Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Last spring, I had the idea of teaching a novel by a contemporary mystery writer (preferably one whom I knew) and asking them to visit my class to discuss their book with my students. My first call went out to S.J. Rozan, who suggested her novel "Winter and Night" about teen bullying. The kids spent a month discussing the novel and writing two major papers on it, so they were amped to meet her.

S.J. came up from New York this week (snowstorm be damned), led a wonderful classroom discussion, and gave a spirited public reading and Q@A. All in all, it was a wonderful day. Then we stayed up talking books, writers, and publishing into the wee hours.

S.J. got a taste of boarding school life at the Corrigan home, as our apartment is attached to a dorm housing 11, 15-year-old boys. Likewise, my 12- and 9-year-old daughters were out of school (two consecutive snow days; numbers six and seven overall), and 2-year-old Keeley continued to run the house with an iron fist. So not only can the woman write like an angel, S.J. proved to be a gracious and laid-back house guest.

For me, the 24 hours proved to be a reminder of why I love being in the company of other crime writers so much. It was great to have someone to talk writing with. Given my locale and the nature of my six-day-a-week day job, I rarely get a chance to talk shop with other writers (which is another reason why I cherish being a member of the Type M community). Moreover, writing is a solitary activity that spawns self-doubt, and right now I’m working on something that even my wife (supportive always but 100% honest, nevertheless) says New York will probably never buy. The book has taken months of research and several revisions. I can be stubborn to the point of belligerent, and I like the storyline a lot and don’t believe in writing for New York, so I’m going to finish the goddamned thing, send it to my agent, and hold my breath. All of which made it great to have S.J. in the house--I was able to run the plot by her.

This fellowship is why writers love attending conferences (I once had a clause added to a book contract stating the publisher had to fly me the conference of my choice each year). In these friendships with fellow scribes, we find friendship, hilarious stories, and support.

As exciting as it was for my students this week--having S.J. present to answer their questions about her book--it was better for me. Amid a solitary profession (or, rather, a lifestyle choice), our writing friends keep us going.


SJ Rozan said...

John, I feel the same about my visit. It was great! And who could be other than laid back among such charming children and hosts? Thanks for everything!

John R Corrigan said...

We feel the same. And Delaney is holding you to the offer for a tour of NYC.

Donis Casey said...

Amen about the community of writers. Hight or low, successful or less so, all do the same solitary work and face the same demons.