Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Welcome to Forensic University--How it Came to Be

Wow. This has been an exciting two months since we proposed the idea of a conference dedicated solely to forensic science. The best part has been the enthusiasm of our featured guests: Jan Burke, Dr. D.P. Lyle, Eileen Dreyer and Lee Lofland.

Little did Michelle Becker and I know when we dreamed up this crazy idea that several of our guests had come to the same conclusion--a conference dedicated to educating writers about forensics was sorely needed. Nervous as two kids asking for prom dates, Michelle and I divvied up the responsibilities for contacting our headliners. She e-mailed Dr. Lyle, and I e-mailed Jan Burke.

The next thing I knew, Michelle was shrieking on the phone, "Doug called! He's in! He's excited."

I thought it was a wrong number and almost hung up on her. Finally, I had the presence of mind to ask, "Who is this?"

"Jo----annnnn---aaaa! It' s Michelle! And Doug is excited."

"And who is Doug?"

"Uh, Dr. Lyle."

Oh. OHHHHH! (All right, I'll quit with the dragging out letters, but you get it, right?)

Then it was my turn to respond to Jan Burke's interested e-mail with a phone call. I was so nervous I couldn't talk.

"Take a deep breath," she said very sweetly. Soon we were chatting up a storm. I had seen Jan at a local library right when Nine came out, so of course I was star-struck. Heck, the book is terrific, and she obviously is very knowledgeable about forensics and the publishing industry.

Jan was thrilled. She'd seen the need for this sort of education.

Next came a lot of hard work--for Tony Hooper, one of our local SinC members. As part of our proposal for national, we needed costs for hotel rooms, meeting rooms, and meals. Michelle and I made two site visits and quickly determined we were in over our heads. Tony said he'd help, but one of us might have to lend him a dog house to sleep in. (Fortunately, his wife was understanding.) With Tony's background as a CEO, we quickly had a spreadsheet to show national.

Next came a conference call with Rochelle Krich, Libby Hellmann, Kathy Wall, Beth Wasson and SJ Rozan. Every one of the national members was enthusiastic about the project.

So here we are.

I once read an interview with an astronaut. "Are you nervous before a launch?" asked the reporter.

"Oh, heck no. Why would I be nervous? I'm sitting there on top of tons of explosives waiting for someone to light a match to it."

Yeah, that about covers it. We're nervous, but the sky's the limit. Fasten your seatbelts!