Annual Murder Goes South

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About Murder Goes South

Projecting the Beauty, History and Allure of the South in the Mystery Novel. The Southern mystery has come of age. With so much history, beauty and tradition, Southern writers of mystery will never be at a loss for resources. Preserving and protecting these resources through the written word enhances and enriches our lives and the lives of all generations to come.    

Southern Detours: What's Locale got to do with it? The Suspense is killing me: How do you keep the plot tight and the tension tight? The Butler did it: Southern characters with criminal intent. This is your chance to meet the mystery writers and find out. Is fiction really stranger that fact? What's your pleasure when it comes to mystery?

What thought provoking questions! This is what we want to present to the mystery reading public.

Murder Goes South had a very humble beginning as a Third Thursday program presented by the Friends of Smyrna Library in 2003. The writers at that first event were Phillip DePoy, Gwen Hunter, Walter Sorrells and Patricia Sprinkle.

These writers had never served on a panel together but the electricity that first evening was felt by everyone present. They made the southern mystery come alive discussing the settings they used, the characters that we all knew and the language that is so special to the South. The attendance at the event was overwhelming, it filled the room to capacity.

The planning group knew they had a good idea; something that was of interest to many. The Friends of Smyrna Library board gave the go ahead to give full support for Murder Goes South.

So officially began Murder Goes South a festival of readers and writers of the southern mystery. What better time to have a mystery festival than in the dead of winter in the south where the weather is always a mystery.

In 2004 the committee applied to the Georgia Humanities Council for a grant to help support the event and received a generous $2,300 grant. The Community Center of Smyrna provided a facility for the event.

Things were off and running. The four writers from the previous year were invited back plus David Fulmer, Mignon Ballard, Evelyn Coleman, Kathryn Walls and Fred Willard. There were panel discussions, book signings, and Q & A time. The energy and enthusiasm of the attendees and the writers once again made for a lively, enjoyable day. Maybe we were beginning to understand why the Southern mystery is so special.

The committee was beginning to think this could really grow into quite an event. Then came January 2005. A Friday night dinner with a featured writer was added and everyone anticipated the evening.

The Friends of Smyrna Library were actually bringing Carolyn Hart to Smyrna. Were those skeleton bones and droplets of blood on those white dinner tables? Now you must remember this event was scheduled for January in the South. Was that rain turning to sleet? At least the dinner came off but the Saturday event was postponed until March.

January, 2006 brought better weather and a good crowd to Murder Goes South. The event began with dinner with May Kay Andrews aka Kathy Trocheck. The dinner crowd was entertained by Kathy Trocheck writer of critically acclaimed mysteries, including the Callahan Garrity mystery mysteries based in Atlanta. She gave us a sketch of her writing beginnings and journey from a local news reporter to the writer of New York Times best sellers Hissy Fits and Little Bitty Lies.

The event has had some great names in southern mystery writing such as Fred Willard, Phillip DePoy, David Fulmer. Patricia Sprinkle, Walter Sorrells, Cheryl Reitzel and Cathy Pickens to name a few. The crowd has been entertained by Office Frank Durrance and Niko the canine dog from the Smyrna Police Department, Walter Sorrells and his knife demonstration and Joyce and Jim telling you everything you wanted to know about poison plants.

In recognition of our 5th year anniversary, we made 2007 the best Murder Goes South ever. We added new attractions: A writing contest, writing classes, a book signing and a wine tasting at the Wine Shoppe in the Village.

It began on Friday January 26, 2007 when our dinner speaker, South Carolina mystery writer Margaret Maron, took the podium and delivered a wonderful opening address for the event. Ms Maron was introduced by her good friend, Mary Kay Andrews, who was our 2006 guest speaker. Margaret Maron is a co-founder of Sisters in Crime and author of the Deborah Knott (Judge Knott) series, Bootleggers Daughter, Shooting at Loons, Slow Dollar, Up Jumps the Devil, Killer Market, and Rituals of the Season, just to name a few. A succulent dinner was catered by Café Michel

Our Saturday program included writers Sallie Bissell (Call the Devil by His Oldest Name, Legacy of Masks), Stephanie Bond (Body Movers) Norman Chastain (After the Game), p. m. terrell (Ricochet), Patricia Sprinkle (Death on the Family Tree), and Steven Womack (By Blood Written). The writers divided into two panels and talked about their writing, characters, and how they developed their writing styles. A question and answer segment followed each discussion.

