Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday's Serenade- A Bouchercon Memory

People often ask me, Why Bouchercon? I've tried for a cohesive answer over the years and sometimes "because it's the best!" just doesn't work. When Ali Karem, reviewer and contributor to Shots and January Magazine turned in the following memory of his Vegas Experience I realized that Bouchercon truly is amazing. Five years later and his enthusiasm is still as energizing as it was that long weekend.

My Bouchercon Memory from 2003 by Ali Karim

In 2003 I turned 40 and was considering what to do in order to celebrate this event. I had been thinking about attending a US convention for a while; but with a wife and three kids I considered it unfair to leave them for two weeks as well as the cost implications, leave from work etc. I considered that perhaps for my 40th I could swing it.

I hadn’t been back to the US since the 1980’s when I studied in the Mid-West so I really wanted to attend for old times’ sake. My wife was not interested as the long 11 hour flight put her off as she is a nervous flyer. Then my school friend and Shots webmaster ‘Grog’ who was also a big mystery reader told me “Hey, it’s being held in Las Vegas, we gotta go Man!” So it was settled and after some persuasion and bribery, my wife finally agreed I could go [even though she was concerned that I would be chaperoned by wild-man Grog]. So the first task was Grog and I started to save our money into a Vegas fund, well a Beer fund.

We combined the Bouchercon 2003 experience with a vacation taking in the sights of the American South West as well as exploring California’s Death Valley – taking a lot of photographs – click here to see Ali and Grog’s Adventures.

Grog and I had such a great time with so many the highlights that it’s hard to name them all – but the most crucial was meeting so many people we’d only corresponded with via the Internet. There was a little worry for me as crime-writer Mark Billingham warned me that when I finally met Jon Jordan in the flesh, there could be a problem. In physics terms, [the scientist in] Billingham considered it to be analogous to Matter and Anti-Matter coming into contact. He was right, as meeting Jon was like meeting a long lost brother – we both drank coffee like it was medication, smoked like it was oxygen and talked books, comics, films like our lives depended on them. Meeting the people from the mystery newsgroup RAM was unreal – as I was finally face-to-face with people who I communicated with such as Judi, Karen Slaughter, John Purcell, Annie Chernow, Patricia and her late husband Soren, Woodstock, Mark Miller, Fran Read, Vicki Ball, Beth and her Husband. It was particularly emotional meeting Beth as we both had damp eyes when we hugged. Damn, there goes my hard-boiled reputation! The same was true when it was time to leave as Ruth and Jennifer Jordan gave Grog and I about 6 cases of beer as a farewell present, as they hadn’t got through them – and hugging everyone goodbye was very sad, but we made so many friends.

Particular highlights – Drinking with Ken Bruen and facing the consequences, getting my copy of Jon Jordan’s ‘Interrogations’ signed and hear him whisper to me about an idea that became Crimespree Magazine, meeting David Morrell and introducing him to Gayle Lynds and Lee Child and seeing ITW form the following year, meeting Max A Collins and Robert Randisi at the Shamus Awards, Pissed at The Peppermill, meeting the Deadly Pleasures Gang, the January Magazine Reviewers, Interviewing Lee Child, seeing Ian Rankin with the Jordan Gang, moderating a panel after two days of sleep deprivation, talking to James Crumley, fear at the top of the Stratosphere Tower, supporting the Orion Writers at the Top if the Riv – Man! I could go on, and on as everyone was there!

But instead, why not read my report on what I got up to there at Bouchercon 34 in 2003 and make your own plans for Bouchercon 2008.

And finally that Last Night Photo before we all went our separate ways was strange, as I was so happy to meet everyone, but so sad to say farewell until next time - Now I gotta figure a plan to sweet-talk my wife and kids as to why I need to get to Baltimore for my 45th Birthday – I can’t believe it’s been five years since Las Vegas.

Ali Karim
Writer for and
Reviewer and Writer for ,, and
Interviewer and Blogger for


Blogger Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

That was a really magic convention. Despite problems with the hotel and a few other little things it was loads of fun. We met a lot of great people and I would rank it as one of my favorites in terms of sheer energy.
That's the year i discovered energy drinks!

And that last phot was taken at what. 3:00 am?

Can't wait to do it againin Baltimore!

Monday, March 10, 2008 2:01:00 AM  

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