Thursday, February 19, 2009

Meeting Writing Heros by Vivian Zabel

Saturday I meet another one of my mystery/suspense/thriller writing heroes --

I heard that. So you don't think us old fogies should have or do have heroes, huh? Well, young whipper snapper let me tell you a thing or three: Just because we have lived long enough to be considered experts or leaders or even folks who have outlived everyone else, we still have people we admire and dream of being when we grow up.

Since I love reading mysteries, of course many of my writing heroes are mystery authors. Many of my favorites I'll never be able to meet, either because they're gone or because they live too far away and may never cross my path.

However, through my attending book festivals and conferences and going to local book signings, I've met several whose books are in my book shelves -- now some with autographs.

I attended the Red Dirt Book Festival nearly six years ago, the first one held. The featured speaker was Tony Hillerman. I not only attended all of his sessions, I was able to visit with him outside of the structured events. What a delightful man. His mysteries fascinated me because he wove the suspense into his knowledge of the Navajo culture. He autographed two of his books, but the autograph in his autobiography was personal and touching. I'll miss Tony Hillerman; Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee can be found again in the books that Tony left behind.

I first met Marcia Preston through her writing magazine ByLine Magazine, and then through OWFI (Oklahoma Writers' Federation). Her award winning books are not the gritty, hard-nosed mysteries found so often any more, but each book with a mystery winding through the chapters are well-written and interesting. I only have one of her autographed books, though, one that won the Oklahoma Book Award a few years ago. I noticed her recent book is one of the finalists for this year's honor.

Carolyn Hart appeared at a local bookstore, and I nearly beat her there. I like her two series I've read, the Books on Demand series and the Henry O one. I've ordered the first of her new series and will let everyone know how I like it. Anyway, back to the book signing, Carolyn was kind enough to visit with me. I also went home with three autographed books.

With her encouragement, I put my fears aside and wrote Midnight Hours, which by the way placed 10th in the Mystery Preditors & Editors Readers Poll category, and 4th in the mainstream category.

I don't remember when I first met William Bernhardt, but we've attended several of the same functions over the years. I would like to attend his writing workshop in Tulsa, Oklahoma some day, but we'll have to see if that works. Bill's characters may be flawed, but they still manage to survive and solve. I think that's true of real people, too.

J. A. Jance, the keynote speaker at the OWFI writing conference last year, is a delightful person, and very interesting. She answered questions for the interview with her with thoughtful answers. When I asked how many books I could bring to the conference for her to sign, she answered, "All of them, if you're willing to wait until the end of the line so we don't keep people waiting." I didn't take all her books I own, but I took a few of my favorites and bought two new titles there.

Also at the conference last year, I finally met CJ Lyons. We had visited on line for some time, but we met face to face there. In fact she sat at our table for both banquets. She's a good writer and an excellent conversationalist. I'm reading her second medical thriller now.

Through the OWFI Yahoo group, I "met" Jordan Dane. We met in person at the Edmond Authors Book Festival in January. She came to the writing group's (Pen and Keyboard Writers) meeting Saturday and spoke. Now her books are gritty. Her protagonists are tough women, even though they all have issues. I have copies of two of her first three books. She will be interviewed by me before long.

This May, I'll meet Tess Gerritsen, who I hear is one of the top current mystery writers. I'm reading one of her books, so I'll see if she becomes one of my writing heroes or not.

Maybe some day someone can say Vivian Zabel is his or her hero, but even if that never happens, I'll keep on writing my books because of the influence of authors such as Tony Hillerman, Marcia Preston, Carolyn Hart, Bill Bernhardt, J.A. Jance, CJ Lyons, and Jordan Dane.

Who are your mystery writing heroes?

Vivian Zabel
Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap
Vivian's Mysteries


CJ Lyons said...

Wow, Vivian, I'm honored to be included among such wonderful authors!!! Thank you!

You'll love Tess, she's a sweetheart!!!

Mark Troy said...

One of the best evenings in my experience was meeting James Crumley in a bar at Conmisterio and spending about two hours with him.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I enjoyed interviewing and visiting with Pulitzer winner A. B. Guthrie, Jr. and Louis L'Amour at their homes as well as Elmore Leonard, Janet Dailey, Fred Grove, Richard S. Wheeler, Dee Brown and Loren Estleman, among many others. All wonderful people!

Vivian Zabel said...

I feel the world is a better place for all our writing heroes.

Ah, CJ, you're well on your way to be one of the top writers for the ages.

By the way, I'm reading a book by Tess Gerritsen, and she's a good writer for sure.

Jordan Dane said...

Hey Vivian--Wow...Thanks for including me on your list of writing heroes. I can be such a klutzzzz, I hope I don't fall off the pedestal. A strong Oklahoma breeze can do that.

And I'm glad you are reading Tess. She's got a great blog too--full of timely publishing information on the industry. She's brutally honest.

Happy writing, V. I'm looking forward to our interview and to seeing you at the OWFI conference this year.

Vivian Zabel said...

Hey, Jordan, I realize all heroes have feet of clay, so I don't expect perfection, even in writing. *laugh*

I'll have to see if I can find Tess' blog. I'm enjoying her book.