Back From Bouchercon

September 24th, 2013 by Max Allan Collins

Before I get into a report on Bouchercon, I want to let everybody know that WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER has been doing very well – got as high as #90 in Kindle bestsellers and #1 in mysteries – with some really nice reviews (I’ll share some below). My thanks to those of you who requested advance copies who have helped earn the book a four-star average at Amazon and an impressive (to date) 27 reviews.

The advance copies I sent out here on EARLY CRIMES has earned us a five-star rating at Amazon and 12 reviews.

Keep those reviews coming. I encourage you to not only review my stuff at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads, but to do the same for any author, any book, you like. They really matter.

Bouchercon was the usual delight where people are concerned. I did four signings and had long lines for the first two and steady flow for the others. The multiple signings had to do with Barb and me each doing two panels, and signings are always scheduled right after…plus I had an Amazon signing, as well, at Mystery Mike’s booth, the minute I got there. Some fans came with boxes of M.A.C. books, often including editions I had never seen before.

The panels were excellent. Barb and I were on one that had to do with collaborations, and that went very well, although it got a little bogged down when we got into ghost-writing and novelizations as different branches of collaboration. This led to talk of contracts and other “inside baseball” topics that I’m afraid may have bored some audience members. I responded by making stupid jokes – are you surprised? Still, a strong panel, featuring Barbara Peters (moderator), Barb and me, Wendy Corsi-Staub, Jonathan Greene, and Paul Kemprecos.

Barb was the moderator on a panel about amateur sleuths and the mix of writers was broad, which – in addition to Barb’s sharp questions – made for a great session. One thing Barb did that was really smart was prepare individual questions for each author. So often on a panel given a shared questions, by the time it gets to you, the topic has been wrung dry. A fine job by my lovely wife. Panelists were Barb (moderator), Joel Gomez-Dossi, Tom MacDonald, Cate Price, Rebecca Tope, Tina Whittle.

I was pleased to be on a panel in the biggest of the rooms, with huge attendance. I shared the stage with Anne Perry, Reed Coleman, Laurie King and Oline Cogdill (moderator). The topic was ending a series. I immediately said, “How do you end a series? Your agent calls and says the publisher doesn’t want any more.” This and many other jokes I used to disrupt a very good panel, where I wasn’t the only funny one, and sure as hell not the only smart one. Anne Perry got on my case a little about writing about true crime and imagining the motivations of the people involved…think about it…but she generally seemed to like what I had to say. Most of us on the panel had done historical crime fiction and that became a sub-topic. Really a fun, lively affair.

Meetings with our agent Dominick Abel and editors from Kensington, Thomas & Mercer and Tor/Forge were a lot of fun, with business getting covered but also a really nice chance to socialize and get to know better the people you work for/with. Of course, Michaela Hamilton of Kensington has been pleasantly in our lives for some time – she bought CARNAL HOURS at Dutton, back in the day, and later at Kensington requested that we do a cozy series for her, resulting in the ANTIQUES novels. She also published two thrillers by Matt Clemens and me.

Matt was there, making friends everywhere he went and doing a panel himself (before we got there).

There were dinners every evening where we got to socialize with all sorts of mystery writers and publishing folk – a wonderful Amazon evening, the PWA awards dinner (unofficial this year, since I wasn’t nominated), and our agent’s annual feed-the-clients affair. All fun. All wonderful.

Our only complaint was the venue. Downtown Albany was not user-friendly, to say the least. We were at an institutional facility, not the usual hotel – at a hotel, there is a lobby, a bar, a restaurant or two. In Albany, no restaurants near the convention center. Hotels were spread out, requiring shuttles or long walks or cars (taxi or rental). When you were away from the con you were really, really away from the con.

Nonetheless, the people are the thing, and that helped make up for the shortcomings of the ungainly venue. I am sure future Bouchercons will learn from what went right and what didn’t at this one.

No Bouchercon pictures yet, but in later weeks we’ll post some.

* * *

We had a flat-out rave for WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER at Bookgasm. Does that feel good!

Another great one for WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER at Crimespree. (Saw Jon and Ruth Jordan at the con – with the most quality time being at the airport heading home.)

And finally, yet another at the Beachcomber (under the Jack Reacher review).


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3 Responses to “Back From Bouchercon”

  1. Gerard Saylor says:

    Every time I see Anne Perry’s name and I remember HEAVENLY CREATURES. The two of them, Perry and her pal, have ended up living a fairly short distance from each other. I doubt they talk.

  2. Frank says:

    Speaking of collaborations, ghost – writing and novelizations, what is the background with your book ” Protect and Defend ” with Jack Valenti ? Did you ghost – write this novel, was it a joint collaboration or were you along for ” editing judgments and assistance ” as the book claims ? There must be an interesting story in there somewhere. In all of your collaborations and novelizations you always graciously mention Barb, Matt Clemens, your researchers, Mickey Spillane, and any and all who helped. This is the only book I can think of where you don’t discuss how the book came to be.

  3. mike doran says:

    First things first:

    Yesterday, I took delivery (from Amazon) of EARLY CRIMES and WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER.
    I’m holding off on ordering ASK NOT until it actually becomes available – that includes bookstore presence, wher I can use a discount card.

    The subject of collaborations is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
    What I’ve noticed is that there are so many different kinds, different dynamics between the people involved.
    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Mark Rothman’s Blog. Rothman is a well-known TV comedy writer, with credits including THE ODD COUPLE, HAPPY DAYS, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, many others.
    For much of that time, the earliest part, Mark Rothman was partnered with Lowell Ganz.
    The partnership split up after about five or six years, quite acrimoniously.
    Mark Rothman has devoted the last couple of weeks on his Blog to a detailed account of the thousands of wrongs that Lowell Ganz subjected him to.
    If you get a chance, you ought to check out MARK ROTHMAN’S BLOG for yourself; I won’t say if I entirely buy his version of events as opposed to Lowell Ganz’s (which can be found in the interview he gave to the TV Academy on their website), but the tales told by Rothman are very interesting indeed.
    The Rothman/Ganz story is from the late ’70s-early ’80s, but it looks like it might make a Jack and Maggie Starr story (I’m still not sure who would murder who, though …).
    Rothman’s up to seven parts now, with at least one more to go, so you’ll have to scroll down a bit; these should be read in order for full effect.

    In regard to Frank’s query on PROTECT AND DEFEND:
    I won’t be surprised if your deal with Doubleday for this project included a confidentiality agreement, which might still be in force even though Jack Valenti is no longer living.
    I happen to have a copy of this book (thanx to Alibris), and one of the first things I noted was your name in the acknowledgements – “Max ALLEN Collins”. I’ll guess that your editor at Doubleday might have missed that one (and I did hear your ID of her when you talked to Steve and Jonnie that time) …
    So much for ghostwriting (another possible case for Jack & Maggie – or even perhaps the return of Mallory?).

    I don’t know if you get MeTV in the Quad Cities market, but they’ve been running the early episodes of WAGON TRAIN in the overnight hours (weeknights at 3 AM Central Time).
    These are the Ward Bond years; they’re up to Season Two (1958-59), and the past week or so has included episodes with Lou Costello, Sessue Hayakawa – and Patty McCormack (The Bad Seed out west, sort of – but she turns nice at the end, thanks to the NAB Code).
    I don’t know how far MeTV’s going to take the sequential run (they tend to stop midway through long-running series), but I’m DVRing them just in case.
    Just thought you’d like to know …

    Counting down to November.