Sorry my Day 3 report is late, but I have my reasons, as you shall see.
After the mayhem and mirth of recording the podcast with Tom Pitts (link still TK), I still got up Saturday in time for my complimentary hotel breakfast. Unfortunately, so did what appeared to be a literal (Literal, Joe Biden!) busload of other guests, and so I headed over to the con hotels.
Lawrence Block was in the lobby when I got there, about an hour before his next panel. We said hello, and then I grabbed a couple of Danishes and a Sprecher’s Root Beer — breakfast of champions, eh? As I noshed, I gave Mrs. M a call, as I heard there was “moderate rain” in the Mondoville/Real City area, and she told me things were OK at the house.
The first panel I attended was one of Larry’s, about readers’ fascination with lawbreakers in fiction. (Technically, law enforcers were mentioned in the title as well, but they received little attention, which sort of proves a larger point.) Hank Phillippi Ryan was the moderatrix, and along with Mr. Block, the panelists included Alison Gaylin, Michael Koryta, and David Housewright. Ms. Ryan began the session by advising the rather large crowd not to heckle anyone but Mr. Block, but the admonition was unnecessary. One of the points that came up in the discussion was that even villainous characters have their motivations and aren’t cartoonish monsters. Toward this point, Mr. Housewright recounted the story of a longtime friend and hockey teammate who was suddenly revealed to be a pedophile. “He had been my friend,” Housewright said, “but I couldn’t be his friend anymore after learning that.”
At that moment, Mr. Block leaned over to his mike and said, “Don’t you think that’s a bit narrow-minded of you, David?” Brought down the house.
I had lunch with new acquaintance and Chicago-based jazz writer Howard Mandel (no relation, and accent on the first syllable of the last name) and then went to a session on “Psychopaths, Serial Killers, Sociopaths & Human Monsters within Literature.” Debbi Mack moderated, and the panelists included Jennifer Hillier, Reed Farrel Coleman (who has inherited the Jesse Stone franchise from Robert B. Parker), Steve Hamilton, and Michael Robotham. At one point, Ms. Hillier mentioned discovering the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, and learning to her dismay that she scored about a 16 (average is about 8, and anything over 30 is well into psychopath country). I spoke to her briefly afterward, and I think I’ll look into her work as well.
Finally, I went to a session on “Crime, Mystery, Thriller Novels: The Game Changers”, which was interesting, but not quite what I was looking for. However, it was nice to meet friend-of-a-friend David Bell, who works at one of my undergrad institutions. Afterwards, I phoned Mrs. M again. After several rings, she answered and said, “Gotta go — water’s coming in again.” Apparently, the rain became more than moderate, and the ground just couldn’t take it. I rang some of my colleagues and friends at the college, and they came over and helped Mrs. M battle the rising tide as I frantically made it back to the motel, threw my stuff into bags, and checked out. Mondoville may not pay buckets of cash, but it’s a damned fine community and place to work.
I made it back to Mondoville about 12:45 a.m., and have spent today shoveling debris, hanging out at the laundromat, and other similar delights. The restoration process will continue. On the upside, I had the pleasure of presenting the Spawn with a souvenir — a signed copy of Megan Abbott’s latest book.
It’s disappointing that my Bouchercon experience was truncated, but I sincerely enjoyed the time I spent there, loved meeting a lot of wonderful people, and believe that Raleigh was a fine host city. Next year’s takes place in New Orleans, and I’m already trying to figure out a way to get both there and to NoirCon in Philadelphia. It’ll help if we can stay dry.