Wednesday - Day 0
Alek flew out from Nebraska (stopping over in Minnesota), and we flew out from Austin (stopping over in Chicago) to meet up in Indianapolis Wednesday evening. This was the first time we'd seen him since he left for college, although he was much the same as usual ... except for the hair. That was different.
Go Big Red!
Then we took the bus to the hotel, which has quite a nice view.
Thursday - Day 1
After a very early start and a half-hour trek through the SkyWalk and the mall (which, at four floors and several city blocks, is enormous), we finally made it the half-mile to the convention hotel.
The last convention I went to was Ikkicon, which appeared to be mostly populated - and run - by teenagers. Bouchercon, in stark contrast, has been around for four decades and is as far as I can tell incredibly well put-together. We each got a huge tote with mystery magazines, a nametag pouch with zippers and pockets, a professionally-printed informational booklet, and a little mini-schedule that fit in the nametag pouch.
In the morning, we hit The Mean Streets of Indianapolis panel (Tony Perona, Brandt Dodson, Michael Z. Lewin, Brenda Stewart, and Ron Tierney). All of the authors were born in the city and/or have set novels here; the discussion topics covered the ways in which they viewed and portrayed Indy, and of course the question, "What makes people in Indy want to murder each other?" As it turns out, Indianapolis gets a disturbingly high number of murders each year for its size.
That panel was followed by BSI: A Canonical and Conanical Confluence (Michael F. Whelan, Steven T. Doyle, Laurie R. King, Leslie S. Klinger, Roy E. Pilot). I dragged the guys to this one for two reasons: 1) I love Sherlock Holmes and 2) I love Laurie King's work. I got the impression during the panel that King's not a huge fan of Sherlockians, but I wouldn't have discovered her work otherwise: At camp, over a decade ago, a friend heard that I was a Holmes fan, and gave me her copy of the Beekeeper's Apprentice to read. I finished it in about a day, and have been hooked ever since. This was an informational panel, if a little dry - Al's been making jokes about the phrase "if I could correct your footnote..." all afternoon.
After the BSI panel, we walked down the street to have lunch at Noodle & Company, which has excellent pad thai and linguini (two great tastes.... ah nevermind).
Lunch was followed by a trip around the dealer's room to check out the silent auctions (I have no hope of winning my bid, but here's hoping), and then Laurie King was doing a book signing! Here is a shot of me basically being a speechless fool while she signs my worn copy of Beekeeper's Apprentice:
Hopefully she'll be at a future Bouchercon, and maybe I'll string more than four words together. Although we did have a little laugh at the spelling of a name ("it's got a silent Q, right?") on a second book a brought. Except I can't tell you what the name is because it's a Christmas gift for another King fan.Also in the dealer's room, we got a stack of books at the 3-for-2 table:
Hard Line, by Michael Z. Lewin; I liked him so much in the morning panel that I grabbed his book when we saw it
Under Vesuvius, by John Maddox Roberts; historical mysteries are usually a good read
One Dollar Death, by Richard Barth; with a title like that? Of course I bought this.
Then away to the Suddenly I'm Thirsty panel (Con Lehane, Chris Knopf, J.A. Konrath, Jason Pinter, Tom Schreck). For a discussion on alcohol and alcoholism in the mystery/crime novel, this was easily one of the funniest panels of the day. Konrath was a bit ... enthusiastic ... but once he started actually answering the questions posed, he had a lot of good points to make. Tom Schreck, on top of being well-spoken and having an amazing job, is ridiculously good-looking; he was also unfortunately seated the furthest away from us. I enjoyed hearing what Chris Knopf had to say about the use of alcohol - he pointed out that it's often used as a sign of a deeper issue, and as a way to let the reader know that a character has faults/flaws/problems not immediately visible.
Alek was tired, so he went back to the hotel to sleep while dad and I visited our final panel of the day, Dirty Rotten Liars: The Game Show (Liza Cody, Michael Z. Lewin, Peter Lovesey). This was a variation on the "two truths and a lie" game, where each of the authors also read an excerpt from one of their novels. Very entertaining, and if you ever get a chance you should ask Liza Cody to tell her story about the time she made half a concert crowd mellow out.
On the way out we stopped by the Crime Scene room - they had a crime scene all set up with little forms to fill out for a chance to win prizes. While my crime scene drawing left much to be desired artistically, I think I scored well on the "evidence you would want collected" and "conclusions drawn" sections, drawing mainly on my extensive experience watching CSI: NY and NCIS. Dad, for his part, decided to fill the entire conclusions section with a sordid story involving a rabid mystery fan, a critic, J.A. Konrath, and a gun. Which is about par for the course.
Later, from 9 to midnight, Bouchercon threw us all a party at Gameworks involving food, music (I have video proof that we got the DJ to rickroll us), and free games. We beat House of the Dead 4, played three-puck (!) air hockey, and various shooting games. And racing games, where Alek showed us new levels of multitasking.
The way back to the hotel had us traveling through a darkened mall, so there were hijinks.
And, I finally realized what the windows in the SkyWalk remind me of - giant James Bond-style sights, like in the opening to most of the James Bond movies: