2015: “You have to go to Bouchercon in Raleigh!”
I didn’t go to Bouchercon.
2016: “You have to go to Bouchercon in New Orleans!”
I didn’t go to Bouchercon.
2017: “You have to go to Bouchercon in Toronto!”
I WENT TO BOUCHERCON IN TORONTO!
For those of you not familiar with Bouchercon, it’s a mystery convention packed with amazing writers, agents, publishers, and readers. There are presentations, panel discussions, signing opportunities, and loads of other activities. Now, I’m not exactly a stranger to mystery / thriller conventions. I’ve been to Thrillerfest in New York City a few times and it’s a blast in its own right. Bouchercon is a little different in several ways. First, it is in a different city every year. While the location can be inconvenient, depending on the chosen venue, it affords attendees the opportunity to experience something different each year. Bouchercon also has more readers.
Not that conventions filled with authors aren’t great, but it’s the interaction with readers that can be especially rewarding. Not only might a writer hear from fans, but its a chance for authors to develop new readers and engage with people at a personal level. These interactions don’t have to be by chance. For instance, I participated in a writer/reader “speed dating” event, during which I paired up with another author and rotated around a room to nearly 20 tables. At each table, I had two minutes to take about my works. Repeating the same two-minute pitch over and over may sound tedious, but it’s worth it if you gain even one reader. The room was packed and I was paired up with a fantastic author named Melissa Yi. She came more prepared than I did, as I forgot my superhero costume.
I was also fortunate to be on a panel that discussed the portrayal of government agencies in fiction. Joining me on the panel which was moderated by Gwen Florio, were Rachel Amphlett, Joseph Finder, Puja Guha, Mike Maden. It was a lively discussion and I managed to get a photo with Joe Finder (I’m going to call him “Joe” now), whose work I’ve admired for years.
For me, one of the major highlights was interacting with some writers I’ve been working with for the past couple of years. Most of whom, I’d never met in person. I contribute to a website called The Thrill Begins and it was a pleasure to meet nearly all the team members.
A project that spun off of that site is the creation of an anthology titled The Night of the Flood. It was exciting to meet nearly all the contributors to that book as well as my publishers. And you can see below, Ed Aymar and I were overjoyed to spend more time together.
Finally, this was my first time visiting Toronto. What a city! Other than the rush hour traffic, I’m a huge fan. I’m not saying I’d want to hang out there in the dead of winter, but October is a good time to visit.
I’m already excited for Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, FL in 2018. I’ll be living in Georgia by then, so the journey should be a relatively easy drive. And who knows… maybe my recent release, Bolt Action Remedy or the upcoming release, The Night of the Flood, will be up for an award. Regardless, it should be a blast.
Now I’m off to go house hunting in the Savannah, Georgia area. Savannah should be exactly like Toronto… but totally different. 🙂
J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.
BOLT ACTION REMEDY
Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.
Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.
In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.
An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.
In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered. When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.
And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology