Two of my three Friday Bouchercon panels featured evil, and I couldn’t have been happier. Keeping to my commitment of three panels a day, evil was supplemented with writing, a blog post, and even a visit to the fitness center (yay, me!).
First panel up, Evil Going On, was a hit. Does evil truly exist? Panelists were divided and the conversation was hot. The moderator was the very erudite Reed Farrel Coleman, with panelists including John Connolly, Thomas H. Cook, Peter James, Laura Lippman, and Daniel Woodrell. I was jazzed for the topic and also for hearing so many of my favorites. Some key thoughts:
- There are two schools of thought about evil: nature (person is born irretrievably flawed and does evil things) vs. nurture (bad things done to child twist him, now he does evil things).
- The motivation for evil is often selfishness. Rationalization plays its part.
- There is a trend today toward complicated protagonists, who may do wrong in order to achieve justice.
- Addressing the evil of man in a book is one thing – addressing it in real life, when there is risk and danger, is another.
The “evil” trend continued with the Dark Angel panel, where Chris Holm, Bill Cameron, Blake Crouch, Leighton Gage, Theresa Schwegel and Michael Wiley discussed morally challenged heroes. Ideas generated:
- Noir heroes tend to be morally challenged.
- A corrupt setting leads to a hero who has to bend the rules but still seeks justice.
- Heroes can be moral in one way – the good cop – and immoral in another way – having an affair.
- Immoral? Amoral? Or moral ambiguity? Discuss.
The final panel of the day was perhaps the least directly instructive – no notes on ideas of things to do – but the most fun. It was moderated by the witty and endearing Joseph Finder with a panel of articulate and passionate women, including Laurie R. King, Laura Lippman, Val McDermid and S.J. Rozan.
Absolutely the most fun hour I’ve spent at Bouchercon, and included anecdotes related to a smack-down between Val and Ian Rankin, Laura Lippman’s husband’s work on the TV show Treme, S.J. Rozan’s dream basketball team, and Laurie King’s endeavor to let Holmes age, but never die. Photo here is Val McDermid, who is fun and witty, and everything she says sounds even better because of her rich Scottish accent. I looked for a photo of her wearing devil/angel garb. No go.
I got to ask the question “What new authors are you reading now that you would recommend?” Here’s the list. Go buy some books.
- Gillian Flynn
- Megan Abbott
- Lisa Lutz
- Sarah Grand
- Lindsay Faye
- M.J. McGrath
- Stuart Neville
- Taylor Stevens
- Nathan Larson
I read GHOSTS OF BELFAST, an extraordinary take on revenge, retribution, and redemption(although not in the usual sense).. COLLUSION, not cooperation, is a term best used to describe the unholy alliance of Republicans and Loyalists in the North of Ireland when they dare to work together.
STOLEN SOULS is next on my list and I am sure it will follow in the very deep footprints of the morally ambivalent characters of the first two books.
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