New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 2


You’d think that a journey of 24 hour would knock your body for 6. Not so. Come 6.00am on Day 2, I’m part of the wide awake club. I spend half an hour trying to get back to sleep before I give on and go the gym – a small, hot sweaty (this word will figure a lot in the coming days) box buried deep in the hotel.

Bouchercon is being held at the Mariott Hotel on Canal St, a five minute walk from my hotel. Today it’s hot and humid – the locals told me it’s nowhere near what they call ‘hot and humid’. It’s the same the world over, whatever the weather, the residents will always start a reply with ‘This is nothing…’

‘Failed Attempt at photographing the heat and humidity on Canal St.’

I reached the hotel and registered for the festival – a convoluted affair that provides you with badge, bag, programs, free books and t -shirt – each obtained at a different table.

‘Choose a book – any book – they are all free.’

I met Craig Robertson, Bouchercon’s ‘International Rising Star’, (that’s his official title for the duration of the festival) and we wandered into the French Quarter for breakfast –  a deep fried plate of cholesterol washed down with decaf coffee.

My first panel is not until tomorrow so I nipped into to see Alex Gray’s panel to find out if they the U.S. version of a panel differs from the ones at Bloody Scotland. The answer is  – not really.

‘Alex in full flow.’

I had some time on my hand and headed for Bourbon St –  a sleazy strip of bars that disappoints and wandered through the French Quarter before walking along the Mississippi. I lost five pounds in sweat in an hour.

‘This sign tells you all you need to know about Bourbon St.’

‘Me with street sign, me with tram, me with river.’

I had one importune date in the diary for late afternoon to meet my U.S. publisher, Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books. It’s Eric that I have to thank for being here. He took a chance on publishing ‘Falling’, in the U.S., earlier this year. Eric is an amazing man. He holds down a full time job and publishes books – by the end of this year he will have published over 150 in the five years he’s been at it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the meet. Communication across the Atlantic has been of the patchy email and the occasional Skype variety. I wondered if the meet was to say thanks but we’ve decided not to take anymore of your books in the future. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Over a coffee and, subject to crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, I have now have a two year publishing plan with Eric to release at least two, if not more, of my books from now ’till 2018 – GO ME.

In celebratory mood I went back to the hotel to get changed for the 5th anniversary bash that Eric was throwing that night. And, as is my want in my advancing years, fell asleep.

I woke up in enough time to get dressed – I promised Eric I’d wear my kilt – and walked the mile and a half to the venue. Reminder to self, never walk to anywhere in a kilt when it’s 87 degrees and north of 70% humidity. I was, for the second time today, a puddle of sweat by the time I arrived.

It was a great night with some thirteen of Eric’s authors reading from books, short stories or playing guitar. My one regret was missing the opening of Bouchercon but given the coffee conversation earlier that day there was no way I was missing the birthday bash.

‘Cosimos in the French Quarter – the venue for Down & Out Books 5th Anniversary.’

After drink, chat and a lot of laughter, a clutch of us wandered back through the French Quarter later that night. I intended to have a drink at the Mariott but after a quick chat with two of the Bouchercon board of directors, Jeff Siger and David Magayna, I called it quits instead – tiredness catching up at last.

Well almost quits – if you don’t count the stop for a pizza and coke on the way back to the hotel.

Roll on day 3.