Monday, 31 October 2016

NoirCon 2016

Over the past five days I've been in Philadelphia attending the 2016 edition of NoirCon, a festival celebrating all things noir. The panel discussions were for the most part very engaging, so allow me to give you a brief summary.

First, however, let me explain that I was there for the presentation of the 2015 Hammett Prize. I was honoured to be a finalist this year for SORROW LAKE. I'm very pleased to congratulate Lisa Sandlin on her win for THE DO-RIGHTS (Cinco Puntos Press). I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa at the ceremony, and I encourage everyone to read her book!

During the convention I enjoyed a very interesting panel discussion of Forgotten Innovators of Suspense that focused on William Goldman and Len Deighton. While presenter Warren Moore admitted that Goldman is not exactly forgotten, since The Princess Bride will likely live forever, his techniques for creating suspense in novels such as Heat, Magic, and Marathon Man are perhaps not so well known. He focused in particular on Goldman's somewhat perverse habit of informing readers that something bad will likely happen to one of his characters before long -- and sure enough, it eventually does. Meanwhile, I was surprised to hear that Len Deighton is almost forgotten as a writer of spy thrillers. Since I occasionally reread his novels, including Funeral in Berlin and the Bernard Samson trilogies, I was a little shocked to think that other people aren't doing the same thing. Time flies and tastes change, I guess.

A highlight of the convention for me was an on-stage interview of Charles Ardai, recipient of this year's Jay and Deen Kogan Award. The former CEO of Juno, an early innovative Internet service, Charles is the publisher of Hard Case Crime. This imprint revives lost paperback novels from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, as well as publishing new work. I had a chance to talk to Charles, and I think I'll devote another blog post to him rather than cram everything in here.

Finally, I'd like to thank Mary Frisque and the International Association of Crime Writers for enabling me to attend the full convention. Special thanks as well to Lou Boxer and Deen Kogan for an enjoyable event, and to their volunteers for their kindness.

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