So, Murder and Mayhem in Muskego. This was the first time I attended this event that takes place at Muskego Library up near Milwaukee. It is truly an amazing event, and I am so glad I made the trip.
The event starts out with an optional meet and greet session on Friday night. The authors were ushered via white limo from their hotel to the library where a wine meet and greet was held with about 40 guests.
The emcees for the weekend were Tom Schreck and Libby Hellmann. They kicked off the festivities by introducing the one panel that took place on Friday evening, moderated by Dana Kaye. This panel included Jamie Freveletti, Tasha Alexander, Andrew Grant and C.J. Box. They talked about some general topics related to writing and their respective books.
If you step back and watch what happens on this night of the event, you'll witness a very spectacular element of the crime fiction community - a sense of giving. They share their stories, their advice, their time. They listen to experiences and ideas and sometimes just general small talk. They sign books and take pictures. No one is too "big" or too "famous" or too "busy." It's all about sharing.
Saturday is a much more populated day for the event. Several hundred people attended on Saturday and the parking lot was literally packed when we arrived. The day was actually started with a crime scene panel of two Chicago cops: Michael Black and David Case. This was followed up by the "In and Out of Character" panel featuring Brian Azzarello, Cara Black, Sam Reeves, Marcus Sakey. Their vast background and experiences led to a variety of topics in this panel. Brian was able to talk to differences between writing work he's commissioned to do and work he initiates himself. Marcus spoke to his experiences with having his works optioned for film. Cara spoke on how she ended up writing about a character in France. Sam addressed writing under two different names.
(Cara Black, Marcus Sakey, Sam Reeves, and Tom Schreck)
Following "In and Out of Character" Megan Abbott moderated what started out as "The Thriller Boys." However, since Barry Eisler wasn't able to travel, Jamie Freveletti rescued Megan from the male domination of this panel. In addition to Megan and Jamie, Jim Born, Brent Ghelfi and C.J. Box all discussed elements of thrillers.
A very nice lunch split up the day. The authors spread out throughout the lunch areas and dined with the guests. I spent this time discussing Robert Crais with Megan Abbott. First of all, I could not have asked for better company, but someone who wants to discuss Elvis and Joe and RC with me, too? Yep, pretty much the best lunch ever!
After lunch was finished and cleaned up, the ladies of the "Who Needs Mean Streets" panel took the stage. They were moderator-less, so they asked emcee Tom Schreck to help out. And Tom's humor matched up with the wits of Joanna Slan Campbell, Denise Swanson, Shirley Dammsgard, Julie Hyzy and Deb Baker, literally stole the day. The audience was constantly laughing. It was a hit. I have to say that I especially enjoyed Denise's comment when asked why she chose writing mystery over writing romance. She explained that she had been a school counselor for many years, and after having been in the public school system for so long, there weren't many people she wanted to romance, but there were plenty she wanted to kill!
This wrapped up the traditional panels and the remainder of the afternoon was a more intimate stage show. First Blake Crouch interviewed F. Paul Wilson.
Next Jan Burke and Laura Lippman spoke informally about topics relevant to both of them.
And the day wrapped with an incredible interview of Jeffery Deaver by Sandra Ruttan.
Having the chance to experience this event was fabulous. But I was lucky to experience time with three other extraordinary people. Jon and Ruth Jordan of Crimespree Magazine have "adopted" me into the Crimespree Family. And I have to tell you that this is not only an unbelievable honor but it is the joy of my life. I started my blog because I love talking about great books and talking about the people who write those books. To be able to meet those people and hang out informally with them and feel like a part of that crime fiction family is a gift unlike any other. Jon and Ruth have offered me that gift in addition to their amazing friendship. So believe me when I say I know how fortunate and blessed I am, and that I have plenty to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving season.
(Ruth Jordan, Jon Jordan, Jim Born)
I also had the pleasure of spending time with Judy Bobalik because she was my roommate in Milwaukee. What an angel! Judy and I met online via Facebook, Twitter, etc. We met briefly in person in Indianapolis, but I really had much more of a chance to get to know Judy here in Milwaukee. An additional blessing! I am so honored to call this woman my friend.
This was an incredible weekend, and I'm still floating a bit. I'll leave you all with some additional pictures of this astounding crime fiction family. My thanks to each and every one of these folks. They not only made this a great weekend for everyone attending Murder and Mayhem, but they gave me a dream weekend. Happy Reading everyone!
(F. Paul Wilson and Jon Jordan)
(What a pleasure to spend time with Brent Ghelfi)
(I finally got my picture with Libby Fischer Hellmann, a great writer and wonderful person)
(When Tom wasn't busy with his emcee duties he was checking sports scores? There aren't enough great adjectives for Tom: fantastic writer, funny man, genuine and generous person.)
(What a thrill to spend time with Megan Abbott. When she wasn't moderating her panel she spent a lot of time listening to what the other panels had to say as well as making loads of time for the guests.)
(Jeffery Deaver signed an ornament for one fan who is giving it as a gift. She shared it with me as she lamented not bringing a second one to be signed for her!)
(Everyone hanging out with Jeffery Deaver after Saturday's full day.)
(C.J. Box was another author who spent a good amount of time listening to his peers in their respective panels.)
(I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with Tasha Alexander and Andrew Grant. Two incredibly nice people as well as talented writers.)
(C.J. Box was wearing the birthday hat Saturday night since his birthday was Monday. Happy Belated Birthday, C.J!)
(Brent Ghelfi, C.J. Box, Judy Bobalik, and Jim Born just yuckin' it up.)
(Jeffery Deaver likes salt and vinegar potato chips. Jamie Freveletti couldn't find exactly what he wanted, but she managed to rustle up the parts!)