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Getting Ready for Bouchercon!

bcon14-logo

I am heading to Bouchercon!

The annual World Mystery Convention takes place this year at Long Beach, Calif., Nov. 13 to 16. Can’t wait.

Here’s the thing about Bouchercon: It’s for writers of mysteries and thrillers, yes, but it’s mostly for the fans and readers. It’s the event at which average readers get to walk up to their favorite authors and chat with them about their combined love of this genre. It’s great! Every year, I see first-time attendees schmoozing with Lee Child or Sue Grafton or whomever. And it’s pretty clear that the writers love it! That’s the reason we go.

My first Bouchercon was decades ago in San Diego. I was up for a Best First Mystery, and this very nice, older woman stopped to congratulate me. We chatted. She asked where I was from, and how I got started writing, and who I’d seen at the convention. She was just incredibly sweet. She asked my name. “I’m Dana. And you’re…?”

“Marion,” she said, and shook my hand.

It was Marion Zimmer Bradley, one of the giants of the fantasy and science fiction genres. The author of dozens of novels.

And, for me, THAT’S Bouchercon. And always will be.

On the Stump

Really excited to take part in the Stumptown Lit Book Fair, sponsored by the Oregon Writers Colony!

Director ParkThe event takes place this Sunday, Oct. 19, at Cheatham Hall of the World Forestry Center. The Book Fair runs from noon to 5 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The schedule includes a publishing workshop from 9 to 11 a.m., children’s story times, and a gala reception for none other than best-selling author Jean Auel from 6 to 8 p.m.

I’m among the list of readers. I’ll be there around 2 p.m.

Phil Margolin will be among the guests at Stumptown.

Phil Margolin will be among the guests at Stumptown.

Others include Stevan Allred, C.B. Bernard, Barbara Drake, Ed Edmo, Elizabeth Enslin, Susan Clayton-Goldner, Phil Margolin, Rosanne Parry, Paulann Petersen, Mark Pomeroy and Daniel Wilson.

What a cool event. Don’t miss it.

 

Too Perfect For Fiction

When writing mysteries or thrillers, one of the biggest challenges is to come up with that literary black swan: The Original Protagonist.

We all try. Almost none of us succeed.

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher reaches so many of us because he was sui generis: One of a kind. Bigger than everyone else in the room. Tougher. Smarter. Off-the-charts good with romance (he never leaves any town without having made some leggy lawyer tumble into his motel room bed). Not enough? Oh, he’s a math prodigy.

Of course I read everything Child writes! Who doesn’t want to spend their days with Reacher?

I write about a strong female protagonist, Daria, is an ex Israeli soldier and spy, who likes to brawl with the big boys and whose idea of strategy is: Leap toward trouble, then see what happens. (Oh, and I’ll match her Match.com rating against Major Reacher’s any day of the week, thank you very much.) (Full discloser: She doesn’t do math.)

So that’s our grail quest: To come up with absolutely smashing, original, likable, lovable, adorable, unkillable, unbeatable, unbelievable-in-a-good-way and absolutely believable protagonists, whom you, dear reader, will swoon over.

Thriller writers of America: Please meet Tess Bridgeman and Elizabeth George.

Now, please get thee hence to the nearest tavern and order a double. Stat. And keep ’em coming.

Dr. Bridgeman and Ms. George are the subject of a wedding engagement announcement on Aug. 31 in The New York Times. And all across the nation, thriller writers shook their fists at the gods of character development and sobbed mightily.

None of us – not a one of us – coulda thunk up a better couple as protagonists than this.

Doctor Tess, 33, is a deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council, on assignment from the State Department. Ms. Elizabeth, 33, is a legal counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and is on assignment from the National Security Division of the Justice Department.

(“How was your day, sweetie?” “… Oh, you know, same-old…”)

Wait, it gets better. (Lee Child, call your bartender.)

They are – or so the black-and-white mug in the Times tells us – adorable. Plus, the words “sume cum laude” and “magna cum laude” are sprinkled throughout the announcement like the trendiest of sea salts.

Wait. It gets even better.

What Justice of the Peace did they dig up to perform the wedding? How about Theo McKee, Chief Judge of the U.S. Third Circuit. (“Is there anyone present who believes these two should not be wed? Delaware? Siddown, I’ll deal with you later.”)

Wait. It gets even freaking better! (I’m now sitting next to Lee Child, and we’re both making the universal sign for a double.)

Elizabeth George (yes, that is the same name as a wildly popular mystery writer; because, you know, synchronicity…) came to this lofty career and swoony romance having been raised by her mom, a second-grade school teacher at La France Elementary in Pendleton, S.C., and her dad, owner of the Rapid Lube outlet over in Anderson, S.C.

That’s it: Gay, gorgeous, gifted, over-achieving, overly intelligence, overtly adorable … and the most wonderfully, flat-out American success story I’ve read in ages!

Lee? Pass the pretzels, mate.

 

(Note: Thanks to my friend, Hank Phillippi Ryan, for letting me share this column on the FEMMES FATALE blog.)

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