Monday, July 16, 2007

An Idea with Legs

In Hollywood, if a project has a lot of instant appeal and generates buzz, they say it “has legs.” That’s how it’s been with Forensic University. Michelle Becker and I were discussing recent writers’ conferences we’d attended. We both thought we needed more forensic information, and better access to the forensics instructors. So…wouldn’t it be cool to put together an all forensic conference?

A couple weeks later, Sisters in Crime President Libby Fischer Hellmann and her pal Judy Bobalik were visiting our chapter. I mentioned the idea Michelle and I had. The next day Libby called from her car on the way back to her home in Chicago. She’d talked with Rochelle Krich, and they loved the idea. I emailed Jan Burke for help. Michelle emailed Dr. D.P.Lyle. Both were immediately enthusiastic. They brought along Eileen Dreyer and Lee Lofland. The national board approved and Forensic U became a national conference.

Boom! Just like that our idea had legs.

Now we’re more than half-way there. We have 95 people registered—the maximum is 200—and we’re four months out.

Thanks to the viral nature of the internet, I’m busy fielding questions and inquiries from around the world. One of the most interesting came from David Webb and Dr. Iain Pretty, who write and maintain the All About Forensic Science Website Check it out! You’ll find all kinds of fascinating links and information.

Now you might ask, what’s in it for me? Especially if you write cozies. (And all of us at Killer Hobbies do write “cozies”—our mysteries feature amateur sleuths, off-stage violence, and puzzles solved through a knowledge of human relationships.) With more and more attention paid to such television shows as CSI, Bones, and Law and Order to name a few, our readers are ever so savvy about forensics. But here’s a better reason to attend Forensic University: It’s a mother lode of great ideas.

Books aren’t written in a vacuum. They’re a lot like beef vegetable soup: you’ve got your meat (your main idea), your water (the setting), major veggies (your characters) and spices (your ancillary characters and tidbits). Each time I hear someone in law enforcement or forensics talk, my brain buzzes with new ideas. I keep several “pots of soup” boiling at once.

Which is why the nickname of our conference is “ForU” and the tagline is 50 Ways to Catch a Killer. We have a lot in store “for you” and I’m positive you’ll walk away with more than 50 ways to catch your killer! Check out the conference blog or sign up at


Camille Minichino said...

Thanks Joanna. I'm a HUGE fan and supporter of the Crime Lab Project. I won't be able to make this ForU, but hope to catch another one. It sounds wonderful.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Thank you, Camille. I didn't mention our big auction for the Crime Lab Project Foundation. I guess I should in another post, right?

Camille Minichino said...

I don't know about the auction. Definitely give us the scoop next time (or sooner if there's a deadline looming). Camille

Kathryn Lilley said...

This sound fantastic! Do let us know about the auction.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Will do. Next blog post.