Magna cum Murder

Magna cum Murder was, as always, great. It’s a friendly convention in a magnificent setting, the Columbia Club of Indianapolis. Kathryn Kennison, with her hard-working staff, keep everything moving and invite great guests.

The Saturday panel Coffee, Cats and Cozies I was on didn’t have many cats, but a lot of good, funny, rich conversation about the value the cozy sub-genre offers. Fellow panelist Elena Hartwell spoke of the difficult transition from script writing to novel writing – they only appear to be similar! Moderator Lynn Cahoon asked deep questions which showed she’d thought hard about the topic.

Guest of honor Maureen Jennings (of “Murdoch” fame) was interviewed during the noon luncheon by Ruth Dudley Edwards, and when two very intelligent and witty women like they collide, it’s a lively conversation.

The International Guest of Honor was Brit Natasha Cooper, none of whose books I have read. She was introduced by legendary author Sara Paretsky, who said Natasha was a major influence on her work and a hero who opened a new door into female protagonists in mystery fiction. Natasha herself gave a wonderful speech but her insights into the fury that women can feel makes me very wary of reading her work. Perhaps it’s my age, but I no longer like fiction that hurts my soul or rips at my spirit, however excellently it is done – any by all accounts Natasha is brilliant. I like fiction that presents a serious problem to its protagonist, a limited time to fix it, and serious consequences for failure, but is all calm and comfort to me by the end, not exhaustion and a soul in tatters. A little humor along the way is helpful. Painful non-fiction I can take, the kind offering attitude adjustment or a moral confrontation. Fiction is where I go to escape real life. But that’s just me and, as always, your mileage may vary.  Natasha is a formidable writer.

I attended a panel on the direction publishing is taking (pretty much speculation that e-books and other self-publishing are the wave of the future). I connected afterwards with one panelist, Patricia McLinn, who is doing very well publishing her own books. I invited her to sit with us at the banquet, where we got some excellent guidance.

The last panel on Sunday, Age is Just a Number, had me (long-time published), Tony Perona (moderator and well published), Elena Hartwell (stage writer and now novel writer), and Kristen Lepionka (very young and newly published). We talked about how we selected the age of our sleuths, how we planned to age them if the series continued, and what we would have done differently early in our writing experience. The fact that I am a senior, Tony is bordering on middle age, Elena is in her thirties and Kristen in her twenties gave an interesting side-element to the question of age.

Here I am at the Convention:

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