As our Cub Reporter today, Beyond Her Book blurber, Michelle, attended Murder and Mayhem the weekend of November 12th. Held at the Muskego Public Library, this event is chuck full of mystery, authors and readers. Here’s Michelle’s take.
Friday featured a meet and greet with wine and snacks that encouraged the mingling of authors and their readers. We then enjoyed a panel playing Stump the Author that was moderated by Blake Crouch. Six authors competed against one another for a bottle of UV Vodka and a pack of Kool Cigarettes. For aspiring authors here was advice: write everyday; set a limit to write your words, not someone else’s (F. Paul Wilson); quit coming up with reasons not to write, keep writing (Henry Perez); read, read, read (Victor Gischler); authenticity is important (Victoria Houston); and if it doesn’t say it on the page, it doesn’t say it (Reed Farrel Coleman).
Saturday started off with Zip, Cody and A.J. Marhofke of the 911BC K-9 Search and Rescue giving demonstrations of the keen senses of these Border Collies. Zip helped in recovery efforts on 9/11 and can find remains seven feet deep as well as a drop of blood in an Olympic size pool.
Next was a lively discussion of “Character Matters” and the question posed; Are there “Minor” characters in books?, heated up the debate. Some authors bring back minor characters into other books and some feel there are no minor characters as they are the center of their own lives (Brett Battles). Chelsea Cain talked of needing to find something true about her characters and Sean Chercover shared a quote that spoke to him, “write the book you want to read.”
Tom Schreck moderated a panel discussion of Why We Keep Writing, and posed thequestion, “what psychological need does your writing fill?” Denise Swanson answered, “Control.” Shirley Dammsgaard responded with control and that she can legally kill people, which it is like an addiction -chasing the buzz. Joanna Slain said that she wants her life and her work to matter. Deb Baker loves climbing into the creative world, and Julie Hyzy talked of control, to make people’s world better and to be her own Nancy Drew.
In his interview, Ridley Pearson shared that he started writing short stories when he was 10 while enjoying the writings of John D. McDonald along with the early works of Ken Follet and Robert Ludlum. He also wrote songs for a band he was in that traveled around the country with a wood burning stove inside their vehicle. Playing the sax, guitar and some piano, he is in a band of authors that includes Stephen King and Dave Barry. The band has been together for 18 years and they have raised two and a half million dollars for nonprofit organizations. Also on his resume, Ridley was on a task force that helped the FBI catch the Washington Sniper, along with teaching creative writing in China. The one book he makes sure to read each year is To Kill a Mockingbird. Ridley is definitely a very intriguing individual and I really enjoyed meeting him.
After the interview there was another panel discussion about crime fiction on the edge with a lively debate about personal beliefs about the span of mystery writing from cozy to hard boil crime noir. The day ended with authors talking about writing thrillers. Shane Gericke talked of writing an adrenaline rush and that thrillers are thrilling by definition. Kat Richardson leaves cliff hangers at the end of her chapters. F. Paul Wilson likes playing with the reader’s expectations but that there needs to be highs and lows within the writing as a high degree of tension wears out the reader. Jeff Abbott says that suspense comes between the hero and villain as they each are finding their goal. No wonder these authors can be found on the bestsellers list.
Bottom Line: As enjoyable as this experience was, it couldn’t have happened without the wonderful staff and accommodations provided by the Muskego Public Library.