Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bouchercon 2015 - Days 3/4 (Sat/Sun)

Bouchercon rolled on through the weekend. Saturday and Sunday panels:

The Dark Side of Romance is Suspense and Murder
Cathy Wiley (moderator extraordinaire), Amanda DeWees, Robin Weaver, Jamie Mason, Sheila York
  • On why the genre works so well with romance: Limitless possibility for reaction due to chemistry and romance. Love is high stakes, high drama and high emotion. Life and death situations only work if you have something to lose. When you fall in love, it makes you vulnerable.
  • On naming their characters: Wiley - all her killers are named after ex-boyfriends. York - killed off her boss once because she thought he had the perfect last name. She got his permission first, and he brags about it. Weaver uses - enters characteristics of her character to generate names. 
  • On the importance (or not) of humor despite the darkness of the genre: DeWees - important. York - her characters have a wry sense of humor about themselves.
  • During the Q&A, the authors were asked what question they would like to be asked in interviews and DeWees quipped, "How does it feel to be a New York Times best seller?". Weaver was up next: "Ditto."
York's novels are set in 1940's Hollywood. Being a sucker for all things historic Hollywood/Los Angeles, I had to buy her book and get it autographed. She was sitting next to Wiley, who commented, "Great inscription." Apparently coming up with just the right inscription is a big deal. 

Psychopaths, Serial Killers, Sociopaths and Human Monsters Within Literature
Debbi Mack (moderator), Reed Farrell Coleman, Michael Robotham, Steve Hamilton, Jennifer Hillier
  • Coleman: Given the right motivation and circumstances anyone could do terrible things. Robotham noted Nazi Germany as an extreme example.
  • Subjects even they won't touch: Hillier - kids and animals. Robotham - "Heaven help you if you harm a pet." Coleman - Nothing, but things that make him uncomfortable often happen "offscreen". 
  • Sociopaths as sidekicks: Coleman referred to them as "socio-ex-machina". When your protagonist has to make the tough decision to do a bad thing, the socio-sidekick does it for them. Kind of a cheat unless it's really well done. The Easy Rawlins and Spenser series were cited as having these characters.
  • Hillier described growing up a big Stephen King fan. She quipped that she went from reading Sweet Valley High to Pet Sematary.
  • Favorite bad characters: Hillier - Dexter Morgan. Hamilton - Donald Westlake aka Parker. Coleman - Mouse (Easy Rawlins series), Robotham - Jack Torrance from The Shining, who he described as "an astonishing creation".

Crime, Mystery and Thriller Novels: The Game Changers
James Scott Bell (moderator), David Bell, M. Ruth Myers, Michael Robotham (filling in for Sean Chercover, who was ill), Stefanie Pintoff

The authors talked about what they do for originality, so that they're not telling the same old story.
  • David Bell: Combined suspense with a love story.
  • Robotham: It took him years to figure out how to make it work in a story, but he based his current novel, Life or Death, on a true story about a guy who escaped from prison the night before he was due to be released. He was never seen or heard from again.
  • Myers: Her main character is a female PI in pre-World War II Dayton, Ohio. She feels this era (between The Depression and WWII) produced the first era of career women, and wanted a character who wasn't Rosie the Riveter or USO entertainment.
  • James Bell: Married a legal thriller with zombie fiction. The titles in his Zombie at Law trilogy are awesome: I Ate the Sheriff, Pay Me in Flesh and The Year of Eating Dangerously.
  • Pintoff: Be creative, but stay within the framework of the genre.

Trends in the Traditional Mystery
Christine Husom (moderator), Ellen Crosby, Tracy Kiely, Mollie Cox Bryan, Kendel Lynn
  • On the appeal of traditional mysteries: Bryan - Sense of justice and solving a puzzle. Kiely - Safety due to lack of bloody gore and knowledge that things will end up okay. Lynn - The tradition of it. Comforting and entertaining, but not emotionally draining.
  • Kiely's current series is an updated version of The Thin Man with the roles reversed (wife Nic is the former cop, husband Nigel the wealthy heir). 
  • How they write: Lynn - is an extreme plotter, practically writes the whole book that way. Kiely - starts with the murder. Bryan - "When you think you've written yourself into a corner, blow some shit up." Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Choose Your Voice: First, Third or Omnipotent
Debra H. Goldstein (moderator), M.L. Rowland, Bill Crider, Patricia Coleman (aka P.R. Morris), Julieanne Holmes (aka J.A. Henrikus)
  • Crider thinks classic P.I. novels should be written in the first person.
  • There are certain constraints to first person, particularly that the protagonist can't know more than the reader knows. You can't hide things from readers.
  • Holmes wrote her Harvard thesis on Agatha Christie's use of point of view. She cited The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express as examples of how Christie used POV to inform and fool her readers.
  • Coleman writes historical novels and uses two dominant POV's, one male and one female. Her reasoning is that in that time period, men moved through society differently than women, even women of status. 

Bring on New Orleans! (Bouchercon 2015)

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