Mysteries take center stage this Saturday

Published 9:04 pm Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Big names are headlining the fifth annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival, which will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. this Saturday at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave.

The festival typically brings hundreds of readers each year to meet some of their favorite authors of suspense, romance and the paranormal, and this year’s festivities kick off with Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner.

Harris has been writing mysteries for 30 years and is best known for writing the Southern Vampire Mysteries, which was adapted for the popular television series “True Blood” that ran for seven seasons on HBO. Kelner is a fellow award-winning author of three mystery series and also edited seven urban fantasy anthologies with Harris.

“A friend of a friend put us in touch with Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner,” said Kathleen Kelley, a tourism development specialist with the Suffolk Division of Tourism. “It was sort of one of those serendipitous things.”

Harris and Kelner will be available for a private meet and greet with VIP ticket holders from noon to 1 p.m. before their opening remarks begin at 1, when author Art Taylor will interview the two of them about their storied careers.

According to Kelley, 39 authors have confirmed that they will attend this year’s festival. Author Lynn Cahoon, who was originally on the list, will not be able to attend, but patrons will still be able to purchase a copy of her book. Authors will be signing and selling copies as they chat with their fans from 2 to 6 p.m.

Authors will also be leading workshops and moderating panel discussions. Christine Trent, for example, will hold “An Hour with Florence Nightingale” in all of her historically-accurate glory.

“She appears in full regalia and does her whole presentation in Florence Nightingale garb,” Kelley said. “I’m very curious to see how this all takes place. We’ve heard great reviews, and Christine is a really fun person.”

Aspiring writers will find plenty to sink their teeth into with workshops like “From Novice to Novelist: How to Write a Novel” and panels such as “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: Crafting a Successful Thriller.” Another panel on the docket is called “My Job’s Trying to Kill Me: How a Sleuth’s Profession Impacts the Story.”

“We’ve got a little bit of something for everybody,” Kelley said.

VIP tickets are $20 each, with only about a half-dozen left as of Tuesday, according to Kelley. Admission is otherwise free, and there will also be light refreshments. Visit suffolkmysteryauthorsfestival.com or search for the “5th Annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival” on Facebook for more information.