An Author's Adventures at CrimeConn


Saturday, I drove to CrimeConn, an all day mystery conference at the Westport Public Library. It was an amazing day and I’ll definitely be adding this to my must attend list for conferences. I wanted to share my takeaways with you!

The first panel was moderated by the brilliant and entertaining John Valeri with panelists Rosemary Harris, Michael Ledwidge, and Liz Mugavero. They discusses the motives behind a bad guy’s behavior.

Rosemary mentioned the key motives she uses in her writing are greed, lust, and revenge.

John raised the idea that the main reasons people commit murder center around greed, humiliation, safety, cheating, and war.

Mike explained how there are two parts to a person that play into motives–bodily desire (hunger, lust, etc.) and imagination and mind (want to be heroic).

Lis relies on revenge and desperation to motivate her characters.


The second panel was made up of people who actually work in law enforcement. They discussed the mind games that crooks and cops play.

The moderator was Michelle Clark and the panelists were Dr. Mark Braunsdorf, Lieutenant Ray Hassett, and Sergeant Mike Cummiskey.

One of the key takeaways was that these are ordinary human beings doing extraordinary work. They have to develop coping mechanisms that the rest of society doesn’t have because they face the ugliest parts of society on a daily basis.

Ray talked about having to go deep under cover to bust bad guys and Mark explained how that requires going beyond cognitive empathy to emotional empathy, where you actually feel it personally. This literally rewires your brain because you have become another person.


The next panel focused on what makes an anti-hero heroic and was moderated by Joe Meyers. Panelists included Tom Straw, David Rich, and Karen E. Olson.

Tom stressed that antiheroes are outside the system and generally against the system.

Karen’s take is that the bad guy has a code that redeems him in some way.

David feels that the antihero knows all the badness inside him and recognizes it in others. He uses his insight to solve a situation or crime.


Patricia King from MWA and an MWA aspiring author spoke to the audience about the importance of a writing tribe.


Chris Knopf interviewed the guest of honor, Andrew Gross. It was a revealing and fascinating Q&A.

I loved hearing about Andrew’s breaking away from his previous works for his new novel. He spoke of his fear that readers would abandon him for focusing on scene setting in this new novel. But they didn’t!

He is a big proponent of outlining and sold this book as an outline. Go plotters!

He loves creating tertiary and secondary characters in his stories.


Captain Chris Chute presented a workshop on how professionals separate fact from fiction. This was one of my favorite parts of the day because, well, my characters lie a lot.

He was a very energetic and entertaining presenter and the time went way too fast. He included video in his presentations, which really drove home all his key points.

One of the most interesting point was that it’s not what people say but how they say it. When someone is truthful they spend a smaller amount of their words on the intro, around half their words on the details of the event, and then wrap it up. In a deceptive statement, it’s mostly intro, nothing or very little on actual incident, and then either a long wrap up or no wrap up.

Another terrific takeaway is that people lie by telling the truth. They will say the one true thing over and over again.


The final panel of the day was led by the fabulous Kate Kessler and included David Handler, A.J. Pompano, and Jan Yager. They discussed sociopaths and psychopaths.

The key takeaway here was that sociopaths are not psychologically damaged, but have a contempt for society and rules.

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