Killer Nashville

I’d been to two conferences this year and wasn’t about to attend another. Then this happened. Since I last attended, Killer Nashville has moved from Nashville proper to a hotel in an industrial park in nearby Franklin. No pedal pubs hooting by on the street! No sneaking out to hear music! I also found this new hotel/motel disconcerting with elevators where you’re on display like a bug. No fluffing your hair or wriggling in your dress to prepare for a grand entrance.

Don’t look down!

Even though the outside temperatures weren’t bad for the end of August, the conference rooms were cold enough to chill wine. Fortunately, when packing, I had heeded my friend Mary Feliz’s sage comment that there’s only one temperature at conferences. Hotel temperature. Still, I could have used warmer clothes!

Enough whining. I finally met face-to-face two authors I’ve worked with and known for years, Paula Benson and Maggie Toussaint. Because of them and the Sisters in Crime Guppies Chapter, I immediately found my tribe.

The Guppies table at Friday lunch. Out-going president Debra Goldstein was there, as well as three Silver Falchion winners: Maggie Toussaint (front left), who won in Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror; Carmen Amato (out of frame), who won in Short Stories; and Bradley Harper, who won for Mystery. Of course, the table also included moi, a Claymore finalist, and the young woman in red who solved KN’s staged crime scene.

Bradley Harper, the gentleman at our table, not only won the Silver Falchion for best mystery, but also co-hosted my favorite panel, How Autopsies Really Work. The presentation was full of grist such as surgeons often sign bullets they remove (as part of the chain of custody). In Germany, Medical Examiners don’t use the Y incision but rather a straight line because there are no open casket funerals in Germany.  

A highlight at Killer Nashville is the staged crime scene. Attendees get to act as CSI and try to solve what happened. I didn’t win, but the killer was in my top two suspects. 🙂

The crime scene covered the entire hotel suite and was quite complex. To grasp the crime, one also had to listen to many taped interviews.

Because this was my second time as a Claymore finalist and my second time at the conference, Clay Stafford, the founder, assigned me plenty to do: three panels, many signing slots, and a position as presenter at the Awards Banquet. But the stars of Killer Nashville were, of course, Joyce Carol Oates, Alexandra Ivy, and David Morrell. If you’ve never seen Joyce Carol Oates, she’s a wren-like woman with a great deal of self-possession. Because I was the first presenter, I was able to sit in Clay Stafford’s banquet chair for a bit and rub shoulders with greatness, the three stars all lined up at my side. But my favorite star experience happened during one of my many forays outside to warm up and to breathe some real air. On the weekend, the industrial park was completely deserted. I was the single sole walking about. That is, until Joyce Carol Oates came walking toward me. I figured she was out there for some peace, so we passed wordlessly. It was enough to catch her fleeting aura.  

How about you? Have you ever had occasion to attend a conference? Which are your favorites and why? Any Joyce Carol Oates experiences?

Posted by Vinnie Hansen. Vinnie fled the howling winds of South Dakota and headed for the California coast the day after high school graduation. Still sane(ish) after 27 years of teaching English, Vinnie is retired. In addition to writing, she plays keyboards with ukulele bands in Santa Cruz, California, where she lives with her husband and the requisite cat. She’s the author of the Carol Sabala Mystery series, and LOSTART STREET, a cross-genre novel of mystery, murder, and moonbeams. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of publications and anthologies, with four publications this year. Her latest is a caper story in the Sisters in Crime Guppies’ anthology, Fishy Business. Who are the Guppies? We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun. Please sign up via email (upper right sidebar) to follow us, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

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  • Reply
    Shannon Esposito
    September 10, 2019 at 10:34 am

    This sounds like such a blast! And how amazing that you got to be so involved. I wouldn’t have had the nerve to talk to Joyce Carol Oates. In fact, I may have automatically bowed as she passed lol. Going to writing conferences is one of the big things I miss since dealing with health issues. This one is definitely on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    September 10, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Yes, definitely an easier one for you to attend than for me to attend. It’s also relatively small, which I like. It’s a little on the pricey side, though, in my opinion.

  • Reply
    Maggie Toussaint
    September 11, 2019 at 8:27 am

    Vinnie, It was awesome to finally meet you in person. I’m so glad you were there this year! It was a grand experience for me too, and I’m not just talking about winning an award, which surprised me. I hear you about hotel temperatures. I try to dress in seasonal colors but underneath that I have on layers as if its nuclear winter. Anyway, I hope we cross paths again in person.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    I’m sorry I missed that one – it sounds like a blast!!!

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    September 11, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Maggie, thanks for dropping by misterio press. Meeting you and Paula was definitely a highlight of KN for me.

  • Reply
    September 11, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    Vinnie, meeting you was a highlight for me. Seems like we’ve known each other forever on the internet, but getting to meet in person was very special. Thanks for all the time we spent together and many congratulations on all your achievements! So proud to know you!

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    September 11, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Aw, shucks, Paula. Thank you so much for dropping by misterio. I hope our paths cross again.

  • Reply
    Kassandra Lamb
    September 16, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Oh, love the staged crime scene!! I’m putting Killer Nashville on my list for next year’s conferences.

    And I hear you about hotel temperature. I liked to froze in North Carolina last month at WPA’s MurderCon.

  • Reply
    September 16, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    The room with the Autopsy Panel was the worst! Maybe they wanted us to feel like refrigerated corpses.

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