Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Join the Tradition: Attend Mystery in the Midlands (Virtually), Part Two

by Paula Gail Benson

Yesterday, in my post for The Stiletto Gang, I encouraged readers and writers to attend the fourth annual Mystery in the Midlands, jointly sponsored by the Palmetto Chapter of Sisters in Crime and the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Today, I’ll provide more information about our keynote speaker and panelists. The event will be held virtually on Saturday, June 26, 2021, from 10:00 am to 2:45 pm ET, and we very much hope for a great attendance.

Our guest of honor is Dr. Kathy Reichs, who will be interviewed by Debra Goldstein. Reichs wrote the Temperance Brennan series, upon which the television show Bones is based. Dr. Reichs has used her experience teaching FBI agents and working in a Montreal lab to bring her forensic thrillers to life. She is one of only 100 forensic anthropologists to ever be certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology.

The short story panel will feature Frankie Y. Bailey, Michael Bracken, and Barb Goffman. A PhD and tenured full professor, Frankie teaches “crime” at the University at Albany (SUNY) as well as writing nonfiction and fiction (two series, one with crime historian Lizzie Stuart and the other with police detective Hannah McCabe). Michael has written over 1,300 short stories, edited nine crime fiction anthologies, and won multiple awards for copywriting, two Derringer Awards for short fiction, and the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for lifetime achievement in short mystery fiction. Barb’s short stories have been finalists for national crime-writing awards thirty-two times and she has won the Agatha, Macavity, and the Silver Falchion. Her “Dear Emily Etiquette” has been nominated as Best Short Story for an Agatha and an Anthony and won the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Award.

Our panel to discuss how American authors write British historical mysteries will be Laurie R. King, Lori Rader-Day, and Caroline Todd. Laurie has written extensively, both fiction and nonfiction, including the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, the historical Stuyvesant and Grey series, and police procedurals featuring San Francisco homicide detective  Kate Martinelli. Lori, winner of the Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark awards, is well-known for her contemporary suspense novels and looking forward to the release of Death at Greenway, a historical novel based at Agatha Christie’s home. Caroline, with her son Charles, write the Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford mysteries. Their over thirty novels have received the Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha, and Barry awards.

The final panel, on writing great suspense, will feature Yasmin Angoe, Robert Dugoni, and Alex Segura. Last year. Yasmin received Sisters in Crime’s Eleanor Taylor Bland Award, and this November, her debut novel, Her Name is Knight, will be published. Robert, critically acclaimed by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, and #1 Amazon bestselling author of the Tracy Crosswhite series, has sold more than 6 million books worldwide, including his Charles Jenkins espionage novels and David Sloane legal thrillers. Alex, the award-winning author of novels, comic books, short stories, and podcasts, has two pending Anthony nominations, one for Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall (Best Juvenile/Young Adult Novel) and another for “90 Miles” (Best Short Story).

You can register to attend or listen to the recordings from Mystery in the Midlands by clicking the following link:


The cost is $5 (to help defray our costs). Isn’t that a bargain for this stellar line-up?

I asked these authors some questions and they were kind to share their intriguing answers.

What place would you love to write about that you haven’t already written about?

Yasmin Angoe:

I would love to write about Italy and Greece. There are many places because I’ve only written about a few so far.

Frankie Y. Bailey:

Paris and Ireland. In the seventh book in my Lizzie Stuart series (currently being reissued), I want to send Lizzie and Quinn to Paris on their honeymoon and then on to Ireland (home of Quinn’s ancestors on his father’s side). I’m working on the sixth book now. I’ve been to Paris a couple of times, but never to Ireland. Of course, writing a book set in Tuscany would also be lovely. But Quinn promised to take Lizzie to Paris on their honeymoon and Ireland is an unexpected detour.

Laurie R. King:

Istanbul. I SO want to set a Russell & Holmes story in 1925 Istanbul, if ever I get the chance to travel (Research: it’s work, not pleasure!)  Gorgeous architecture, political complexity, a melting pot of cultures. And hey, I even have a Turkish publisher!

