Tomorrow, Homewood library hosts the 2008 mystery fan conference menacingly monikered Murder in the Magic City. The door open at 9am and runs through 4pm. The cost is $45 and includes lunch (for those with reservations), drinks, snacks and a “goody bag”. Because of limited seating they have been encouraging reservations, but I am told a few walk-up seats are still available.
The all day event includes a panel discussion, a special session with award-winning author Donna Andrews and book signings. What’s cool is that fans can bring their own books from home to have signed by the authors present (a complete list of which is here). This is something that is really unique and fun, even for organizer Margaret Fenton.
“We encourage it,” says Fenton. “I’m a collector myself, and there’s little that makes me drool more than a signed first edition. Except maybe dark chocolate truffles.”
The conference pulls authors and panel topics from…
all over the mystery and crime genres. From hard-boiled to cozy, they do their best to cover the gamut of genres and sub-genres during the day long event.
“Whether you like something a little gritty, what we would call “hard-boiled”, or a “cozy” (think Lilian Jackson Braun and her cat mysteries), almost everyone can find something matching their taste,” says Fenton. “People like the puzzle inherent in a mystery, too, and the sense of justice a satisfying ending provides. Readers of mysteries come to view the characters as friends, which is why mystery series are so popular. And visiting with authors at conferences like Murder in the Magic City is like visiting those old friends. The fans, and the authors, love it.”
Fenton says that it’s that love for all things mystery that really helps each event grow and makes the day a good one for attendees.
“It’s amazing how ready and willing the authors are to come out and meet fans,” she says. “Some fans have said that they are shy about talking to authors, but don’t be! They love being here and meeting readers and signing books. ”
The event is sponsored by the local chapter of Sisters in Crime (founded by some well-known writers such as Sata Paretski and Sue Grafton, some 20+ years ago) which is aptly named Southern Sisters, a reference to founder Anne George’s characters by the same name.
The Southern Sisters, Sisters in Crime meet every third Thursday of the month at Jonathon Benton Bookseller. The group is open to males and females and even offers two small mystery writers’ groups for those interested in a critique group.