Last week, and over the weekend, I attended Bouchercon (the world mystery convention) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The conference moves around, with a different host city (and organizing committee) every year, but consistently draws hundreds of writers and mystery fans to wherever it pitches its murder-loving mayhem.
The conference features four days of engaging, interesting panels on anything and everything connected with crime fiction and its creation. My favorite panel this year featured a presentation on cadaver dogs, run by cadaver dog expert Cat Warren and mystery author Kate Flora.
The presentation also included a demonstration by a local Sheriff and his cross-trained cadaver / bomb sniffing canine companion.
Bouchercon gives authors and mystery readers a chance to meet, mingle, and connect with friends (both old and new). I was lucky enough to pair up for the “author speed-dating” event (where authors move around to various tables and describe their books to groups of readers at 2-4 minute intervals) with my friend Mark Stevens, author of the Allison Coil Mysteries.
I also spent a couple of lovely evenings visiting with K.B. Owen, author of the Concordia Wells Mysteries–who I’ve known for several years online, but hadn’t met in person until Raleigh!
On Friday morning, I attended the Bouchercon members’ meeting–everyone who attends the conference is a member, and invited to attend–and presented a pitch for Sacramento, California to become the host city for the 2020 Bouchercon. The voting took place after the pitch…and Sacramento is now the official host city for Bouchercon 2020–Where Murder Is a Capitol Crime!
I spent time with my new “housemates” from Seventh Street Books, and was there when Lori Rader-Day (a fellow former Debutante Ball Blogger and Seventh Street Author – pictured here with Seventh Street Books authors Larry D. Sweazy and James Ziskin) won the Anthony Award for her debut novel, THE BLACK HOUR.
The weekend passed in a whirl of workshops, friendships, laughter, and the occasional trip to the (well-stocked) bar, which serves as the evening watering hole for most of the Bouchercon herd.
As often happens, the weekend saved its best surprise for last. I left the final panel this morning, walked outside the hotel, and saw this:
To many of you, that’s just a food truck–but to those of us with a semi-serious addiction to Food Network, the Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck is also the winner of the most recent season of The Great Food Truck Race. The truck and its owners, Sunny and Sophia, overcame serious hardships to emerge victorious at the end of a long and well-fought battle. I’m not only a fan of the show, but of Pho Nomenal in particular, and though I knew the truck is based in Raleigh I hadn’t actually expected to see them during my trip–let alone directly in front of the conference hotel.
Turns out, there was an enormous food truck “rodeo” event near the conference venue this afternoon, so I not only saw the Pho Nomenal Dumpling truck….I got to eat there too. The corn dog banh mi and pork and chive dumplings more than lived up to the truck’s reputation, and I can tell why they won the Great Food Truck Race.
Best of all, the owners came out to take a picture with me!
I admit to a major fangirl moment. Possibly more than one.
Next year’s Bouchercon takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana (September 15-18, 2016). Registration for “Blood on the Bayou” is open, and the conference hotel is already taking reservations. Whether you’ve been to a Bouchercon before or not, if you like crime fiction I hope you’ll come and join us for the party on the bayou!