Mystery Writers Conference

September 7-10, 2017 - Corte Madera, CA

Discover All the Clues for a Successful Career as a Mystery or Suspense Writer!











Registration: $550 ($475 for Alumni)

2017 Faculty
Learning All the Clues
Private Consultations


A Letter from Conference Co-Chair Cara Black

Wilkommen, Bienvenu, Welcome (as they say in Cabaret) to this summer’s Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference.

We’d love to invite you to lift your craft to the next level and expand your opportunities—whether you are thinking of writing a mystery and whirling with ideas, in the process of writing one, or polishing and honing one you’ve written. (By the way: congratulations if you have finished that novel and are now working on revisions.) The weekend is chock full of workshops featuring award-winning, best-selling authors offering invaluable guidance on craft, from plot to character to dialogue to setting and more; while agents and editors share their insights into the world of publishing and how to find a readership for your book. Perhaps even more unique is our inclusion of legal and law enforcement professionals who provide tips on real crime-scene scenarios, prosecution and investigation guidelines, and the nitty-gritty of forensic science.

Twenty-two years ago I attended the first ever Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference. That weekend was one of the most valuable and important of my writing life, for it set me directly on the path to publication. And I’m still coming back, because the conference has become my community, and the community of so many wonderful writers—both accomplished and aspiring. I’m honored to co-chair the conference with David Corbett, and we’re saving you a spot. Please join us, so we can personally welcome you and help you take that all-important next step on your writing journey.

Cara Black


Take a Look Back at Our 2016 Conference

2016 Pre-Conference Classes

David Corbett - The Character of Crime
Thurs., July 28, 2016, 1:00 - 3:30 pm

D.P. Lyle - Plotting the Perfect Murder
Thurs., July 28, 2016, 1:00 - 3:30 pm

2016 Conference Information

2016 Schedule

2016 Conference Scholarship  

2016 William C. Gordon Conference Scholarship

One Mystery Writers Conference Scholarship will be awarded this year, including full conference tuition to the 2016 conference (travel and accommodations not included). To be considered, applicants must submit up to a 1500 word sample of their fiction writing, plus one paragraph about what this conference would mean to them in their writing life. The scholarship is sponsored by William C. Gordon, the author of The Halls of Power and King of the Bottom.

Applications now closed.


Questions or concerns? Contact Kathryn Petrocelli at 800-999-7909, ext. 239, or email


Press Coverage of the Conference


Success Stories

"I attended two Mystery Writer's Conferences a few years back.  I hooked up with agent Liz Trupin Pulli and my mystery/thriller, Tropical Ice, was introduced at the Waterstreet Press booth at the 2016 Chicago Book Expo. The conference provided invaluable information and stimulated me to see the project through."
- Ken Smith, San Rafael

"Before I learned about Book Passage’s classes and the Mystery Conference, the only creative writing I’d ever done were a couple of particularly imaginative IRS submissions at tax time. Sure, I was an avid mystery reader, but that didn’t translate to being a mystery writer anymore than being a gourmet means you know how to cook. So I decided to learn from the pros. Within a year I’d written my first novel, partnered with a well-known agent, and sold the book to Time Warner’s Mysterious Press...It’s been a great year of book tours, signings and getting to meet some terrific readers, librarians and booksellers. It also feels good to fulfill a fantasy I’ve been dreaming about for close to fifty years. I can stick to nonfiction for the IRS submissions now."
Louise Ure, Author of Forcing Amaryllis

"The Conference bolstered my skills and helped me get published. You can’t beat the caliber or the inspiration."
Cara Black, Author of Murder in the Latin Quarter

"I am a graduate of the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference who has since published three mysteries through St. Martin’s Press... My first mystery, Murder Off Mike, was published as the result of winning the St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Contest."
Joyce Krieg, Author of the Shauna J. Bogart Talk Radio Series Riding Gain, Slip Clue, and Murder Off Mike

"I attended the conference twice, when I was learning how to write my first novel, and the faculty were so encouraging that I stuck with it. And now I've recently had my second novel published, signed a new book deal, and hit the USA Today bestseller list to boot. It's been a long and winding road, but a very fun one. Thank you for being part of the journey!"
- Gigi Pandian, Author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series 

Read more conference success stories at Alumni News.

Photo Highlights from the Conference

Faculty member David Corbett speaks at the 2014 Mystery Writers Conference.

Faculty and participant dinner at the 2013 Mystery Writers Conference.

An expert displays a hazmat suit at the 2004 Mystery Writers Conference.

Former prosecutor Marcia Clark signs books at the 2011 Mystery Writers Conference.

What People Are Saying

"Book Passage's annual Mystery Conference is the creme de la creme of gatherings for both aspiring and accomplished authors, offering a star faculty, real life connections to agents and editors, and the joy of time spent with those who understand why writers write." - Carolyn Hart, Author of Death Comes Silently

"The Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference is the most interesting, most challenging, and most fun event for novice writers I’ve ever attended, a unique symposium that challenges all those who take part to think about this curious craft from both a practical and aesthetic point of view." – David Hewson, Author of The Seventh Sacrament

"Last year I attended the Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference for the first time. As a direct result of contacts I made there, I have had my supernatural mystery Elena accepted by a small publisher. It is my first published novel and will be coming out in July. It will be available via online booksellers as an E-book or in soft cover." – Duncan Lloyd, conference participant

"After more than a decade of studying the craft of fiction writing, I was pleased that the professional consultants I met with at Book Passage felt my work was publishable. The contacts brought me one step closer to publication."
Sharon Owen, conference participant

"I attended the Mystery Writers Conference about five years ago. I made some helpful connections that got me started on the long road of writing and publishing a mystery. My novel, Shedding Light On Murder will be released by Five Star /Gale Cengage in January 2012. I have no prior writing experience to speak of but I learned so much at the conference. I doubt that I would be embarking on this new adventure if I hadn't attended. Thank you! – Patricia Driscoll, conference participant

"I want to thank you again for your hard work and help in facilitating my interviews at this year's Mystery Conference for my new podcast. The first edition of The Solwave is now published both at and by searching "The Solwave" on the iTunes store. (It's free, of course). This edition features a discussion with my podcast partner, Michael Neff, an extended eight-and-a-half minute feature on the Mystery Writers Conference including portions of my interviews with Michael Connelly, Elizabeth George, Cara Black, Ken Mercer, Tim Maleeny, Jacqueline Winspear, Sheldon Siegel, Tony Broadbent, and Elaine Petrocelli! The podcast also has a longer interview with Katherine Neville and ends with our new feature, "Strange Food for Writer Thought" in which we use an unusual news story as a prompt for short fiction (and a humorous dramatic reading of my story about some runaway nuns). Thanks again for your help and your terrific work on putting this all together."
Brian Shields, conference participant