Overheard at Crime Bake

Our annual Crime Bake conference was just over a week ago, and we’re missing it already. We thought it would be fun to share a few highlights from the conversations, for those of you who missed it. And, so we can relive the experience!

We’re in the Sisters in Crime community because we love crime fiction. And we not only love it, we immerse ourselves in it by reading AND writing about it. So why do we do this? What’s the draw to murder, mystery and mayhem?

This was a topic of discussion at the recent New England Crime Bake during the “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train: Why We Write Crime Fiction” panel. Some of our fellow authors engaged in a lively conversation on the subject. Here’s a snapshot of what we heard:

Hank Phillippi Ryan: “We write and read crime fiction because we require a conclusion, and we rarely get that in real life. We’re looking for the end to that story.

Sheila Connolly: “It’s about righting a wrong.”

Brendan Dubois: “There is chaos every day in the world and crime fiction helps to restore order – not necessarily justice, but some retribution.”

Guest of honor Craig Johnson: “The stakes are high. When you’re dealing with life and death, that doesn’t allow for a slow story.”

Jennifer McMahon: “Justice is a human convention. It’s a gray area, and we have to embrace that we’re not always going to get a resolution tied up in a bow.”

The authors also discussed the virtues of plotting vs. pantsing and how they became interested in the genre. Craig Johnson shared a story about visiting a crime scene with his grandfather, a member of the highway patrol, at a young age, which drew him to mysteries.

Oh, and did you know Hank Phillippi Ryan used to ride her pony to the library to get books as a child? Yes, these are the things we hear at Crime Bake!

In the panel “Ordinary People in Extraordinary Situations,” the conversation turned to which comes first – ideas or characters? Authors including Daniel Palmer, Vicki Doudera, Peter Swanson, Steve Ulfelder and Jan Elizabeth Watson talked about the crazy places from which ideas can come. Some favorite examples: while chopping wood and at real estate courses.

The takeaway? Ideas come from everywhere and at any time, so be open! And, imagining what would most scare you as a reader helps, too.

Did you attend Crime Bake? What stood out for you at your favorite session?


About Liz Mugavero

Liz Mugavero is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries. She also writes the Cat About Town Mysteries under the name Cate Conte.
This entry was posted in Conferences, Craft, Crime Bake, Event Recap, SinCNE, Writers, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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