Maine Crime Wave 2023 – A Preview

If you haven’t done so already, mark your calendar for June 9 and 10, when the Maine Crime Wave will roll into Portland, carrying crime writers and fans of crime fiction in its wake. This year’s ‘Wave, to be held at Glickman Library at the University of Southern Maine, has a packed schedule of fine writers who’ll be talking about their process and motivation, and on Friday evening, reading recent work.


Carla Neggers is the 2023 Crime Master. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author whose books feature both suspense and romance, Carla has published more than 75 books and been an active member of both International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America. For more information about Carla and her books, go here:

Carla will share wisdom and stories in an interview with award-winning, top-notch crime writer Julia Spencer-Fleming on Friday evening starting at 5:45 p.m., after a bit of schmoozing that begins at 5 p.m.

At 7 p.m. the ever-popular Two Minutes in the Slammer will commence. About a dozen writers will take the stage for two-minute readings that, if past is prologue, will be gripping, suspenseful or hilarious (and some will almost certainly tick all of those boxes). Rob Kelley, resting on his laurels after winning this event several years in a row, will serve as MC.

Saturday’s program kicks off at 8:30 with coffee and chat, followed by the first panel of the day at 9:00, History’s Echoes: Crime Fiction and Nonfiction Rooted in Real Life. The panelists are Cheryl Head, whose much-celebrated new novel Time’s Undoing is inspired by her own grandfather’s murder in the Jim Crow south, James Ziskin, whose latest mystery, set in India in 1975, draws on the real life political turmoil of the time, Carolyn Wilkins, whose historical novels with paranormal elements are set in the 1920s (and who herself is a psychic medium) and Kathryn Miles, a journalist whose current book—nominated for an Edgar Award this year—digs into the story of two women with Maine ties who were murdered while hiking the Appalachian Trail in the 1990s. Jessica Ellicott, writer of multiple popular historical and cozy mysteries series, will moderate.

At 10 :30 the topic shifts to Plotting Across Genre. Panelists Gillian French, author of acclaimed thrillers for young adults, Gayle Lynds, who wears the crown of the Queen of Espionage Fiction for her propulsive spy novels, Chris Holm, whose action packed novels—including last year’s Child Zero—draw on his background as a molecular biologist (in the most thrilling possible way) and the aforementioned Julia Spencer-Fleming, whose best-selling mysteries feature an Episcopal priest who teams up with the local police chief to solve murders in the Adirondacks. This one will be moderated by my blogmate Jule Selbo, who is highly skilled at stoking a good conversation.

At lunchtime, a special award is going to be presented and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

After the mid-day break, we’ll get down to it with a panel discussion of Love and Death: Writing Romantic Suspense. Four experts on this topic will share their thoughts: Crime Master Carla Neggers, MCW blog alum Susan Vaughan, author of 16 novels of powerful romantic suspense, Susan Stoker, a prolific and bestselling author (NYT, Amazon, Wall Street Journal) whose books feature, in her words, “Alpha men and strong women” and Paul Doiron, whose Mike Bowditch thrillers feature a long running sub-plot about the game warden’s love life (Stacey? Dani? I vote for the former).  Moderating what will surely be a highlight of the conference will be the always-insightful Matt Cost.

At 2:45, a panel called Why That Series? will feature Nicole Asselin (her Red Sox series is a must-read for even the casual fan), Kathryn Lasky, well known for her series of children’s and young adult novels who’s recently published an acclaimed adult novel, Katherine Hall Page, last year’s Crime Master, whose Body in the . . . series is absolutely addictive, and MCW’s own Richard Cass, author of the wonderful Elder Darrow Series. Kathryn and Dick are both nominated for a Maine Literary Award this year for their most recent books that depart from their series work, Light on Bone, A Georgia O’Keefe Mystery (Kathryn) and The Last Altruist (Dick). Moderating will be Barbara Ross, whose newest in the fabulous Maine Clambake Series, Hidden Beneath, will be released on June 27 (get your pre-order in).

As if all that wasn’t enough, yours truly will moderate the final panel of the day, called What I Hate About Writing.  An all-star gang of writers, some of whom will have participated in panels during the day, including Carla Neggers and MCW blog stalwart Kathy Lynn Emerson, will discuss the many travails of being an author, and if they run out of complaints, they may wind up talking about what they love about it.

Throughout the day the marvelous Barbara Kelly of Kelly’s Books-To-Go will be selling books, and authors will be hanging out at the book table to sign and chat.

Everyone is welcome—readers and writers (published and unpublished)—and the registration link is here:




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7 Responses to Maine Crime Wave 2023 – A Preview

  1. John Clark says:

    Signed up and am one of the slammers.

    • Brenda Buchanan says:

      I look forward to seeing you and hearing your two minutes of brilliance, John!

  2. Beth Murphy says:

    What is the cost?
    I’m finding it diffucult to locate without registering .

    • Brenda Buchanan says:

      Hi Beth,
      The registration fee is $150 with food included, $125 if you want to do food (lunch on Saturday) on your own.

      I hope you can join us.

      Brenda B.

  3. susanvaughan says:

    Thanks for posting this preview. I hadn’t seen the entire schedule.

    • Brenda Buchanan says:

      I think it is going to be a wonderful day and look forward to seeing you, Susan.

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