It's not specifically an international-crime-fiction conference, but Bouchercon 2008's second day touched from its beginning directly on a number of subjects often mentioned on this blog. And I do mean from its beginning. I was up, scrubbed, dressed and at an Edgar Allan Poe panel at 8:30 in the morning.
As is always the case with a good conference, much worthwhile stuff happens informally, and I don't mean just drinking and carousing. I hope to devote a post to the informal side of the convention in the next day or two. For now, on with the business at hand (and these reports cover a small selection of the panels on offer. For a full schedule, click here.):
1) The Poe panel, chaired by Philly Poe Guy and Detectives Beyond Borders friend Ed Pettit, focused principally on Poe's centrality in American literature, but Pettit also cited Poe's internationalism, specifically in "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt." Quoth Ed: He's living in Philadelphia, he writes about a crime in New York, he sets it in Paris."
Panel member Shelley Costa Bloomfield said: "There's something about Poe's work that's not very American. He's not a naturalist. He's not a realist." The French, she said, were ready and waiting for what Poe had to offer: "Maybe it takes an older civilization to feel comfortable with the dark side and be able to enjoy it," a statement pregnant with meaning and ripe for future blog posts if I've ever heard one.
2) A panel on "the influence of music on/in writing." John Harvey offered a striking remark or two about his jazz-loving protagonist Charlie Resnick: "I try and get onto the page what he actually hears" – not always an easy task for music much of which is instrumental. "Sometimes he'll listen to Billie Holiday if he's feeling particularly melancholy" or to Lester Young, who suffered much.
Peter Robinson discussed a rather puckish invocation of technology in his Inspector Banks books. Odd things pop up occasionally when Banks' iPod is in random-play mode, Robinson said: "Sometimes a song will perhaps ironically reflect a situation."
3) Michael Genelin, an American who lives in Paris and writes novels set in Slovakia, suggested during a Soho Crime panel that an author writing about a country not his or her own can see things a native would miss because they are so commonplace. Cara Black, who lives in San Francisco and sets her Aimée Leduc novels in Paris, said that city works as a setting because "Many people have their own Paris."© Peter Rozovsky 2008