Monday, November 10, 2008

Author of the Month: Christy Barritt's Guest Blog!

Writing Mysteries Can Be Murder
Mystery Dinner Theater
By Christy Barritt

Why does someone want me, a simple mystery author, dead?

That’s the question I’m asking myself thanks to the release of my latest book.

Let me explain.

I wanted to do something creative for the release of my mystery novel, Suspicious Minds. I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, so I sat down with pen, paper and a couple of friends to brainstorm some ideas. For awhile, I tapped my pen against blank paper.

I’ve done book signings before. I’ve taught workshops. I’ve had the book release parties.

I needed something creative and exciting.

That’s when an idea hit—why not do a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater that featured characters from my book? Better yet, why not do it as a fundraiser and give all the proceeds to a family-in-need?

The ideas started rolling. I contacted a woman I knew, Kathy, who writes Mystery Dinner Theaters to get some pointers on how to approach the script. We talked for awhile and she gave me some good ideas. Still, I felt stalled because of all the details. I had a lot of other demands on me and couldn’t fully give myself mentally to the task.

But God does work in mysterious ways.

A few weeks later, Kathy called and offered to write the script for me!

The idea continued to get bigger than I ever imagined. Several organizations expressed interest in hosting the event as fundraisers. All of the actors—whom Kathy also organized—volunteered to do the play as often as possible for free!

We titled the event “Writing Mysteries Can Be Murder.” The set up for the play is that I’m coming in to do a book signing, but on the way, my brakes fail, so I’m late. A detective shows up who’s been investigating several other mysterious incidents that have been happening in my life lately—including a kitchen fire, a failed pipe bomb and poisoned brownies on my front doorstep.

As audience members eat their meals, people begin popping up in the crowd, each saying awful things about me. I slowly realize that they’re characters from my books. Each of them has as gripe against me, for various reasons… I didn’t give them a big enough role in the book, I painted them in a negative light, I didn’t give them a last name, etc. Each of them also has a motive to want me dead.

The audience gets to interact with the cast and ask them questions throughout the evening. At the end, everyone votes on who they think is trying to kill me.

We’ve done three performances so far. The second performance took place at an old one room school house about 45 minutes from my house. The intimate setting was perfect, as was the thunderstorm that began during the course of our performance. There was lots of laughter and accusations and fun.

Afterward, cast members gave their testimonies. I sell my books. And audience members come away with a memorable experience! One person even accepted Christ for the first time after seeing the performance.

We have several more shows lined up. The idea was unique even that we’ve even gotten some media coverage.

I’m glad I thought outside of the box, or as the newspaper said, I had a “novel” idea. Now, if only I could figure out who’s trying to kill me…

Thanks, Christy! What a fun blog post! If only I could participate...not that I'm wanting to be the murderer or anything:-) But it would be fun to clean up the crime scene!!

Happy Reading!


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