I have been asked to moderate a panel for the New England Crime Bake. The title of the session is Sleepless in New England: Using local setting for its most chilling effect. Panelists include Charles Atkins, Kaitlyn Dunnett, Amy Patricia Meade, and Kieran Shields. I have downloaded the most recent book of everyone on the panel, and plan on writing to all of them and introducing myself. And then I will do my real homework. I need to figure out how to best use the 50 minutes.
I know that authors go to conferences to help sell books. And I know that the programmers of Crime Bake had to take a very challenging puzzle and create panels. I also know that by 3pm on Saturday, folks are flagging. Agent pitches are next, and then the banquet. If there is a section to skip, let’s face it, this slot is the one. In addition, Sharon Daynard is doing a short story panel at the same time, so my audience has a choice.
So, how do I make this a panel to remember? I could feed the authors questions based on their books, which could be great. Or I could try and embrace the theme, and start a discussion about setting. My third option? Ask for your advice. Most people have seen a panel of some sort. What works for you? What are the traps? Should I stick to setting questions, or focus on the authors? Would writer’s process about setting be interesting?
I am thrilled to be moderating this panel, and enjoy “having” to read the books. Just hoping for homework inspiration.
J.A. Hennrikus is the ED of StageSource. Her story “The Pendulum Swings Until It Doesn’t” will be published in Level Best Books’ Blood Moon this fall. Her website is jahennrikus.com, and she tweets under @JulieHennrikus