California Love: Six Awesome Reasons Why Southern California is Bouchercon-Perfect

Rachel Howzell HallBy Rachel Howzell Hall

Yeah, yeah, traffic and smog and organic-vegan-gluten-free-blahblahblahs. You’re not coming to Southern California for that. As an L.A. native, and a three-year former resident of Long Beach, I know why the good folks in the Bouchercon offices are bringing us Los Angeles County for this year’s conference.

Weather: Haven’t you heard? We’re in a drought. Ain’t seen rain since…since…. So paint your toenails! Pack your cargo shorts and that vintage be-dazzled ‘I Love L.A.’ tank top you bought off Etsy two summers ago. It’s cool. You’re cute. You’re in L.A. now.

Food: A writer’s gotta eat. So, leave the hotel and venture out. In Long Beach, Hof’s Hut makes these delicious cinnamon-roll pancake things, and the meat on Johnny Reb’s barbecue ribs just fall off the bone. Head north and…what’s that? In N Out? A national treasure. Pink’s Hot Dogs, Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles…? Chicken and waffles? Eaten together? Bonus: you can eat all of this glorious food while wearing sandals and sunglasses. (True story: L.L. Cool J sat in the booth behind me at Roscoe’s. He ordered chicken.)

The Pacific: Nothing like our ocean. The Atlantic’s nice but our waves are bigger and badder. And we have sea lions! And sharks! And the Queen Mary! And our beaches range from “Aah, Paradise” to “OMG, Did You See What Just Happened to That Guy Over There, Is He Okay?!” Our beaches alone are three Moleskins worth of story ideas.

People: So diverse. Everybody’s here. Every color, every body type, every mental capacity. Just…sit somewhere and populate your novel by people-watching. Don’t worry—we’ll ignore you. Cuz we ignore everybody…unless you’re driving too slow on the 405 and then we’ll ride your bumper until you move to the right. Ha ha. Just kidding. Seriously, though. Move to your right.

Mysteries: Real-life head-scratchers abound in Southern California. How did that tourist wind up in the hotel’s water tank? Why did that successful movie director jump from the Vincent Thomas Bridge? Who killed the Black Dahlia? What will happen to me if that cop pulls me over? Writers gon’ write, so might as well find inspiration in the real, right?

Big: This place is HUGE. With 527 miles of freeway and 382 miles of regular highway, you can drive and drive…and STILL be in Los Angeles County. Live here forever—and never visit 60 percent of it (our unofficial, provincial motto)! Mystery writing is about discovery—and Southern California boasts enough towns and burgs with their own rules and their own cultures for you to never be bored or see the same thing five times.

So. Enjoy the weather. Wiggle your painted toes. Find inspiration on the 405—you’ll be sitting there long enough. Move to the right. Oh, and welcome to the LBC.

Meet Rachel and many other great Forge authors at the hospitality suite on Friday afternoon, where there will be coffee, author signings, and fun giveaways!