Mystery Writers Panel
Ken Isaacson, Jackie Kessler, Brian Wiprud
October 13, 2007
Post Meeting Write-up

If you weren't at Face the Fiction you missed a fantastic
time.  The three guest speakers on the panel complemented
each other so well, we couldn't have asked for a better
panel.  The speakers on the panel were
Ken Isaacson
(
Silent Counsel), Jackie Kessler (Hell's Belles and the
soon to be released
The Road to Hell) and Brian M. Wiprud
(
Tailed, Crooked, Sleep with the Fishes, Stuffed,
Pipsqueak).  Each brought a different perspective to the
panel and each brought a different style of presentation.  All
three brought talent, great presentations and personality to
spare.

The meeting started with
Steve S making announcements,
bringing us up to speed on his recent Washington trip and
then introducing our panel.  First up was
Brian M. Wiprud,
and when the blurbs on his books describe him as "the
funniest tough guy writer there is" they do not exaggerate -
seriously.  
Mr. Wiprud has quite a flair for comedy, more on
that later.  Next up,
Jackie Kessler, also very tongue in
cheek funny - just ask her about her erotic reading with her
mom in the audience!  Closing the deal was
Ken Isaacson
who opened with the fact that his day job was being a
lawyer and that most people think lawyers right fiction
anyway so why not.  We knew from the three humorous
openings that we were going to have fun.  

Before I go into the specifics of each speaker, I'll give a brief
overview of the meeting and then talk about each
individually.  All three read from their books, discussed how
the writing process happened for them and gave an in-depth
discussion on the publishing process offering a font of
information.  They then opened the floor to questions - and
questions there were.  Plenty of questions, we didn't take a
break until after 9:30.  Books were purchased, signed, we
chatted with our guests and then reconvened for the
wrap-up.

Now, here are the specifics:
Brian M Wiprud - if Mr. Wiprud ever thinks of changing his
career the group unanimously suggests stand-up comedy.  
Brian read an excerpt from his most recent book, Tailed,
about a character, Garth Carson, who seems to be a magnet
for trouble.  The book is part noir, part comedy, part mystery,
but all fun.  The character, Garth Carson, appraises
taxidermy collections for one of the largest insurance
companies in the country.  Nice, safe, respectable job, until
some prominent big-game hunters start dying - apparently
slaughtered by their own taxidermy.  Garth somehow
becomes the FBI's number one suspect.  He goes on the run
to find the killer, and that, believe it or not, is when the real
trouble starts - secret government installations, renegade
brotherhoods, nudist mothers that turn into werewolves..
...you get the picture.  After reading the opening of his book,
Mr. Wiprud had us rolling on the floor as he shared that he
likes to research news stories "of a different kind" for
possible use in his writing.  We thought the news story
about the husband beating his wife with six frozen squirrels
couldn't be topped - yes, you read that correctly, 6 frozen
squirrels - until he read the story about the man who
wanted his sandwich warmed and wound up throwing a
microwave on his girlfriend instead.  I don't know what was
funnier, the stories or
Brian's incredulous reaction to the
stories.  When he said, "now, I wonder, did he push her on
the floor, ask her to heat up the sandwiches and then throw
the microwave at her?  I wonder about these things" the
crowd lost it.  

Jackie Kessler (who gave me an awesome advance copy of
her upcoming book!!  thank you, thank you, thank you
Jackie) also read from the opening of her book Hell's Belles
to set up the background for the main character
succubus-on- the-run-from- Hell Jezebel.  
Ms. Kessler
explained how she did her research for the book, in which
said succubus-on- the-run, becomes a stripper.  Yep, went to
strip club.  Even cooler, took her husband (who she pointed
out so very generously offered to go).  Her description of an
erotic reading she had done earlier was very funny - her
mother was in the audience!  
Jackie described the research
that went into Hell and how once a writer "creates" a world,
they need to stick to the rules they've created.  In
Hell's
Belles
, Jezebel has some issues with the changes
"management" is making and decides to leave.  Satan, not
too happy, sends bounty hunters after her.  Mayhem ensues
as Jezebel, aka Jessie, tries to fit into the human world, in
the stolen body of a witch, while trying to overcome her
natural instincts as a former succubus.   Delightful, fun romp
- no pun intended!

