I’m currently sitting in the Phoenix airport waiting for my connection back to Las Vegas. Â There are remnants of activity still going on at Bouchercon today, but all the serious stuff wrapped up last night.
Overall, I’d have to rate the conference with a “C” grade. Â A big part of my negative feeling toward it stems from the fact that yesterday, I started coming down with a cold, so I left the Hyatt at around 1:30 to return to the Omni, where I was staying, and never returned to the conference. Colds really piss me off, so that becomes my problem.
And speaking of the Omni, I wasn’t crazy about it. Everything about it was way overpriced, including $10/day for wi-fi access, and I was told the building went up in 1913! Â Granted, the Omni company spent a lot of money on renovations, but my room was tiny. It was also two blocks from the Hyatt, making it unbelievably inconvenient, especially in the terrible weather that blanketed Indianapolis.
As far as Indianapolis goes, this was my first time there, and if I never go there again (which is clearly possible), I don’t think I’ll be missing anything. There are some cities that just beg you to return, to see and experience that which you missed on your first visit. Cities like New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans fall into this category. Indianapolis falls way outside of it.
Another obstacle I couldn’t quite overcome was the fact that I didn’t know a soul there. All the published authors tended to stick together before they vanished, while everyone else seemed to know each other or seemed to be part of a group, and based on other early reports of conference attendees who were well-acquainted with large groups of people, I’m not too far wrong. At times, it felt like I was the lone Red Sox fan in Yankee Stadium. As with the cold, I suppose this is my problem.
But it wasn’t all bad. The conference itself was very well-run. I liked the idea of the “continuous conversations”. Even though there were no jaw-dropping moments at the ones I attended, they were a harmless, comfortable way to pass the down time. The panels, of which there was no shortage, generally started and ended on time, and they usually stayed on topic, with plenty of time allotted for Q and A from the audience.
The guests were well-chosen, for the most part, and most of them had something to say. Michael Connelly would be the major exception to this, as he appeared to be on automatic pilot. He does a lot of these events, though, so I’ll cut him slack. Â Anyway, his presence alone seemed to satisfy the large crowd, which ranÂ upwards of 1500 people.
By far, however, my biggest beef was with the panel moderators, who generally would not make the panelists speak directly into the microphone. Some of the panelists had a natural projection, and didn’t need to “eat” the microphone, but far too many tended to mumble, and when they were asked to speak into the microphone, they leaned forward about two inches. Then, before their sentence was completed, they had relaxed back into their original inaudible position. Michelle Gagnon was an exception to this. At her panel, she repeatedly asked the panelists to hold the microphone closer, and they all did. Â Memo to Bouchercon organizers: it’s no fun to have to strain to hear someone. We shouldn’t have to do it, especially when they have a microphone that the conference paid for.
The bookstore area was sensational. A great selection of new titles mixed with older ones, as well as a few first editions and other collector’s items were displayed in a sensible, accessible manner.
I’ll be going to San Francisco next year, and I’m definitely booking a room in the host hotel.