Note to readers: Every now and then I'll do posts, like this one, that may interest only mystery writers/readers. The comments will carry on, as usual, though. Thanks.
Years ago, Sharyn McCrumb, who was a mystery writer at the time, made the now-famous remark that the mystery world is like a village. "Tony Hillerman is the mayor," Sharyn quipped, much to the amused agreement of the rest of us, "Mary Higgins Clark is the rich, gracious lady in the big white house on the hill, and the rest of us live in the little shacks down on The Flats."
True dat, lol. It's a village where everybody knows everybody else, or nearly. We have our own conventions, our own awards, our own magazines, chat rooms, and blogs. And scattered throughout the Mystery Village are "lodges" where mystery writers, editors, publishers, librarians, book store owners, and our BELOVED readers can meet to laugh a lot and to get down to the business of discussing our common interests. Most of those "lodges" are strictly for professionals in the field. There's the big group, Mystery Writers of America, which is the umbrella organization for all of us. There's The Private Eye Writers of America. There's the Crime Writers League, and the new International Thriller Writers, Inc., and others.
And there's Sisters In Crime, which also includes readers as members.
Devoted to promoting "women of mystery," it was the brainchild, twenty years ago, of Sara Paretsky. I was lucky enough to be one of the founding members, and I was the second president, after Sara. Two girls from Kansas, in a row. :) Over two decades, it has grown from the original 40 members to more than 3,600 members worldwide. We're not exclusive--anybody, including men, may join. (At the beginning, there was much merriment over the idea of "male members." We settled on "brothers.") The only thing we ask is that members and chapters remember that we're dedicated to supporting the work and careers of women in the mystery field. It's not just a reader's club, or a writer's group, therefore, but is aimed at a larger goal--helping women who write mysteries, which in turn keeps those books coming for the millions of people who love to read them.
But why even start such an organization devoted to women?
Because twenty years ago there was a revolution in our mystery village. What happened next was, I think, a microcosm of the women's movement in general. I'll talk about that revolution next Thursday in Part 2.
Photo: Ex-presidents of Sisters In Crime, looking silly in our 20th Anniversary Party caps. From left: Margaret Maron, me, Carolyn G. Hart, Joanna Carl (aka Eve Sandstrom).