A Fine Palate for Death (Dessert, Wine and Crime)
Ovidia Yu (Moderator), Kathy Aarons, Jennifer McKinlay, Carlene O'Neil, Nancy Parra, Penny Warner
This was my favorite panel because it was just so much fun. Yu was a great moderator and Warner in particular was hysterically funny. Yu started off the festivities by having each author toss a small, plastic-wrapped cake into the audience, and whoever caught it got a book from that author. I didn't catch one, but it was still a great way to get everyone in the mood for a fun panel.
Apparently one of the traditions of food-oriented cozies is to include a number of the recipes in the book. Parra - who also writes as Nancy Coco - includes ten fudge recipes in each of her books. O'Neil's series is set in the Napa Wine Country and she became "wine certified" as part of her research. Food-related cozies also have some really fun titles. Some of the titles from this group: Murder Gone A-Rye, Gluten For Punishment, How To Host a Killer Party, One Foot in the Grape, Sugar and Iced, and Death is Like a Box of Chocolates.
|"A Fine Palate for Death" panel.|
A Strange Mixture (Sleuthing and Other Pastimes)
Clare Toohey (Moderator), Beverly Allen, Terrie Farley Moran, Don Passman, Susan Shea, Tracy Weber
The authors discussed how they combined mystery with very different areas of interest and experience. Passman, whose novel The Amazing Harvey - about a magician who uses his skills to clear himself when his DNA is found at the scene of the murder of a woman he's never met - is a member of the famous Magic Castle in Hollywood. Moran's cozies take place at the Read 'Em and Eat bookstore/cafe and she confessed that she can't cook, although she recently bought a Vitamix and her new hobby is combining all sorts of interesting ingredients to make juices "that make people on Facebook shudder". Shea's stories take place in the world of fine art auctions, which, she explained, drug lords and oligarchs have taken to use for money laundering. A high end piece can go for $50 million.
|"A Strange Mixture" panel.|
Kick Ass Women
Hank Phillippi Ryan (Moderator), Laura DiSilverio, Meg Gardiner, Terri Nolan, Karen Olson, Ingrid Thoft
A terrific panel of kick ass women writers discussed their craft and books. They talked about the need for characters to constantly be pushing the limits, and Gardiner (whose The Shadow Tracer was one of the books in my Bouchercon book bag) mentioned Kurt Vonnegut's advice that you have to make your character want something, even if it's only a glass of water. Gardiner also described the essence of plotting as "thwarted at every turn". DiSilverio in particular was interesting - she spent twenty years as an Air Force intelligence officer, then began writing light-hearted mysteries (her books include a Mall Cop series and a Ballroom Dancing series).
|"Kick Ass Women" panel.|
Getting It Right (How Authors Make Sure the Details Are Correct)
Chris Aldrich (Moderator), Jan Burke, Reed Farrel Coleman, Julia Dahl, Roger Hobbs, Tammy Kaehler
All about making sure all the details are accurate. Kaehler became interested in the world of auto racing when a hospitality job landed her at a track. She began hanging out with people there and picking their brains about the sport. Each of her books takes place over the weekend of a famous race (her next book will take place at the Long Beach Grand Prix). Hobbs set his upcoming novel in China and spent time there for research. His experiences included exposure to crime lords. One of the things that was stressed is that "everyone likes to talk about their job", so it isn't hard to find people to share their expertise.
|"Getting It Right" panel.|
Short and Scary (Thriller and Noir Short Stories)
Toni Kelner (aka Leigh Perry) (Moderator), Scott Adlerberg, Jack Fredrickson, Lori Rader-Day, Charles Salzberg, Dave Zeltserman
This was a pretty subdued panel and there was actually very little discussion of noir. Frederickson recommended Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Salzberg uses the classic, "What if?" question. One of the panelists mentioned a quote from Robert Bloch: That both humor and thrillers are heading toward a punchline.
You Say Traditional, I Say Cozy (Exploring the Boundaries of the Classic Mystery Novel)
Sarah M. Chen (Moderator), John Billheimer, Linda Joffe Hull, Eric James Miller, Ilene Schneider
This panel had a really interesting variety of cozy/traditional series to their credit: Schneider, who is also a rabbi in addition to being an author, has a series featuring a female rabbi whose work leads her to stumble across crimes (I guess you'd call her a Jewish Jessica Fletcher). Miller has started the "For Rent" series, the first of which features a young, aspiring journalist trying to solve a murder in her apartment building in Venice Beach, California. Hull's shopping series was inspired by a TV show she saw about "extreme couponing". Billheimer's baseball series features a sportswriter with a gambling problem (and has great titles: Field of Schemes and A Player To Be Maimed Later). Schneider came up with what I thought was the best way to differentiate between traditionals and cozies: If the sleuth is an amateur (Miss Marple) it's a cozy. If the sleuth is a pro (Poirot) it's a traditional.
Six panels in one day. I was exhausted, and my butt was killing me. Hotel meeting chairs aren't the most comfy things out there. I was happy to head back to my hotel and the cushy bed therein.