Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bouchercon: The Crime Fiction Family Reunion

By Jon Jordan

The world is an ever changing place and, as we’ve seen in the last few years, so is the world of publishing. The rise of e-books, the failure of Borders -- and any number of other changes -- have people speculating on the future and how it will impact us, both as fans and contributors to the genre of mystery that we love.

Well, change is constant. Without change we whither and stagnate. Change is good, it gets people thinking in new ways and opens up new doors.

Is print dead? Of course not. Will there be fewer books published each year? If publishers are smart, yes.

In truth, the high that publishing experienced and, by default, chain bookstores and even Amazon enjoyed was a false high. It wasn’t an indication that sales would keep going up, up, up. It was an anomaly.

In reality, maybe there were just too many books being published. The volume of bookstores in this country was staggering. And while as a book lover I enjoyed the options, maybe losing a retail chain like Borders will benefit us in the long run. Independent stores who know their customers should benefit in the end, if my high school economics class taught me anything.

Amid all the changes there remain constants. People love stories -- in books, on TV and on the big screen. Stories in all forms remain popular. There are still huge numbers of readers out there picking up books, regardless of the format, and enjoying great storytelling.

If you are the type of fan I am, you also love talking about the books you read. You like to hear authors talk about their books and the writing process. You enjoy being able to look an author in the eye and say “I loved the book” or “Thanks for writing these great stories.”

And this is the heart of Bouchercon. We celebrate mystery and crime fiction. We gather together for four days and attend panels about mystery. We eat with people and talk books. We have drinks together and compare recent reads. This common thing binds us together. Whether you are reading legal thrillers, private eyes, amateur sleuths who garden or supernatural detectives, we all love to read parts of this genre.

Good characters and good stories transcend the labels the sub-genres are given. Thrillers are really just the adventurous older sibling to mysteries. The similarities are far greater than the differences in all aspects of the genre. Because of this, when we gather together at Bouchercon, and other conventions, we are all united by the love of the tales we read. We share a frustration when an ending cheats, or the sadness when a character we love gets killed off. We share the excitement when our favorite authors have new books out. We share the thrill of sitting down and reading the first page of a new discovery.

In life you are born into a family. As you grow and develop, you start to form a second family, one of like-minded people who understand you and accept you. In this sense, Bouchercon is really more of an annual family reunion. Yeah, we have some weird cousins and a couple of uncles who get a little loud. But we also have older sisters who always make us feel better just by talking to them and brothers who will stand up for us.

At my first Bouchercon, a lot of magic happened for me -- not the least of which was meeting my wonderful wife, Ruth. There was also the magic of meeting people who share my passion for something, who understand staying up all night to finish a book and forgetting to eat because you are so engrossed in a story.

Every year I go back to Bouchercon, and the magic is still there, year after year. Every year, my extended family grows. With all the change that surrounds me, the community of mystery fans is a constant in my life.

If you are coming to St. Louis and it’s your first Bouchercon, welcome to the family. If you have been before, well, we can’t wait to see you again.

Previously, at Bouchercon:
Top photo: Family gathering -- Jon, Charles and Ruth.
Middle photo: Band of brothers -- Ali, George, Jon and Simon.
Bottom photo: The big smooch -- Jon and Ruth.


Jon Jordan is the publisher of Crimespree Magazine and the host of Bouchercon 2011. In the coming months, he will be "Blogging Bouchercon" on the SinC blog. For more information on Bouchercon, see http://bouchercon2011.com/. Jon can be reached at Jon@bouchercon2011.com.

7 comments:

Jeri Westerson said...

My first Bouchercon was in Madison, WI, and I didn't have a contract with anyone yet. I went because my agent was going and he was shepherding me around. I met Jon there, though I doubt he remembers. And I got some promises for blurbs for my ms! I went in wide-eyed and blown away and I left that way, too.

Lori said...

Is Bouchercon worth going to if you're even further behind than Jeri's experience? No agent yet, still writing?

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

Lori,

Bouchercon is a fan convention, if you love mysteries then this is the place for you.
And there is a lot to learn for up and coming writers by interacting with published authors and fans.

Jess Lourey said...

Wait, we could have learned something in our high school economics class? I should have spent less time pinning my jeans.

Beautiful post. This is going to be an awesome Bouchercon!

Phil Dunlap said...

I was a worker bee on the 2009 Bouchercon in Indy. Hard work, but worth it. Couldn't afford California, but St. Louis, you bet. This one is for fun, fun, fun. The opportunities to see old friends, meet new ones, and maybe even make contacts is superb. If you haven't gone, go!

Mysti said...

S.F. 2010 was my first Bouchercon, and Lori, I'm very glad I went. Though nobody got naked and danced in the fountain...there's always St. Louis!

Gwen Mayo said...

I don't know about dancing in the fountain in St. Louis, but Austin Camacho and his wife were cutting a rug in Indy. Sarah Glenn was also out on the dance floor there. I was busy taking pictures...