Mark Billingham on lying
Mark Billingham, writes the detective Tom Thorne series among other thrillers, and his latest novel is In the Dark. He has always enjoyed conference panels that were a little bit different, so at Bouchercon, his topic is lying. (For all author posts, click here.) His take:
Writers lie for a living, right? So I thought it might be fun to see how well they could lie to a live audience. The idea is simple: each of the writers on the panel – myself, Karin Slaughter, Chris Mooney, Laura Lippman and John Connolly – will reveal secrets in a variety of different categories, but we will each be slipping in three lies. Big ones, little ones, who can tell? Some truths will be so outrageous that they might sound like lies and some of the lies will have the disturbing ring of truth.
Each of us will talk about our secret skills, secret recipes and secret admirers. We will reveal our dirty secrets, our ugly ones as well as what each of us believes to be the secret of happiness. But we will also be lying our asses off and hoping that we can get away with it. If not…it’s going to cost us.
If, at any point, a member of the audience thinks that they have caught a whiff of bullshit, they are at liberty to stand up and shout “Liar!” If they are wrong, they must drop two dollars into one of the buckets being passed around the room, but if they are right the lying writer will have to cough up ten! All money raised will be donated to the Pratt Library in Baltimore, one of the Bouchercon charities, so each accusation, successful or otherwise, will be made in a good cause.
An extra twist is that we will not be revealing our lies to one another beforehand, leaving any writer free to accuse another, if they want to risk parting with some cash.
The traditional Q&A that usually forms the last fifteen minutes or so of any panel event will be replaced by something closer to an interrogation. If, for example during the ‘secret skills’ discussion, John Connolly has revealed that he once represented his country at Irish Dancing, he may be asked to stand up and demonstrate. If Laura Lippman announces that she is an expert on firearms, a member of the audience may ask her to talk us through the assembly of an AK47. This will be a further chance, if any lies remain unexposed, to make the writers pay for their falsehoods.
We will of course be talking about our books, though I can’t guarantee any of what we say will be true. I can guarantee that this will be among the most entertaining hours of the entire convention. The five of us are good friends, and I think a rapport between the panellists can be the key to a good event. This will be a chance though, to find out just how well we know one another.