I leave Thursday morning for the Writer’s Police Academy. I’m more than a little excited … I’ve been wanting to attend for the last few years, really since it began, but couldn’t make it fit into my schedule. This time they asked me to speak and I blocked off the week so I wouldn’t schedule anything. I’ll be missing my Anniversary, but it won’t be the first time … I’ll make it up to Dan when I get home. Two years ago I missed it because I was speaking to the New Zealand Romance Writers … and yeah, no way was I going to miss a trip to New Zealand!
Appleton, Wisconsin isn’t Wellington, New Zealand, but I suspect I’ll have a blast. Not only because I get to participate in the same workshops as the other attending writers, but also because the keynote speaker is Karin Slaughter, who writes amazing thrillers. (Trust me, I was tickled pink that I was asked to speak at the same conference as Karin. She’s not only a great writer, but a philanthropist, winning the Silver Bullet Award from International Thriller Writers a few years back.)
This trip is also very practical … I write crime thrillers, I get to pick the brains of crime experts. The full schedule of events is here, but below are some of the highlights that I’m particularly looking forward to:
3D Crime Scene Mapping – The future of CSI is real and in use today! ~ Dr. Joe LeFevre – Hotel
Espionage, Cons and the Anatomy of Betrayal ~ NYPD Detective Marco Conelli
Kids Who Kill and Why ~ Dr. Katherine Ramsland
Interview and Interrogation ~ Lt. David Swords
The Mindset of Cops ~ Secret Service Special Agent Mike Roche
The CSI Effect: Real vs. Reel ~ Mike Black
How to “Get It Right” – The benefits of research and how to make them work for the writer. ~ Allison Brennan – Hotel Salons C and D
Oh, wait … that last one is mine!
I’m speaking about research … and at this particular conference where everyone comes to research, it’s particularly interesting for me. Why? Because I’m not an expert on anything. I have made mistakes in my books (gasp!) and I’ve been criticized for some situations while praised for others. In fact, I have been praised and criticized for the exact same detail from different cops! My goal is to leave every writer in the room with the following:
1) We are not experts. We’re not writing true crime. We’re writing fiction, and our primary goal is to entertain.
2) We should make every effort to be accurate in our stories, but we should never let our research show on the page. Less is more.
3) You can’t please all the people all the time — but don’t make yourself an easy target. Do the research — put in the time, understand what you write, and bend the rules when you need to if it serves the story.
I have lots of stories to shares … mistakes I’ve made and mistakes others have made … and my quest to be as accurate as possible while still telling an good story. Because let’s face it … no one wants to read about DNA tests that take 6 months, cops doing paperwork, or staff meetings. So we take some liberties … but I hope the liberties we take are within the realm of plausibility.
THANK YOU to all my readers who helped put BEST LAID PLANS at #35 on the USA Today Bestseller list! If you haven’t read it yet, why not? Ha ha … check it out on my website. NO GOOD DEED, the next book in the Lucy Kincaid series, will be out on November 3. I’m working on the page proofs now …
OH! And come back tomorrow because I have a terrific interview with a debut mystery author. You don’t want to miss it!