Alex Segura:

I’d love to write a world-spanning spy novel.

Caroline Todd and a bi-plane

Caroline Todd:

What place would you love to write about that you haven’t already written about? Africa! There are so many stories to tell there. But there are already too many great authors who beat us to it.

Have you ever used a real or wished-for pet as a character?

Yasmin Angoe:

Nope, but that’s an idea!

Frankie Y. Bailey:

Yes. I have a Maine Coon in The Red Queen Dies. He has a walk-on scene when the detectives visit the mansion where he lives. But he is crucial to the plot. I did some research on Maine Coons, and I was so fascinated by the size and personality of the cats that I later adopted Harry, a rescue, who was a terrific cat. We had six wonderful years together. After he died, I received a notification about Penelope, a Maine Coon female.  I drove to Danbury, CT to bring her home. We are getting to know each other, but she is a long, lean girl and very sweet. 

In that same book, my Albany police detective protagonist, Hannah McCabe, brings home a Great Dane/Labrador/who knows? puppy. The (real) University at Albany mascot is a Great Dane, and since McCabe is a UAlbany alum, I thought it would be fun to have her adopt a puppywho finally gets a name at the end of the second book, What the Fly Saw.

In my Lizzie Stuart series, her romantic partner, former homicide detective John Quinn, has a dog named George, a Labrador mix that he found on the highway and didn’t intend to keep. I love Labs. My family had one when I was a teenager. But I have a seven-month-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is better suited to my small house. Fergus is still puppy crazy, but he isas multiple strangers have told him as he dragged me over to greet them“adorable”. He and Penelope are getting along well.

Michael Bracken

Michael Bracken:

I have often used my pets as inspiration for animals in my stories, though more often in stories written in genres other than crime fiction.

Robert Dugoni:

I put my animals in my novels all the time, especially if they have passed on. It’s a way for me to keep them alive in my heart.

Barb Goffman:

In my story “Alex’s Choice,” the dog, Maxwell, was named after author Ellery Adams’s childhood dog, but he was modeled in part after my dog Scout. I wrote the story a month after Scout died, and doing so really helped with my grief. For anyone who would like to read it, the story appears in the time-travel/mystery anthology Crime Travel

Laurie R. King:

There’s a dog in one of the Kate Martinelli stories that I adopted from a friend. Or rather, there’s a real fictional dog, that one of the characters in the Martinelli story adopted from my friend Val McDermid’s character, when she—the character—had to move back to England from San Francisco.  Neither Val nor I wanted the poor (fictional) dog to face the lengthy British quarantine, so the dog stepped from Val’s Booked for Murder to my Night Work. Which all goes to answer the question, When is a dog an Easter egg?

Lori Rader-Day and Clementine

Lori Rader-Day:

No, because if you put animals into stories, terrible things often befall them. I couldn’t write a book where I was protecting the dog the entire time.

Alex Segura:

I haven’tthough I did kill my PI, Pete Fernandez’s cat, Costello (named after Elvis Costello) in the second novel in the series, Down the Darkest Street. He was a version of my own, now gone, cat David Byrne. I’ve never gotten angrier fan mail!

Caroline Todd:

After a fan won a pet’s name to be in a Rutledge book, we had to find a story where an adorable dog called Muffin could fit in with murder. Took two books to do that, but when we did, it worked a treat!

We do hope that you’ll be able to join us on Saturday, June 26, from 10:00 am to 2:45 pm ET. Again, here’s the link to register:


Won't you consider putting this event on your schedule?


  1. I've had this on my calendar for a while and just now registered for it!

  2. Registered and looking forward to Mystery in the Midlands! Thanks, Paula.

  3. What an incredible line up! I've registered and can't wait!

  4. Great line up. Thanks for the info, Paula!

  5. Just read it all again and signed up. How could I resist?

  6. Thank you all so much. I'm so glad that you've registered and will attend. I think it will be a super day for talking about mysteries and learning about craft. See you there!

  7. What an exciting event! Thanks for sharing about it, Paula!