Mystery conventions are a great way to find new mystery-loving friends and hear directly from your favorite authors – and maybe even meet some of them. All of these conventions feature keynote speeches or interviews from big name guests of honor as well as author, expert and fan panels talking about all sorts of subjects. There are parties and book signings. Some even have fan guests of honor. Many of these conventions are put on by all-volunteer, non-profit organizations, run by mystery fans who donate their time to make sure everyone has fun.
Here is a chronological rundown of five major fan conventions taking place this year.
Editor's Note: We're working on another post with smaller and/or specialty conferences, which may also include those that have a workshopping or publishing focus, meaning they're directed towards writers more than pure readers and fans. Feel free to add mentions or suggestions in the comments here, because we'll be listing as many of those as we can in another chronological rundown very soon.
Left Coast Crime
March 12-15, 2015, Portland, Oregon
Left Coast Crime is an annual convention usually hosted in the western part of North America. This year’s theme is Crimelandia, and guests of honor are Chelsea Cain and Timothy Hallinan. The 2015 toastmaster is Gar Anthony Haywood, and the special guest is Phillip Margolin. Left Coast also has a fan guest of honor and this year, rather than picking one fan, they picked an organization: the non-profit literary and educational group Friends of Mystery. The Left Coast Crime Awards, affectionately know as the “Leftys,” are given out during the event. Next year’s convention will be held in Phoenix, Arizona.
May 1-3, 2015, Bethesda, Maryland.
An annual conference held in Bethesda, Maryland, Malice Domestic focuses on the traditional mystery, defined as mysteries without explicit sex or violence (sometimes known as the cozy.) This year’s honoree slate includes Guest of Honor Charles Todd; Toastmaster Toni L.P. Kelner, Lifetime Achievement winner Sara Paretsky; International Guest of Honor Ann Cleeves; and Fan Guest of Honor William L. Starck. Malice Domestic hosts the Agatha Awards where winners are selected by attendees. The conference also awards two grants every year to unpublished writers to attend a writer’s conference. This year they are accepting submissions for a conference anthology to be published in 2016.
May 14-17, 2015, Bristol, England
Crimefest, held annually in Bristol, England, boasts the theme, “The Pen is Bloodier than the Sword.” The featured guest authors for 2015 are Maj Sjowall, Lee Child, and Sophie Hannah. Participating authors include Stuart Neville, Rhys Bowen, and Julia Crouch. Crimefest gives out their own awards, and although this is primarily a fan convention, they do offer pitch sessions with agents and writing workshops. The Guardian, a British newspaper, called it one of “the 50 Best Festivals in the World.”
July 7-11, 2015, New York City
ThrillerFest, hosted each year in New York City by the International Thriller Writers (ITW) organization, has three components – ThrillerFest, for fans, CraftFest, for writers, and AgentFest, for writers looking for agents. Attendees can go to one, two, or all three programs. ITW has its own awards given during the conference. For the fan portion of the convention, this year’s guests of honor include the 2015 Thrillermaster Nelson DeMille, with 2014 Thrillermaster Scott Turow returning to the convention, along with Spotlight Guests Charlaine Harris, Greg Iles and Mark Billingham. The 2015 Silver Bullet Award Winners will be Brenda Novak and Kathy Reichs.
October 8-11, 2015, Raleigh, North Carolina
Named for mystery lover, writer, and critic Anthony Boucher (rhymes with voucher), Bouchercon is the world’s largest mystery convention and features three solid days of panels, keynotes, and parties. Guests of honor in 2015 include Margaret Maron, Kathy Reichs, Tom Franklin, Zoe Sharp, Allan Guthrie, Sarah Shaber, and Ron Rash. Fan guests of honor are Lucinda Surber and Stan Ulrich. The toastmasters are Sean Doolittle and Lori Armstrong. Bouchercon is a festival of awards with Bouchercon's own Anthony Awards, Mystery Readers International's Macavity Awards, Deadly Pleasures' Barry Awards, the Private Eye Writers of America's Shamus Awards and the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Derringer Awards all given out during the three-day fan fest. 2016’s convention will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Which convention(s) are you planning to attend this year?