Lately I’ve been thinking about coincidence. You know, you forget your keys, go back home and it cuts three minutes off your morning commute, the one where there’s a five-car pile-up that you would have been in had you been on time. Morbid? Hey, it’s my stock and trade. I write mysteries, thrillers really, where timing is everything and despite the fact that my cop characters will tell you there is no such thing as coincidence I’m not so sure.
Like meeting Noreen Tomassi, the director of the Center for Fiction, founded in 1820 as the Mercantile Library, and finding out that Edgar Allen Poe wrote at one of the their desks reserved for writers in the 19th century, and now Noreen is creating the first Crime Fiction Academy at the same organization. Call me superstitious or mad (like Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart protagonist continually denies), but I can’t help thinking there’s something going on here, inside the walls or under the floorboards, the ghost of Poe kicking up a little dust or throwing back a glass of absinthe in honor of this first-class ‘criminal’ venture in one Manhattan’s most impressive literary venues.
I have another feeling too, that a few years from now people will be talking it, the crime writing school started at the center, That amazing place right in midtown Manhattan, where what’s-his-name and what’s-her-name studied with Lee Child and Linda Fairstein and Laura Lippman and a whole host of other brave and generous crime writers, who knew a good thing when they saw it, and just look at that so-called newbie writer now, number one on the NY Times bestseller list, breaking Amazon records with that nascent novel he or she just knew they had inside them when they signed up at Crime Fiction Academy.
I can just see this new generation of crime writers’ acknowledgment pages, all those special thanksto Thomas H. Cook and SJ Rozan for guidance, Megan Abbott and Lawrence Block for inspiration, and everyone thanking Noreen Tomassi for her vision and creation.
So what is Crime Fiction Academy?
It’s the first ongoing, rigorous program exclusively dedicated to crime writing in all its forms.
And what will it be like?
Here it is, what the Crime Fiction Academy’s challenging and thoroughly engaging curriculum will include:
- a 14-week writing workshop
- a monthly Master Class
- a crime fiction reading seminar
- special lectures and discussions with editors, agents and distinguished persons from the world of crime fiction and publishing
- 24-hour access to the Center for Fiction’s Writers Studio
- Use of the extensive circulating collection (the Center for Fiction recently won a Raven Award for their amazing in-depth crime fiction collection)
- Free admission to all Center for Fiction events.
Impressive? You bet. Seems to me it’s what every potential writer of crime fiction has been waiting for—an opportunity to shape that novel you’ve been thinking about, working on, but just couldn’t finish, a chance to hone your writing skills with successfully published crime fiction authors like Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block, Lee Child, Thomas H. Cook, Linda Fairstein, Susan Isaacs, Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman, Joyce Carol Oates, SJ Rozan, Karin Slaughter and more signing on every day.
But let’s get back to coincidence for just a minute.
Suppose you forgot your keys this morning, got locked out of your apartment, did not get back home till late and then, too tired to check out the Mulholland website, fell into bed and missed this post about the new Crime Fiction Academy. And that novel, the one you’ve been talking about forever, the one you need help finishing, just continued to linger in the back of your mind, unwritten.
Or, suppose you went to the Mulholland website today, like every day, to read one of the amazing pieces that appear daily by so many terrific writers and you came upon this post about Crime Fiction Academy, went to the website, applied, ended up in class taught by SJ Rozan or Tom Cook, sat at Lee Child’s feet while he gave his Master Class talk, “Tell don’t show: why writing rules are mostly wrong,” finished that novel, which went straight to number one, won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, had Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese vying for the film rights.
Hey, it happens.
How to make it possible?
Visit the website www.centerforfiction.org/crimefiction, which will tell you how to apply. But don’t wait. There are a limited number of spaces. And from what I hear, Poe is dusting his off.
JONATHAN SANTLOFER is the author of 5 novels, THE DEATH ARTIST, COLOR BLIND, THE KILLING ART, ANATOMY OF FEAR, and THE MURDER NOTEBOOK. He is the recipient of a Nero Wolfe Award for best crime fiction novel of 2008, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and has been a Visiting Artist at the American Academy In Rome, the Vermont Studio Center and serves on the board of Yaddo, the oldest arts community in the U.S. He is co-editor, contributor and illustrator of the anthology, THE DARK END OF THE STREET, and his short stories appear in such collections as The Best of the Mystery Writers of America, and the 2010 International Crime Writers Anthology, among others. Also a well known artist, his work is in such collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and Tokyo’s Institute of Contemporary Art.