by Toni L.P. Kelner
Most people tend to assume that being a mystery writer consists of sitting at my computer all day long, with the occasional trip out of town to attend conferences or sign books, and there's a lot of truth to that. But today, as I sat in the garden of soon to be published mystery author Hank Phillippi Ryan, I realized that when you decided to be a mystery writer, you're opening yourself up for a lot of unusual experiences.
For instance, the local meetings of Mystery Writers of America can be unpredictable. I've watched an arson dog at work, met a convicted murderer, and managed to avoid holding a stranger's hand. It wasn't that I was shy, just squeamish. The hand was mummified and no longer attached to a body.
Shopping has become an adventure because of the items I need for research and promotion. I've bought countless books, of course, ranging from biographies of bank robbers and psychics to a history of 16 MAGAZINE. Then there's the pair of socks for a time capsule at Kate's Mystery Books (socks and violence!), the set of wedding trolls (bride, groom, flower girl, and ring bearer) to promote WED AND BURIED, and a rubber lump of coal for MAD AS THE DICKENS.
And while I expected speaking engagements, I never quite expected to be have to explain to a class of kindergarteners how I plot a murder or show a Cape Cod television interviewer exactly what Eastern North Carolina pulled pork barbecue looks like. Once I got a nice fee for speaking at a college, and was gratified by the turnout until one of the audience members mentioned that it was a class requirement to attend at least three outside lectures.
But today, at least, was a lovely August day to be sitting with friends in a garden. Did I mention why we were there? It was a photo shoot for a calendar being put together for the New England Sisters in Crime. My group was posed around my seemingly deceased husband Steve, ready to bury him in Hank's garden.
When you're a mystery writer, the unusual is just business as usual.