chance to respond. It works well: Sean's responses to our questions are insightful and etertaining. In fact he's come off really well on this panel and I hope those in attendance (even those who walked out: there was more than Bryon and John) found it useful.

Afterwards, in the signing room, Sean sits at his table for a while. But everyone's queing up for the big names and he only has cards to sign. Yet he does sign something for a wee fanboy on the back of his cards, which you can see in the post below because Blogger's funny about putting pictures up sometimes (frickinstupidbloggerbastardthing). I think he's thanking me for all those beers, at least I hope so...

Now, this is where my memory gets blurry. I think its this afternoon I attend the incredibly well attended reviewer ethics panel which has standing room only. Of the reviewers present, only one of them is a guy and Mr Gandle ain't giving much away to anyone about his ethics or opinions. But the lovely Ms Weinman and the astounding Jen along with the ethically expert Oline Cogdill are all too willing to discuss their ethical standpoints and personal peeves. It all goes very well indeed, although I have the feeling that the idea reviewer should be a complete and utter bastard with no friends at all because its the only way to remain truly dispassionate. My personal thing is, I tell every fucker I review, even if I like I may not like your book. Simple as that. Take it or leave it.

As I say my memory around here is hazy, so I could have attended said panel the day before. Nothing to do with the beer, but soon enough at these things your memory starts to meld everything into one.

Anyway, that evening its the Anthony's. The Jordans are up for an award for Crime Spree (best zine on the planet) and Agent Al is up for best PBO with Kiss Her Goodbye. But he is up against Reed Farrell Coleman who has so far won an award a night.

The ceremony is plush and the seating marvellous. William Kent Krueger is funnier than Billy Crystal and has difficulty opening the award envelopes. The Robert B Parker award for contribution to the field is odd because its all in the past tense and I have to wonder for a moment whether the man passed and no one told me. However, its very heartfelt and well deserved. And he is still alive and kicking.

First big applause from me goes to Crime Spree. Jon and Ruth bound up on stage to collect it. They thank everybody and come bounding off again. Its a great sight to see and no one deserves it more.

Al loses out to Reed. I have an urge to scream "fix" but realise some people might not think I'm joking. The James Deans is a kick-ass book. But so is Kiss Her Goodbye. However, if I had to narrow the list down to 2 choices that's who it would have been so I applaud loudly for Reed, too.

After that I blunder around the apres-ceremony drinks a while. I meet Linda Landrigan of Alfred Hitchcock's who is a lovely and smart woman, and also David Thompson of Busted Flush Press who is a very smart guy and gave the world back some of Ken Bruen's early novels in a Fifth of Bruen (which I still keep referring to as "A Fistful of Bruen" for some reason).

A whole bunch of us head off to eat All You Can Eat Steak. You get to cook it yourself on an open flame. But some people (Mr Rickards, Mr Quertermous and Mr Guthrie!) chicken out. Al opts for the Salmon, but has it grabbed away at the last moment when they realise how long its been sitting out. Same happens to Ms Weinman who has at least tried cooking it herself. Its a shame, but doesn't destroy the evening. Al and I are greatly amused by the name of the American store "Fuddruckers" which is a very funny name if you know Scots slang. Rickards is simply bemused and the Americans are all appalled. There are photos of me unable to control my laughter but I'm not linking.

I get to meet the infamous Christin Kuterich, who is absolutely wonderful and gets all embarrassed when we pretend its her birthday just so's we can get the staff to sing the birthday song. Which involves marracas and tambourines. I'm glad not to work in the food service industry.

Then its Reacher Creature Feature at an Irish pub. I drink too much Capitol Ale. I also get the Reacher survival kit, which is a small toothbrush and some toothpaste. Jack Reacher could probably kill a man with these alone. I end up talking nonsense all evening until maybe half one or two, by which point we're sitting on furniture which looks like its come straight out of a 1920's burlesque house. When I wind up half asleep in my chair I realise its time to go home.

I am intending to make panels on Sunday, but it doesn't work out that way and instead I snore my way through the morning. But what a great four days its been. So many wonderful people, so many wonderful moments and so many intoxicating beverages.

I fall asleep on top of the covers in my hotel room. But by that point, I don't care.

Au revoir


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