Tuesday, November 20, 2012



Long before I really committed to writing, I was a theater kid: acting and writing and directing, first in my best friend's garage, where instead of selling lemonade we charged our neighbors a dollar to endure our theatrical extravaganzas; then moving on to community theater and school productions: singing, dancing, playing classical piano.

(Photo: Chynna Skye Pozzessere, Harley Jane Kozak, Alexandra Sokoloff: Vampires of the Wild, Wild West.)
I directed my first play at age 16, directed and choreographed full-scale, big-budget musicals in college, sang in various girl groups and seedy bars, acted in (and co-wrote) improvisational and street theater in Berkeley, and I've even danced professionally (no, not THAT kind of dance!).
One fabulous and unexpected perk of being an author is that I get to use my musical and theater training constantly. It turns out that a lot of authors are hams. Um... I mean... just as talented in other arts as they are in writing.
Here are a couple of the things I do these days in my "spare time":

The Slice Girls

My partner, crime author Craig Robertson, is one of the organizers of the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, and every year Bloody Scotland hosts a sold-out event, Crime at the Coo, where readers can get locked in to a pub with the attending authors and get serenaded all night long.

I said that writers are hams, but the sad truth is that at crime festivals the musical performances tend to be testosterone-heavy. So I decided to counter that by forming an all-female all-author singing group. Here are The Slice Girls - me, Steph Broadribb, AK Benedict, Louise Voss, Susi Holliday, and Harley Jane Kozak (at the House of Blues, New Orleans). We're also often joined by Lucy Ribchester and Kati Hiekkapelto, depending on who's at what festival! At our first Crime at the Coo we got up on the bar to do the Cellblock Tango from Chicago, and we've been singing at conferences and festivals ever since.

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Review of the Slice Girls in the Independent

The Slush Pile Players

The staggeringly talented, bestselling author Heather Graham also comes straight out of theater, and she's pulled together an all-author theater troupe that performs an original comic musical revue every year at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention; at Heather's Writers for New Orleans; and other cons, such as the Horror Writers' Association Stoker Weekend.
Heather has a hypnotic gift for pulling recovering theater, film, and garage-band authors into her evil web, and the result is her gypsy theater troupe The Slush Pile Players, which includes authors F. Paul WilsonHarley Jane KozakBeth CiottaMary Stella, Debbie Richardson, Dave Simms, and Nathan Walpow, publisher/author Helen Rosburg and editor Ali De Gray of Medallion Press, actors/directors/writers Lance Taubold and Rich Devlin, and Heather's numerous and multitalented progeny: Jason, Derek, Bryee Annan, Shayne and Chynna Pozzessere.
It's truly a gift to be part of this theatrical family.

The Killer Thriller Band

The Killer Thriller Band, produced by Robert S. Levinson, and made up entirely of thriller writers, had a smash debut at ThrillerFest in Phoenix, July 2006. 

The band is John Lescroart, F. Paul Wilson, Dave Simms, Scott Nicholson,David Morrell, Blake Crouch, Nathan Walpow, Michael Palmer, Daniel Palmer,Gayle Lynds, and the Killerettes: Heather Graham, Harley Jane Kozak, and Alexandra Sokoloff. 
 Photo: Producer Bob Levinson and the Killerettes.

In the News

Killer Thriller band rehearsal: (L-R) Scott Nicholson with bass; F. Paul Wilson on drums; John Lescroart with acoustic guitar; Killerettes Alexandra Sokoloff, Heather Graham, Harley Jane Kozak; David Simms on guitar. 

From left, "Killerettes" Heather Graham, Harley Jane Kozak, Alexandra Sokoloff; Band members Scott Nicholson, John Lescroart, Daniel Palmer, David Morrell, Blake Crouch, Dave Simms, Michael Palmer. Band members out of view: Gayle Lynds, Nathan Walpow, F. Paul Wilson.


These days members of the Killer Thriller Band have merged with The Slush Pile Players and are performing at conferences all over the country and the UK as Slushpile.  Here's Slushpile at The House of Blues, during Bouchercon 2012 in Cleveland.  With Heather Graham, Greg Varricchio, F. Paul Wilson, Alexandra Sokoloff, Dave Simms, Matthew Dow Smith.

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