From the Booking Desk:
This past Monday was the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. Organized by Mystery Lovers Bookshop, this was the 18th year of the Festival and by all accounts, it was another unqualified success.
A few months back, I was both honored and ecstatic to be asked by Laurie Stephens, the owner of Mystery Lovers Bookshop, to lend my time to the Festival as an author interviewer during the live event. So, after this year’s Malice Domestic conference in Bethesda, Maryland, I set off for my journey to Oakmont.
The doors to the Festival opened at 4pm on Monday night. Hundreds of readers stormed the room where over 40 authors were seated ready to sign thousands of books. After about an hour, the interview program started.
I was assigned to interview five authors:
The first of those was Ann Cleeves who traveled in from the UK. For the first time, one of her Vera Stanhope books is being published over here in the states. Silent Voices was just released this week. So we covered that, as well as making mention of the Shetland Quartet and the new fifth book (Dead Water) set on the islands, which Ann says is really Book 1 of a second Shetland Quartet. Readers rejoice!
My next interview was with Sara J. Henry, who talked about her Troy Chance series. The first book, Learning to Swim, won multiple awards and the new book, A Cold and Lonely Place, will hopefully follow that trend. We chatted about the dual setting of her novels since there are parts of each that take place in both the US and Canada. (Be sure to check out the BOLOBooks interview with Sara for more great details about her writing.)
Next up for me was Tammy Kaehler. Tammy writes a series for the Poisoned Pen Press about a female race-car driver turned amateur sleuth. The first and second books in the series are Dead Man’s Switch and Braking Points respectively. We discussed both the pros and cons of being female in relation to how that affected her ability to solve a mystery set in a mainly male-dominated sport.
Julie Kramer was up next. We discussed the main misconception that audience members have about television news (note: it involves how much rivalry there is within a TV station, not just between TV stations.) Since her main character, Riley Spartz, is an investigative reporter, there are lots of insider secrets in her books. She also brought an Amish doll with her – the kind with no face drawn on it. This type of doll figures into the mystery in her latest title, Shunning Sarah.
My final interview assignment was with Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, who together write a Botswana-set mystery series under the name Michael Stanley. The three of us discussed their main character, Detective Kubu, and the new female detective that joins his team in the latest book, Deadly Harvest. We also discussed the topic of muti, which figures into the new novel. (For more on Deadly Harvest, check out the BOLOBooks Review of the novel.)
Each of the other 40+ authors was also interviewed on stage by other participates in the event. I have no doubt that every member of the audience left that night with at least one new author they were interested in reading. In most cases, I suspect that they probably already purchased that book during the Festival.
This event is all about the joy of reading. It was so refreshing to be surrounded by folks who traveled to hear authors speak and to purchase books to consume. If you are ever in the area of Oakmont, PA during Festival time, make sure you plan to attend. The Festival of Mystery always falls on the Monday after Malice Domestic. A perfect way to usher in Spring.
For a list of the authors who participated in this year’s event, pop over to the Festival of Mystery page on the Mystery Lovers Bookshop webpage. And while you are there, order a book and help support this wonderful independent bookstore.