The 2009 Crimebake was my fourth, and it keeps the streak alive. There has never been a clunker among the presentations. The Crimebake’s reputation is getting around, and this conference was sold out. That made meals a little unwieldy, but such is the price of success.
I got the most out of two sessions. The first was by Hallie Ephron, who spoke about revising and rewriting a novel. She said that most authors finish a draft and plunge right into line editing, which should be the last step. She gave us some technique for looking first at the big picture. I can’t wait to start using what she called “leapfrog” reading, which involves skipping through the book and reading only one aspect of it, such as a particular character, the settings, or subplots. Whatever it is, decide whether it works, whether there’s too much of it, not enough, or whether the book works better without it.
Retired Boston detective John O’Shea spoke about handguns. After hearing his presentation, I feel less likely to make an embarrassing mistake, such as having a ballistics expert identify a bullet fired by a Glock semiautomatic, which does not have a rifled barrel like that of other handguns.(Markings on the cartridge casings are of more use.)
I often take home a one-line theme from these conferences. This year it came from Michael Palmer, who said, “Nobody succeeds in this business without help.”
The award for The Remark Most Likely To Lead A Desperate Writer Astray goes to cardiac surgeon and first-time novelist John Elefteriades, who told us that he connected with his agents “by operating on their relatives.”
Don’t try this at home.