First Bouchercon From the Top of My Head.
I’ve slept about 12 hours in three days and met a LOT of great people. Please don’T feel left out if I don’t mention you here.
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New-Orleans is way too warm for the average Canadian.
Apparently, New-Orleans is way to warm for New-Orleans because they blast that AC pretty fucking hard.
Bouchercon is actually really fun.
Eric Campbell could be one of the nicest person on the surface of this earth.
Eric Campbell could end up being the most important publisher of quality authors in the next 3 to 5 years.
Somehow ended up riding along on a lunch with Gary Phillips.
Gary Phillips has the most amazing voice you’ve ever heard.
I could listen to Gary Phillips talk for hours on end. You should as well…
Terrence McCauley was so nice, I was wondering if Terrence McCauley was a closet Canadian.
I might make the “closet-Canadian” a thing… will try it next year see if it sticks.
I don’t know if there’s one single Molecule of evil dark matter in Kate Pilarcik. If it’s in there, it’s gonna take the hubble telescope to find it.
Continuous conversations was really fun. I hope they expand on the concept next year.
Some of the bigger authors did feel douchy on the pannels.
I may ask James Ray Tuck to tattoo FTW on my hands some day.
Christa Faust, however, did not feel douchy at all.
Christa Faust so fucking intimidating to me…turned out to be SUPER welcoming.
I did not know who Christa Faust was when I met her. She didn’t care AT ALL.
In fact I didn’t know who anyone was in the mystery scene. That didn’t seem to matter at all.
Joe Clifford has the charisma of a superstar.
I want to write a movie where Joe Clifford is the lead role.
Maria alexander is just a totally weird and likeable person who knows japanese sword techniques.
The Mystery scene is probably the best place for any grown up punk to land his sorry ass.
Met John McFetridge in real life.
John McFetridge is much taller than expected.
On the other hand, Eric Campbell is much shorter than expected. (sorry!)
Met at least three other Canadians… Why haven’t we heard about them/us in any way, shape or form… yeah we know why, right?
Montreal doesn’t really have a mystery scene. People really seem to dig that shit. We need to work on that.
Benoit Lelievre really needs to go to the next one and I’m fucking serious.
So, I’m headed home after my first trip. First travel, first airplane, etc… Went to Bouchercon in NOLA for about 40 hours and heading back home.
Some thoughts :
First flight was in a small, tiny 40 seats airplane. I could barely stand in it (I’m 6’1) and it really felt like a bus with wings. I FUCKING LOVED IT… Couldn’t stop smiling.
Tiny airplane was still roomier than the Montreal Metro in the morning.
There’s a place that sells a dish called “the Buddhist bowl” in Charlotte airport. I will be thankful for this nutritious meal forever.
Food in the USA is generally pretty bad… WAY too much fat and sugar. Hard to find healthy, veggie or vegan food. Even the “farmers’ market” was all meat… It was hard not to notice the obesity problem (sorry!)
Say the gulf of Mexico from the air.
Did manage to find a selection of AMAZING vegetarian food in or around downtown NOLA.
Did find one bottle of real orange juice in the bottom right corner of a seven-fridge wall full of coke and pepsi.
Wallgreens is Pharmaprix. It has to be. I will google this to confirm.
You can sleep on wide couches in NOLA airport. I don’t know if this is true of other airports, but I would not have been worried about rest had I known. Turned out to be adequately comfortable.
Inequality is absolutely blatant. I took the city bus out of the Airport and across Metarie and NOLA… the haves and the haves not, it’s hard not to see it…
Americans are generally nicer than expected. The bad international press does feel legitimate, but most people were nice.Please be kind and fix your problems, will ya?!
Saw the Mississippi river. It’s brown.
Traveling is sexy. It’s a big, rich-ass privilege but it’s sexy! At least acknowledge of your privilege and be grateful.
It hooked me up. I don’t think I’ll ever “not smile” on a plane.
Say tiny windfarms. They probably weren’t so tiny on the ground, but they were tiny alright!
I miss my girls.
I used to be a very negative man. I used to believe no one was going nowhere and why not get it over with sooner rather than lather.
This week of first : first day of graduate school, first time I buy a home and fist time I take a plane.
