Edith: I’m delighted to welcome fellow New Englander and Sister in Crime Judith Copek to the blog today. She has a new book out, Festival Madness. I have a few friends who attend the Burning Man festival in the desert every year, but I was surprised to hear that Judy and her husband Hans did, too, so I asked her to tell us about how she got there and then wrote a book about it. Take it away, Judy!
“You won’t be the oldest people there.” Thus spoke our son to convince my husband and me to attend the Burning Man Festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. He was right. I wandered around taking in the sights: the unbelievable sculptures arrayed in the desert, the art cars, fire belching (mechanical) dragons, the costumed (and occasionally buck naked) denizens on the “playa,” and the whole mind-blowing scene, including the burning of the Man and the temple. When I got back to staid, laced-up Massachusetts, it occurred to me, there has to be a book in this. We returned to the “Man” two years later, this time with a camper, supplies and an agenda. I took notes and photos. Characters from a prior novel stepped up to the plate, providing even a rudimentary plot.
Not having a deadline, it took two-plus years to write Festival Madness, and a couple more years to realize that no one was salivating to buy the story. Last summer, I decided, “Amazon Kindle, here I come”. Due to some unforeseen copyright issues, another story, I couldn’t use my favorite cover, and negotiations dragged on until January, when the Kindle and Createspace versions of Festival Madness finally debuted.
You may wonder if there is anything remotely cozy about Burning Man or my novel? Actually, yes.
Our second trip, we camped at the “Airport” next to one hundred little planes and a dirt landing strip. Sitting in front of the roaring Franklin Stove by night, and lounging in the shade of the pilot’s tent by day; even cooking (in my pajamas) for the pilots and airport volunteers in the primitive kitchen facility were friendly, laid back experiences amid the craziness of the festival and the challenging desert climate.
In Festival Madness, hanging out in the main character’s kitchen feels warm and safe, even if a murderer is out there somewhere. What could be cozier than a hearty breakfast at an Adirondack diner on an autumn morning before the exciting climax? Even a mystery with a decided edge can have scenes where the characters recharge for the next crisis, scenes that feel “cozy”.
Everyone wonders what The Burning Man Festival is like. It’s like no place you’ve ever been or even imagined. You can read Festival Madness and visit the web site, but you should really experience it. Remember, you will not be the oldest person there.
E: Thanks, Judy! What an amazing experience. Readers, have you ever been to Burning Man? Any questions for Judith? She’ll pop in and answer all day.
An information systems nerd for twenty-plus years, Judith Copek is a survivor of Dilbert-like re-engineering projects, 3:00 a.m. computer crashes and the Millennium Bug. In her writing, she likes to show technology’s humor and quirkiness along with its really scary aspects.
Occasionally Judith takes a vacation that spins off into a novel. Festival Madness arrived after multiple trips to the Burning Man Festival and years of observing high-tech hi-jinx. World of Mirrors was born when Judith and her husband visited the Baltic island of Rugen shortly after the reunification of East and West Germany
Judith is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, New England PEN, and Toastmasters International. She has published poems, short stories and memoir as well as an earlier novel, The Shadow Warriors.