Saturday, October 6, 2012

On the road again: Bouchercon, Cleveland, day 4

I'm taking advantage of every chance I get to sleep more, so I slept as late as I could today without jeopardizing the morning work or the first panel I wanted to attend. 

That discussion proved a very good choice indeed, as Mark Billingham, Karin Slaughter, John Connolly, Alafair Burke, and Martyn Waites held forth entertainingly for almost an hour on the topic of heroes and villains. Two points of the discussion were of particular interest to me.

The first concerned the Amazon sock-puppet scandal.  A group of writers that included four of these five panelists posted and signed a simple condemnation of this practice and a vow not to indulge in it.  This post, which to me seems quite clearly a good (if probably Quixotic) thing, apparently drew quite a backlash.  It's an interesting topic to explore, if you feel like diving down that particular rat hole.

The other topic concerned whether writers were basically done by the time they're fifty.  I don't know the ages of these panelists, but most must be well enough past thirty that they were definitely not in favor of this concept.  Connolly cited James Lee Burke (one of my all-time favorite writers) as someone who is still doing amazing work quite late in life.  As someone who didn't start his first novel until he was fifty, and who feels he is still learning and improving, I have to hope that my best days as a writer are still ahead of me and that I never stop growing my skills.  Time, of course, will tell.

The next panel was a very different discussion of how authors create characters.  I went to see Charlaine Harris, who is always both gracious and entertaining, but I was also particularly interested in the very analytical way that Elizabeth George approaches the problem of character creation. 

The Anthony Awards ceremony was the highlight of the early evening, though waiting for its hour-late start was a bit painful.  Toastmaster Connolly moved the ceremony along smartly, and the winners kept their acceptance speeches mercifully short.  I have to give a special shout out to Dana Cameron, who walked away from this convention with two different awards and who has a story in The Wild Side

Dinner tonight was an okay but overall disappointing meal at the well-reviewed restaurant, The Flying Fig.  The service ranged from mediocre to bad, and the food was serviceable but no more.  Either of the previous dinners I've had in Cleveland bested it easily, so I can't recommend this place. 

Tonight, I hope, will bring a lot of sleep. 

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