I apologize for the delay in posting my notes from the MWA Symposium. I was so tired last weekend from the whirlwind 3-day trip that I couldn’t put together my notes. There were several terrific panels. I plan to talk about 2-3 of them over the next two weeks so I don’t overwhelm you with my profuse notes.
A second apology, I have no photo of this panel. Mostly because Hank Philippi Ryan was such an electrifying moderator that she sucked me right into the discussion and I forgot to take a picture. 🙂
What impressed me most about this panel was that Hank took the time to read each author’s novel. She shared the perfect excerpt from each book too. Enough to wet the audiences’ whistle while leaving tons of time for Q&A with each author. Fantastic job!
The panel was composed of Edward Conlon, David Duffy, Leonard Rosen, Lori Roy, and Steve Ulfelder. Hank drew each author out of their shell and highlighted their writing strengths and their personalities. She made me want to buy a copy of the panelists’ novels.
Hank opened with a question about how each author found out they were nominated for an Edgar. David mentioned he opened his computer and saw the email. Lori saw it in a press release. Steve found out via Twitter and hesitated to believe it until his agent and editor called simultaneously.
Hank introduced each novel and asked the author about their work. Lori Roy’s Bent Road was called ominous and creepy–gothic. Lori said it sprang up out of the setting. Western Kansas can be beautiful or brutally harsh. Lori mentioned that she can’t outline.
Ed wrote his book because of his everyday experiences as a cop. He discussed the difference between motive vs. motivation. Writers want to know why. But this need to understand means writers must go deeper into motive. Something he grappled with is characters where you don’t want to go. Do you really want to understand a rapist?
Steve loves to race cars. He equates writing with driving a race car. In a race, it’s 30-45 minutes on the track, but it feels like two minutes. Something similar happens when he’s writing. The walls fall away and he have no idea where he is.
David drew on classic detective stories. Except his protagonist is a Russian guy, named Turbo. BTW, that name has a fantastic backstory in the novel.
What was interesting was that all these writers had full lives before they wrote their first novel. None of them are fresh out of college.
None of the authors has their title first. Most had different working titles.
Len mentioned that he had a hard time with his title. He stressed that the title of your book must be your whole book.
Ed talked about how most people tell cops stories. When someone lies, the cop has to decide whether it matters or not.
Overall, an exceptional panel discussion. I can’t wait to read all their books. 🙂
And a quick shout out to my amazing lunch companions, David H. Ingram, winner of the Edgars Robert L. Fish Award for his short story “A Good Man of Business,” and Jackie Sherbow of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Terrific people to go browse a bookstore with too. 🙂