What: Lori Rader-Day is the co-founder of Murder and Mayhem in Chicago (March 11, 2017), along with Dana Kaye. Day’s debut mystery, THE BLACK HOUR, won the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the 2015 Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her second novel, LITTLE PRETTY THINGS, won the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and was a nominee for the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original. LITTLE PRETTY THINGS was named a 2015 “most arresting crime novel” by Kirkus Reviews and one of the top ten crime novels of the year by Booklist. Her third novel, THE DAY I DIE, will be released by Harper Collins William Morrow in April 2017.
Dana Kaye is the founder of Kaye Publicity, Inc, a boutique PR company specializing in publishing and entertainment, and the author of YOUR BOOK, YOUR BRAND: THE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO LAUNCHING YOUR BOOK AND BOOSTING YOUR SALES. She also founded the Chicago Literati Networking Event, which brings local authors, booksellers and publishing pros together for an evening of mingling and swapping business cards.
Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.
Why is 2017 the year to launch Murder and Mayhem in Chicago?
LRD: Chicago is a great mystery-writing town, with so many active authors, independent bookstores, and mystery writer associations. But our only mystery conference, Love Is Murder, faded away last year, sort of unexpectedly. Dana and I had been talking about trying to start something like this, but then suddenly, there was a hole in the mystery conference schedule. And Chicago deserves a great mystery event. I mean, come on: Capone?
Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee just ended. What is your association with that event? Will writers and readers attending in Chicago have a similar experience? Or more like Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon?
LRD: Our association with Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee is that Dana and I are both big fans and repeat attendees. We have the blessing of the Milwaukee team to expand what they’re doing to Chicago. Our event doesn’t replace theirs. We think there are enough mystery lovers in our area for two one-day events a year. Our format will look very familiar to those who have attended Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee: one room, one track, and a sea of mystery lovers. We’re hoping MMChicago will be as fun as MMMilwaukee—as fun as a couple of drinks in the bar at Left Coast or Bouchercon.
You’ve assembled quite an impressive Speakers list. How did you choose the participating authors? How will you be keeping them busy for the day?
LRD: We thought carefully about timing, location, and especially who to invite—we really wanted to start an event that represents Chicago and its active mystery community well, and that means the authors who live and write here, but also the writers who are making Chicago part of their tours. Dana and I stayed close to the guiding principle that we wanted to feature authors with new books: a few favorites, of course, but also some debuts. The audience full of readers will want to head for home at the end of the day with a bag full of new books. That’s our goal: happy readers and sales for our authors.
LRD: Well, I have learned a lot about publicity from planning this event with Dana. She’s the one who had this idea and she only tricked me a little into helping her run it. But I think I have learned that I have contributions to make, too.
My kryptonite might be that I want to invite everyone—but when you’re running a tight ship like a Murder and Mayhem format, you can’t have everyone. What’s great is that, when you’re planning on starting a possibly annual event, you can save some great people for the next year.
What does a successful event look like in year one?
LRD: I want to sit at dinner at the end of the night with all the authors and moderators, and I want to clink a glass with them and laugh. I have a feeling it’s going to be a busy day for Dana and me, but we want to see readers and authors with smiles on their faces and books in their hands.
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S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, was published on October 11, 2016. His standalone novella, CROSSWISE, is available from Down & Out Books.