I had a surprisingly good time at Mysterium: The Mystery Novel Conference

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I’m not a mystery writer. I registered for Mysterium: The Mystery Novel Conference held at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, because two of my friends had planned to go—one who’s written a mystery novel and another who’s planning to work on one—and I wanted to spend time with them because I don’t see them very often. Their plans fell through and I thought about skipping it, but I had already paid the $100 registration.

Before the speakers arrived, I heard fascinating snippets of conversation from people around me in which they talked about the cozy mysteries they’ll have coming out in the fall, the deadlines they’re facing and the lure of procrastination.

During the keynote, conference host and novelist Amy Bloom (pictured left) interviewed award-winning detective novelist Laura Lippman.

Lippman talked about the importance of place in her novels. “I love books that have a strong sense of place,” she said. “Place to me is integral. I don’t understand stories where there is no place.”

Lippman’s “place” is Baltimore. She worked for a number of years at the Baltimore Sun, alongside her father, and talked about writing books that take place in Baltimore and the Baltimore suburbs.

She said she especially finds inspiration when writing stories that she sets in the suburbs. “I write dark stories there,” she said. “This reflects my thoughts about the suburbs.”

Mysterium is billed as a celebration of readers and writers, combining pleasure, instruction from writers, intellectual stimulation and great fun. This description is accurate. I thought I would feel out of place not only because I was alone, but because my writing focuses on general fiction, essays, and journalism—not mystery or crime writing. But once I took my seat at the keynote presentation, I felt at ease and the discussions were applicable to my own writing.

 

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About lisabraxton

Lisa Braxton, a native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University and her Master of Science degree in Journalism at Northwestern University. She is the immediate past president of the Women’s National Book Association/Boston Chapter and an Emmy-nominated journalist. She is a former television news anchor and reporter and spent her television career at stations in Champaign, Illinois, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and Hartford, Connecticut. She is also a former newspaper reporter and radio reporter. She currently lives in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Lisa has been published in numerous literary journals, including Snake Nation Review, Foliate Oak, and Meetinghouse: A Journal of New England Fiction, Clockhouse Review, and Literary Brushstrokes.
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