I guess I should alter that headline to say: Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) is the best conference for Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense writers, however, since I have also written young adult in the past, I still picked up valuable training and information that could be used in my young adult as well as my adult thrillers.
I’ve been to many conferences. Some I’ve vowed to never go back to again. Some I’ll attend if the right opportunity presents itself. But WPA is a must!
Last year was the first year that I attended WPA. I attended by myself, knowing no one, but I quickly met several writers who I have so much in common with. And this year, that community of writers that I’ll keep in touch with throughout the year has grown. To make this year’s conference even more exciting for me, I attended with my partner-in-crime—Author Kris Calvert.
Writers can be a strange community, but writers who kill people for a living (with their words, of course)? We can be downright twisted at times. And when you put us in the room with instructors who teach us how to shoot guns, who study serial killers for a living, or who perform autopsies? Well… we’re just downright giddy with joy.
And I kid you not… I attended the the class on Medicolegal Death Investigators (MLDI), which is a more accurate and fancier term for medical examiner, and stared at photographs of crime and death scenes that no one should see directly before eating lunch. And I still managed to eat lunch with no problem. I told you writers can be twisted.
But practically speaking, a writer is not going to attend WPA and come away without learning some very valuable lessons or meeting some invaluable resources for when you have that really strange police procedural question.
In 2016, I met an ATF agent who I was able to Facebook message with about outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) as I wrote Cut in Darkness. This year, I met a Secret Service agent who discussed the many types of investigations that Secret Service investigate and whether there really are turf wars between the many federal agents and police.
I got to shoot a Glock and an AR-15 inside a firing range this year.
I entered a Shoot, Don’t Shoot simulator and was able to test my ability to make a split second decision on whether to shoot a person who might be getting ready to kill me, or might just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. IT’S NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS!
I attended a class taught by Katherine Ramsland about How To Interview Serial Killers. THAT was fascinating. I’ve been reading her book, Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader the BTK Killer, since last year’s WPA. I can only read this book in small doses. It’s that good, and that scary!
I’m leaving out many, MANY things. The point is: Writers Police Academy is a must for writers, but especially if you write in the mystery, thriller, or suspense genre. This conference goes way beyond learning the craft and networking with other writers. This conference gives you the incredible details and ideas that you need to create thrilling, unputdownable, and accurate stories. And it gives you an inside look into what our police officers face every single day. (So hug a police officer today! They deserve our gratitude and love!)
And if you’re a writer, be sure to add this conference to your wish list, add a reminder to your calendar, and sign up for the WPA newsletter so that you hear the minute conference registration goes live, because this conference fills up fast!