Bouchercon 2014: Murder at the Beach kicks off November 13th in Long Beach, California. Bouchercon is one of the world’s largest crime fiction conventions. Dana Edwin Isaacson, Senior Editor at Alibi, shares what he his most looking forward to at Bouchercon.
Dana Edwin Isaacson: During the e-publishing forum on Thursday, our Alibi authors are doing a virtual eBook signing, using our partner Autography. Interested mystery readers can meet our authors at the signings, get a personal inscription or photograph with the author, and then go and download their personalized eBook. As I’ve yet to see this incredibly cool innovation in action, I’m eager to get my own personalized eBooks!
I’m also excited to be meeting in person for the first time a few of our Alibi authors. When editing a novel, you develop an intimate relationship with the author’s viewpoint. It’s fascinating to meet in person someone whom you feel you already know.
JU: What new trends do you see in the mystery and thriller genres?
DEI: Cozies are selling well. In online strategies, novels with a female protagonist find it easier to win readers. Also, there seems to be an uptick of medical thrillers.
JU: What advice would you give to writers interested in publishing their mystery or thriller books?
DEI: Never give up. To get feedback, join a writers group or an online writers group like Book Country. Listen to that feedback, positive and negative. Never give up.
JU: What special quality do you look for in new submissions?
DEI: Whether or not a novel is in first person, a viewpoint is expressed beginning on the first page. An authorial voice with a unique viewpoint (witty, perhaps contrarian, certainly intelligent) will immediately grab my attention. When I began reading the submission MRS. KAPLAN AND THE MATZOH BALL OF DEATH by Mark Reutlinger, there was no doubt in my mind I would thoroughly enjoy passing the time among these complex, intelligent characters. “So every year just before Pesach, we have a little contest here at the Home. As you might have guessed, Mrs. K almost always wins this contest—she is a real matzoh ball maven–and it is therefore her matzoh ball soup that usually is served at the Home on Pesach. This year was no exception, and Mrs. K again had the good fortune to be the winner. As you will see, however, the devil should have such good fortune.” – Good stuff, right? Author Mark Reutlinger quickly engages me with the character’s voice, but also sneaks in lots of questions. Switching gears to another Alibi novel publishing next May, the author of L.A. ROTTEN, Jeff Klima, begins this way: “I can tell exactly how he died just by looking at the splatter.” Who could resist finding out more about this character?
JU: Tension plays an important role in mystery and thriller books. What advice would you give to writers working on that aspect of their book?
DEI: There’s a balancing act between telling too much and too little. You do not want to baffle your reader with the story but do want to engage them so their brain is thoroughly at work, trying to figure it out (what happened before, what will happen next). It’s rewarding for readers to develop their own viewpoint on a plot, and then later discover whether they’re been proven right or wrong — both outcomes can be immensely satisfying. Being strategic with information is a tool to build suspense. A fun mystery can be a cat and mouse game, with the author the manipulative cat and the reader a very happily manipulated mouse.