Thanks for visiting my blog again! I went to a really interesting event today. It was a luncheon and author panel called Mystery On the Menu. The event was hosted at the Cerritos Library by the Cerritos Friends of the Library organization. Fifteen successful authors gave their perspectives, expertise, and opinions about the mystery genre. The authors gave very diverse views on writing and research. Each of them writes a very unique type of book series.
Normally, I write a lot of blog posts about science fiction and fantasy. After all, steampunk and post-apocalyptic are the focus of my book series. Why on earth am I suddenly taking an interest in the mystery genre? Actually, I love reading mystery novels and short stories. Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle are two of my favorite authors. Originally, I wanted to write murder mysteries in a contemporary setting. Sadly, I didn't have a knack for the writing style. I tried to find a different genre that suited my themes, writing style, and ideas. After conducting thorough research, steampunk was the answer. I'm very happy as a steampunk author and you'll continue to see more publications down the road.
Allow me to tell you some details about Mystery On the Menu
The event had a great turnout. I think around 180 people filled the room. There was one author assigned to each table. So, the attendees had a chance to get acquainted with someone on the panel. The author at my table was Dianne Emley. She's a Los Angeles Times bestselling author with the Detective Nan Vining Mysteries, the Iris Thorne Mysteries, and The Night Visitor. Dianne was very friendly and she gave me a free copy of The Deepest Cut. I also got along really well with the other guests at my table.
There were three separate panels with five authors a piece. I don't remember everything they discussed, but the panels covered a lot of topics about mystery writing. In fact, many things they discussed could apply to any genre. For example, some of the authors talked about personal experiences that affected their writing. Many authors take elements from real people and use them to create characters. The authors talked about various research methods ranging from the internet, traveling, and whatnot.
Each author can bring something unique to their writing. One of the authors is a retired police officer who has a lot of expertise in law enforcement. A different author is an MD and he uses a wealth of knowledge from the medical field. The panelists also talked about making characters relatable and believable to readers.
They emphasized the importance of keeping real events and dates factual. Readers will notice if an author has a lot of mistakes about real events or dates. It's also very important to maintain continuity in lengthy series and that task is easier said than done. Some of the authors use real cities as their setting. Naturally, it's necessary to learn a lot about the specific location.
The panelists also took the time to answer questions from the audience. Some attendees asked questions about topics like social networking, plagiarism, libel, and copyright infringements. Those were good questions because the panelists had accurate answers.
I want to emphasize something. In my opinion, mystery writing is difficult. It takes a surprising amount of research and fact checking. That was partially why I had a difficult time writing the genre. One of the panels spent a lot of time talking about locations and how to use real settings like Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. Some of the authors believe it's necessary to spend time in those cities. It's a good way to learn about the culture, environment, and whatnot. Other authors said online resources are sufficient. I guess it's a matter of perspective and the type of book. You wouldn't think location would be complicated, but it requires a lot of detail. If you're using a real location, make sure the details are accurate. As a steampunk author, I write about location in a different way. My setting is a distant post-apocalyptic future and that means fact checking doesn't have the same context. Laws, cultures, locations, technology, and everything else will be different than our current situation. I can cheat on facts in a way that won't be acceptable for mystery writers because my subject has roots in fantasy. So, I have to give mystery authors a lot of credit.
Aside from the panels, we enjoyed a delicious lunch with chicken marsala, risotto, salad, fruit, and rolls. Everybody had a slice of strawberry shortcake for dessert. We also had unlimited coffee, tea, juice, and water all day long.
There was also a raffle for prizes. A handful of lucky attendees won gift cards, flower arrangements, and other goodies. Unfortunately, I didn't win anything. Better luck next year.
After the event was done, people could purchase books and ask the authors for signatures. I met several of the authors and they're a really interesting group of people.
If you want to know more about the authors at this event, click on the links below. I'm posting links to their official websites. Anything I say on this post just scratches the surface. Take a look at their actual websites to get a better idea. I hope you liked the post and leave comments if you have anything to say. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I promise to write another interesting post next week.
List of Participating Authors
Connie Archer/Connie Di Marco
Linda O. Johnston
D.P. Lyle, MD
Christopher J. Lynch
Paul D. Marks
Nancy Cole Silverman