Killer Year–The Class of 2007

The Tribe
October 3, 2006, 9:30 am
Filed under: Bill Cameron, Bouchercon, Killer Year Members

I’ve been having a hard time deciding what I wanted to say about Bouchercon. It was my first event of this type, so naturally I had to start with the big one. I came flying into Madison as a noob, and I flew out feeling like a noob, but with a year’s weight in memory stuffed into 4-page scrapbook.

Today my daughter asked me, “Was it as good as you expected it to be?” As good? Expected? I don’t know. What I can say is it was better than I could have imagined.

Sunday morning, after three days of B’Con, I popped onto the elevator to head down for medicinal coffee. A woman already there greeted me.

“Hi, how are you, Bill? I’m going up to my room to get something, but then I’m heading down to the Concourse. I’ll see you there!”

“Great,” I said. “See you there!”

I had no idea who she was.

That stuck me as a defining Bouchercon moment. I’d met dozens and dozens of people and delighted in every single one of them. Too many to remember.

The good news is that her identity came to me suddenly a little while later as the coffee began to take effect. She was Ellen Crosby, and I’d met her on the first day. She appeared with me on the “How Real Does It Need To Be?” panel, along with Jodi Compton and Julia Spencer-Fleming and moderated by Marshall Cook. Almost the last thing I did at Bouchercon.

And omigawd, I sat on a panel with these writers! Wonderful writers! And me!

But, hell, people asked me questions and laughed at my quips same as the others with me. And the eight-year-old in me thought, “Golly.”

That was the essence of Bouchercon, at least for a noob like me. I walked in there feeling like a schlub fanboy and found myself again and again embraced as one of the folks. I met a million people, managed to remember about a quarter of them, then met them again and it was like seeing an old friend.

On more than one occasion I asked, or was asked, “What’s been the highlight of your weekend?”

How do you even answer that question? If I were to tattoo the highlights on my body there wouldn’t remain an inch of clear skin. I’ll try, but I assure you this won’t be comprehensive by any stretch.

I admit to really enjoying kissing Joe Konrath. Well, no, not so much the kiss as the look on his face. Hey, he’s the one who said in front of a room full of people I’d won a big, sloppy kiss.

I also deeply enjoyed sitting with my editor Barbara Moore and three other Midnight Ink authors at lunch on Friday, Jess Lourey, Nina Wright, and Chuck Zito, and learning that I was the sick and twisted one. How good is that?

And there was the bold decision by Rob, Sandra and I to grab breakfast from Teddy Wedgers. Bold, but alas, a miscalculation. If the half-eaten breakfast pies sounded like rocks as they landed in the trash can, it was with good reason.

Then there was the quiet dinner with Sandra, Anne Frasier, Julia Buckley, and David Skibbins. What a lovely time. (And I got to meet Anne for the first time!)

Drinking and gabbing with the First Offenders. Cracking wise with Russel McLean. Filming Al Guthrie and Duane Swierczynski as they “discussed” Dave White, all prodded along by Sandra.

I can’t even begin to name it all.

In a larger sense, the thing I take away from Bouchercon is a growing sense of place. Brett Battles made a comment that encapsulates the event well. “I feel like I’m with my tribe.”

And what is the tribe? A bunch of writers? The writers are an important part of it, certainly. But it’s bigger than that. Every time I turned around I met someone new with whom I could sit and talk about this thing we love so much. Readers, like me.

Writers or not, we were all readers. A tribe. A family.

If there is a Pollyanna sound to this, well, I embrace that. For the moment, I’m just a kid in the midst of all this, absorbing this brand-new experience in a daze of wonderment. Yeah, I know there are rumblings beneath the surface. All was not sweetness and light at Bouchercon. This person doesn’t like that person. X liked event Y better. I know. If I’d found my tribe, if I’d grown my family, I know that it won’t always feel so easy and warm and comfortable.

But for this one long weekend, it felt perfect.

My biggest regret, in the end, was given the power of the bond I felt I’d forged with the people I met at Bouchercon that the rest of the Killer Year couldn’t be there. Toni, JT, Patry, Derek, Gregg, Jason and Dave, I missed you. I hope we can all be together soon.

