Thursday, July 17, 2008

Otto Penzler remembers Bouchercon

Good morning:

First I'd like to let everyone know that the Fell's Point Ghost Tours has set aside four group tours for us at a reduced rate. Click the link to get to our own private tour.

And as promised, again from Otto Penzler Bouchercon, this time year XIV.


When Chris Steinbrunner and I went through names for a suitable Guest of Honor, we got ambitious and decided on the notoriously reclusive John D. MacDonald. I wrote him a long letter, meticulously explaining what the Bouchercon was, why we selected him as G of H, and why he should attend. Weeks went by, then months, with no word. A follow-up letter fared no better. As we were now getting close to deadline for producing the program, I called his house and got his assistant, who said John was on a long cruise with his wife, not due back for a month. Frantic, I asked if he would try to get a message to him as we were on deadline. Two days later, I got a telegram that said: “OTTO–OK–JOHN D.”

Much relieved, we printed the program and congratulated ourselves for this terrific coup. I sent a letter thanking him. A month later, I got a phone call from him in which he asked why was I thanking him and what did he agree to. It seems he got the telegram from his assistant on shipboard at 3:00 a.m. after a long night of drinking. To get rid of the porter, he told him to just say OK.

He lived up to the agreement, making one of his very rare public appearances. A short time before the Bouchercon, I got a call from Stephen King, asking if he could present him the

G of H award at the luncheon. We never announced this until the event, stunning the attenders. John was a wreck. I sat next to him and watched him pop one Valium after another as he was too nervous to eat. When he spoke, he gave one of the most interesting, informative, charming and memorable presentations I have ever heard.


Blogger Todd Mason said...

Was JDM's talk recorded, electronically or in written transcript?

Thursday, July 17, 2008 11:59:00 AM  

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