FAQ

Can these programs be presented at venues other than libraries?

How long does a Mystery Night program last from start to finish?

How much will we spend on food, decorations, costumes, etc.?

What if none of us have any acting experience?

How many actors and helpers are required?

Will we need to rehearse?

Will we need a “Director?”

Does the audience get to witness the murder and/or inspect the crime scene?

How much space does the program require?

Can we present the program during the library’s open hours?

Can the program be used as a fundraiser?

We want to make some changes to the story and/or characters.  May we do that?  Or can you do that for us?

Do you provide refunds or exchanges if we’re truly unhappy with our purchase?

Judging by the characters’ names, your stories sound humorous.  But do they also include serious and solvable mysteries?

Can you be more specific about the adult content in your stories?

Do you provide all the necessary game materials?

Which one of your mystery stories is the best?

Q:       Can these programs be presented at venues other than libraries?

A: Absolutely!  But keep in mind that the story will still take place in a library setting, so you’ll need to pretend that your church, club, office, fraternity/sorority house, etc. is a library.

Q:       How long does a Mystery Night program last from start to finish?

A: About three hours, plus cast and crew members should be present at least one hour prior to start time (for costuming, pictures, set-up, etc.), and clean-up requires extra time at the end of the night.

Q:       How much will we spend on food, decorations, costumes, etc.?

A: This is completely up to you.  If you have a sizable budget and/or a generous Friends group, you could have the affair catered by a local restaurant, rent costumes for the actors, etc.  But you could also cater the event with snacks provided by staff members, create your own homemade decorations, and shop at used clothing stores for inexpensive costume items.  Often, the best costumes can be put together using items in the actors’ own closets along with a special touch or two (a $5 tiara bought from a party store, a $20 straw cowboy hat, etc.).

Q:       What if none of us have any acting experience?

A: No experience is required, just a willingness to memorize a handful of clues and the ability to “stay in character” all night.  There isn’t much of a script to memorize – just the background of your character, his or her feelings about the other characters, and important clues that need to be shared with the audience during the program.  The mystery is interactive and improvisational, not a staged play.  The audience members can – and will – ask all kinds of unexpected questions.  At the end of the program, your character shares his or her portion of the solution, but this does not need to be memorized.

Q:       How many actors and helpers are required?

A: Eleven actors – ten to play suspects (six women and four men, except “Murder at Gooseneck Lake” and “Murder in Movieland,” which require five women and five men) and one to play the detective (male or female).  At least six or seven helpers are also needed for tasks like food and beverage service, audience check-in, time checks, crowd control, etc.  Helpers are very important to the success of the evening!  They handle the audience’s “real world” questions and allow the actors to stay in character at all times.

Q:       Will we need to rehearse?

A: Yes, one rehearsal is recommended, preferably after-hours at the hosting library.  This allows the suspects, detective, and helpers to plan the program and get acquainted with the story and characters.  Rehearsal typically lasts between two and three hours.  Guidelines for rehearsal are included in the game materials.

Q:       Will we need a “Director?”

A: Yes, it is necessary for one individual to act as Director – managing the casting process, running the rehearsal, and generally leading the group.  The Director may also serve as an actor or helper at the program.

Q:       Does the audience get to witness the murder and/or inspect the crime scene?

A: No, the murder always occurs “off stage” and out of sight, with the detective acting as liaison between the audience and the unseen police officers investigating the crime scene.

Q:       How much space does the program require?

A: A fairly large meeting room is best, since all participants (actors, helpers, and audience) will be in this room together at various times.  The program can accommodate about 45 audience members, so a room with a capacity of 65+ is ideal.  In addition, some of the action takes place in a separate location with half of the participants.  A lobby space is usually perfect for this.

Q:       Can we present the program during the library’s open hours?

