Bouchercon Memories

Tomorrow I’m off to Dallas for Bouchercon, an annual world-wide murder mystery convention. I’ve been to several over the years—in Toronto, Pasadena, Long Beach, Philadelphia, Seattle, Monterey, and Nottingham, England. Of those listed, my favorite would have to be the one in Long Beach in 2014 where, as guest of honor, I received my very own Anthony, a scary looking carved wooden raven who sits in a place of honor at the end of my front hallway.

The convention as well as the Anthony awards, are named in honor of a guy named William Anthony Parker White, who was born in 1911 and died in 1968. Under the pseudonym Anthony Boucher he wrote any number of books, mysteries and SciFi along with short stories and radio dramas. He was also a much respected book critic at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Since my career is not exactly brimming over with literary awards, receiving my own Anthony was a very big deal. As a past winner, I’m invited to this year’s convention in celebration of Bouchercon’s 50th Anniversary where I’ll be interviewed as part of the Bouchercon History Project.

So what have I enjoyed most about attending Bouchercon? Getting my award, yes, but the very best time was 1989 in Philadelphia when a guy named William F. Deeck was the Fan Guest of Honor. He was a noted book reviewer and collector. He was also absolutely hilarious.

I had the pleasure of being in the audience for William Deeck talks on two separate occasions, once in Pasadena and once in Philadelphia. He was a droll speaker, and he had the audience rolling in the aisles as he critiqued an unfortunate English writer named James Corbett who published numerous books between 1929 and 1952. Bill Deeck’s position was that Corbett’s publisher must have been the man’s father-in-law because, having published one melodramatic, over the top murder mystery, he should never have been allowed to publish another.

Bill Deeck’s talks included reading passages from several of James Corbett’s books where there were so many dangling modifiers included that it was difficult to tell up from down. The way Deeck delivered his discussion of how the bad guys left an English estate in a fast plane while the good guys left in a slow plane was the kind of stuff stand up comedians would envy. Corbett’s melodramatic novels were rife with hidden chambers and secret passages. One of his overused devices was that of “the evil twin” which he finally abandoned in favor of “the evil triplets.”

After hearing William Deeck once in Pasadena, my Bill and I came home and dutifully began searching for James Corbett books, wanting to learn for ourselves if Corbett’s writing really was as bad as Bill Deeck said it was. Afterwards, few years later, in Philadelphia, after another William Deeck lecture on the topic of James Corbett, I went up to him, still wiping tears of laughter from my eyes, and told him of our unsuccessful book search.

A few months later, while on tour in Washington, DC, who should show up in the audience but William Deeck himself? When he asked for my mailing address he told me, with a sly grin on his face, “You have to watch out what you ask for.”

A few weeks later, at home in Bellevue, a package from William Deeck arrived on our doorstep. It contained our very own and now treasured copy of James Corbett’s The Merryvale Mystery. As I recall, that one turned out to be the evil triplet book. Believe me, it was every bit as bad as advertised.

As I’ve been working on the blog this morning, Bill and I have been passing Bill Deeck quips back and forth, and this weekend when I’m asked about my favorite Bouchercon memories, I’ll be memorializing Bill Deeck. He was one of a kind.

By the way, I just checked. If you want to sample William Deeck’s humorous sendups of James Corbett for yourself, I see that there are three copies of The Complete Deeck on Corbett available on Amazon.

You won’t be sorry.

4 thoughts on “Bouchercon Memories

  1. Good morning, thanks for sharing your memories and making us smile. I am glad that you and Bill are enjoying those memories. I might have to check Amazon for that book. William Deeck sounds as though he was a special man.

  2. I’ll be sure to check out Deeck’s video! That sounds so funny and I can always use a good laugh, especially when I go back and look at my own writing. Someday I hope to write in the mystery genre and see you at a convention!

  3. In my opinion, you deserve every literary award given for your genre. You are among my favorite authors and I’m kind of a “snobbish” reader 🙂

  4. I don’t follow book awards that closely, but usually read an article about who has won. Sometimes I have read the winner’s entry, but most often not. There have been times when I could not finish reading a winner and I wondered how it won. It appears to be different tastes make the world go ’round.

    I enjoy your books no matter what you have or haven’t won. I hope you never retire.

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