Launch Isn’t Just for Rockets!
By Duffy Brown
All my life I thought launch was what those really smart science people do to get something into space. And never in all those years did I expect to be involved. Yet, here I am dong a launch of my own. Not that I’m putting a rocket in space—though right now that seems like a snap—but I’m launching a book.
What do you mean launch? I asked my publisher. As I knew it, the book comes out on a specific day, booksellers put it up for sale, end of story. Done.
Right, as if anything is ever that easy. To launch BRAKING FOR BODIES, the second book in my Cycle Path mystery series, I though it would be fun to do something different. I’ll have a mystery party at my house, I decided! I have the house, I like parties. A match made in heaven. Sixty is a nice number and I can just buy one of those interactive mystery party game things online. Piece of cake.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? Murphy’s Law on steroids.
First off, there are no mystery parties online for sixty people that has everyone involved all the time, and I wanted everyone to have skin in the game. That means I have to write the mystery. And if people are coming to my house, I have to feed them and drink them.
Thirty years ago I decided I wanted kids, and my husband went along with it. That gave me four free waiters and barkeeps for my party. It took me a week to write the party with characters and clues and make it all interactive so that everyone could be the killer or the victim or have something to do with the deadly deed.
A few things I discovered along the way. The most important is the more alcohol, the better the party—and my ability to write the mystery. The second is that your friends are there for fun more than finding out who-done-it. And did I mention the alcohol?
The theme was Roaring 20’s and Duffy’s Speakeasy. I cheated and bought one of those online ready-made mystery parties for twelve to see how they laid out the characters, clues, who knew what, who killed who.
I divided the guests into families—Manicotti family, Ravioli family, Linguini family—you get the picture. I think I did this at night when hungry, and of course there was wine.
The family members were Bunny the Blade Biscotti, Larry the Lipman Linguini, Rick the Rumrunner Ravioli, Tess the Teetotaler, Suzie Suffragette, Sister Mary Holy Water and other crazy names that came to me at 2:00 A.M. Working in families made everyone pool info and try and figure out the killer’s identity. It was a great icebreaker as the group didn’t know each other and had to start talking and laughing and drinking right off the bat. And speaking of drinking…
We had bathtub gin, Al Capones, Machine Gun Fiz, Dillinger Delights, and the Bloodier Mary.
Each guest was notified before the party as to their character, if they were packing heat, poison, or a blade. Everyone had a backstory with lots of family rivalries, enemies, affairs, double-crosses and lies. It was pretty much HBO with martinis.
Dinner was delivered in an ambulance, the costumes were amazing, and the murder scenes Oscar quality. I even hired three thugs to raid the party, steal everyone’s jewels, and take my daughter hostage.
If you’re a mystery author it’s a great gig—do it. If you’re a mystery reader, get invited to one—it’s a blast. If I do another, I’d love to have it at the Cincinnati conservatory with a Clue theme. You know, something like Miss Scarlett in the conservatory with the candlestick. That’s my dream. I’ll let you know when the invites go out.
Duffy Brown loves anything with a mystery. While others girls dreamed of dating Brad Pitt, Duffy longed to take Sherlock Holmes to the prom. She is a National Bestselling author and conjures up who-done-it stories of her very own for Berkley Prime Crime. She has two series the Consignment Shop Mysteries set in Savannah and the Cycle Path Mysteries set on Mackinac Island.