Jennifer Hillier

Bouchercon 2015 was, in one word, EPIC

Oct 12, 2015 | Book Events, Conferences, Travel

I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about attending Bouchercon 2015, mainly because the thought of leaving my 11-month-old for the first time made me a tiny bit sick to my stomach. In the end, though, I went, because the only thing worse than not going to Bouchercon is having to see all the pictures your friends post on Facebook and Twitter with you NOT in them.

Plus, Bouchercon is my tribe.

So I cried saying goodbye to my baby (for the record, I was a wreck, while he was completely fine) and boarded my flight to Raleigh, North Carolina. And to be honest, once I got there, I had the time of my life. I made a ton of new friends, turned online friendships into real-life friendships, caught up with old friends, talked about all things writing and publishing, had some drinks, ate some good Southern cuisine, and learned a whole lot.

Here are the highlights:

Hugs from my dear friend, Alice Loweecey! Alice and I met years ago, and critiqued each other’s work before either of us was published. Her new book, the fifth in her nun PI series (yes, an ex-nun who’s a PI!) is called SECOND TO NUN, and it’s out now. Go buy it, it’s fabulous (and I’m not just saying that because I got to read an advance copy).

Aymar. My buddy for the week. Ed Aymar (E.A. Aymar to those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of eating chicken and waffles with him) is the author of  I’LL SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD and YOU’RE AS GOOD AS DEAD. Ed is currently the managing editor of The Thrill Begins, ITW’s blog for debut authors (which I’ll be contributing to every other month). He’s also a fantastic writer and a great friend.

And this dashing man is Mark Pryor, author of the Hugo Marston series (five books now!) as well as his newest book, the standalone HOLLOW MAN. I’ve known Mark a long time, and I can really say – with absolute authority and not a trace of sarcasm – that he really is the most dashing man I know. It’s the British accent combined with the cowboy boots, I think.

And this is other Mark I’ve known for a long time. You might see his name, Mark Edwards, on my WONDERLAND promo, because as busy and successful as this guy is, he still made time to read my book! I was so happy to finally meet him. We’ve been online friends for years, and he’s as nice in person as he is online (which is why you should follow him on Twitter).

Ah, the Marriott bar. This is where the magic (and alcohol-induced awesomeness) happened every night after the panels and dinners were done. Be there, or be talked about! This picture only shows maybe a fraction of what it actually looked like, because in reality the entire bar and lobby were always packed, and the sound was like one giant wall of noise as soon as you stepped off the elevators. I spent most of the weekend shouting, which is why my throat hurts now.

Here is a completely horrible shot of the K-9 Dreyfus and his deputy at the “What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of the Working Cadaver Dog” panel. I love panels like this, where you know you’re going to learn something completely new. Dreyfus finds dead bodies! He showed us how he does it! And of course he’s as cute as can be.

This the Raleigh Rickshaw driver (rider? pedaler?) who took Aymar and me to Beasley’s Chicken and Honey for dinner. I would have had him take our picture, but Aymar is camera shy.

Some people are true artists when it comes to photographing their food. I’m not one of them. But this plate of fried chicken and waffles was to die for! I mean, literally to die for. I think a need a detox from all the fat… but considering it was the first time I’d ever had chicken and waffles, it was worth every calorie.

Still mildly bloated from the huge dinner the night before, I took a quick shot of my panel as the room was filling up. They put us in THE BIG ROOM! Which really shouldn’t have surprised me, considering the powerhouse authors I was on the panel with, plus the topic (which most people seem intrigued by).

Here’s a shot of us in action, talking about “Serial Killers, Psychopaths, Sociopaths, and Human Monsters within Literature.” Look at how captivated I am. I honestly would have been content to have been in the audience, listening to these guys talk.

And finally, here’s a shot of me with my fellow panelists: Moderator Debbi Mack, Michael Robotham, Steve Hamilton, Reed Farrel Coleman, and me.

I have lots of photos still in my phone, but it’s hard to fit them all here. Overall, it was an amazing weekend, though I’m happy to be home with my boys. Looking forward to Bouchercon in New Orleans next year!

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