Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bouchercon Day 3: Invigorating

I'm kind of burned out on panels, gang. I went to four today and they were a very mixed bag. I'm doing less reporting this time and picking out the highlights of the best two.

I'M ALIVE AND ON FIRE - Rumors of the private eye fiction's death have been greatly exaggerated.
Moderator: Ali Karim.  Max Allan Collins, Barbara Fister, Robert J Randisi, Rick Helms
  1. Max Allan Collins was personally asked by Mickey Spillane to finish a manuscript he was unable to complete due to his terminal cancer. He was also told to go through his house after his death and remove all manuscripts before anyone got their hands on them.
  2. Robert Randisi was featured in a "Dick Tracy" storyline when Collins was writing the comic strip. His character looked just like him and Randisi liked that he was made taller.
  3. Barbara Fister wrote her first mystery novel in order to get even with some people she loathed at a bad job and killed them all off in the course of the book. (NOTE: Christianna Brand wrote Death in High Heels for the very same reason)
  4. Randisi hates ebooks. So does Collins. But Randisi readily admits to selling 200 titles on his backlist to an ebook publisher.
  5. Helms was one of the first writers to sell books electronically. He created early ebooks on floppy disks back in the early 1990s and sold them at book conventions for $2.50 each. He also started one of the first mystery story webzines, The Back Alley, which when it first apperaed was the only one recognized as a "legitimate" form of electronic publication by the Mystery Writers of America.
  6. Randisi became a private eye writer because of the movie Harper and Paul Newman's performance as Lew Archer...uh, Harper. When he found out it was based on The Moving Target he tracked down all the Ross Macdonald books and read them. The Doomsters is one of his favorites.
  7. Mickey Spillane and Robert B Parker were discussed the most along with passing nods to Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton for doing the most to reinvigorate the private eye genre. I think when they said "doing the most" is translated as "having the highest sales" which then forced publishers to recognize the genre as one that had enduring popularity. (NOTE: No one mentioned Marcia Muller who came before both of the other women writers.)

Best quote: "I wrote the Nolan books as an homage to the Parker series. (turns to moderator Ali Karim) And I'll translate this for you. Homage is rip-off." - Max Allan Collins

The consensus was that we are now experiencing a new Golden Age of private eye fiction in both short story and novel form. That the genre is quintessentially American and that it will probably always be with us in some form or another. This was by far the most entertaining and informative panel of the day.

I also attended a panel that was supposed to discuss humor in the crime novel but somehow turned into a question and answer about the writers' characters and their books. Little of the discussion was directly related to humor although there were a lot of funny comments.

Best quote: "I create a lot of characters so that the adults who are reading the books with their children can be just as entertained as the kids. For instance, there is a leprechaun named Colin. Colin Oskipy. Hopefully you'll get it. But not in the near future." - Eoin Colfer


  1. A couple of points....

    I don't hate e-books. I love having another platform for my stuff. E-books don't fit into my lifestyle -- if I were travelling more, I'd be right there.

    Mickey didn't ask for his manuscripts to be rounded up and removed. He asked his wife Jane to round everything up and give the material to me, to complete.

  2. Sloppy note taking and a memory filled with panel talks that all began to blur into each other will inevitably lead to some mix-ups and factual slippage. I apologize for the errors. This is why I gave up on journalism decades ago. As Carolyn Hart said in the panel on reporters as characters, she came to realize though she longed to be a reporter she did not have the right personality type to succeed at it long term. Same here.