Last month, I attended the annual mystery writers' conference, Bouchercon, held in Anchorage this year. Bouchercon is a fan-based conference that usually attracts about 2,000 mystery-loving readers, writers, publishers, editors, etc. But because of the distance to Alaska, numbers were much smaller this year and, for me, a lot more fun. At the Las Vegas conference in 2003, I felt lost in the crowd. Throngs of people carrying large orange book bags often slammed into my legs and elbows as I maneuvered my way through the corridors, and the line was always long at the morning buffet.
I travel to these conferences not only to meet people, but also to sightsee and learn about the places I visit. One stroll down the Vegas strip and I could figure out what drives that city in ten minutes. Anchorage, though, took a deeper search.
Conference coordinators provided a CSI day where we learned about Alaskan crime and criminals, past and present. We were also treated to a search and rescue dog demonstration, and more interesting stories about the state. The local museum offered insights to the state's history, and just walking through downtown Anchorage gave me a sense of a more relaxed pace than I see in Vancouver. The six days I was there, I didn't hear one car horn blast, and rush-hour was practically nonexistent. Yet, there were two shootings near our hotel, a fatal beating, and a plane crash in the short time we were there. Coordinator, Dana Stabenow, and her colleagues put on a terrific confeence. Panels and guest speakers were interesting, the food great, and I even came away with pages of useful notes for writing novels. If you're looking for a beautiful vacation spot, I heartily recommend Alaska.
Next week, I'll talk about a entirely different type of conference, one I also recommend . . . the Surrey International Writers' Conference.