I’m delighted to announce that in April I’ll be leading a course for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Fayetteville, Arkansas. More commonly known as OLLI, the institute is a division of the University of Arkansas. I’m glad to have this chance to return to a place that holds such happy memories; I earned my master’s degree at the university and taught undergraduates there for four years before moving on in pursuit of my doctorate.
During the OLLI course, we’ll be exploring the role of female sleuths in mystery fiction since the days of Miss Marple. The course is structured to run in two-hour sessions meeting once weekly, which allows participants to research authors and writing practices as well as giving everyone time to read excerpts in between sessions. I’m already collecting material to share and looking for more—see details at end of this post.
First, here’s the description for “Move Over, Miss Marple” from the OLLI spring catalog:
This course will explore the role of female sleuths in American and British mystery fiction. The first session will introduce types of female characters—both amateur and professional—in crime solving fictional roles. We’ll explore the differences in character roles and responsibilities within the context of the genre.
In the second session, we’ll discuss how the characters’ dialog and action help bring a region to life in a mystery series. We’ll investigate the way writers create a sense of place, blend fact with fiction, and address social issues and controversies as part of plotting the sleuth’s role.
Our final session will focus on the increasingly popular sub-genre of crime fiction known as the ‘cozy’ mystery. We’ll analyze key structural elements and characteristics defining a cozy mystery. Using the information developed in the first two sessions, we’ll study the variety of types and sleuths within the sub-genre.
The course is appropriate for both writers and readers looking for a deeper understanding and appreciation of women in the mystery genre.
I’ll be sending advance packets via email to registered participants and plan to include “Recommended Reading” lists and (hopefully) excerpts of books that relate to our session topics. And while the main focus is on American and British mystery fiction, I can easily extend that to Canada or the Caribbean. That’s where you all come in!
READERS: who are your favorite female sleuths? Share details in the comments (author, book/series title) and a brief explanation why you’d recommend these to others. I’ll add your name to a drawing for a free copy of Deadly Ties (Kindle or Audiobook edition, your choice). Keep for yourself or pass along as a gift!
Have a favorite website that features cozy mysteries and/or female sleuths? Share that, too! This could be a great way to drive more traffic to sites you enjoy and want to support.
WRITERS: if you have a female sleuth, I’d love to consider promoting you and your work—to include excerpts or sample chapters—as part of this course. Email dogmysteries [at] gmail dot com for details.
You’re also welcome to post in the comments of this post for additional publicity. And if you’ll suggest other authors’ work for inclusion , I’ll add your name to the drawing, too.
READERS AND WRITERS: I’d be very grateful if you’d help me get the word out via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. Reblogging in part or whole is welcome with a link back to my website. My goal is to introduce course participants to as many authors, books, and websites as possible.
In addition to sharing the “Recommended Reads” with registered participants, I’ll happily post the collection here by the end of April so we can learn about “new to us” authors and celebrate books together!
This writing course sounds great. My co-author and I have three series and all feature a female sleuth. We both love the genre.
I love the genre too! And to be asked to lead a course because OLLI members loved my book…well, that’s just icing on the cake for me!
I checked out one of your series and was immediately intrigued. Looking forward to learning more about your work. And thanks for stopping by!
I’d love to have my female sleuth promoted! My Bread and Batter series is published by Penguin/InterMix. I’ll definitely email you!
Karoline, thanks for your comment and your email! I’ve sent you more info plus a submission form. Congrats on your series; I’m looking forward to learning more!
I’d also love to have my work promoted, I’ll absolutely be emailing you about Deadlines: A Written to Death Mystery.
Celise91, thanks for stopping by. I’ll look forward to your email.
As a reader I have a number of Favorites. First traits/characteristics of the protagonist: knowledgeable, inquisitive (curious), seek justice, they are tenacious, and think well under stress. 3 of my “top” favorites include Kathi Daley: Zoe Donovan Series, Denise Swanson: Scrumble River Mystery Series, and Joyce and Jim Lavene (JJ Cook): Biscuit Bowl Series/Peggy Lee Garden Mystery Series. Each of these series are extremely well written with strong, developed characters, tightly woven plots and integrated subplots.(Karoline Barrett’s series is, also, good. She is a “new to me” author, but the book I read was well written.
Servedogmom, thanks for your excellent suggestions! I’ve copied your comment and added it to my course notes.
I particularly appreciate your comment about protagonist traits and characteristics. I think the course participants will appreciate that, too!
I have a favorite & funny detective of British historical mysteries. “Her ridiculously long name is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter to the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch. And she is flat broke.” A.K.A. Georgie is thirty-fourth in line for the throne of England. Written by Rhys Bowen the “Her Royal Spyness” series is as rich in historical details, UK settings and royal characters as it is challenging for young Georgie to solve.
I’m in the final draft of Dog Leader Mysteries Book I. My protagonist, Nevada, is a 12-year old, dog leader in training with her canine behaviorist and animal rescue expert grandmother. A cast of rascal rescue dogs helps chase bad guys and solve each case.
Plan to publish by summer 2016. Do I qualify for your wonderful project of writers helping writers?
Also it’s so lovely to see my Dog Leader Mysteries blog Gravatar in your sidebar on blogs you follow. I must get back here regularly, so I’m signing up for your email list. 😀
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You already know what I like, not because I have told you but because you hit the nail on the head with Deadly ties. I want to see an intelligent person who is fairly strong with a sense of humor. I want her to care deeply about the people around her. This may be too late because I didn’t answer the first time I read it and I forgot to get back to it. (Memory, memory, wherefore art thou!) But as I said, you are already there so I am sure that is what you teach.
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