My Panel! Mystery Writers Speak – Day 4 /Bouchercon 2016

After three full days of author panels and special events featuring the world’s most beloved and successful mystery writers – Boucheron 2016 came to a close on Sunday.

Attendees still had three panels to select from at 9 a.m., and three panels to select from at 10:30 a.m. Then, from noon to 1 p.m., the final Guests of Honor Panel was held in the convention ballroom. Heather Graham moderated that panel, and members included Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Craig Robertson, Julie Smith, Harley Jane Kozak, Alexandra Sokoloff, Jon Jordan and Ruth Jordan.

That morning, readers and writers and other industry professionals bustled through the halls to catch the final tidbits of information from the experts.

First, I attended a 9 a.m. panel called, Does It Serve the Story? Setting. The moderator was Michelle Dryer, and panelists were R.M. Cartwell, Melisa Lenhardt, R.J. Noonan, Cara Ramsay and William Shaw. In many stories, the setting is critical to the atmosphere and plot of the mystery. One author noted that geographically, across both the world and the U.S., time does not happen evenly. Rural areas might be years ‘behind’ urban areas as far as trendy fashions, mores and beliefs. Using a rural setting allows the author to slow things down and even step back in time although the novel is set in the current time. Authors also discussed climate and how it affects the personality of the area’s residents. If they live in the northwest where it’s rainy, are they moody? What about humor and general outlook on life? Interesting considerations when creating the setting and the characters.

The second panel of the morning was MY PANEL! I shared the dias with my moderator, G.J. Brown (a Scottish crime writer), as well as Jim Sanderson, Maegan Beaumont, and Matthew FitzSimmons. Master of Puppets: Manipulating Your Characters to Get the Story You Want, was a consortium of comments about characters and writing and plot and everything that goes into a successful mystery. Over fifty people attended — a big surprise to me that so many were still eager to hear what we had to say about writing our mysteries on the final day of the convention.

Here’s a little bit about each of my fellow writers:  Jim Sanderson has published three collections of short stories, seven novels, an essay collection and two textbooks and has won two national awards for books and two regional awards for short stories or short story collections; Maegan Beaumont is the award-winning author of the Sabrina Vaughn thriller series. Her debut novel, Carved in Darkness, was awarded the 2014 gold medal from Independent Publishers for outstanding thriller as well as being named a Foreword Book of the Year and Debut Novel of the Year by Suspense Magazine; Matthew FitzSimmons is the author of the bestselling first novel in the Gibson Vaughn series, The Short Drop. Born in Illinois and raised in London, he now lives in Washington, D.C. where he taught English lit and theater for over a decade.

Our moderator, G.J. Brown, has four crime and thriller novels to his name, helped found Bloody Scotland, is a DJ on local radio, has compered a two-day music festival, floated a high tech company and was once booed by 49,000 people! What a great guy, and a great group.

And so, my four days at Bouchercon 2016 came to an end. It was a fantastic experience, and I’m still processing all of the information I accumulated. This is not the last time it will be featured in a post.

If you love mysteries, consider attending a Boucheron in the future! The 2019 event will be in Dallas!

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