A: I highly recommend scheduling the program as an after-hours, adults-only event on the weekend.  This lets the fun occur in the library’s lobby or other public space without interruption from non-attending customers.  It also prevents kids from seeing or hearing something that might be age inappropriate.  Plus, it makes the night feel extra special if the audience members wait for the front door to be unlocked…and then get ushered in as if attending a theatrical event.  Which it is, of course! :)

Q:       Can the program be used as a fundraiser?

A: Sure!  While I have always presented these programs as free events, they do lend themselves to fund-raising.  If your library system (or other organization) allows this, then tickets could be sold for a reasonable fee.  The money could then be donated to your Friends group, library foundation, or other appropriate agency.

Q:       We want to make some changes to the story and/or characters.  May we do that?  Or can you do that for us?

A: No.  The stories are my own creations and are fully copyrighted.  And since the mysteries are complex, with several interconnected stories, making even a single change (such as changing a character’s gender, name, or job) would affect the rest of the mystery in various ways and thus require more changes.  I include plenty of information on each mystery’s content both on this page and the More Information page.  Please be sure before ordering that the mystery you’ve selected is right for you and your library.

Q:       Do you provide refunds or exchanges if we’re truly unhappy with our purchase?

A: Of course.  I will work with you to resolve any problems.

Q:       Judging by the characters’ names, your stories sound humorous.  But do they also include serious and solvable mysteries?

A: Yes!  The stories are intentionally convoluted and incorporate humorous and/or fantasy elements like jokey names, trained attack squirrels, Voodoo dolls, etc.  But they also present tricky murder mysteries that can be solved using process of elimination and careful consideration of the physical evidence, timing of events, and the characters’ motives.

Q:       Can you be more specific about the adult content in your stories?

A: I firmly believe my mysteries are no more risqué than today’s prime-time television shows, but I still err on the safe side by billing them as “for adults (18 and up) only.”  Every story contains some violence (since they are murder mysteries), sex and sexual innuendo, and adult situations.  To be more specific:

“Murder in Crooke’s Crossing” includes two adulterous affairs and an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

“Mardi Gras Murder” is packed with licentiousness (it is set in the “Big Easy,” after all), including a “lady of the evening” character, a Viagra-like substance, alcohol and drug (“downers”) use, Voodoo magic, and two adulterous affairs.

“Murder on the Strip” takes the “Whatever happens in Vegas…” slogan seriously!  The story features several sexually promiscuous characters (including a Hugh Hefner-like figure), an adulterous affair, a character with a porn magazine star past, and a child born out of wedlock.

“Murder in the Keys” features alcohol use, a sexually promiscuous character, and a flamboyant gay character whose sex life is part of the story.

“Murder at Gooseneck Lake” includes two adulterous affairs, witchcraft, alcohol use, a past suicide, and an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

“Mesa Verde Murder” includes drug (peyote) use, a scene of seduction, and a character who claims to have experienced “invasive” medical exams after being abducted by aliens.

“Murder in Movieland” features a few sexually promiscuous characters, an obsessed “stalker” character, alcohol use, and an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

“Murder on the Battery” features a sexually promiscuous character and a gay character.

Q:       Do you provide all the necessary game materials?

A: Yes, you will receive all the necessary files as PDFs and can print as many copies as you want/need. The only thing I don’t provide is advertising materials, so you will need to create your own flyer/poster to market the program.

Q:       Which one of your mystery stories is the best?

A: Each story offers its own unique setting, characters, and flavor.  “Murder in Crooke’s Crossing” is probably the best one to start with, as it portrays all the typical public library “types” and features books prominently in the story.  “Mardi Gras Murder,” “Murder on the Strip,” and “Murder in Movieland” all feature glitzy locales (tailor-made for fun, gaudy decorations) and more glamorous characters.  “Murder in the Keys” has an especially quirky bunch of characters and perhaps the most fanciful story.  “Murder at Gooseneck Lake” probably has the darkest group of characters, although it’s certainly not lacking in silly humor.  “Mesa Verde Murder” and “Murder on the Battery” feature more than the usual number of oddball and/or soft-hearted characters.

Have a question that’s not answered here?  Ask the author.

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