Collaboration: Taking the Mystery Out of Mysteries

Collaboration: Taking the Mystery Out of Mysteries

Monday, March 30, 2015

Looking for clues on how to get started writing mysteries? Have a who-dun-it in the trunk eager to escape? IWOSC’s March panel assembles a cadre (i.e., a core group of trained personnel able to assume control and to train others) of mystery writers, and a mystery reader moderator who couldn’t solve a crime if his life depended on it, even though he read “The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook” and mixed his own fingerprint powder with chemicals from his Gilbert Chemistry Set.

Topics for discussion:

  • How to create mystery characters.
  • How to weave plots.
  • How to create red herrings and obfuscate the solution without confusing yourself, the writer.
  • What to do once you’ve planted your clues and finished your book.
  • The state of the market today.

Our stellar panel:

DIANE VALLERE describes herself as a textbook Capricorn who writes mysteries, and fashion. She launched her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. Diane spent over twenty years in the fashion industry, and was lucky enough to travel the world for runway shows, shoe markets, and lingerie fairs. Now she considers herself lucky enough to stay home and write!

A Pennsylvanian at heart, Diane currently lives in Southern California, where she has set her Material Witness Mystery Series. The first, “Suede to Rest,” came out in November 2014.

Diane’s other series include the “Style & Error Mysteries,” featuring crime-solving fashionista Samantha Kidd (set in Vallare’s childhood hometown of Reading, Pa.), and the “Mad for Mod Mysteries,” featuring Doris Day-loving interior decorator Madison Night (set in Dallas, Texas).

Diane is currently president of Sisters in Crime Los Angeles.

KIM FAY was born in Seattle and raised throughout the small towns of Washington State. After working as a bookseller for more than five years at the Elliott Bay Book Company, she moved to Vietnam in the mid-1990s. She lived in Saigon for four years and has been traveling regularly to Southeast Asia for more than twenty.

She is the author of the historical novel “The Map of Lost Memories,” a 2013 Edgar Award finalist for Best First Novel by an American Author, and the food memoir “Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam,” winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards’ Best Asian Cuisine Book in the United States.

Kim is also the creator/ editor of the “To Asia With Love” guidebook series.

PATRICIA SMILEY is a Los Angeles Times Bestselling author and writes a mystery series featuring business consultant and amateur sleuth Tucker Sinclair. Her short fiction has appeared in “Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine” and “Two of the Deadliest,” an anthology edited by Elizabeth George.

Born and raised in Yakima, Washington, Patricia learned a love of books from her mother, and she fell in love with mysteries during her first adventure with Trixie Belden. While in graduate school at Pepperdine University, where she earned an MBA with honors, she wanted to write a mystery set in L.A. “Almost every day it made me laugh, grimace, and shake my head in amazement,” she says. With her first novel, “False Profits,” Patty learned that sociology may be practical, but writing is definitely much more fun.

Smiley has served on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and as president of Sisters in Crime Los Angeles.

MICHAEL MALLORY is the author of “X-Men: The Characters and Their Universe,” “Universal Studios Monsters: A Legacy of Horror” and “The Science Fiction Universe and Beyond,” and has written over 500 articles.
He received a degree in Speech from Drury College, and relocated to Los Angeles to pursue acting. He played roles in films such as “Frances,” “Staying Alive” and “Eleanor: First Lady of the World,” and on television in “Days of our Lives,” “Santa Barbara” and “General Hospital.” More recently he has appeared on “Mad Men,” “Vegas,” and “Mob City.” In the late 1980s Mallory made writing his primary pursuit. He was among the first recipients of a Derringer Award, winning in 1998 for Best Flash (short-short) Mystery Story. His story “The Beast of Guangming Peak” appeared in “The Best American Mystery Stories, 2005.”

Mallory writes mysteries featuring “Amelia Watson,” the second, unheralded wife of Sherlock Holmes’s Dr. Watson. Four volumes have appeared: “The Adventures of the Second Mrs. Watson (2000),” “Murder in the Bath (2004),” “The Exploits of the Second Mrs. Watson (2008),” and “The Stratford Conspiracy (2012).” “Kill the Mother!” his contemporary, comic mystery set in Hollywood, was published in 2013.

Michael co-edited the anthology “Murder on Sunset Boulevard,” published through the auspices of Sisters in Crime Los Angeles, and its follow-up, “Landmarked for Murder.” He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes three times, for both fiction and nonfiction. In 2012, “The Mural,” his first horror novel for adults, was published by Borgo Press.

BOB BIRCHARD Robert S. Birchard is the Editor of the American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films and a former award-winning film editor who brings an insider’s perspective and a great affection for the people who work in the picture business to his chronicles of the movies.

He is the author of “Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood,” “Silent-era Filmmaking in Santa Barbara,” “Early Universal City” and “King Cowboy: Tom Mix and the Movies” and is a contributing writer to the omnibus volumes “M-G-M When the Lion Roars,” “Don Miller’s Hollywood Corral,” “The Encyclopedia of Early Film” and “Hollywood: The Movie Factory.” His articles on Hollywood filmmakers have appeared in American Cinematographer, Statement, Film History, The Moving Image, Griffithiana, Daily Variety and Los Angeles Times Calendar.

He is a past president and current board member of the preservation organization Hollywood Heritage, Inc. and is current president of The Society for Cinephiles/Cinecon, which presents the annual Cinecon Classic Film Festival, and contributes to film preservation projects. Bob recently launched his first independent publishing venture, Pop Twenty, a journal devoted to 20th Century popular culture with emphasis on movies, TV, fadio and music.