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Mystery of mysteries unveiled

Mystery authors to share secrets of the genre


STAFF PHOTO VERN UYETAKE  - Lisa Alber, left, and Cindy Brown, will present a program on what it takes to write mysteries with their friend Gigi Pandian at the Lake Oswego Public Library at 2 p.m. Jan. 24.

Those who love a good mystery have a unique opportunity to learn about the craft from three mystery authors in a special event to be held at 2 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Lake Oswego Public Library. Gigi Pandian, Cindy Brown and Lisa Alber will interview each other, answer audience questions and have their latest mystery novels available for purchase at the event.

Pandian, who now lives in San Francisco, is on a West Coast tour for her new novel, “The Masquerading Magician.”

She is the author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series and the Accidental Alchemist mysteries.

Her debut novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant, the follow-up won the Left Coast Crime Rose Award and her short fiction has been short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards.

Brown has been a theater musician, actor, director, producer and playwright since her first professional gig at age 14.

Now a full-time ghost writer, she is the author of the Ivy Meadows series — madcap mysteries set in the off, off, off-Broadway world of theater. She and her husband live in Portland, though she made her home in Phoenix, Ariz., for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities. She will be discussing “The Sound of Murder” which features Ivy Meadows as an actress and part-time PI.

Alber, also a Portland author, is a technical writer by trade. She is the author of “Kilmoon,” an atmospheric mystery set in County Clare, Ireland, that has been described as “utterly poetic” and a “stirring debut.”

The novel was a Rosebud Award finalist for best debut novels. “Whispers in the Mist,” her second novel in the County Clare series, will be available in August 2016. Alber is the recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant and a Walden Fellowship.

The three writers met several years ago, and attended writing conferences together.

“We’ve always wanted to do something together and we took advantage of Gigi’s tour to get together when she was in Portland,” Brown said. The library was willing to host the event, which is open and free to all.

Since Alber has a full time job, she gets up early and challenges herself to write 750 words each day.

She said didn’t realize she was writing a mystery until someone in her writing group pointed it out to her.

“I thought I was writing a magical realism book,” she said. “But then someone in my writing said ‘you know you are writing a mystery?’ There are many things to be aware of in mysteries. ... You have to set up a red herring, and creating suspense without giving the story away is a challenge.”

Brown knew she was writing a mystery and focuses on the theatrical world, which she knows well. Her work as a ghost writer has more flexibility than Brown’s, so scheduling writing time is a bit easier.

“I write first thing in the morning for a couple of hours and then work on it late at night after my husband is in bed,” she said. “I need uninterrupted time.” That doesn’t mean she can write leisurely: Her publisher expects a new book every nine months.

Both women said their first novels took much more time than nine months to write — more like a decade.

“There is lots to learn,” Alber said. “Think of painting. Painters go through thousands of canvases before they paint a masterpiece. It takes time to write a novel. Some writers race through a starter novel and other just slowly keep at it. Once you get on the publishing treadmill you have to speed up — agents want you to keep ‘em coming.”

The women are looking forward to Sunday’s event and hope the audience brings lots of questions.

“We love interacting with readers,” Brown said. “It’s fun to have them living your books and having your characters take on a life of their own.”

To learn more about the authors visit gigipandian.com, cindybrownwriter.com and lisaalber.com.

The Lake Oswego Public Library is located at 706 Fourth St. in Lake Oswego.

Contact Barb Randall at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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