And A Good Time Was Had By All

2014 MAINE CRIME WAVE POSTER SMALLKate Flora here. It’s not my day to blog, but today’s scheduled blogger is lost in a sea of confusion. Not surprising.  This weekend, many of your friendly neighborhood Maine Crime Writers were gathered at the Glickman Library in Portland for the inaugural Maine Crime Wave, the Maine crime writing community’s own day to get together and make each other’s head’s explode.

Okay. I don’t mean that literally. Despite a closing panel that discussed crime scenes and buried bodies and ended with some details about who has jurisdiction in different parts of the state to fish a body out of the water, attendees departed with their own body parts intact. It’s just that the inside of their heads were bursting with information and ideas.

The Maine Crime Wave began when an idea that had been bouncing around for years solidified into a

Paul Doiron, Alice Adams, and a man named Jim

Paul Doiron, Alice Adams, and a man named Jim

committee at another mystery conference, The New England Crime Bake. It got its name from MCW alum Paul Doiron. On what was very short notice, the committee–me, Paul, Brenda Buchanan, and Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance director Josh Bodwell–targeted April 19th, created a schedule, and organized panels and workshops and recruited presenters. Then the word went out, and we waited for Maine’s crime writers to sign up.

Ever give a dinner party where no one showed up on time? Well, it was like that. There was a flurry of excitement and then, well, uh–not much. Then MPBN, the Press Herald, the Bangor Daily News, and other newspapers began to pick up our theme: Why is it, if Maine is the safest state in the country, that it is so attractive to crime writers. As a setting? As a place to live? Why is there a perception of Maine as a dark, mysterious place?

Soon the committee was sending around this quote from Conan Doyle:

“Good heavens!” I cried. “Who would associate crime with these dear old homesteads?”
“They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”
“You horrify me!”
“But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard’s blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.”
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
Sherlock Holmes in “The Copper Beeches” (Doubleday p. 323)

Gerry Boyle and Jim Hayman in the bar

Gerry Boyle and Jim Hayman in the bar

Saturday’s lineup included: Gerry Boyle, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Chris Holm, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett, and Paul Doiron. There were workshops on plot, character, setting, and the challenge of creating suspense in fiction. The keynote was by the always charming Tess Gerritsen. Editors including Tiffany Schofield from Five Star/Cengage, Genevieve Morgan from Islandport Press, and Jane Karker from Maine Authors Publishing joined Julie Hennrikus, President of Sisters in Crime New England, to discuss the Business of Writing.

The day closed with a retired Portland Detective Sergeant, Bruce Coffin, and Roger Guay, a retired Game Warden who is now a private investigator, giving an inside look at how crimes are investigated and crime scenes are handled in Maine.

Maine Crime Writers regulars Lea Wait, Susan Vaughan, and John Clark were there.

You know you’ve done a good job when no one wants to leave.

Committee member Brenda Buchanan in the bar

Committee member Brenda Buchanan in the bar

Mystery writers are a fun and generous lot, and it’s a great community. It was good that we had a chance to get together. Friday night at the bar and Saturday at the conference.

But where were you?

So if you’re feeling left out, mark your calendars for next April, and look for the announcement.


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8 Responses to And A Good Time Was Had By All

  1. Gram says:

    Almost makes me wish I was a writer and not just a reader. Sounds like fun!!

  2. MCWriTers says:

    Readers can come to these things too. Get to meet your favorite authors, hear how writers put the books together, etc.

    You’d have fun.


  3. Jewel Hanley says:

    So glad I didn’t miss this conference and can’t wait for the next one. I have a busy week ahead and as I am worried about getting in my writing time, I took to heart Julia Spencer-Flemings comments and Jack McMorrow habits (Gerry Boyle’s character). I set my alarm for five this morning and played with my writing before I had to leave for work. I’m yawning this afternoon but hopeful I can repeat the process tomorrow.

  4. Lea Wait says:

    Great day! Loved seeing friends … and got several ideas for the 2 books I’m working on. What could be better! Already looking forward to next year. Thanks to Kate and Paul and the other organizers!

  5. I too loved the Crime Wave. I saw old friends and made new ones, finally met in person some of my fellow bloggers. I came home energized with new ideas for the work in progress. Can’t wait for next year’s gathering.

  6. John Clark says:

    It was a terrific day. I went with one goal-to enjoy myself. I did that in spades, but I also have a couple leads for shopping books, a setting for the second juvenile mystery in a series and some great plot elements that have already been incorporated into the contemporary YA I’m currently writing. How much better can a day be?

  7. Jen Blood says:

    Great job on everything — I learned so much, met some great fellow authors, and definitely left inspired to dive into my writing. Thanks so much for all the hard work everyone put into pulling the event together. I can’t wait till next year!

  8. sandra neily says:

    Thank you, Kate, for all that you and MWPA and other key players did to make this happen. (And your last minute help to support Paul’s tough morning.) Met new writers to form a critique group, got advice from generous published authors, drew imagine-the-worst inspiration from Tess Gerritsen’s dark side talk, and Warden Roger Guay’s take on what we wouldn’t expect from a body in the woods (spending the night with it waiting for the ME or making sure one’s dog did not trigger a loaded weapon) was priceless and a reminder that it’s the unexpected that tweaks our interest. Again, much appreciated. A rich day in many ways.

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