Been wanting to write this since I got home, but I’ve been too tired and run down for the last forty-eight hours. Which is a good thing, really. After spending five days with the greatest tribe on earth, that is, crime fiction writers, I’m feeling enthused, motivated, sick, and ready for the future. In case you’re wondering exactly what I mean when I say this, what follows is a recap of the AMAZING week I had down south, a week that I could neither afford nor afford to miss. Honestly, I’d sell my soul to Satan to make it to Bouchercon, if that’s what it took.
Touched down in New Orleans after some pretty painless travel looking to get out of the airport and into the mix ASAP, and, of course, like we insecure writers often do, unsure if anyone would even remember me, or if I would be forced to walk around all awkward and lonely for five days in a city that virtually never even takes a weed nap. Which turned out to be a moot worry, since as soon as I walked off the plane I ran into S.W. Lauden and Eric Beetner, and we all did a little crime writer happy dance, giddy with anticipation for the Noir at the Bar Bouchercon we were slated to read together at not two hours later. Thanks Eric for arranging that, and for including me, much appreciated, man.
And what a fine, though boozeless, reading it was! All I can say about it is that I had multiple moments where I couldn’t even believe I was getting get to read next to such amazing writers. I read a short excerpt from my novella Debt Crusher, then sat back and watched as author after author absolutely crushed it. Seriously, it was intimidating and inspiring all at the same time.
Somewhere in there, I had a conversation with Craig Faustus Buck (I think at the bar before the readings), though I don’t really remember how that happened, in retrospect. Maybe I dreamed it.
After a po’ boy at Mother’s Restaurant, I made the way over to Noir Bar After Dark at The Voodoo Lounge, where S.G. Redling (her reading was one of the best I have EVER heard, BTW), Johnny Shaw (Chingon!), Christa Faust, Sarah M. Chen (laughed my ass off), Josh Stallings, Danny Gardner, and some other amazing writers I can no longer remember thanks to the absinthe shots that we took with Jason Stuart, tore it up on stage. Got the chance to meet Jeremy Stabile, publisher of Down and Out Books‘ new dark fiction imprint, ABC Group Documentation, and we had a fantastic conversation about their plans, which sound really great. The rest of that night became a blur of hurricanes, weird food, and drunken mania that devolved into a 3AM bedtime, and thus a late start to the next day, which was totally worth it.
I’d like to tell you I hit all the panels and it was the greatest set of panels ever hit, but the truth is l hit like one panel on Thursday, thanks to the late start, an amazing breakfast at The Ruby Slipper Cafe, and, of course, the obligatory trip down to Bourbon Street, where we listened to tons of great music before making our way over to Frenchmen Street for a quick dinner and then on to the Down and Out Books Five Year Aniversary readings, where I saw the likes of Tom Pitts, Rob Hart, Angel Luis Colón , every Down and Out author I can think of, and of course Down and Out Publisher Eric Campbell. It was hot as hell in the room but totally worth the trip!
Afterward, we returned to Frenchmen Street and looked at some of the best pop art I’ve seen in a while, hit a bunch more live music, and, yes, devolved again into ritualistic cretins hellbent on drunken debauchery and mayhem. Which led to yet another 3AM bedtime, a rarity for me these days.
I was hung over as fuck for Friday, a day that saw me take a nap, lay in bed, hit very few panels (again, I know, what a waste to have not hit more, but it was worth it), and ultimately try to gussy myself up for the Anthony Awards.
Which I ended up skipping in favor of dinner and drinks with Sarah M. Chen, my new brother in arms Jonathan Brown, and his wife Sonia Brown. Over dinner, Jonathan told some of the funniest bouncing stories I have ever heard, and honestly, I was ready to pony up the money for a short story collection he hasn’t even considered writing yet by the end of the night. Had an amazing fillet, LOTS of wine, and spent the rest of the night making small talk in the hotel bar, hanging with the tribe, and making some great connections for the future. Managed to get to bed by about 2AM, so somewhat of an improvement over the previous days.
Saturday saw me essentially out of juice but determined to hit lots of panels, which I enjoyed. Had a great time hearing some authors tell their real-life New Orleans stories, mobbed down some red beans and rice for lunch, and spent the afternoon in panels again. Saturday night found me at dinner again with the same crew as Friday, and we had an equally great meal and conversation. After a quick trip to Frenchmen Street with Jonathan and Sonia, I decided to Uber back to the hotel around midnight and get some sleep.
The next morning it was time to say goodbye to New Orleans and head back to the high country of Colorado’s Western Slope with a head full of great memories and a little grumpiness to boot. Saw Joe Clifford on the plane, as well as Barbara Nickless (though I was too hung over to even say hello to her). It was an unfortunate flight trapped next to a man who decided to wear an entire bottle of the cheapest cologne on earth, but otherwise I was very happy to (eventually) make it home, though be it a little sick (I’m still blaming that guy’s cologne for the bacterial infection, no way it could have been the booze and filthy fun).
I just CANNOT WAIT for Toronto next year, that’s the best closing I can give to this post. There is nowhere on earth I feel more understood and accepted than when I’m with my fellow crime writers, and I hope to make dozens more Bouchercons in the years to come. Like I jokingly told a friend while trading my raffle tickets in for some free books, THIS IS MY WOODSTOCK! Thanks to everyone who hung out, put up with me, and said nice things about my writing, you have no idea how much it meant to me. If I didn’t mention you here, please know it doesn’t mean I wasn’t super pumped to spend time with you! See ya’ll next year, peace!