Or as somebody said ‘penguin porn?’
For the last Writing Show this year, JRW pulled out an autumnal homage to the celebration of Poe. (No, I don’t think he had anything to do with penguins or penguin porn.) Okay, so not really about Poe, more of a sort-of-nod to the thought that some think Poe created the beginnings of modern mysteries. But it was about writing modern mysteries. So close enough. (yeah, you’re just waiting for that first part now aren’t you?)
JRWs own Board Member and Secretary Emyl Jenkins moderated. She of antique sleuthing mystery fame, with two great books under her belt now, had spent the early part of the day speaking in Williamsburg to an appreciative crowd and then another two hours signing her latest book, The Big Steal, for them! Luckily she has stamina and was able to hold the microphone and bring out a fun informative ending to this last Writing show of 2009. [Be sure to keep an eye on the JRW site, www.jamesriverwriters.org/ for the new Writing Shows in 2010.]
The night of mystery included some new faces to JRW, or at least to me and some. Meredith Cole and Andy Straka were both fun and funny. As well as Donna Andrews, not a new face to JRW, having just been at the recent JRW Conference, as well as the first one, but she’s certainly smart and willing to share her knowledge to other writers.
The discussion ranged from the different sub-genres that comprise the mystery writing field today to the latest fads and how to avoid following them. And to not consider self-publishing with a mystery genre book unless you are willing to spend quite the amount of money to make it a success. And even then to reconsider.
The ooh factor of the evening came from Andy bringing out his wonderful hawk. Yep, real live, and gorgeous. Nope I am not even going to tell you the hawk’s name. I will tell you it’s a Harrier Hawk. And let you conjecture from there. (and yes, I know you’re still waiting. No, I don’t think the hawk had anything to do with the penguins. Although Andy did joke that he and Donna had both taken P.I. courses and had discussed opening an agency called Flamingos and Hawk. Get their books and you'll get it.)
The gross of the evening was the question from audience member about said hawk’s diet when Andy couldn’t take it out hunting. Yes, he takes it out to do its own hunting for food. Normally. Luckily he’d already fed it. At least it didn’t seem to be all that interested in a room full of staring oohing writers. And we didn’t have to have the rest of the gory details. Blechhhh. I’ll just say Emyl mentioned to Andy she had an old microwave in her basement if he wanted to truck it back with him.
There was quite a bit of laughter during the evening, quite a funny panel for it to be so filled with the dastardly thoughts of mystery writing and doing away with people and the ways and means of making that all plausible. Does any other writing genre – other than horror maybe? – have people looking at them a bit strangely and then begin edging slowly away?
Although the most laughter came when Donna gave a requested reading – of a penguin sex scene. Donna Andrews is noted for her humorous mysteries. She has actually written two different mystery series but has the most books [10? 11, now?] in her very popular Meg Langslow mysteries. For those that haven’t read them, you should. They are funny. And when Emyl turned to Donna and asked her to read the penguin sex scene she had written (and said she’d actually witnessed!) in one of her books, well, let’s just say things must have gotten really quiet because Emyl turned back around and said, “you all’s eyes are just bugging” …and of course it was said as only Southern-lady Emyl would say it. [yeah, see what all you missed by not coming!]
You can read it yourself in Donna’s book, The Penguin Who Knew Too Much
And it is one of my favorite books of Donna’s. So far anyway. Certainly has one of my favorite first paragraphs! You’ll just have to go buy it and see for yourself.
Won’t be the same as having Donna read it, with Emyl prodding, but that’s what you get for not getting out and joining the rest of us for the great evening.
Makes you remember favorite writers like Emyl Jenkins and Donna Andrews, and meet new ones you want to read now like Meredith Cole and Andy Straka.
And maybe have your own harrier hawk someday or write a penguin sex scene of your own, and make it as funny as Donna’s. Oh, come on, I Know you want to! And NaNoWriMo is just around the corner you know! So you can!
But if you aren’t interested in writing one at least pick up the great books by the above mentioned authors from your local independent bookstore, in this case, from cool Kelly Justice of Fountain Bookstore fame. Then come and tell us all what you got from her.