On Detective Fiction and a Writing Workshop in Astoria

I came to detective fiction late in life but now love reading it, the classics and new coarse masters, and sometimes writing with that terse, hardboiled tone. Right now, I think contemporary detective fiction is exploring American issues of race, class, political corruption and police brutality in much richer ways than so-called literary fiction, at least in my reading.

In 2015 I published my own detective novel, The Great Birthright, a parody of the genre, and hope to write another one next year. There is something liberating in the writing of fiction with a detective in mind who drives the narrative, investigates this or that. It’s also a good way of investigating one’s self with a bit of detachment and I have certainly been doing a lot of that in recent months.

I am teaching a fiction/nonfiction writing workshop with a detective-based theme on Saturday, April 29 in Astoria. Details are below. Check it out and sign up if interested.

Sherlock Holmes. Nancy Drew. Longmire. Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Shaft. Sam Spade. Nick and Nora. Maigret. Miss Marple. Perry Mason.

The list of famous detectives is endless. Writers create new detectives all the time. All successful stories present unique and compelling protagonists, usually flawed, eccentric, gifted or world weary. The detective almost always reveals some shadow or desire of their creator’s psyche. The writer creates someone he or she wants to be or doesn’t want to be. Sounds like fun, right?

Creating a detective to investigate one’s self, either in the first or third person, is a fascinating exercise in exploration for possible memoir or fiction writing. Who doesn’t remember playing the board game “Clue” and feeling the sheer pleasure of being caught up in becoming a detective and solving a mystery?

On Saturday, April 29 in Astoria, I will teach a writing workshop called, “Finding the Detective Within.” The workshop is a good fit for writers of nonfiction and fiction alike and offers them the rare opportunity to come together, write, collaborate and discuss the role of detecting and investigating in memoir and fiction.

In the workshop, I will present a questionnaire to build a detective, a deduction exercise using physical clues brought by the participants, short readings of real-life mysteries that inspire fictional or personal reflection, and a series of noir prompts that a writer of memoir or fiction can take anywhere they want.

The workshop runs from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Astoria in a private home. The class costs $65 and will cap at 12 participants. Participants will pay at the beginning of the workshop. Scholarships are also available. To register, contact me via the Nestucca Spit Press web site or my email address.