Yet another mystery conference is just around the corner -- on Thanksgiving weekend to be exact. It's in the US, of course, so doesn't fall on their holiday weekend. Bouchercon is the name of this one and it's one of the biggest, attracting a lot of international authors who rarely make it across the ocean. Also, it's heavily into the heavy weights as in big names and dark crimes. Every writer should attend at least one Bouchercon in their career.
I'll be in the midst of a lot of Canucks, in fact, we're hosting a social on Friday night just to wave the flag and let the attendees meet some Canadian authors. It should be a lot of fun and we'll be spreading the word about some cool Canadian crime.
My panel at this conference is about murder in a US smalltown and local Ottawan, Brenda Chapman, author of In Winter's Grip, will also be on it. I like this topic as it gives authors an opportunity to debunk the "Jessica Fletcher" syndrome. Also, the choices of victims and suspects is pretty much the same in any smalltown, either side of the border.
What I also like about being on panels, this one in particular, is that it offers an opportunity to step back from the writing and view it from another angle. I don't stop and think about the derth of either victims or suspects when planning a book. Maybe I should. I do try to make the choices believable, so on some level must be addressing this problem. But that's where visitors come in handy. Someone in town on business, visiting relatives, or just touring the region. There's also the new person in town, surely with a backstory to be uncovered. Or the sleuth could be on vacation, giving her hometown a break for at last one book.
The possibilities are endless to the writer who likes a challenge. And one of the challenges is taking the time to re-assess where the series is going. How the characters are developing over a number of books. What's happening to relationships. And, oh yes, who's the next victim to be? How many times can I make the sleuth a suspect?
What fun! And, yes, the conference will be fun, too. I always come away from these with a slightly different way of looking at writing. And that's got to be good for everyone.
Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A KILLER READ
Berkley Prime Crime, now available
READ & BURIED, coming Dec., 2012;
available now for pre-order