Writers talk.

 Today is the Mystery Writer’s of America symposium in Manhattan. The three day event kicked off with a party at the Mysterious Bookstore…… but those stories need to stay in the room. The actual symposium kicked off with a panel of Best First Novel Nominees. The panelists may be ‘firsts’ but they had a wealth of knowledge to share.  Jordan Harper (She Rides Shotgun), Deborah E. Kennedy (Tornado Weather), Winnie M. Li (Dark Chapter) and Melissa Scrivner Love (Lola) discussed how they got their start, what inspired the creation of their protagonist, how their own history played into their work, and their path to publication.  It was a fantastic panel but there were a few overarching takeaways. – Don’t be afraid of the dramatic changes to the manuscript (both Harper and Love rewrote their manuscript from an entirely different character’s point of view).– Writing is based in place, but the place doesn’t have to be exotic (Kennedy makes the point that digging deep into a place you know well can be as rewarding and rich as drawing from wide travels).– Experience, and therefore character, may come from explicit personal experience (as with Li’s fictional account of violence in her own life) or from taking one element of common experience to place yourself in the head of a character (how Harper explains his ability to write from the point of view of a pre-teen girl. Anxiety was their common characteristic).– Last but not least, the path to publication was not necessarily easy. Perseverance was the final word, whether it is about writing the manuscript or finding a publisher.  Looking forward to the remainder of the panels…. and if you haven’t read these Best First Nominees, then you should head straight to the bookstore  

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