by Paula Gail Benson
This year’s Bouchercon was scheduled to take place in Sacramento “where murder is a Capitol crime.” Michele Drier, Rae James, and an excellent team that made up the local committee had worked tirelessly to organize a wonderful event featuring Scott Turow (Special Guest of Honor), Walter Mosley (Lifetime Achievement), Anne Perry (Distinguished Guest of Honor), Anthony Horowitz (International Guest of Honor), Cara Black (Local Guest of Honor), Janet A. Rudolph (Fan Guest of Honor), and Catriona McPherson (Toastmaster).
After Covid 19 changed our lives, the local organizing committee blazed new territory by converting the conference, in its 51st year, to a virtual event held this past Friday and Saturday. A new Bouchercon for a new half-century! According to Michele Drier, 33 live panels were held with audiences from about 80 to more than 260 each. Attendees used the chat line to ask questions and greet fellow participants. Pre-taped welcomes for each day and interviews with the Guests of Honor were available for viewing during the 48 hours of the conference. Also among the taped segments was an interview among past Sisters in Crime Presidents and one of Anthony Boucher’s radio programs, presented by authors.
I was delighted to be asked to moderate a live panel, titled “Make Mine Romance: Is there a Love Angle?” I knew two of the panelists, Grace Topping, a blogging partner here at Writers Who Kill, and S.C. Perkins (Stephanie), who prepared graphics to publicize our segment. Both Grace and Stephanie were nominees for this year’s Agatha for Best First Novel.
While I had heard about the other panelists, this was the first time we had the chance to interact. Let me assure you they all now are on my to-be-read list, including our host June Gillam. Here’s a little about each so, if you haven’t already, you can discover their work.
|Photo Courtesy of Grace Topping|
Julie Hennrikus writes series under three names, the Garden Squad mysteries as Julia Henry; the Theater Cop mysteries as J.A. Hennrikus; and the Clock Shop mysteries as Julianne Holmes.
Rena Leith’s two novels, Murder Beach and Coastal Corpse, take place in northern California and involve protagonist Cass Peake with a ghost.
Camille Minichino, in addition to having a Ph.D in Physics and being a writing teacher, is the author of 5 series: the Periodic Table Mysteries, the Miniature Mysteries (written as Margaret Grace), the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries (previously written as Ada Madison), the Post Mistress Mysteries (written as Jean Flowers), and the Alaskan Diner Mysteries (written as Elizabeth Logan).
Grace Topping’s protagonist is home stager Laura Bishop. Her first novel became a USA Today Bestseller.
|Grace Topping, Rena Leith,|
Paula Gail Benson, Camille Minichino,
S.C. Perkins, Faye Snowden,
Juie Hennrikus, D. R. Ransdell
Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Crowens
|Golden Age of Mystery Panel|
Roberta Rogow, Ana Brazil, Debra Goldstein,
Josh Pachter, John Billheimer, Marty Wingate
Bouchercon 2020 concluded with the Anthony Awards ceremony held on a public access channel. The nominees appeared on screen to hear the winners announced and make acceptance speeches. At the end of the evening, as the baton was passed to Heather Graham, for 2021’s local planning committee in New Orleans, promises were made to continue virtual access and allow for more participants. I hope that will be possible. For all that we’ve had to learn during this year of isolation, the new capabilities for connections are a true asset.