October 2012 Issue
Cleveland hosts the 43rd annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention for writers and readers.
Au Contraire! Crime does indeed pay. And handsomely, too. Just ask the 500 authors and their 1,000-plus fans who will be congregating in Cleveland for Bouchercon 2012. The annual international conference — which takes place Oct. 4–7 at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel — is dedicated to danger, suspense, murder, action, intrigue and all the other irresistible plot devices of this favorite literary genre.
“Crime literature is all-encompassing,” explains Marjory Mogg, the readers’ advisory librarian at the Euclid Public Library who’s chairing this year’s convention. “Some books focus on the explosive thrill of the hunt and the guessing game that ensues as readers try to solve the case before the hard-boiled detective does. Others are tamer, cozier stories.
“No matter what type you prefer,” she adds, “ Bouchercon has something for everyone.”
Although Anthony Boucher (rhymes with “voucher,” except the “ch” sounds like an “sh”) may not be a household name, his legacy is one that’s appreciated in spades. An American science-fiction editor and author of mystery novels and short stories, Boucher co-founded The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1949. He was best known for penning book reviews for The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle.
When Boucher died of lung cancer in 1968, his friends created the convention as a fitting homage and named it after him.
Through the decades, cities around the globe — including Toronto, London, Los Angeles, New York, Baltimore and St. Louis — have played host. This year marks the first time the gathering will be held in Ohio.
“Bouchercon is an experience fans can’t get enough of,” says Mogg. “This is their opportunity to interact one-on-one with favorite writers in a variety of ways. Just to be able to say hello to Mary Higgins Clark and Robin Cook this year and have them sign your books, or chat with Cleveland author Les Roberts — that’s the connection which makes the event unlike any other I’ve ever been to.”
In addition to meet-and-greets, the 2012 convention features panel discussions where authors will delve into such eclectic topics as “Murder is Everywhere: Exploring the Intricacies of Successful International Mystery Writing,” “Police and Thieves: Comparing United Kingdom and U.S. Laws” and “Cleveland Rocks and So Does Murder: What Makes this Midwest City So Popular for Killers?”
Capping the four-day event is the Anthony Awards ceremony, honoring writers in categories that include Best Novel, Best First Novel, Best Paperback Original, Best Short Story and Best Critical/Non-Fiction Work. Winners are chosen by attendees. Past recipients include Louise Penny, P.D. James, Michael Connelly, Robert B. Parker and J.K. Rowling.
“There are many mystery conferences out there,” Mogg muses, “but Bouchercon is the granddaddy of them all.”
For Warren native Elizabeth George, writing crime fiction is as rewarding as reading it. George, who will be a guest of honor at this year’s conference, honed her craft while teaching high school in California during the mid-1970s. As she explored the talents of notable whodunit novelists with her students, George came to admire the ebb and flow of each narrative.
“There’s a natural through-line provided in a crime story that I find really attractive,” George explains by phone from her home on Whidbey Island in Washington. “The fact that there’s a theme or idea running from the beginning to the end of the book seduces me into relaxing while writing.”
Clearly, it’s working: George’s penchant for riveting plots has earned accolades among her legions of admirers: The author’s debut novel, A Great Deliverance
, won the 1989 Anthony Award for Best First Mystery Novel, and her 1999 work, In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner
, received the 2001 Ohioana Book Award for Fiction.
George credits much of that success to her favorite protagonist, Inspector Thomas Lynley — a character both she and her readers have great affection for.
“I think many authors don’t think about developing a series character they want to spend time with,” George says. “I knew it would be a lot more fun for me if I created someone I would enjoy. So many fictional police professionals are middle-class people who are having some sort of crisis in their life, which makes them a little bit unwilling to become involved with others. I was determined not to make him like that.”
Following in the footsteps of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George sets her novels in London and the surrounding countryside — places she’s been smitten with since 1966, when she first visited England to study Shakespeare.
“That was during the time of ‘swinging’ London,” George reminisces, “when Carnaby Street and the mini-skirt were all the rage for fashion and there was burgeoning interest in the British cinema. I find the country incredibly fascinating.”
So much so that the author estimates she’s returned at least 50 times to engage in research for her books.
That painstaking attention to detail is important to George. “I want my stories to be the sort readers will want to visit more than once. That way they can see how everything was laid out for them from the very beginning, had they only interpreted it correctly,” she says with a chuckle.
For more information about Bouchercon, visit bouchercon2012.com