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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bouchercon 2011

The air is still and the dust has settled. It’s official. Another Bouchercon has come to a close. This was my first one—and if there’s one thing I learned, it’s this: Writers love to ̶d̶r̶i̶n̶k̶ talk about writing. And reading. And books, authors, movies, guns.

The weekend kicked off with the Bouchercon Edition of Noir At The Bar on Wednesday. The selection of readers was stellar. Glenn Gray, John Rector, Hilary Davidson, Matthew C. Funk, Jon McGoran, Laura Benedict, and Duane Swierczynski. Even moi had the chance to read. I selected Big Darlene the Sex Machine, from the upcoming anthology BEAT TO A PULP: Round Two. Everyone laughed. Some cried. But at least no one threw vibrators, vegetables, or fruit at the stage.

It was to be the first of several epic nights. All of them late and hard on the liver. Btw, I’ve heard rumors the Bouchercon crowd dropped over $40,000 dollars just at the bar. At least $5,000 of that was my tab. Which the very generous Glenn Gray insisted on paying. Talk about a cool guy. Here’s a writer whose generosity knows no boundaries. At one point he bought dinner for John Rector, Johnny Shaw, and myself. He refused to accept payment of any kind. This is a very serious guy when it comes to paying the bill. Thought I’d have to arm-wrestle him for it. But in the end, there’s no need to argue. And why would anyone argue with a man who can bench press a garbage truck?

Exactly. You wouldn’t. So I didn’t.

The rest of the weekend was a blur to be honest. Remembered only in short gray patches of nostalgia. I’m not sure how a man can fit so much activity into four days without cocaine. Yet somehow I did.

If there’s one thing I realized after my second night of hard drinking, it’s this. Bouchercon is about memories. We closed down the bar every single night.

One night we took the party back to Glenn Gray’s room. And by God, if there’s one thing I can say about Glenn Gray, it’s this. The man comes prepared. His room was filled with alcohol. Beer. Wine. Even champagne. I think. Still not sure, but whatever it was, I drank it quick while he was in the shower and returned the empty bottle to the fridge. I failed to mention this to him. I’m still not sure he knows. I suppose if he ever calls me on it, I’ll just blame the whole thing on Cameron Ashley. The editor of CRIMEFACTORY.

Do you know Cameron Ashley? If not, I suggest you friend him. Not only is he a magnificent writer, but also one of my favorite humans. Sincere and genuine. Of all my friends from Australia, ̶I̶ ̶o̶n̶l̶y̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶o̶n̶e̶ Cam is my favorite. I’ll always remember drinking and laughing hysterically until 4 AM like junior high school kids away at camp. WOW. If only I could remember the things we talked about. Though I can assure you with blunt honesty that none of them would be appropriate for this setting. Or any other setting for that matter.

The next day we bowled.
Most of us were awesome; some of us were not. And by some of us, I mean me. But I don’t blame myself; I blame that silly rule about free shots of tequila for every strike you roll. Plus I blame Owen Laukkanen for making me drink them. Damn you, Owen. It’s all your fault.

After the bowling alley, I met a few people who claimed to be (cough) fans. We ended up at a small corner bar for a series of drinks. Then another bar. After that, I found myself in a strange hotel room. After what seemed like hours, I stumbled out and made my way back to the Ren for more drinking.

I realize I’m forgetting a bunch of shit but I’m trying hard to touch on the highlights. Like this one: Daniel Woodrell. That’s right. I drank bourbon with the man and he is awesome.

And yeees, I am truly very lucky. I believe a connection was made. Or perhaps it’s wishful thinking. Still. When I finally figured out how to introduce myself, the first words he said to me were these: McBride? I’ve heard of you. You’re Jed’s friend.

So there’s that. The ultimate highlight of ̶m̶y̶ ̶l̶i̶f̶e̶ Bouchercon. The rest of our conversation I will keep for myself. Just know that he and his lovely wife are, as my pal Frank Bill so eloquently puts it, “salt of the earth.” So true.

That’s pretty much it. P.J. Farris, Keith Rawson, Greg Bardsley, Kent Gowran, Dan O' Shea, Jimmy Callaway, and everybody else I drank and exchanged lies with--see you next year. Bouchercon 2012. Drinks are on Glenn Gray.

The amazing Jon Jordan! Along with Anthony Award winner Hilary Davidson.

<=== The lovely Christa Faust.

That crazy bastard Scott Phillips
Yes, he knows Krav Maga!