We’re going to let you in on a little secret–writers like to have fun! We spend hours, months, sometimes years at our desks, toiling over draft after draft. We brave the cold blue-eye stares of detectives, the chilly humor of medical examiners who like to leave us in with bodies and turn off the lights, or we travel through tick-infested fields to get first-hand information to make our writing authentic. To get the writing done, we have to be incredibly disciplined and patient.
Sometimes we have our fun through wordplay and stories of our adventures as writers, as shown in Lea and Jim’s posts this week on what people say to writers, and great first lines. And then sometimes, once in a very great while, we’re allowed to leave our chairs, go off to conferences with other writers, and have a whole lot of fun.
Another little secret: Readers get to have this fun, too. Where? At mystery conferences. Google “mystery conference” and you’ll find a list of many. And one of them is right in our own backyard: Dedham, Massachusetts. Joe Finder as Sherlock Holmes? Drinks in the bar with an agent? Waiting in line for the ladies room with Sue Grafton? Getting to rub elbows with your favorite writers? To ask the question you’ve always wanted to ask? Coming home with a basket of signed mysteries to keep you entertained for the long cold winter?
This weekend, many of our writers (and quite possibly Little Red Riding Hood and a Maine Lobster) are going to be at the Hilton Hotel in Dedham, Massachusetts for the 10th annual New England Crime Bake. It’s a fun-packed, action-filled weekend of writers and readers listening to panels of some of our favorite authors talking about their craft.
Past guest of honor have included the debonair Lee Child, the delightful
Harlan Coben, Maine’s own darkly brilliant Tess Gerritsen,
and True Blood author Charlaine Harris. The Bake has had Lisa Scottoline. Janet Evanovich, suffering from a bad cold on a day when the venue had no heat and Kate Flora had to hand out toilet paper in the ladies room from the one remaining roll. The late, great Robert B. Parker. And the wonderful woman who is finally wearing out the alphabet, Sue Grafton.
Last year, in honor of Charlaine, there was a Vampire Ball, compete with costumes. The costume prizes were bottles of Vampire wine, and other guests innocently staying in the hotel saw some very strange sights indeed. There was an expert from the Mass. State Police to talk about blood spatter, compete with slides, and a young lockpicker who readily shared his expertise.
Other years, forensic experts have included an arson detective, a Medical Examiner who appeared in an evening gown, twice the incredible Lucy Zahray from Texas, known fondly in the mystery community as “The Poison Lady.” Susannah Charleson and her search dog, Puzzle, stole the show one year. A young lab tech from the Boston P.D., known as the Semen Demon, taught us about what goes on in the crime lab, while a seasoned cold case detective talked about tenacity and the thrill of solving a decades old case.
Paul Doiron was there last year, sharing his outdoor lore and
introducing Mike Bowditch and The Poacher’s Son. And Sarah Graves joined us when we could pry her out of Eastport.James Hayman came to the Bake to talk about his first thriller. Kaitlyn Dunnett has been there to discuss the complexities of writing multiple series set in multiple eras.
This year, Barb Ross will be there with her publishing partners to introduce the newest crime story anthology from Level Best Books. Dead Calm, and to moderate a panel. Gerry Boyle will be there this year (after having had to cancel last year because of a nasty hiking accident) to introduce readers to his new series and his rookie cop in the Port City series. Gerry will appear on a panel about creating suspense, and teach a seminar on character. Vicki Doudera will be there to talk about how murder can happen in even the nicest places. Kate Flora will be there teaching a seminar on the traditional mystery and moderating a panel on true crime. Lea Wait will be on a panel about the role of secrets in mysteries.
This year, to celebrate number ten, there are two guests of honor, Nancy Picard and Barry Eisler. The banquet theme this year is Sleuths, Spies and Private Eyes, and people have been talking for months about their costumes. With luck, on Sunday, we have some pictures of those for you. And Julia’s working on a post for Sunday about the pros…and cons…of Cons.