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Weekend festival for mystery fans

Fan favorites will descend on Suffolk this Saturday for the sixth annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival.

The Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival will be held on Saturday at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave. The festival will open to the public at 1 p.m. and is free to attend, with no tickets required.

This partnership between SCCA and Suffolk Tourism will feature 40 best-selling authors of mystery, suspense, paranormal, horror, romance and women’s fiction, according to the press release.

Each author will have a limited supply of their latest titles for purchase. Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own copies for the authors to sign, if they wish.

“The authors we host are friendly, approachable, and oftentimes become friends with their fans through the introduction of this festival,” Suffolk Tourism Development Specialist Katie Kelley wrote in an email.

It’s an event that caters to both avid readers and aspiring writers alike, with a slew of panels and workshops on the schedule.

Author Julie Hyzy will be the headliner for this year’s festival and will kick off the opening session during an on-stage interview.

Hyzy made her name in the “cozy mystery” book genre with her mystery series “A White House Chef” and the “Manor of Murder” mysteries, according to Kelley. Her latest release “Virtual Sabotage” dives into the thriller genre, and fans of both cozy mysteries and thrillers will want to see this interview.

“She’s a very friendly and approachable person, and I think her warmth will really charm the audience,” Kelley wrote.

Her interview will be moderated by E.A. Aymar, another featured author at the festival and “one of the funniest people out there,” Kelley wrote.

“I think their time together on the stage will be the perfect way to kick off the festival,” she wrote.

The panels on Saturday will be “Oh! The Places You’ll Go: The Importance of Setting in Mystery,” “So Much For Stereotypes: Strong Women in Fiction and Why We Love Them” and “License to Thrill: Shivery Suspense To Keep You Turning The Page.”

“Every single mystery — from cozy to paranormal to horror to thriller — has a fantastic sense of suspense,” Kelley wrote in reference to the “License to Thrill” panel. “Even the romance and women’s fiction stories have a really good sense of suspense — there has to be something to hook you in and get you to stay through to the end, and suspense is that hook.”

Aspiring writers will enjoy workshops for essential writing advice.

Featured author John DeDakis will hold the “From Novice to Novelist: How to Write a Novel” workshop, and fellow author Ellen Butler’s workshop “You Wrote Your Novel, Now What? Publishing World Options” will teach rookie writers how to get their works into the right hands.

“Ellen is new to us this year, and she is a very successful writing and marketing coach, in addition to her own writing career,” Kelley wrote. “Ellen takes you through all the steps to getting your book in front of the right eyes.”

The Sisters in Crime-Central Virginia Lethal Ladies (and Gent) will explain how to break into writing in their “Short Stories vs. Novels: Pathways to Publication” workshop, with an emphasis on short stories.

All of these activities will be held in a relaxed mystery-filled setting. While larger festivals bring in thousands of people, Kelley wrote, the roster of 40 authors on Saturday allows for more time with everyone’s favorite writers.

“We strive to make sure everyone has a great time — from the author to the attendee — and wants to come back for more next year,” Kelley wrote.

There will also be a private VIP meet and greet reception from noon to 1 p.m. Fans can mingle with their favorite authors, enjoy light refreshments and receive swag bags and souvenir tickets.

VIP Meet and Greet tickets are $20 each, and there are 13 left as of Tuesday afternoon. To reserve your VIP Meet and Greet pass, call Suffolk Tourism at 514-4130 or email VisitSuffolk@suffolkva.us.

For more information on the festival, go online to suffolkmysteryauthorsfestival.com or facebook.com/SuffolkMysteryAuthorsFestival.