EASTON, Conn. – Among the tips for writers Michael Palmer offered at Murder 203: The Connecticut Mystery Festival in Easton was that every work of fiction “should be about someone we care about.”
Authors should place character development above plot, he said. “The real reason people read books is because they care about the people, their entanglements, conflicts and feelings of character.”
Palmer, author of medical thrillers and a doctor who trained at Massachusetts General Hospital, discussed some of the characters in his books, including the nurses devoted to mercy killing in “The Sisterhood” and a woman who took a drug that sterilized her without her knowing it in “Side Effects.”
About 100 avid mystery readers and aspiring writers attended Murder 203 on Saturday, an event that has been sponsored by the Easton Public Library and held at Helen Keller Middle School for the past four years.
Ann Newhall of Branford said she began writing a mystery set in England in the 1920s after attending last year’s event. “It’s about what happens when the royal family gets involved in murder and may be called ‘A Windsor Knot,’ ” she said.
“I was motivated to write the book after I left last year’s event, and now I’m motivated to revise it,” she said.
She lauded the interaction with authors that Murder 203 provides. “The writers are really generous. They provide tips on how they do what they do and they treat us like colleagues.”
Rosemary Harris, a Stamford resident whose latest books are “Dead Head” and “Slugfest,” said she was grateful to the Easton Public Library for holding the event.
“Libraries are looking for new writers who don’t get center stage, and Murder 203 is a great selection of newcomers and best-selling authors," she said.
A number of authors appeared at sessions where they discussed their trade and also conducted book signings.
Harris appeared at a session called Silent Treatment: Using Words in Other Ways, in which the authors discussed their use of blogs and other social media to promote their work and build an audience.
Murder 203 continues Sunday with a half-day session that includes workshops and book signings.