Mystery Writers Speak


Mystery authors Gary Phillips, Gar Haywood, Attica Locke, Joel Engel and Pamela Samuels Young share tips on what it takes to craft a compelling mystery.


PANEL MODERATOR PAMELA SAMUELS YOUNG is a practicing attorney, whose fast-paced thrillers tackle law and crime. Set in the Baldwin Hills area of Los Angeles, Pamela's novels include Murder on the Down Low and Buying Time, which the Black Caucus of the American Library Association honored with its 2010 Fiction Award, calling the book “a captivating, suspenseful thriller.” Pamela’s fifth novel, Attorney-Client Privilege, goes on sale in July. Her short story Easy Money is featured in the anthology Scoundrels: Tales of Greed, Murder and Financial Crimes. Visit Pamela’s website at
GARY PHILLIPS writes in various media in telling his stories of chicanery and malfeasance. Recent work includes The Rinse, a graphic novel detailing the high strung adventures of a high-end money launderer; being editor and contributor to the all-original anthology Scoundrels: Tales of Greed, Murder and Financial Crimes, and Treacherous: Grifters, Ruffians and Killers, a collection of his short stories, is also out. His website is:
JOEL ENGEL wrote journalism for the likes of the New York Times and LA Times before he began authoring nonfiction books, and has written or co-written (which is the same as written) more than 15 of them. But until his new book, L.A. ’56: A Devil in the City of Angels, his only experience with crime writing was a long newspaper piece about his own investigation into a young African man’s wrongful conviction for rape in Santa Barbara. It was that piece which led directly to L.A. ’56, which has earned excellent reviews for the way Joel leads the reader through the tense hunt for a serial rapist who terrorized the lovers’ lanes of Los Angeles in the summer of 1956. Kirkus Reviews said, “It has all the elements of a classic film noir—and then some” and called it a “fast-paced thriller.”
ATTICA LOCKE’S first novel, Black Water Rising, was shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize in the UK in 2010. It was nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a Strand Magazine Critics Award. The novel was also a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. In addition, Attica has spent many years working as a screenwriter, penning movie and television scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, HBO, and Dreamworks. She was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmakers Lab and is a graduate of Northwestern University. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter. She is a member of the board of directors for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Her second book, The Cutting Season, will be published in October 2012.
GAR ANTHONY HAYWOOD is the Shamus and Anthony award-winning author of twelve crime novels, including two standalone thrillers written under the pen name Ray Shannon. His short fiction has been included in the BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES anthologies and Booklist has called him "a writer who has always belonged in the upper echelon of American crime fiction." His most recent novel is ASSUME NOTHING, and the six books in his Aaron Gunner P.I. series have just been re-issued as e-books by Mysterious Press.