Unraveling Mystery Writing


Panel
Unraveling Mystery Writing

Monday, January 29, 2007

Need a clue about how to write a great mystery? Please join IWOSC in January as its panel of expert mystery novelists and screenwriters unravel the mysteries of crime and mystery writing.

The panelists discussed the rules of the genre and their own paths to success. Our panelists also discussed the future for the genre, especially how the Internet will be involved.

Mystery writing, perhaps more than most writing genres, tends to stick to certain guidelines that readers expect. Readers want an intellectual challenge, a crime that fits the criminal, a strong and plausible plot (with or without twists, but no twins, please), and a rational solution. But the detective and the setting make or break the crime! Our panelists’ protagonist detectives include a plus-size paralegal and a feisty female management consultant, a former newspaper reporter and a soap opera actress.

The moderator for this program is DIANA JAMES, a Los Angeles-based literary manager and vice president of Sisters In Crime/LA. She is the co-chair for the upcoming No Crime Unpublished writers conference scheduled for June 10, 2007. She is the wife of one of the panelists, Darrell James.

Meet the panelists

PATRICIA SMILEY’s debut mystery novel, “False Profits,” which introduced Los Angeles businesswoman Tucker Sinclair, received a starred review from Booklist and was a Book Sense recommendation. Her follow-up novel, “Cover Your Assets,” was a Romantic Times Top Pick. Both novels were Los Angeles Times Bestsellers. “Short Change,” her third novel in the series, is set for release in July 2007.

SUE ANN JAFFARIAN is a paralegal and the author of the Odelia Grey mystery series, which features a middle-aged, plus-size paralegal as a humorous amateur sleuth. After being previously self-published, the first two books in the series, “Too Big To Miss” and “The Curse of the Holy Pail,” were republished by Midnight Ink. Jaffarian has just completed the third book in the series, “Mother Mayhem,” which is scheduled for release in February 2008. “Too Big To Miss” has been optioned for television. Jaffarian also writes general fiction and short stories.

DARRELL JAMES is the author of “Body Count: A Killer Collection,” an anthology of fifteen mystery short stores. He has written over 24 works in the short story or novel form. His work has appeared in numerous mystery magazines, including Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, Armchair Aesthetic, and most recently in the book anthology, “LAndmarked for Murder.” James is the 2004 winner and a prior year finalist of the Fire to Fly Competition. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and a board member of Sisters In Crime/LA.

ROBERT S. LEVINSON has written many best-selling books, including “Ask a Dead Man” and “Where the Lies Begin.” He is also the author of the Neil Gulliver and Stevie Marriner series of mystery-thriller novels, which to date consists of “The Elvis and Marilyn Affair,” “The James Dean Affair,” “The John Lennon Affair,” and “Hot Paint (The Andy Warhol Affair).” Levinson’s short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (EQMM), and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. His 2005 story “Death Conquers All” was voted an EQMM Readers Award, making it the third consecutive year he has been honored by readers.Levinson was a newspaperman before entering the field of public relations, where his company serviced numerous international performers, including Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, The Who and The Osmonds. He wrote and produced the MWA’s 2003 and 2004 Annual Edgar Awards show and the inaugural Thriller Awards show of the International Thriller Writers organization which led to an invitation to produce ITW’s second Thriller Awards scheduled for July 2007 in New York. He has served on the national and Los Angeles boards of Mystery Writers of America. Among his various professional memberships, he is a member of the Writers Guild of America/West, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Hollywood Radio and Television Society, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters In Crime.

THOMAS B. SAWYER is a novelist, screenwriter, and playwright. He was head writer/producer-showrunner for the hit CBS series “Murder, She Wrote,” for which he wrote 24 episodes. He has written nine network TV pilots, 100 episodes, and has been writer, producer or showrunner on staff of 15 network series. He is co-librettist/lyricist of “Jack,” an opera about JFK. He wrote, directed, and produced the cult film comedy, “Alice Goodbody.” His first mystery-thriller was “The Sixteenth Man” and his next book, “No Place To Run,” will be published in 2007. Sawyer has been nominated for an Edgar and an Emmy. He’s taught writing at UCLA and other colleges and universities, and he also teaches at numerous writers conferences. In addition, Sawyer is the co-creator of Storybase software. Both his latest book, “Fiction Writing Demystified,” and Storybase are Writer’s Digest Book Club Selections.

Bookseller Linda Bivens of Crimetime Books will be selling the panelists’ books at the meeting.

To read more about the panelists you can also visit the Los Angeles chapter of Mystery Writers of America site or the Sisters In Crime site.