27 Comments so far
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Bill, great meeting up with you at B’con.

Comment by Tribe

I agree with Tribe. It was great to meet you. Our e-mail friendship has a human dimension now, and I’m thrilled.

And I know what you mean about the little kid in you. Good for us, though. It means we’re not jaded, right? Or does it mean we’re simpletons?

Comment by Julia

I’m sorry I missed the chance to meet you too, Bill. Your contributions to Killer Year have been overwhelming. Folks, everyone needs to give Bill a huge round of applause for building our spectacular website. (And Rob, for the blog. And Brett, for overseeing it all. And Sandra THE VOICE OF KILLER YEAR Ruttan for getting the word out. And Jason for brainstorming the whole idea. And… and… and… face it KY, you all rock!)
I’d like to buy you a drink next time. Oh, and watch you suck face with Konrath. That had to be delighful. I’m just glad he didn’t break out the chocolate syrup in your honor.

Comment by JT Ellison

That’s awesome, Bill. On a much smaller sense I know what you mean. In college my creative writing classes felt like a family and many of us even followed my professor/mentor from class to class and would end up being in the same class together over and over again. To date, my creative writing friends are still some of my closest friends but I miss those classes desparately.

Glad you had a great time!

Comment by mai wen

I love this – with our ‘tribe’. What a fantastic way to put it.

In a way, that’s what I love most about Killer Year. We’re a microcosm of the industry, because this is a business filled with generous, supportive people. And you’re right – whether it’s readers, writers, reviewers, it’s all people who love the genre and we have this common bond.

You’ve pinned down your highlights and cohesive moment in a much better way than yours truly has. I’m still processing.

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

Eh, Sandra, you’ve shared some great moments! And we’ll all be processing this for a while, I think.

I am most pleased and humbled that the first post here this morning was from Tribe himself! It was great to meet you too!

And, JT, yes, chocolate fan though I be, just as well that our interlude ended with a simple kiss! (And yeah, baby, Killer Year does rock!)

Comment by Bill Cameron

Great post, Bill. I even got a little misty eyed.

Then I remembered the look on Konrath’s face when you planted one on him. I only wish Diane had captured it on camera. Oh, well.

Welcome to the tribe, man. As a relatively new member myself, I know exactly how you feel.

Comment by Robert Gregory Browne

A tribe. Good analogy.

Comment by Allison Brennan

Bill, thanks for this blog entry. Well done. Makes me wish even more so that I’d been there! See you in PDX next week. I guess I’ll have to meet the KY Tribe, one person at a time~

Comment by Gregg Olsen

Great post, Bill. Of course now I have to think about something else to write about for Thursday…hahaha….

Comment by Brett Battles

I’m looking forward to it, Gregg!

And, Brett, sorry, man. But, hey, I quoted you! Can I cash the check now?

Comment by Bill Cameron

Fuck. Now I gotta change my alias.

Comment by Tribe

bill, i so agree with your post. after getting home i realized i hadn’t thrown the finger one single time. that’s amazing. :O

Comment by anne frasier

oh, and saturday morning a woman was wandering around the conference trying to get people to sample some teddy wedgies. thank god i’d already gotten the scoop on them so i could back away slowly.

Comment by anne frasier

“Teddy wedgies”? I’m afraid to ask.

I had much the same sense when I hit Thrillerfast in June. I came away from that with the (sometimes disturbing) realization that these were my people.

Comment by Stephen Blackmoore

Tribe, you’re safe. We’re the KY Tribe. Take that any way you will, though it’s been pointed out that our acronym is rather unfortunate. By a boy. I’m so proud…

Comment by JT Ellison

Bill, you sound like me coming back from Thrillerfest! I felt like a kid who’d gone to summer camp for the very first time! I’m so glad you had such a great experience, and I hope to meet you one day soon!

Comment by Elizabeth

I’ll never wash my lips again…

Comment by Joe Konrath

Aw, thanks, Bill. Loved this post, and
it made me regret even more not being
able to be there this year. Can’t wait
’til we all are in one place together.

And you’re exactly right — it’s like
finding our tribe.

Comment by toni mcgee causey

Thanks, Bill. I love the warmth of this post; and I’m with you and Toni–looking forward to getting together with the group very soon.

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