St. Louis street art.

This year’s Bouchercon is in Saint Louis, Gateway to the Midwest.  The conference is hugely attended by folks all over the United States.  The first evening, my writing pal Karen Burgess and I ate dinner (or should I say, almost didn’t eat dinner since we waited for one hour for our food to arrive, just in time for us to be leaving for a Sisters in Crime workshop) with two women unknown to us: Vivian from Seattle and Julie from Kansas. We bolted our food and ran to the workshop.

Bouchercon’s format is to provide six one-hour panels (and occasional interviews with the most well-known mystery writers, such as Robert Crais, Sara Paretsky and Val McDermid) per day, with a half hour break between to browse the book room and line up to have those purchased books signed by your favorite author (or writer, former journalist, or even authoress, depending on which title you prefer, this roundly debated by a panel of female writers).

The panels I have attended thus far have ranged from mediocre (one panel discussed the purported topic for about five minutes and then digressed to mostly nonsense, appearing to just want to hear themselves talk) to excellent (a panel on whether evil is intrinsic or extrinsic, nature v. nurture, and how do we write about it?).

This is mostly a “fan” conference as opposed to a “writers” conference, and it’s wonderful to be among a group of people who appreciate reading and writing; enough so that they spend three and a half days listening to conversations of those who do the writing. There is so much noise in the world (my particular pet peeve is restaurants playing music so loud that you can’t engage the person across the table from you in conversation), so much hype and selling and frenzy, it is nothing short of an unwinding to sit and listen to thoughtful, serious, sometimes humorous discourse about books.

City Art in St. Louis