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Authors Alley at Malice

By Sherry Harris

Barb Goffman, Malice Domestic Program Chair, visits us today to talk about the Authors Alleys at Malice. Barb is the author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Even, a Macavity Award winner and nominated again (twice!) this year for the Agatha Award for best mystery short story published in 2013. Her nominated stories are “Evil Little Girl” and “Nightmare“.

Barb, I was so happy to see that the Authors Alley were brought back last year. What made you bring them back?

The Malice Domestic board doesn’t guarantee registered authors a spot in the program, but in practice, at least over the past several years, we’ve prided ourselves on finding a spot for every eligible author who registers before the panel assignments are made. In the past couple of years, meeting that goal had become difficult as more and more authors registered. By resurrecting Authors Alley, we could make room for about 25 more authors in the program.

What is your vision for the Authors Alleys?

Barbara Ross at Authors Alley 2013.

In Authors Alley, authors have an audience devoted to them for fifteen minutes, rather than having to share the spotlight on a panel with three other authors. The Authors Alley sessions begin on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and run through 12:15 p.m. on Sunday. These sessions allow authors the chance to whet readers’ appetites for their characters or setting or voice. It’s the time to help the readers decide they need more of the author and his or her fabulous plots. I encourage authors to try to think of unique ways to make themselves and their books stand out in Authors Alley so after their session, readers will go to the Dealers Room and buy their books.

Why should people attend the Authors Alleys?

Readers come to Malice to meet their favorite authors, as well as to learn about new authors and books they might like. But getting one-on-one time with an author can be difficult. Should you corner Earlene Fowler in the bathroom and tell her you love her? Or Parnell Hall in the elevator? You might get a few seconds to chat with your favorite author that way (though I recommend letting people use the bathroom in peace), but if you attend an Authors Alley session, you’ll get to listen to, and chat with, authors for fifteen minutes — with no bathroom door blocking your way. It’s a win-win for the author and the reader. (And yes, you’ll find Earlene and Parnell in Authors Alley this year.)

What are some of the authors planning to do this year in Authors Alley?

We have lots of fun things scheduled. Kathryn Leigh Scott of Dark Shadows fame plans to talk about her transition from actress to author. Lisa Fernow will discuss her tango mystery and share what it’s really like to dance the tango in Buenos Aires. Rochelle Staab will talk about adventures in researching the supernatural and maybe do some one-card Tarot readings. John Billheimer will address the rationale and roadblocks in starting a new series. Liz Lipperman will discuss why she’s naughty and nice. And Parnell Hall will, in his own words, “whine about his sales figures and beg people to buy his books.” You don’t want to miss out on these — and all the other — Authors Alley sessions. What are all the Authors Alley authors planning? You can read about them right here: Click on the link and scroll to the bottom of the page.

If any readers attended one or more Authors Alley sessions last year, I’d love it if you’d comment on what you most enjoyed about them. And maybe we can encourage some of this year’s Authors Alley participants to join in the conversation, too. In the meanwhile, I’m looking forward to seeing folks at Malice Domestic next week. Bethesda or bust!

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