Ken Isaacson discussed how, as a lawyer, he has to deal
with certain 'givens" and facts that cannot be changed, but
as a writer, he can change those facts (this said with a sly
grin).  He read from his book,
Silent Counsel.  Silent
Counsel
is about a hit-and-run accident that leaves a young
boy dead and the only person who knows the identity of the
driver is the driver's lawyer and he won't reveal the name.  
What follows is the mother of the child's ever increasing
rage, frustration and desire to find the driver's name.  The
passage he chose to read, is describing how the mother,
Stacy, has a recurring nightmare about her son.  It was
chilling.  She winds up getting so desperate that she kidnaps
the lawyer's daughter - it becomes a questing of doing the
right thing, not necessarily the legal thing or outwardly
looking correct thing.  Who hasn't been in a position like
that?  Did you do the right thing, the hypocritical thing, what
you thought someone wanted you to do?  To add to the
suspense, someone else besides Stacy is looking for the
driver.

At 10:45 we reluctantly, very reluctantly, let our speakers go
home.  
Jackie had to go to Albany!  We couldn't offer up
enough applause to a delightful panel that thoroughly
entertained us all night long.  They were amazing.  The three
meshed so well you would've thought they did this all the
time together.  We continued the night at the diner and the
fun continued there.  I'm writing this now because the dirty
stay outs wouldn't let me go home (lol) and now I'm wound
up (the coffee had nothing to do it).  Hope you dirty stay
outs are all happy.  I know I am ;)  Great meeting, great
time, great people.  Join us next month for guest
S.J. Rozan.

Additional remarks:
The panelists started showing up by 7:45-Jackie Kessler
first, Then
Ken Issacson, and lastly Brian Wiprud.  At 8:15 I
officially started the meeting by plugging
www.cafepress.
com/SFSNNJ - which is the home of ye old SFSNNJ Shoppe
& showed off the hat & official shirt of the club (Master
Chris
Hasselkus
was wearing the official shirt as well & briefly
posed) as well as the mouse pad which features our motto-
"Always Free & Always Fun", then proceeded to introduce
our panel.  AM then gave our panelists a briefing on the
format for the evening and away we went.
Brian Wiprud's
bizarre crime cases were a pure riot - apparently squirrels
are a delicacy in both Vietnam (where the man and wife
involved were from) & Northeastern Mississippi, where Elvis
Presley was born & raised (and if you don't believe that,
read "The Life & Cuisine of Elvis Presley" by David Adler,
which has a recipe for Fried Squirrel [I'm not making this up,
folks!]). Even more bizarre was the last crime story
Brian
shared about a woman painting a fence in West Virginia who
was sat on by a CAMEL but still managed to pull out her cell
phone and call for help.
Ken Isaacson pointed out a
similarity between the squirrel story & the famous third
season episode of
ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS titled LAMB
TO THE SLAUGHTER
in which a woman murders her husband
accidentally (oh, sure ) with a frozen leg of lamb, which she
proceeds to cook & serve to the policemen investigating the
case (unaware that they are eating the murder weapon).
This was a fun evening & we enjoyed ourselves immensely.
(Steve S)

I want to add that all the speakers read their passages very
well, but I thought that the passage that
Ken Isaacson read
was very moving & very sad.
Jackie Kessler said that she
was affected by that, having a six-year-old at home herself. I
agree with Jo that the interplay between the speakers was
very good. This was a great idea & I'm glad it came off so
well!!!
(Steve)

And not that this was a 3-person comedy routine; all three
authors of varying experience gave helpful insights into
writing and publishing. In fact,
Ken Isaacson mentioned that
he got published without having an agent, while
Jackie
Kessler
talked about the advantages of having a publisher
before getting published. They offered very interesting
perspectives on both sides of that aspect.

It almost seemed as though all three authors had done this
type of panel together before. They played so well off of
each other. Their responses to our questions complemented
each other and as I said they sometimes had different
opinions on questions that arose and very happily offered
them. One of the best instances of interplay among the
speakers came when
Brian M. Wiprud finished reading his
"inspirational" news articles, which included the story about
the guy who beat his wife with 6 frozen squirrels. As
Brian
suggested, "did he use them like nunchucks or what?" As he
passed the microphone over to
Jackie Kessler, she said,
"And you want me to follow that?"
(Josephine)

I also would like to take a moment to gush and offer Kudos
to the Face The Fiction moderators for a brilliant and well
thought out program. This was a fantastic panel, and all
three authors were so different that they gelled really nicely.
There were a lot of laughs, and fun all around (
Ken
Isaacson's
cheerful smile, Brian Wiprud's incredulous japes,
and
Jackie Kessler's infectious laugh will be remembered).

