Deadly Ink Academy

Friday, August 10

9 to 12—Morning Workshop with Jenny Milchman


Mary Higgins Clark award winning and USA Today bestselling novelist Jenny Milchman is known for having an “intimate knowledge of psychology” (The New York Times) and writing novels “that delve deep into the mind and psyche of her characters” (Romantic Times). In this workshop, she will take participants deep beneath the skin of their villains to discover what makes their wicked hearts tick.

Participants will identify personality traits that lend motivation and justification for villains’ most evil behaviors. Through a character “case study,” you will create a back story for an antagonist, based on psychological dynamics and family of origin. Disorders such as narcissistic personality and obsessive-compulsive have received popular attention of late—now learn how these and others can underlie behaviors in the baddest of the baddies. Examine the differences between conscious, subconscious, and unconscious processes so that you know everything your bad guy knows—and a lot that he doesn’t. Finally, explore a fundamental question for writers that will bolster every novel’s ending: Can people, and their personalities, change?

Jenny Milchman’s psychological thrillers have won the Mary Higgins Clark and Silver Falcion awards for best novel, been shortlisted for the Barry and Macavity awards for best first novel, and earned additional honors and acclaim. Jenny holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology, but turned away from a career as a psychotherapist to pursue her writing dreams. Her newest novel, Wicked River, is a spring release from Sourcebooks.

Jenny Milchman, Writer

1 to 4—Afternoon Workshop with Art Taylor


A professor and book critic in addition to being an award-winning author, Art Taylor’s fiction workshops at George Mason University have long focused primarily on the shape and structure of a story’s plot.

This workshop looks at several aspects of plotting, pacing, and more, first for short stories, then for novels, drawing on sources as diverse as Lester Dent, Patricia Highsmith, Madison Smartt Bell, and the folks behind South Park. What is the difference between linear storytelling and modular storytelling—and how is suspense built in each one? How do you shape the various building blocks of a short story or novel—the scene, the chapter, the act—and what are the possible connections between those blocks? How do you fold in subplots? Should every chapter end with a cliffhanger? And yes, if you’re a pantser instead of a plotter, this discussion is still for you!

Art Taylor is the author of On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. He has won three additional Agatha Awards, an Anthony Award, two Macavity Awards, and three consecutive Derringer Awards for his short fiction, and his work has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories. He also edited Murder Under the Oaks: Bouchercon Anthology 2015, winner of the Anthony Award for Best Anthology or Collection. He is an associate professor of English at George Mason University, and he contributes frequently to the Washington Post, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and Mystery Scene Magazine.

Art Taylor, Writer