Elementary, My Dear Indy!

by Kayla Perrin

Hello from Indianapolis!

That's where I am right now for the 40th Bouchercon convention. That's right--40th. What is Bouchercon, you might be wondering. Well, it's the largest convention for lovers of mystery fiction. With over 1600 registered guests, it rivals Romance Writers of America's conference attendance. I'm told that this year's is one of the most attended conventions in many years. Like the RWA conference, it moves around to different cities each year, giving attendees a chance to visit cities they might otherwise not get to.

I'm rooming with the fabulous Ann Voss Peterson (pictured above, & with me on the right). She writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue. This is the second time we've both attended B'con (as it's called for short). The first one I went to was in Madison, Wisconsin, where Ann is from--and I stayed at her place. We had a fantastic time, so I knew I couldn't pass up another B'con within driving distance where Ann and I would get to hang out again.

Some of you may have met me at the RWA and RT conferences--where I'm pretty well known by other regular conference-goers. I love conferences, especially big ones. But I admit to feeling like a fish out of water at B'con, where you don't necessarily see someone you know the minute you walk through the door.

So imagine my delight when I heard the words "Heather Graham is in the bar." I see Heather practically everywhere--we go way back, and like me, she and her husband (and often children) love to attend conferences. At the first Thrillerfest conference (a conference for Thriller writers), I ran into Dennis (Heather's husband) and he said he was relieved to see me, someone he knew. I'd felt the same way, since the crowd was not the usual one we see at romance conferences (but it was one of the best conferences I have ever attended, hands-down). Anyway, after seeing Heather and Dennis on Thursday night (pictured above), I found some other familiar faces from the romance community, and some of the mystery people remembered me from the last B'con. I felt like a fish out of water, but I was quickly welcomed warmly by everyone.

So what's a romance writer like myself doing at a mystery conference? You--like a lovely librarian who recognized my name last night at the bar--may be asking yourself that. If you've read my work, you'll know that besides romances, I also write suspense fiction. And with a book called SPRING BREAK coming out next year (a mystery set in the Caribbean a la Natalee Holloway story), I wanted to be at B'con to help get the word out. I know lots of romance booksellers, but I'm just getting to know some of the mystery ones. I also enjoy the dynamic of a conference attended by as many men as women--it's just a different kind of vibe.

I see many, many superstar authors every year at RWA and RT, but when I went to the first Thrillerfest in 2006, I became a total fan-girl. Meeting authors like Joseph Finder, Lee Child, Sandra Brown (again--I met her at RWA), R.L. Stein and some other seriously huge names in the thriller field was a huge, huge thrill for me. Well, this Bouchercon was worth the trip alone when I learned that Harlan Coben was going to be in attendance. He's an author I've wanted to meet for a long time; I've read all of his books!

Last night I saw him when I went to the bar, and inwardly I began to squeal. After trying to work up the nerve to talk to him, I just approached him and told him how huge a fan I am, that I read all of his work, that I was currently listening to one on audio for my drive to Indianapolis. And he's just the sweetest thing! It makes me really happy to know that an author whose works I admire is down to earth and accessible. It makes me adore the author all the more. A friend took a pic of me and Harlan, but I don't have the pic yet so I can't share. But the picture above is from left to right: Daniel Palmer (son of author Michael Palmer; Daniel's first thriller, DELIRIOUS, comes out next year), me, Lee Child and Joseph Finder.

I've also been able to meet some people I only knew on Facebook or Twitter. Like Jonathan Quist, aspiring historical mystery author. Let me tell you, Jonathan is good for a woman's ego. And he's also a gentleman. Thanks, Jonathan, for letting me use your trenchcoat to keep warm while walking outside last night! He's in the picture with me on the right.

In this next picture on the left, I'm with a woman named Wendy at the St. Martin's Minotaur party. She spotted me across the room and figured us for kindred spirits because of our very similar dresses. She was very sweet--and her first book comes out with St. Martin's next year. Congrats, Wendy!!

Here's something interesting I heard from three different people when I told them I also write romance. Their words, almost verbatim, were that they'd heard that romance authors don't support each other the way mystery authors do. Even Harlan Coben said that to me. And it dawned on me this morning that perhaps they're talking about some of the recent backlash on Twitter about that "group" that gets together on Friday nights to trash romance novels. I hadn't heard this at B'con three years ago. Nor at Thrillerfest before. But this year, it seems to be a common theme.

With the various snarky review sites and blogs out there that "attack" romances--and that group on Twitter which I won't name--it's no wonder the romance community is starting to get a bad rap. There was a time when all I knew of the romance community was support, so it's a shame to have our image tarnished. I really hope we as a group can get back to supporting each other and the wonderful world of romance, and not give other writers a reason to talk. I say to all in the romance community--"Can't we all just get along?"

And with that, I'll end with a picture of me, Ann Voss Peterson, Heather Graham, author Alexandra Sokoloff, author F. Paul Wilson, and author Kelli Stanley "getting along" on the bed in Paul's room. Sorry--this picture is going to have to tell the story. If you want to get in on the action, I'll see you at Bouchercon next year, in San Francisco!


  1. Thanks Kayla for sharing about the convention you attended and the exciting people you met there. A picture is worth a thousand words and its good to see what the authors look like and what goes on there. Enjoyed visiting this site.

  2. Kayla,

    Thanks for sharing. Looks like one conference I need to add to my calendar. You certainly put the reader in the middle of the action. Great pics too.

    Marcia King-Gamble

  3. Kayla you always look like you have the most fun at conferences! I love conferences and festivals too! Love the energy and vibe and the inspiration you get from attending - both from fellow artists and from various workshops and events. It really does foster a feeling of camaraderie. Thanks for sharing! ;D

  4. Kayla,

    Thanks for allowing us to attend the conference vicariously through you!

    Looks like so much fun!


  5. Kayla - I'm late to the party, but I wanted to thank you like the others for bringing us along when you go out to conferences. You really do make us feel like a fly on the wall. I haven't had the pleasure of going to a conference yet, but I really, really look forward to my first one. Likely the RWA one in New York in a few years.

    I love your cover for Spring Break!

  6. You're welcome, ladies! And you're right, Joanna--I really do have a great time at conferences. I love the networking and the chance to hang out with people who "get" what I do! And I always return home inspired.

    Julia, you *have* to attend RWA! I think you'll love it...just look for people you know and we'll make you feel welcome!

  7. Kayla, it was great getting to meet you at Bouchercon--and in such a fabulous way! ;)

    We'll have to do a reprise next year in San Francisco!



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