Bruce Robert Coffin here, manning the helm of the Murder Books Blog. I hope that wherever you are as you’re reading this you’re enjoying the month of October. I cannot believe how quickly fall has whipped by.
I just returned from Toronto after attending the Bouchercon World Mystery Conference. My wife, Karen, and I made a week of it, driving up early in the week so that we could stop at Niagara Falls along the way. The grandiose waterfalls were a first for us, as was Toronto. In fact, the only thing on this trip that wasn’t a first was the conference itself. In the interest of full disclosure, last year’s trip to New Orleans was a tad stressful for this guy. Only days after my debut novel had been released and there I was, thrust into mystery writer’s conference with two thousand people. But this year was entirely different. I was ready. The Toronto conference, held at the Sheraton Centre, was only slightly smaller in scale than its southern counterpart but I knew what to expect. Also, a number of my writing friends were in attendance, along with my fabulous agent, Paula Munier. Attending this Bouchercon was as comfortable as slipping into an old pair of jeans.
As with most writing conferences the time flew by. There were book signings, panels, off-site publisher receptions, and more. At every turn there were both new and old friends to catch up with. Discussions ran the gamut, everything from writing, to publishing, to life. It was a memorable week.
Now, as I sit here in my home reflecting on the conference, it occurs to me that none of the people that I looked forward to seeing in Toronto were a part of my past life as a police officer. For a guy who wore the badge for nearly three decades this is something of a phenomenon. Any cops reading this will know exactly what I’m talking about. After becoming an officer we begin to grow apart from our friends. Several years into the job we realize that the only people we hang around with are other cops. Perhaps its because of the shared experiences, or maybe it’s because we are more alike than our varied backgrounds would indicate. But whatever the reason we gradually become a family.
When I retired from the job in 2012 I lost that family connection. That daily interaction with like-minded people. I missed it greatly. It’s a strange feeling being on the outside looking in. But then, as my writing career began to take off, I started to make a number of new friends. Almost before I knew it, I’d become part of a new family. A family of writers and readers and agents and editors. No doubt just as dysfunctional as my prior LE family but every bit as fun. Unlike my previous profession I don’t get to see my writing family everyday. Our contacts are limited to emails, texts, social media posts, and the occasional telephone call. Writing conferences are a great way to spend time with each other. Family time.
Am I looking forward to next year’s Bouchercon in St. Pete? What do you think?