Saturday, March 01, 2008

Bouchercon Memories- The Weekend Edition

Today's memory is from Charles Ardai. Author, Editor,Publisher.... Charles is a true Renaissance Man.

"Back in 1994 -- can it be 14 years ago already? -- I found myself nominated for the Shamus Award for one of my short stories, and since the Shamuses were due to be given out at the Bouchercon in Seattle, I found myself registering for Bouchercon and flying to Seattle. Three firsts for me: first Shamus nomination, first trip to Seattle, first Bouchercon. I'd been to science fiction conventions before but never to a mystery convention, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Would there be people dressed up in costume wandering the aisles of a mammoth dealer's room? Answer: no. Ordinary people, dressed in normal clothes, and a pretty modest dealer's room. But what treasures that room contained! Books I'd heard about but never seen (remember, this was before the Internet boomed and made finding any out-of-print title you might want trivially easy), strange and wonderful oddities like the Phillip Marlowe board game, and people -- booksellers, fellow readers, fellow writers -- who turned out to be smart and funny and gracious and a pleasure to talk to, some of whom became and remain among my closest friends. I remember the Shamus banquet, where I lost the award to Lawrence Block (he deserved it; and if you've got to lose, at least you should lose to the best). And I remember the poker game afterwards, where authors I'd read and admired since I'd been a pup -- Block, Westlake, Grafton? these are three I think participated -- donned green eyeshades, rolled up their sleeves, and threw down antes and pasteboards and quips with equal vigor. Did this poker game really happen? Or is my memory playing tricks on me? Could anyone really -- literally -- have worn a green eyeshade, like some sort of extra from 'The Sting'? I don't know; 14 years is a long time. But I *remember* the green eyeshade, and I remember the poker (I also remember being too nervous to ask for a seat at the table, not because I was afraid of the stakes or of losing, just because I was in awe of the greats of the field who were playing there). And I remember the Bouchercon. I've been to others since, but as they say, you never forget your first."


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