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Annual mystery festival goes virtual

The Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival is making its comeback in an untraditional format.

The Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival will make a virtual return from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 6. This event will appeal to all readers and aspiring writers as 40 authors in mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, historical, romance and women’s fiction will share wisdom through a panel and interviews.

This event was initially scheduled for August of 2020, but with the pandemic, the festival was moved to March in hopes of an in-person event. Unfortunately, the pandemic’s conditions have not improved as quickly as everyone hoped, so the event is now ready for its virtual debut.

“This event is one of our most popular, and regular fans were really disappointed when we had to move away from the original date, then to the new date, and then to the virtual format,” said Kathleen Kelley, tourism development specialist and festival coordinator with Suffolk Tourism. “But we have loyal patrons, and they have really embraced the new format. We’re extremely excited to offer them a full day of really exciting and fun content with some really excellent authors.”

During the live portions of the event, select authors will take part in moderated panel discussions with topics including:

  • Humor Has It: Keeping the Fun in Mystery
  • Somewhere in Crime: Global Mysteries
  • Food For Thought: Culinary Mysteries
  • Small Street: Little Towns With Big Crime
  • P.S. I Love You: Writing Romance
  • Ministry of Suspense: Finding the Right Balance in Fiction
  • Publishing Changes: The Past, Present, and Future . . . All in an Hour!
  • A Step Back in Time: Historical Mysteries
  • Prime Detective: The Private Eye’s World
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Writing Strong Women

Prerecorded portions include interviews and conversations with Catriona McPherson interviewed by Kellye Garrett; Alan Orloff and Art Taylor; Diane Kelly and Melissa Bourbon; and Tara Laskowski interviewed by E.A. Aymar. Visit the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival website for a complete schedule and list of authors.

The event will premier live and be available on the YouTube Channel after April 15 for those who could not attend. The event is free, but registration is required.

“Registration opened on Wednesday [Feb. 10] and we already have 260 registered,” said Kelley. “Registration will remain open throughout the event for those that want to slide in at the last minute. Our normal physical attendance hovers around 400-500, so we’re hoping we’ll meet that and possibly exceed it with this new, easy format.”

To register, visit suffolkmysteryauthorsfestival.com to fill out the short form to receive access to the festival. A link will be sent to all registered attendees a few days before the festival, and the pre-recorded content will become available from 8 a.m. on March 5 until 8 p.m. on March 8. The live panels will be conducted via Zoom and hosted on the ExpoPass platform.

“Our plans are to return the in-person format just as soon as it’s safe to do so — we have tentatively set the 2022 festival for March 5, 2022,” said Kelley.

To learn more, visit SuffolkMysteryAuthorsFestival.com, on Facebook @SuffolkMysteryAuthorsFestival or contact Suffolk Tourism at 514-4130 or VisitSuffolk@suffolkva.us.