Session Description

Readers come to crime fiction for intricate puzzles and interesting settings. With increasingly complicated forensics and widespread fascination with true crime, writers have a wealth of information for adding details and complex plot points to their work. This session will introduce research options and help wade through the mass of medical, legal, and scientific sources to find unusual ideas for their fiction—contemporary and historical—and to fact-check their work.


Cathy Pickens, a lawyer and college professor, is a writer of crime fact and crime fiction. Her first novel, Southern Fried, won the St. Martin’s/Minotaur Best New Traditional Mystery award. The series has been re-released as the Blue Ridge Mountain Mysteries from Joffe Books. She also writes a series on Southern regional true crime for Arcadia Publishing/History Press and is the fact crime columnist for Mystery Readers Journal. Now professor emerita in the McColl School of Business at Queens University in Charlotte, she won numerous teaching awards and provided leadership development workshops for corporate executives. She served as national president of Sisters in Crime and on the boards of Mystery Writers of America and the Mecklenburg Forensic Medicine Program (a regional evidence collection/preservation training collaborative). She’s conducted writing and creativity workshops at national conferences, for local writers’ groups, as faculty for Charlotte Lit, and with the low-residency MFA program at Queens. She has also appeared on numerous podcasts and on an episode of A&E’s First Blood. As the author of CREATE! (ICSC Press), Cathy offers coaching and workshops on developing the creative process and works with writers on telling their stories, through writers’ workshops. executive leadership retreats, and work with prison inmates and women in drug recovery. Most recently, she served as keynote speaker at the Cumberland County Library’s Crime Scene Library event, exploring why we’re fascinated by crime.