I was never in “absolute poverty.” I am well aware of that. I was never in a war nor had I ever lived in a bombed out country. I was simply working class in an era that has very poor prospects for the working class. Factories are closing, warehouses are closing. The kinds of jobs I used to know how to do aren’t in demand anymore.
I had to make a change and it was going to take work. That what the moral of my first novel, The Factory Line : “Don’t be here in ten years.”
It actually took a decade to get out of it.
These past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a good woman, we had children together and worked tirelessly to make ends meet, keep jobs (with very mixed results) and get ahead in life.
I have eaten my “yellow cans of beans” for years to save every buck I could…(for those who are not from Canada, there is such a thing as “the yellow brand” here that is the cheapest version of anything in a yellow can with the simple name of the item written on it, very “Dharma initiative”.
I am also well aware that I am lucky enough to be Canadian, where healthcare is free (I’ll take a waiting list over a 15k bill any day!) and education is cheap.
I can now say that all those years of patience and sacrifice have paid off… Yesterday I’ve started my MBA. That’s correct. A Diploma that costs tens of thousands of dollars in most of the developed world (especially in the US) will cost me about 7000$ CDN total, and half of that will be subsidized by the provincial government one way or the other because I am statistically poor. (I do feel very rich even with my income and the possessions I have… most people ask for too much, that’s for sure.)
I am a working class kid doing an MBA at Concordia. I had my first day yesterday and it was amazing. Concordia is amazing. We had discussions about the influence of “structures” over “individual behaviour” and how such or such system allows liberty or how others favoured “deviant behaviours” and so on…
I now have a chance to make a dent in the bullshit I know still exists.
I was confirmed in my belief that this was no small achievement when I say statistics in La Presse about the “state of things in Montreal”… Most people on this city are still very poor. Only about 22% are owners of their own homes, much less in the parts of town me and my family are from (Tetreaultville to Centre-Sud), the whole lower-East end of the city.
It’s still poor. Numbers aren’t that good. Wages go from half the Canadian average to 2 thirds at the very best. Lots of unemployment, welfare and single moms.
I feel luck and proud to have made it that far. Once I’m done with grad school, I need to find a way to help out in whatever ways I can.
Today I can’t say I’m still working class. I still work a warehouse until I get a better job, but my livelihood is no longer solely resting on my hands for labour.
I’ve become the owner of my own apartment as well yesterday. Went to the notary and signed papers right there. It wasn’t such a huge moment in of itself. Perhaps the significance of it will be felt when we actually move in a few weeks.
It was hard to move out of “rentals” as the prices keep going up and wages are stagnant, it’s very difficult to “make it.” have the minimum deposits and clear the bank’s. I was lucky enough to have my parents help me. It took absolutely everything we had, me, my wife and my parents, for me to get a loan. I had saved up 10000 dollars (at a rate of about 1200 a year) and my parents chipped in the last 3000. We have a very simple two bedroom condo that will cost us about 900 a month with all taxes and fees included.
The way rents are going, we landed exactly where we needed to land.
This week I will take the plane for the first time as well. I will fly for two days to New-Orleans for a book convention.
Years of work are coming together on this. I self-published out of college, managed to meet a few good people with that. Kept writing and putting out books, working the indy scene in Montreal until I won an Indy prize for a novel.
I stopped my instincts of self-publishing again and looked at the market. There were a few new publishing houses doing this completely differently than the “old” publishing system. I was lucky enough to know a guy who knew a guy and got onboard one of those publishing houses at they were on the rise. That was about two years ago.
The publishing house was Down and Out books and they’re turning five in a big way with releases every month and a Bouchercon anthology coming up with many of their authors on shortlists for awards.
I will go to Bouchercon this week thanks to them.
I am very grateful.
If you’ve read all of this, maybe you wonder what words of advice I could have. I wrote them a while ago in Northern Gothic, I believe :
“Pick a line, stick to it, don’t fuck up.”
Being Canadian also helps, seriously. (Nearly) Free education is a fucking bliss.
Here’s an interview I did with The Big Thrill – The Magazine of the International Thriller Writers. It came out yesterday.
Thank you to Terri Nolan for giving me so much of her time, do visit her website here : http://terrinolan.com/
The Interview was summarized here :