Guests of Honor
Charmed to Death is excited to announce an addition to our Guests of Honor list. For the 2008 convention, we are bringing back the "Distinguished Contribution to the Genre" Guest of Honor. Last used in Philly in 1998, this honorific is meant to be a bow for a body of work both significant and individual.
Mystery fans everywhere will have no trouble matching the above criteria with our guest. In 2008 it will have been 51 years since the first story released under his own name was published. In that time he has created four of mystery's most famous recurring characters; Matt Scudder, Bernie Rhodenbarr, Evan Tanner and Keller. Within these series as well as without he has created an awe inspiring cannon of work. You know what Bern? He did change our life. An inspiration to writers and readers everywhere, we welcome Lawrence Block, a man synonymous with mystery, to Charmed to Death.
Laura Lippman, American Guest of Honor
Laura Lippman has established herself as one of the most important and original novelists of her generation. Her books are ambitious, exciting, and explore the human condition with uncommon depth. I can think of no other writer more worthy of the Guest of Honor slot at Bouchercon 2008 than Laura Lippman.
Laura Lippman grew up in Baltimore and after stints at Northwestern and a Texas newspaper returned to her home town to work for the Baltimore Sun. With an eye to fiction, she began to write Baltimore Blues. The rest is history. Today Ms. Lippman has won every major award the crime fiction has to offer.
Laura Lippman is a writer's writer. She is a singular voice in a world where they are hard to find. I first saw Ms. Lippman at Bouchercon in 1999. Vivacious and charming, I couldn't resist her work and began my journey with her primary protagonist Tess Monahan. The progression of Ms. Lippman's series is a remarkable look at how the skill of a writer can continue to evolve. She has truly transcended the genre an often overly exposed phrase.
Her stand alones offer her and her readers an opportunity to look at worlds Tess doesn't walk in although they may be only blocks away. Both EVERY SECRET THING and THE POWER OF THE THREE are novels so richly layered in mores and truths they are often hard to read. At the heart of every book is Baltimore, warts and all. From the beginning Baltimore has been a primary character in Lippman's fiction. The superbly edited Baltimore Noir shows her deep understanding for her adopted hometown. There is no writer today as accessible to a wider readership than Laura Lippman. Within the mystery world Lippman and Baltimore are synonymous.
Laura's website www.lauralippman.com can keep you up to date with the lady and her work until 2008.
John Harvey, International Guest of Honor
"If John Harvey's novels were songs Charlie Parker would play them. Harvey sings the blues for people to bruised to carry the tune themselves."
"John Harvey's Resnick Decalogue reinvented the British police procedural and everything he's written since has served only to emphasize his place as one of the finest exponents of the genre anywhere in the world. But what makes him the perfect choice for IGOH is that he's also one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet in a month of murder."
John Harvey is a master of the word. Be it books, short stories, screen plays, radio plays or poetry his ear for language has served him well throughout a writing career that began in the mid seventies. He began with crime fiction and then spent a period writing westerns with a deftness that left many believing he might be American. In 1989 Viking Press released a book; for many The Book. LONELY HEARTS introduced the mystery reader to Charlie Resnick and a buzz befell our community. The Times declared it one of the top 100 mysteries of the twentieth century. A gritty and realistic police procedural interspersed with humor. A protagonist who love jazz, women and food enthralled us for a ten book series. Harvey was amongst the first of this generation's crime fiction writers to offer up a police procedural that was character driven. And then in 1998 with LAST RITES he stopped. Our annual fix was over. Short visits in the form of short stories are available but Resnick has been missing.
Harvey continues. In the last decade he has wooed us with continually evolving fiction. His latest project is coming to a close. The Frank Elder Trilogy concludes with DARKNESS & LIGHT. Much as I've mourned Charlie, I find myself shattered at the thought of no more Elder. The series begins with a broken family and Elder is ex-police. Hiding from the world in a small cabin with books for company he is drawn back to the violence and civilization by cries for help. He has the time to work the cases that seem to fall through the cracks of every-day police work and finds himself compelled to investigate. Another character breaking the mold in our beloved genre.
While working on the Elder series Harvey also edited perhaps the best Short Story anthology compiled in this new century. MEN FROM BOYS included an array of renowned authors offering up exciting and new characters. It is a testament to Harvey that his peers felt compelled to stretch their own boundaries while writing for him. It is, to a note what he is all about. I cannot even imagine what he will accomplish by 2008. The man has no limitations .
It is a privilege to welcome him as our International Guest of Honor. To stay in touch until we all meet at the Inner Harbor, you can find John at www.mellotone.co.uk/.
Mark Billingham, Toastmaster
"Like the best of British and American crime writing rolled up together and delivered with the kind of punch you don't see coming."
