This past Saturday was my birthday. I'm now 34 years old, so pretty firmly into adulthood by now. It sounds stupid, but sometimes I forget that being a responsible independent adult has its perks. Like, I'll think, "Oh, I wish I could (do whatever thing)" and then remember hey, wait a minute, I can! A cool event is happening in the city? LET'S GO! A funky end table that my mother wouldn't approve of? IT'S IN MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW! Granted, having kids has prevented total spontaneity (and, um, dangerous home decor), but still. Way better than being a teenager.
So, my birthday. And doing things. When I wrote Seductive Suspect, which is about a murder mystery weekend gone wrong, I was pretty much making stuff up as I went along. I'd never actually done something like that, but I'd heard enough about such events that I figured I could cobble together something realistic. Or at least believable.
I wrote the book. Went through submission, editing, release, promo, blah blah blah. And continued to think, "boy, it sure would be fun to go to a murder mystery weekend."
It finally hit me. WHY NOT? I'm an adult!* I started doing my research, and long story short, Mr. Landen and I spent the weekend in the Victorian mansion that served as the inspiration for the Haunted Mansion in Disney World and participated in the murder mystery events. It was super fun, we had a blast, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who's interested in that sort of thing!
In comparing it to the setup for Seductive Suspect, there were similarities and differences. We were all assigned characters and were supposed to act them out at the scheduled times. (Though I don't think the drunk guy from New Jersey ever fully grasped that....) We got information sheets before each round with what's going to be revealed, what should stay secret, etc. None of us was the murder victim, and although one character was the murderer, he/she isn't told that. We all stayed on site, some meals were provided, and there was a full bar. (YES!)
As for the differences between my real-life experience and what my imagination concocted - when I first saw that this was in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania, I was imagining a secluded, creepy mansion. Nope. It's actually kind of a tourist-y little town, and the mansion is within walking distance to the main strip of shops and restaurants, plus some outdoor activities. I thought we'd have to be in character the whole time, but we actually had a good chunk of the day on Saturday to ourselves. (Mr. Landen and I browsed the shops, ate lunch, and went for a little hike in the woods.) All the clues came out during our discussions and roleplaying; no searching the mansion with a magnifying glass or anything physical like that, minus a little bit in the "murder" scene.
I got one of the biggest, most significant roles, so happy birthday to me. (Not the murderer, though!) The guy who runs the murder mystery part usually doesn't get the chance to spend a whole lot of time with the guests before having to assign parts, but he said that he's been doing it long enough that he gets a good read on people and usually does well. I would say for our group, he did a really good job and most of us fit our characters well. (Except for maybe drunk Jersey guy.) There were lots of laughs, fun in-character interactions, and we got to know each other a little bit outside of the mystery parts, especially during the special dinner on Saturday night. Mr. Landen had read some reviews online before we went, so he was forewarned that things get a little raunchy in the mystery story, but no one in our group seemed particularly offended. All in good fun!
Year 34 is off to a good start, and again, I highly recommend this place. If you go, tell Inspector Bob we say hello!
(*Yes, that link goes exactly where you think it does. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE GROUND!!!)