I had long ago come to the conclusion that there were no unique panel discussions left. Every possible variation had been tried at mystery conventions. The only thing that separated the good ones from the bad ones was the chemistry and intelligence and humor of the panelists.
Today, I saw a convention panel I’d never seen before.
Moderator Christopher Rice had given his panelists – novelists Jan Burke, Meg Gardiner (I’m reading one of her thrillers right now; loving it) and Gregg Hurwitz – a random Associated Press wire service news clipping about an act of violence. The thing was no more than five or six paragraphs long. I wrote thousands such briefs when I was a journalist.
Then he asked them to craft a fiction story around it.
It was really interesting to see which writers brought in extra characters, which tried to switch-up the victim and shooter, which tried to rewrite the narrative.
I’d never seen that panel done before. I told Chris I was going to have to steal his idea. He smiled and said, “Go for it.”