The 21st Annual Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference is coming up in Corte Madera, California on July 24-27. Participants will learn all the clues to a successful writing career from authors, editors, agents, and publishers via classes on setting, dialogue, suspense and point of view. Panels of detectives, forensic experts, and other crime-fighting professionals also provide invaluable information that allows writers to put realism into their work.
This year's event continues its tradition of distinguished authors and teachers, including Tim Maleeny, who stopped by IRTM to discuss why he enjoys participating in the conference. Maleeny is the author of the acclaimed Cape Weathers series, including Stealing The Dragon, Beating The Babushka, Greasing The Piñata, and Jump. Maleeny's short fiction has won the prestigious Macavity Award and appears in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen, Crimespree Magazine, and the anthologies Death Do Us Part, Uncage Me, and Thriller 2.
What is the most rewarding part of teaching at the conference?
TM: A good writer is always learning — reading other writers, trying new perspectives, deconstructing stories in their head — so being on the faculty at Book Passage is a chance to keep on top of your game. I think all of us on the faculty learn as much from interacting with the conference attendees as they do from us.
Another invaluable part of a weekend like this are the friendships you make with other writers. The conference is big enough to be truly intensive when it comes to the workshops, but intimate enough to really get to know the other writers. Some of my best friends, most loyal readers and even occasional collaborators are writers whom I met at Book Passage.
What advice do you wish you received when you were a new author?
TM: I was already published when I first attended Book Passage as a student, so my only regret is that I hadn't known about conferences like this sooner. I was clueless a community of writers like this even existed. Had I gone to Book Passage when I was first getting serious about writing, I would have spared myself a lot of heartache along the way. Even if you're shy about your writing, even if you're not sure what you're doing, force yourself to attend a conference or two. You'll find like-minded souls who will help you on the path to publication.
What do you hope aspiring writers will get out of this conference?
TM: For most it's inspiration, for some it's a gentle kick in the ass to stop procrastinating (something I sorely needed), and finally some help seeing your story through a reader's eyes, so you'll know if the story you're trying to write is the one that's appearing on the page.
A few laughs as well — it's curious but the folks writing about murder and mayhem are invariably the nicest and funniest people you'll ever meet. (Maybe it's because they let all their aggressions out on their characters, so they have only positive energy left for those of us who live outside the pages of a book.)
For more information about the Book Passage conference and to register, check out the official website. You can also click on the banner in the top right-hand side of this page, and if you mention In Reference to Murder when you register, you'll receive a $10 gift certificate.