If you write true crime, read true crime, or find yourself saying, “I want to write true crime,” then the Nashville, Tennessee True Crime Workshop & Seminar is for you.
“True crime” is a genre of books that deal with a crime or crimes, explaining in detail how and when the crime was committed, who investigated the crime, and the trial or outcome. It is not a new genre; in the 18th century and such writers as William Roughead, Edmund Pearson, and Jonathan Goodman wrote of criminals. Truman Capote's “In Cold Blood” (1966) made true crime more mainstream; Capote’s book was unusual as it focused on the perpetrators. Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s book on the Manson gang, and the subsequent trials, is considered the number one true crime book in publishing history. Now authors such as Ann Rule, John Douglas, and Lowell Cauffiel pen murder and mayhem stories that have risen to “Best Seller” lists. With the invention of the ebook and self-publishing programs, now anyone can write a book and put it on the market. But will it be any good?
The True Crime Workshop will focus on making these books better, and will be held on February 8-9, 2014 in Fondren Hall at the Scarritt- Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee, a place rich in history and full of legends and stories. The Scarritt- Bennett Center was chosen specifically for its history, mission statement, and architecture. The gothic stone and stained glass windows, original furnishings, lush gardens, and wooden beams set a stage “for both true crime and quiet reflection, an excellent place to write. The workshop has multiple purposes,” says its director.
One is to write better true crime. Successful true crime authors, to include Cathy Scott and Michael Tabman, will share their success stories while explaining the “do’s and don’ts” of true crime writing. Several law enforcement professionals and nonprofit organizations will present in an effort to help make author’s work realistic. “It is not like T.V. where evidence is returned within days from a crime lab, or investigators work in the lab on their own case,” says a retired investigator who will be presenting on evidence. “And finding a good latent print is not so simple.” For example, classes will be presented on reading blood spatter and glass patterns, and a class on locating pertinent legal documentation is offered.
There will be a lot of networking this weekend, to include a special event called “Lunch with the Author” where future authors and fans can share a table with a published author, book publishing representatives, and law enforcement personnel to discuss ideas, ask questions, and exchange information. There will be a “book store” where readers and writers can purchase true crime books, obtain the author’s autograph in their books, and chat with the bookstore manager on what sells – and what does not sell. Law enforcement can discuss crime with authors, and offer input, professionally and personally, in books exploring what they do for a living.
The new Tennessee Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children will make a special presentation on how authors can best work with victims and survivors of crime. A Search & Rescue team will discuss searching for the living and the deceased at New York’s Ground Zero immediately after 9/11. An established author will discuss “Best Practices for Interviewing Anyone.”
True crime readers can be a fickle and stubborn lot, says one author. “A recent dispute on a true crime fan’s Facebook page had people at each other’s cyber throats over an author’s work: were they a good writer or were the books boring? People were getting hot and firing off vicious posts.” There will be something for the readers at the workshop, including books, meeting and listening to their favorite authors speak, free items, and door prizes every hour. The first ten people to sign up for the event receive an added bonus.
The event promises to be educational, enjoyable, and well worth the time and money spent by attendees. Most meals are included in the fee. Parking, usually a headache in the area, will be free. “I can’t wait until February 8!” says one of the attendees. “I want it to be next week!”
For information on the True Crime Workshop & Seminar, click HERE
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Credit: photo of Judith Yates
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