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Panel: Queer Mystery Writers, Passing on the Torch

Four award-winning queer mystery writers discuss the queer authors who influenced their work. Ellen Hart discusses J.M. Redmann, John Copenhaver muses about Patricia Highsmith, Cheryl Head remembers Nikki Baker and Michael Nava talks about Joseph Hansen. Presented in partnership with Mystery Writers of America, NorCal Chapter.


Watch on YouTube.


Cheryl A. Head writes the award-winning, Charlie Mack Motown Mysteries. Head is a two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, a Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist and winner of the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award. In 2022 Head was awarded the Alice B. Reader’s Appreciation Medal, and her books were included in the special collections of the State of Michigan Library. Time’s Undoing, a crime fiction novel based on her family’s personal tragedy, will be published by Dutton in March 2023. Head lives in Washington, DC with her partner, Teresa, and canine supervisors: Abby and Frisby.


John Copenhaver’s historical crime novel, Dodging and Burning (Pegasus), won the 2019 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel and garnered Anthony, Strand Critics, Barry and Lambda Literary Award nominations. Copenhaver writes a crime fiction review column for Lambda Literary called “Blacklight,” cohosts on the House of Mystery Radio Show and is the six-time recipient of Artist Fellowships from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He’s a faculty mentor at University of Nebraska’s Low-Residency MFA program in Omaha, and he lives in Richmond, VA, where he teaches fiction writing and literature at Virginia Commonwealth University. The Savage Kind, his second novel, recently won the 2022 Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Mystery.


Ellen Hart is the author of thirty-five crime novels. She is a six-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery and a four-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Best Popular Fiction. In 2010, Hart received the GCLS Trailblazer Award for lifetime achievement in the field of lesbian literature. In 2017, she became the first openly LGBT author to be named a Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America, an award that represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing, one that was established to acknowledge important contributions to the genre as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. She lives in Minnesota with her partner of forty-four years.


Michael Nava is the author of an acclaimed series of eight novels featuring gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios who The New Yorker, called “a detective unlike any previous protagonist in American noir.” He is the recipient of seven Lambda Literary Awards in the gay mystery category and the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement in LGBT Literature. His most recent Rios novel, Lies With Man, was published in April 2021 by Amble Press, an LGBTQ press of which he is also managing editor. The Washington Post review of the novel called Nava “a master of the genre.”




Cheryl Head - Website | Cheryl Head - Instagram | Cheryl Head - Twitter

John Copenhaver - Website | John Copenhaver - Instagram | John Copenhaver - Twitter

Ellen Hart - Website | Ellen Hart - Facebook

Michael Nava - Website | Michael Nava - Facebook


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