Graphic artist and writer, Craig Faris conducted a morning writing class entitled "The Subtle Art of Suspense" for those writers in attendance. Our afternoon writing instructor was Stephanie Bond, author of Body Movers, Finding your Mojo, and In Deep Voodoo. The winner of our writing contest was Rick Thompson of Marietta.

The event rounded out with a book signing and then on to The Wine Cellars for a taste test and book signing and chat with Smyrna's own Patricia Sprinkle, dinner keynote speaker Margaret Maron and 2006 guest speaker Mary Kay Andrews.

Other guests included Marietta Police detective, Barry Mason, author of Maroon and Killswitch; and California writer, Patricia Wynn.

Participating Writers: 2003 through 2013

2003 - Inaugural Event
Phillip DePoy
Gwen Hunter
Walter Sorrells
Patricia Sprinkle

2004 - Second Event
Mignon Ballard
Evelyn Coleman
David Fulmer
Phillip DePoy
Gwen Hunter
Walter Sorrells
Patricia Sprinkle
Kathryn Wall
Fred Willard

2005 - Third Event
Featuring Carolyn Hart
Steve Brown
Beverly Connor
Carolyn Haines
Brandon Massey
Cathy Pickens
Cheryl Ritzel
E. Joan Sims
Bill Stackhouse

2006 - Fourth Event
Featuring Mary Kay Andrews
Beverly Connor
Craig Faris
Jaclyn Weldon
Cathy Pickens
Vonda Skelton
Ellis Vidler
Joyce and Jim Lavene
Walter Sorrells

2007 - Fifth Event
Featuring Margaret Maron
Sallie Bissell
Stephanie Bond
Norman Chastain
Craig Faris
Patricia Sprinkle
p.m. terrell
Steven Womack
Patricia Wynn

2008 - Sixth Event
Special Guest Speaker
Karin Slaughter
Featured Guest Speakers Jefferson Bass of the Body Farm
(Dr Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson)
Glynn Marsh Alam
Linda Berry
Nash Black
Norman Chastain
Phillip Depoy
Brandon Massey
Claire Matturro
Walter Sorrells
Mary Wilburn

2009 - Seventh Event
Jefferson Bass of the Body Farm
(Dr Bill Bass and Jon Jefferson)

John Thompson
William Rawlings
Rita Herron
Jaclyn Weldon White
Steven Moore (Forensic Technician/Photographer for the Fulton County Medical Examiner Center)

2010 - Eigth Event
Special Guest Speaker Erica Spindler
Fran Stewart
David Hunter
Carla Damron
Debby Guisti

2011 - Ninth Event
Special Guest Speaker Erica Spindler
"Georgia Adams"
Glynn Marsh Alam
Mitchell Graham
David Hunter
Lee Lofland
Cathy Pickens
William Rawlings Jr.
Literary Agent Janet Reid
Dr. Susan Kirkpatrick Smith

2013 - Tenth Event
Fran Stewart
Tony Burton
Miranda Parker
Joseph Scott Morgan
Brandon Massey
Leslie Tentler
Cheryl Ritzel
Lee Kelly
Jo Cook
Karen Kennedy
VR Barkowski

2014 - Eleventh Event
Tamar Myers, Special Guest
Debby Giusti
Deborah Malone
Pamela V Mason
Bryan Powell
Larissa Reinhart
Lane Stone
Tina Whittle
Patricia Sprinkle - Moderator
Louise B Richardson - Moderator

Murder Goes South is an intimate opportunity to listen to authors you like to read and to meet new ones you'll enjoy. The Friends of Smyrna Library know how to roll out the best in Southern hospitality. What could be more fun than spending the day talking about mysteries! Friday night with Margaret Maron is alone worth the price of admission. Then the cake is iced with a delightful and diverse group of writers. Just the treat for a January weekend."

Quotes from writers of past events

"Many thanks -- what a wonderful slate you've put together for this year!" Cathy Pickens

"Murder Goes South is the BEST combo conference for writers -- a lot of networking, fun and fans. A chance to learn from those who have done it all, and done it right." Gwen Hunter

"Wow, what a line up! Be up close and personal with all your favorite mystery writers. I wish I'd had this kind of access before I was published." Evelyn Coleman

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