For the past several weeks, I’ve let Dixie Hemingway lounge in her hammock with a tall, iced tea while I gear up for Malice Domestic, which takes place this year in Bethesda, Maryland, on the first weekend in May. This will be my virgin “Malice,” so I’m not sure what to expect. I’m told it is the most friendly of the mystery fiction conventions, arguably the most fun, and possibly the best opportunity for mystery fans and writers alike to rub elbows.
Well, all that sounds great. Except I’m nervous. I’ve been asked to moderate one of the feature panels: “Old Characters Never Die: Giving New Life to Another Author’s Creations,” a topic that loyal readers of this blog will immediately recognize as one that I am particularly well-suited to discuss. So why am I nervous?
Here’s who’s on the panel: Joanna Campbell Slan, Carole Nelson Douglas, Felix Francis, and Laurie R. King.
Oh, did I mention Joanna Campbell Slan is the author of several popular mystery series and numerous short stories and non-fiction books? Oh, did I mention Carole Nelson Douglas is the author of more than sixty novels and that her work has been anthologized in numerous “year’s best” anthologies? Oh, did I mention Felix Francis has successfully carried on the work of his father, Dick Francis, who penned more than forty international best-sellers? Oh, did I mention that Laurie R. King, the multiple-award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of 28 novels (and counting) is Malice Domestic’s Guest of Honor this year?
Oh, did I mention I’m nervous?
“Whatevs,” my niece would say. I’ll be fine — although I could use a little help with the topics of discussion for the panel. All these writers have in some way expanded the world and characters created by other writers. For both Carole Nelson Douglas and Laurie R. King, it’s Sherlock Holmes. For Joanna Campbell Slan, it’s Jane Eyre. For Felix Francis, it’s his father’s world of horseracing.
As a reader, I’d first like to know where they got their inspiration. As a writer, tiptoeing as I am in the awesome path of my mother’s footprints, I’d like to know how they deal with the huge expectations of their readers, and if they feel (as I do) a profound sense of responsibility to the original creator of the characters they breathe new life into.
So, what would you ask them? In the days leading up to the conference I’ll be writing about my thoughts on this particular topic, and of course I’ll write about the panel afterwards. If there’s anything you’ve ever wanted to know about these four fantastic writers, now’s your chance. In other words, comments please!
Meanwhile, I’ll be rewriting my bio… I’m adding that I am the author of more than 120 international, best-selling novels, all of which have been translated into more than 20 languages (I know because I did the translations myself). Oh, also I’m a supermodel.