I would also like to point out that in addition to the
wonderful event, we met a number of really great, nice new
people at the store.  The SFSNNJ is really maturing into a
wonderful gathering inclusive of everyone. Hopefully we will
see
Mike, Joe, and Ron again (they were incredibly friendly
folks). One of the best things about this group are all the
new faces that we see, and all the new stories we get to
hear from the people we meet.
(Todd)
This month we are proud to have a unique
Paranormal/Mystery Writer Panel.  Our guest panel of
paranormal & mystery writers will read from their books,
answer questions and more. Join us for a fun night of
paranormal adventure and mystery.

Ken Isaascson is an exciting new voice in crime fiction.  Ken
Isaacson
has been a practicing attorney for more than
twenty-five years. Born and raised in Perth Amboy, New
Jersey, he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, and went on to earn his law degree at Columbia
Law School. He began his legal career at a major Wall Street
firm, and continues to practice law today as in-house general
counsel to an international transportation company.
Ken's first novel,
Silent Counsel, due to be released in
September 2007, has already won exceptional advance
praise. The idea for
Silent Counsel came to Ken upon
reading a true account of a hit-and-run incident along a
highway in Florida some time ago.

Ken is an actively involved member of the Mystery Writers of
America, and served on the Board of Directors of MWA’s New
York chapter from 2002 through 2006. He received that
organization’s Silver Noose Award upon completing his
second term. Ken continues to serve on the chapter’s Mentor
Committee, Program Committee, Membership Committee,
and Website Committee. He is also the moderator of the
chapter’s online discussion forum. Ken is working on his
second novel.

Jackie Kessler:  “Some kids want to grow up to be doctors,
or movie stars, or political assassins. Me, I wanted to draw
comic books. Not Archies, either—superhero comic books.
Maybe it was all the heavily muscled guys in spandex…”

Jackie Kessler is the author of the Hell on Earth series –
Hell’s Belles and the upcoming Road to Hell, as well as
many short stories:  
Red was published in REALMS OF
FANTASY
(April 2007), To the Core was published in the
Freya's Bower anthology,
DREAMS AND DESIRES (February
2007) both in hardcover and in softcover.
Why Monsters
Don’t Do Group Therapy
was published in From the Asylum
(December 2006),
The Ties That Bind appeared in Farthing
(Spring 2006),
Giving the Devil His To-Do’s appeared in
From the Asylum (December 2005), Reflections my first dark
erotic story, was published under the byline J.M. Kaye in
Ruthie’s Club (November 2005), “Hunger”—really, not a
vampire story—appeared in Byzarium (September 2005),
The Compromise, my first non-genre story, was published
in
Wild Child Publishing (August 2005), Guilty Pleasures was
my first-ever sale…for money! This horror tale appeared in
Peridot Books (Winter 2005).  She has also been the fantasy
editor for
Wild Child Publishing (where she got to interview
Margaret Weis).

In her own words: “In case you’re wondering, I live in
Upstate New York, along with my Loving Husband and two
Precious Little Tax Deductions, two cats, and about 9,000
comics. (But actually, that number is now closer to 8,000,
thanks to a flooded basement. Alas!)”

Brian M. Wiprud:  Born and matriculated in the Washington
DC area,
Brian went on to NYU Film School before finding his
a day job and a career in utility infrastructure. Well, that and
surfing Brooklyn is what kept him alive while writing, and the
day job eventually led to an expertise in underground
utilities. He's been involved in many subsurface explorations,
including a number of urban archeological digs. Some of his
published articles have delved into this topic, most notably in
Mercator's World, the book Concrete Jungle and in the
Tribeca Trib. His talents were called upon after 9/11 as part
of the rescue and reconstruction effort at ground zero.

His most recent book,
Tailed, has met with rave reviews.  
Other works include
Crooked, both a 2007 Barry Award
nominee and a Shamus Award nomine for best paperback
original,
Sleep with the Fishes, Stuffed and Pipsqueak.