Ace Atkins, the multi-award winning, New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one novels is to headline the 5th annual Mystery Fest Key West, an annual gathering of award-winning and bestselling mystery authors and true crime experts and the readers who love them, set for this June 22-24 in Key West, Florida. Those attending the Fest will have the opportunity to meet and talk mysteries with him. In the meantime, the author has agreed to answer a few questions:
Q: You had already produced several acclaimed stand-alone crime classics and two highly successful fiction series of your own conception – the Quinn Colson series and the Nick Travers series – when you were tapped by the estate of the late Robert B. Parker to continue his long running and wildly popular Spenser series. How does writing Spenser differ from writing your own originally created characters?
Ace: The main difference in writing Spenser is making sure Spenser's voice remains constant with the style Robert B. Parker developed. If I try to diverge from the style and sound of Spenser, it's no longer Spenser. And then what's the point? I might as well write a completely new character. I've been reading Parker since I was a teenager and feel very at home in his world and with the feel of those novels. I wouldn't want to write for any other author, living or dead, but Parker. His work meant a great deal to me personally and professionally.
Q: You launched your writing career as a crime reporter for The Tampa Tribune, earning a Pulitzer Prize nomination for investigative journalism. With your true-crime background, what inspired you to start writing crime fiction?
Ace: I came to journalism wanting to develop the skills to be a novelist. Hemingway always advised young writers to spend some time in the newsroom—but not too much—and I took that advice very seriously. Getting to know the real world, meeting people of all walks of life, and seeing crime up close are absolutely invaluable if you want to write authentically. I wouldn't trade that experience for any creative writing program in the world.
Q: If you could have dinner with one fictional character from a crime novel—yours or one written by another author—who would it be and why?
Ace: That's easy. I have great respect for my main hero, Quinn Colson, and his world in Mississippi. But if I'm having dinner, there is no better companion and guide to great food than Spenser! I think we'd have a lot to discuss about beer, dogs, and music. And I'd let him advise me on what to order
In addition to panels and presentations with some two dozen high profile and award-winning mystery authors and true-crime experts who’ll be sharing the inside scoop on story-crafting and the technicalities of criminal investigation and forensics, 2018 Mystery Fest Key West highlights are to include book signings, professional publishing and marketing discussions, a mini Conch Train tour, and presentation of the 2018 Whodunit Mystery Writing Award.
Sponsored by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, the Key West Citizen daily newspaper, Mystery Writers of America – Florida Chapter, the Helmerich Foundation and the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, all panels and presentations will take place at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand Key in Key West. Event registration is $195 and includes all panels and presentations, a luncheon, and a brunch at Schooner Wharf Bar at the Key West Historic Seaport. For a full Fest schedule, online registration, and links to accommodations visit MysteryFestKeyWest.com.
Ace Atkins, the multi-award winning, New York Times bestselling author of twenty-one novels is to be Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Mystery Fest Key West, set for June 22-24 at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Grand Key. (Photo by Joe Worthem)