The 2017 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, in Toronto, Canada, concluded more than three weeks ago. Normally, we post photos soon after a convention, but this year the whole experience of Bouchercon was so powerful that I felt unable to post about it until now.
As a guest of honor at this year’s events, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine was invited to a dinner hosted by convention co-chairs Helen Nelson and Janet Costello on Wednesday, prior to the official start of programming. There I had the pleasure of meeting, or reconnecting with, not only Bouchercon 2017’s special guest authors but some of the incredible volunteers who make Bouchercon possible. It was a delightful evening.
Then, on Thursday afternoon, came a dedicated EQMM hour. After a short interview with me by Art Taylor, fifteen of our authors each spoke for a couple of minutes about the magazine and their connection to it. This was something I’ll never forget. A mix of old friends, longtime contributors, and new authors (a couple of whom I’d never met before), their recollections—some going back a half century!—were moving and illuminating. With seventy-six years of continuous publication behind it, EQMM is one of America’s longest-running periodicals. That kind of longevity is only possible through the work of many talented contributors and a loyal and discerning readership. But what impressed me most forcefully at this event was the role love has played in sustaining our magazine. In one way or another, it shone from what each person said. I feel immeasurably grateful for my own connection to the magazine and to the “family” that has grown up around it. We have not yet been able to gather photos of all of those who participated in this celebration, but we’ll put them up as we get them. Warmest thanks to all!
Bouchercon Friday found me on a panel moderated by James Lincoln Warren about the art of short-story writing. Anyone who’s attended the short-story panels of previous Bouchercons knows that attendance is often sparse. With his ingenious idea of devoting the hour almost entirely to audience questions, Jim managed to pack the house, with standing room only. I learned a lot from my fellow panelists, as we talked about everything from flash fiction to the novella.
Saturday found me on another panel, this one devoted to noir fiction—a place granted to EQMM due to our Black Mask department (Black Mask Magazine being, arguably, where the noir movement in fiction began). The other panelists included International Guest of Honor Christopher Brookmyre, who made my day by expressing—far better than I ever could—a reservation similar to that I have regarding the use of sexual violence (especially related to children) in entertainment fiction. Kudos to moderator Rob Brunet for guiding us so skillfully through the extensive terrain that these days falls under the heading “noir.”
As anyone who’s ever attended a Bouchercon knows, eating and drinking with friends, authors, and colleagues is as important as any of the formal events. I did a lot of that this time, and had the extra pleasure of being joined by EQMM and AHMM’s associate editor Jackie Sherbow. Out of those conversations came the inspiration for a couple of new social-media ventures for EQMM and AHMM. As of last week, both magazines launched Twitter and Instagram accounts. You can find us here: @eqmm (Twitter) and @elleryqueenmm (Instagram).
I’ve been to Toronto a couple of times before, once for an earlier Bouchercon. This time, I was too busy to see much of the city, but I was impressed, as on previous occasions, by the civility and kindness with which we were met everywhere we went. No one exemplifies those qualities more than convention co-chairs Helen Nelson and Janet Costello. Thank you, Helen and Janet, on behalf of both EQMM and myself, for an absolutely marvelous time! Last year, for our 75th anniversary, we created a “highlights list” of our past three quarters of a century. When the next list gets made, this Bouchercon is going to have a big star next to it. —Janet Hutchings