Mark Billingham. He's a long-time reader of mystery fiction, and one of its biggest fans. In 2000 he joined the ranks of writers and quickly became one of Mystery's best-selling and most-talented scribes. SLEEPYHEAD, which introduced Detective Inspector Tom Thorne, was hailed as a memorable debut that put a new twist into crime fiction and the reviews for the novels since have been nothing but outstanding. "Breaking the mould" from the very beginning, Billingham stretched and redefined the popular novel with LIFELESS; a page-turning thriller disguised as police procedural. This and the subsequent novels are reflective of both Tom Thorne's fictional world and the disturbing social issues facing the city of London today. Mark's years of appreciation for the genre do not allow the man to write a bad book. His talent as a writer allows him expand upon the established and create something new every time.
It is Mark's love for the genre that inspired us to ask him to be our toastmaster. Well, that and the other, somewhat different string to his bow. Mark still works as one of the UK's top stand-up comedians, and his humor is wicked. Comedian and crime-writer, he approaches both art forms similarly. Strong openings and big finishes are all important, and at the end of the day it's all about entertaining an audience.
See his list of publications, and learn more at www.markbillingham.com.
Robert Rosenwald & Barbara Peters,
Lifetime Achievement Award
"It's hard to know where to start when you're thinking about their contributions. Is it Barbara's knowledge of the genre, her choice of authors to publish, her exquisite editing skills, her ability to pull together the best conferences west of the Mississippi, the fact that she knows everyone in the business and tells them exactly what she thinks -- about everything? And what about Rob, who, almost single handedly, publishes 50 hardcover mysteries a year, an equal number of trade paperbacks, knows PhotoShop better than anyone I know, and is probably one of the nicest people in this business? Hey... and that's just for starters... Thinking about what they'll be doing for the next 3 years makes me tired…"
As individuals, they are a force. As a team, they've proven unstoppable. Barbara Peters began her walk with mystery as a librarian. Opportunity allowed her to open an independent bookstore. You may have heard of it -- The Poisoned Pen. It is an independent bookstore so successful that she opened Poisoned Pen Central due to popular demand. Two bookstores? In a community where you can golf 340 days a year?
Ms. Peters is legendary as a hand seller. Add to that a historical knowledge of the genre and editorial skills that are whispered of, and it's no surprise that the business had to expand.
With Robert, Barbara saw a solution to a problem plaguing indies everywhere. With shrinking mid-list author availability, the something extra you found in your local mystery bookstore was threatened. Poisoned Pen Press began. Robert's knowledge of computers and printing technology have made this experiment beyond successful. Now located both here and in the U.K. I expect that by 2008 this couple will be publishing 50-60 hardcovers a year. They'll be introducing us to new and previously lost writers at a rate to make your head spin faster than Linda Blair's in The Exorcist. They'll be handselling their favorites -- and like readers everywhere, they'll be looking for something new.
Robert Rosenwald and Barbara Peters work for fans, authors, bookstores and the publishing industry. They are mystery.
You can find The Poisoned Pen at www.poisonedpen.com/ and Poisoned Pen Press at www.poisonedpenpress.com/.
It's great that Thalia has received due superfan recognition. We British crime writers know her for her tireless work behind the counter at several London mystery stores; her passion for crime fiction; her laughter at conventions (in the bar, natch); her honesty as a reviewer (when she used to compile bookshop catalogues, if she hadn't read a particular book or didn't know an author's work, she'd own up to same... unlike many of us!). She knows the world of felonious fiction inside and out... and is even managing to scrape a living from it (working in publishing and as a literary scout). She's fun to be around and will doubtless grace the Bouchercon with her usual bonhomie and decorum, as only an English rose truly can.
Protocol may dictate that I spell honor honour. Thalia is British. She loves books. She sold them when I first met her; in the dealer room at Bouchercon. Even today, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who can evaluate your collection any better. Now she works for Orion. She knows almost everything mystery there is to know. She'll tell you she's a fan of American works and then rattle off twenty British writers no American has ever heard of who need to be read.
What makes Thalia special is her Id. She never thought twice about attending B-Con Washington three weeks after 9-11. She's never thought twice about any decision to do with mystery. She comes and she supports us all by being there. She spreads the word. New books are offered up for readers. Support for writers is always available. And at every Bouchercon no one appreciates the location quite like this lady. Four day conventions turn into three week adventures.
Her sense of excitement about mystery and Bouchercon is infectious. It's been a long time since the fan guest of honor was anything but an American. Thalia, she's just right. The cream in our coffee, the kick in our step. She offers up not only what Bouchercon is and has been but also what it will become. She'll make sure everyone is at home in Baltimore and she may well guide you single-handedly to an experience you'll never forget.