Oline H Cogdill

We all know what a tough year 2020 was—no need to go into detail.

But we may be bounding back with in-person conferences, starting with Killer Nashville International Writers' Conference, scheduled Aug. 19 through Aug. 22 in Franklin, Tennessee. And, yes, safety measures will be in place.

This is a game changer in terms of mystery writers’ conferences, which, I think, readers and authors want and need.

It was necessary that in-person events such as Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Awards went virtually for 2020 and 2021.

Malice Domestic’s 2020 conference was virtual and the conference just wrapped up its expanded More Than Malice 2021 conference with an exciting array of authors who don’t usually attend this event.

Left Coast Crime’s 2020 conference was shut down after one day when it opened that March; it was a stunning moment when, after a day of great panels, the city of San Diego was forced to stop the conference from going forward. I know, I was there. Left Coast Crime rebounded in 2021 with a terrific virtual conference and is on point for a live event in Albuquerque in 2022.

Bouchercon had to cancel its 2020 conference, which was scheduled for Sacramento, but plans are going forward for an in-person 2021 event with the gathering to be in New Orleans at the end of August.

But before the in-person Bouchercon, we will have Killer Nashville International Writers' Conference, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

And Killer Nashville is coming in with a bang with featured keynote speakers Walter Mosley, left, J.T. Ellison, and Lisa Black.

Mosley is the author of the Easy Rawlins novel; his latest is Blood Grove. A Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America, he has won numerous awards, including an Edgar Award for best novel, the Anisfield-Wolf Award, a Grammy, a PEN USA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and several NAACP Image awards.

Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 critically acclaimed novels, including Tear Me Apart and All the Pretty Girls. In 2012, Ellison teamed up with New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter to co-write a new FBI series, the first of which was The Final Cut.

Black introduced characters Maggie Gardiner and Jack Renner in her acclaimed suspense novel That Darkness and continued their story in Unpunished, Perish, and Suffer the Children. As a forensic scientist at the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office, she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she is a latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida, working mostly with fingerprints and crime scenes.

In addition, Killer Nashville will include more than 60 panels and workshops on the craft of writing, business, trends and forensics and law enforcement presentations.
The conference also will include agent roundtable sessions and manuscript critiques, a mock crime scene, and a “ready, set, pitch” workshop. A bookstore also will be at the location.

Registration is $419 for the four-day conference; scholarships are available.

Killer Nashville also hosts several award contests with the winners and finalists recognized during the awards dinner.

These include:

The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award: To honor the best books published in North America

The Claymore Award: Looks for new authors to assist being publishes.

 The John Seigenthaler Legends Award: Given to an individual who has championed First Amendment Rights. The 2021 award will be presented to Walter Mosley.

Killer Nashville was founded by author, playwright and actor Clay Stafford, who is the CEO and president of the conference. He also is Writer in Residence and Creative Writing Instructor at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tenn.

Photo Walter Mosley; photo by Marcia Wilson