by Duffy Brown
All my life I thought launch was what those really smart rocket science people do to get something into space and never in all those years did I expect to be involved. Yet here I am dong a launch of my very own. Not that I’m putting a rocket in space…though right now that seems like a snap…but I’m launching a book.
What do you mean launch, I asked my publisher. The book comes out on a specific day, booksellers, B&N and Amazon put it up for sale, end of story. Done.
Right, like anything is ever that easy. To launch my first cozy mystery, Iced Chiffon, I thought it would be fun to do something different. I’ll have a mystery party at my house, I decided! I have the house, I like parties. A match made in heaven.
Sixty is a nice number and I can just buy one of those inter-active mystery party things online. Piece of cake.
You can see where this is going, can’t you. Murphy’s Law on steroids.
First off there are no mystery parties online for sixty that has everyone involved all the time. That means I have to write the mystery. And if people are coming to my house I have to feed them and drink them.
Thirty years ago I decided I wanted kids and my husband went along with it. That gave me four waiters and barkeeps for my party. It took me a week to write the party with characters and clues.
A few things I discovered along the way. The most important is the more alcohol, the better the party…and my ability to write the mystery. The second is that your friends are there for fun more than finding out who-done-it. And did I mention the alcohol?
Each year Lori Foster and I host the Reader Writer Get-together and many of my friends and readers would be in town for the event, a perfect launch time for my new mystery series. The theme was Roaring 20s and Duffy’s Speakeasy. I cheated and bought one of those online ready-made mystery parties for twelve to see how they laid out the characters, clues, who knew what, who killed who.
I divided the guests into families…Manicotti family, Ravioli family, Linguini family…you get the picture. I think I did this at night when hungry.
The family members were Bunny the Blade Biscotti, Larry the Lip-man Linguini, Rick the Rum-runner Ravioli, Tess the teetotaler, Suzie Suffragette, Sister Mary Holy Water and other crazy names that came to me at 2 a.m. Working in families made everyone pool info and try and figure out the killer. It was a great icebreaker, as the group didn’t know each other and had to start talking and laughing and drinking right off the bat. And speaking of drinking… We had bathtub gin, Al Capones, Machine Gun Fiz, Dillinger Delights and the Bloodier Mary.
Each guest was notified before the party as to their character, if they were packing heat, poison, a blade, rosary beads or a Votes for Women sign. Everyone had a back-story with lots of family rivalries, enemies, affairs, double-crosses and lies. It was pretty much HBO with martinis.
Dinner was delivered in an ambulance complete with sirens and hunky paramedics. The costumes were amazing, the murder scenes Oscar quality. I even hired three thugs to raid the party and steal everyone’s jewels and take my daughter hostage. (When they found out how much her college tuition was they gave her back.)
Many launch parties are about selling the book at the event. I wanted this party to be about introducing the world to Duffy Brown, my new pen name for the mystery genre, in an entertaining way. And it worked! The whole night my guests kept their friends on Facebook and Twitter entertained with the shenanigans going on at Duffy Brown’s Speakeasy. And of course these pictures were shared and reTweeted. There is no better promo than word of mouth.
I’ve had three parties now and each time it gets better. Readers talk about Duffy’s mystery party for months before and after. If you’re a mystery author it’s a great gig…do it. If you’re a mystery reader get invited to one…it’s a blast. If I do party four I’ll let you know. I’d love to have one at the Cincinnati conservatory with a Clue theme. You know, Miss Scarlett in the conservatory with the candlestick. That’s my dream. I’ll let you know when the invites go out.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.