(Editor’s note: This is the second of three pieces set to be posted this week from The Rap Sheet’s chief British correspondent, Ali Karim, all of them related in some way to the most recent Bouchercon.)
As I may have mentioned before, I was one small component of a large team of volunteers who put together this year’s Bouchercon, in Raleigh, North Carolina. I served as the programming chair, and took on Kerry Hammond as my co-chair when the enormity of that task revealed itself. Backing us up were such talented folk as Al Abramson and Ingrid Willis (who have chaired previous such events in Long Beach, California, Albany, New York, and Madison, Wisconsin), Naomi Kappel, J.D. Allen (who co-chaired Bouchercon Raleigh), and Erin Mitchell (who kept the scheduling grids on the Internet and the handy Bouchercon phone app both updated).
(Left) The plaza connecting the Sheraton and Marriott hotels in downtown Raleigh
With more than 1,400 people registered for Bouchercon, there were inevitable problems: the two convention hotels (the Sheraton and the neighboring Marriott) filled up rapidly; expected panelists became ill and had to cancel their participation, forcing us to make breakneck alterations in the events line-up; and even well-laid travel plans went awry. However intense you imagine might be the workload and anxiety involved in putting together a convention such as this, multiply that by three and you might be closer to reality.
Because there were so many things going on, plus so many details and last-minute changes to handle, I decided it was best to arrive in Raleigh a few days before Bouchercon’s start. Then, to mitigate the apprehension that comes with having so many responsibilities, as well as to manage my unavoidable jetlag, I began shooting short videos of myself each morning--just me talking to the camera--and posted those segments on my Facebook page. With a cup of Starbucks coffee at hand, I spoke principally off the cuff, sharing thoughts on the evolving convention, the two-hotel arrangement, the challenges organizers faced on a day-to-day basis, and a few of my more eccentric musings on human life and behavior. It was all a bit of navel-gazing
and half-awake contemplation, and rather comical at times (a smile or laughter at my eccentricity never goes amiss), but it supplied me with an important release valve for my anxieties. I thought those videos might also be of use to subsequent Bouchercon-comers, giving them a heads-up about things before they reached Raleigh.
I’d never intended for those videos to show anywhere beyond Facebook. But on Saturday night of the convention, after the Anthony Awards were announced, Rap Sheet editor Jeff Pierce and his wife, Jodi, came up to my room at the Sheraton to sample my gin and share in my good humor at having the convention almost done. I felt as if a tremendous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. No longer did I have to worry what new problems the e-mail might bring; no longer did I have to fear that something disastrous would occur during a panel presentation or a larger convention gathering. Bouchercon 2015 was winding down (the last events would take place early Sunday), and I was finally able to relax. As part of that process, I showed Jeff and Jodi the little video soliloquies I’d been shooting, since they hadn’t seen them before. I felt a bit self-conscious, cringing at the combination of nervousness, sleep-deprivation, and excessive caffeine that had caused me to sit out alone each morning and film myself prattling on. My opinion was that the videos were a bit odd. However, Jeff and Jodi thought them charming, and encouraged me to upload them to YouTube and make them available in The Rap Sheet. “Even people who didn’t attend Bouchercon might get some sense of the affair by watching these,” Jeff enthused.
So below, I am embedding those eight videos, which I started shooting a few days before Bouchercon got underway in the North Carolina capital and concluded on the Monday following its finish.
A Tale of Two Hotels, Part I
A Tale of Two Hotels, Part II
Tuesday -- Pre-Convention Thoughts and Questions That Define Us
Wednesday -- Existential Thoughts from a Sleep-Deprived Mind
Thursday -- If You Are Willing to Play the Game, Remember
Nothing Stays the Same
Friday -- The Wheeler-DeWitt Equation and M-Theory as
Applied to Bouchercon 2015
Saturday -- Bouchercon’s Penultimate Day
Sunday -- the Finale and the End of Anxiety
Monday -- Recapping Bouchercon’s Concluding Events, Catching the Red-Eye to LAX, and Some Post-Convention Excitement
(To be continued in Los Angeles)