BoucherCon revisited (I)
(BoucherCon starts Thursday in San Francisco—you can still register, or get day passes, including for Friday when I am grilled—er, interviewed by Dana Stabenow. I’ll post in the days leading up to BCon with memories about BCons past.)
“Are you a writer?”
Um, well. This was 1990, in London, and although I had been writing for three years and had finished (hah!) a couple of books, I was still two years from a contract, three years from seeing any of those words in hardback. So, how do I answer that question?
Wrong answer, I know that now, but at the time, it served to identify me as among the Great Unpublished and permit the eyes of my questioner (accuser?) in the bookroom of BoucherCon 1990 to slide away from my name tag and look around for a more likely target.
It was cold and rainy in London, I knew no one, I was somewhat disoriented from just getting off a plane, and I wasn’t really sure why I was there. Something that my UK agent had suggested.
But there I was, among writers, listening to people talk about this weird hobby of mine as if it were real. Talk about ways to do it better. Talk about the same questions that bullied my mind and made me feel inadequate.
I remember: P. D. James, the guest of honor, coming out for her interview with a handbag tucked over her arm, looking startlingly like the queen, and answering questions with all the regal aplomb—even the lady in the houndstooth cape whose hand-puppet asked, “Sherlock Hound wants to know, what is the meaning of “Devices and Desires” being used both as the title of a book and as the chapter title in an earlier book?”
I remember: A reference to one of the Goddesses of Crime as “ABC—Agatha Bloody Christie” and waiting for lightning to strike the speaker dead.
I remember: Realizing for the first time the scope of what the phrase “crime fiction” meant.
I remember: Learning that the correct answer to the question, “Are you a writer?” was a firm and unequivocal, “Yes.”