Last night I braved the wet, cold diagonal rain to venture to the Mid-Manhattan Library for the MWA NY Chapter’s Library Outreach Series. The topic was: FORENSICS AND THE MYSTERY WRITER: IS IT SCIENCE OR FICTION?
The panel featured three writers (Lindsay Faye, Stefanie Pintoff, and E.J. Wagner) and a moderator (E.W. Count), who read excerpts from their books, answered questions on forensics role in mystery writing, and gave a glimpse into their writing process. All three moderators agreed that forensics was a must have in their mystery novels.
E.J. Wagner gave historical background on the field of forensics, including how at one point in history the belief that the body had to be intact to reunite with the soul in heaven made it impossible for anyone to openly share knowledge about dissecting human bodies. Lindsay Faye pointed out how the “how” and “why” a character solves a crime is in and of itself very character revealing.
The authors discussed the importance of scientific and historic accuracy even in fiction. Ms. Faye pointed to the recent Sherlock Holmes movie as an example of how the idiomatic use of language didn’t fit the period. She talked about how there was no term for a sociopath at the time of Jack the Ripper and that using Freudian terms before the birth of Freud doesn’t make sense.
The topic of what qualifies as death was also discussed. It is interesting to note that a hundred years ago it was a heart stopping and now (in the U.S.) is when brain activity stops. E.J. Wagner made reference to death being a continuum, which I found intriguing.
All in all a great event by MWA-NY chapter. Many thanks to E.W. Count for a great job moderating and participating in the discussion and to the panel for sharing their experiences and insight. 🙂
If you’d like to hear the discussion, it was taped and is available on the WNYC website.