People who'd attended previous Bouchercons noticed various innovations this year. One was the continuous conversation - seventy or so authors in groups of three sitting in a side room swapping anecdotes and opinions. I went to listen to my new friend Reggie Nadelson (author of the new York based 'Artie Cohen' mysteries) and then on the following day to Sophie Hannah (recommended by Nicci Gerrard) and Ruth Dudley Edwards who writes frivolous crime fiction (most recently Murdering Americans) and really important and serious non fiction (notably on the Omagh bombings). There weren't many listeners to the conversations, usually a dozen or so, and this was a pity because what was being said was frequently funnier and more perceptive than the comments at the panel events. Organisers of the future, please note.
Another innovation were the 'hot ticket' seminars organised by the Mystery Writers of America. Ten major league writers, ten tickets for each event - to be won by writing a brief essay -- 'Why I would like to meet Sara Paretsky' f'r instance -- or simply being picked out a hat. I wrote an essay and got lucky - and here's the proof, a photo on Paretsky's blog. It was charming when she whipped out her digi camera and organsied the happy snaps, charming and consummately professional as she introduced subjects of conversation, explained sporting naunces to the lone Britisher (me) and generally drew the ten lucky attendees out of our star struck shynesses. It was a breakfast event with bagels and coffee and the only thing that stood in the way of complete enjoyment was the griping realistaion that this was yet another way that a writer was being kept from writing. Or at least from lying snoozzily in bed letting the ideas from last night's subconscious drift up into the area of creative possibility, like bubbles in a lava lamp..