Month: August 2015

The David

I told you to read The Outsmarting of Criminals a year ago. I’m not the only one who told you. Oprah told you as well. She was right and I was too. This past Saturday night, at the Deadly Ink Mystery Conference, The Outsmarting of Criminals, by Steve Rigolosi, received the David Award for the Best Mystery published in 2014. More about that later.

Deadly Ink is always fun. It’s an intimate gathering of the mystery community, a chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones, a chance to listen and learn, to bitch and moan. It is, in the best sense, a family reunion.


(Thanks to our talented moderator, S.A. Solomon, the Jersey Girls and Boys panel brought attitude to Deadly Ink).


(Thanks to my wise and wonderful panelists, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION offered insight wrapped up in fun).

My thanks to everyone who worked so hard to bring us Deadly Ink, to Debbie Buchanan, Eileen F. Watkins, Tricia Vanderhoof, Roberta Rogow, to the volunteers, the authors, and most especially the readers (after all, what is the point of writing unless someone is doing the reading?) And to those who could not be there this year, please know that you were missed and we look forward to your return next year.

Anyway, I said I would have more to say about the David Award and I do. Remarkably, the David voting this year was a TIE. Two books received Davids, co-winners of the award recognizing the best mystery published in 2014. One, as I mentioned above, was the fabulous book, The Outsmarting of Criminals by Steve Rigolosi. The other book to receive the David was Death and White Diamonds.

Death and Diamonds


(Guest of Honor, Brad Parks; Toastmistress, Eileen F. Watkins; me; Steve Rigolosi)

I am honored to be the recipient of this year’s David Award and proud to share the award with my friend Steve.


This week-end is the annual Deadly Ink mystery conference in New Brunswick, NJ. Long-time readers will remember previous discussions of Deadly Ink. It is an intimate gathering of writers, readers and fans. As I have said, elsewhere, “I love spending a weekend chatting about books with old friends and new, with readers and writers alike. Deadly Ink offers me a wonderful opportunity to do just that.”

On Friday evening, I’ll be speaking on a panel, JERSEY GIRLS (AND BOYS) discussing mysteries written by NJ authors. Saturday morning, I’m on the panel, MEET THE DAVID AWARD NOMINEES. The David is awarded annually at Deadly Ink to the best mystery published in the previous calendar year. It is, as they say, an honor just to be nominated. And I am. Deeply honored to be one of the nominees. And to share that honor with some wonderful writers

Saturday afternoon, I’ll be moderating a panel, LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. I’m in the process of putting together a series of questions that I hope will promote discussion among the panelists. And since I do my best work when I get other people to do my work for me, I’m using my blog today to think out loud about location in mysteries. Perhaps some of you, reading this, will leave comments that will transform my questions from merely good to great. So feel free to jump right in.

1. Anne Perry once said (and I paraphrase here) If you’re writing a book and the story is set in a sewer, you can do your research online, but if the story is set in Venice, you can fly to Venice and give your receipts to the tax accountant.

How important is it for you as a writer to be able to visit the setting of your story in person? And when that’s impossible (because, for example, the setting is an imaginary world, or a historical period) how do you research the story location?

2. Some stories are tied so tightly to a specific place and time that we talk about the location almost as if it were a character. Other stories draw their inspiration from something other than setting (eg. an event).

If your story could only be told in a specific location, tell us how the setting drives the story. If your story might have been set in another time and place, tell us how that change in setting would have changed the story.

3. If you set your stories in a real location, do you worry about getting details wrong? Have you heard from readers complaining that you’ve made a mistake?

4. If you set your stories in a real location, are there any circumstances under which you are comfortable modifying the setting to further the story. If you set your stories in an imaginary location, at what point in the writing process does the fictional location become so real that you face a similar dilemma?

5. We talk about how important it is for a writer to know a character’s back story, even if that back story never fully asserts itself in the story. Is the same thing true about location? Do you need to know the location’s back story? Tell us something fascinating about your setting that you have not revealed yet in your stories.

6. One of the issues that is driven by location is dialogue. It influences both what people say and how they say it. How do you approach writing dialogue that is true to the setting?

7. Is there a location you’re dying to use in a story, but you haven’t found the right story yet? Is there a setting that has been over-used to the point that you wouldn’t want to write (or read) another story in that location?