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Novelist offers peek at mysteries

Learn about mystery writing from author Stuart Kaminsky, who will appear Saturday in Citrus County.

Florida author Stuart Kaminskywill discuss his many works and take questions from aspiring writers from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Citrus County Auditorium on U.S. 41 south of Inverness.

Kaminsky, a Sarasota resident, has produced three successful mystery series. His serial characters include Russian police inspector Porfiry Rostinkov, Hollywood private investigator Toby Peters and Chicago police officer Abe Lieberman.

He is focusing on Florida as the setting for his novels. He said he started writing about Florida five years ago.

"Florida is the new center for mystery writing," he said. "It used to be New York, then Los Angeles, and now it's shifted to Florida."

Kaminsky said Florida is "full of wonderful enigmas and mysteries."

"You've got tranquil sunsets and hurricanes, the retirees from up North and the remains of the Old South, there's oddity and contrast," he said.

Kaminsky said Florida attracts a lot of famous writers, who visit here to get inspiration.

"Stephen King spends a lot of time here, and so does Elmore Leonard," he said.

Kaminsky said the mystery genre covers a lot of ground, from John D. MacDonald to Edna Buchanan and Carl Hiaasen.

"But the essence is that the story is centered around a crime, typically a murder," he said.

His latest novel, Vengeance, introduces the fictional Sarasota process server Lew Fonesca, who retires to Florida but winds up getting involved in a couple of crime mysteries. The book earned Kaminsky a first runner-up award in June in the balloting for the first Flamingo Tribute 2000, a new award for Florida mystery writers.

"I'll be speaking about why Florida is such a great place to write about in mystery novels, and I'll also try to answer questions. I'll be bringing my wife, and she's an editor as well," Kaminsky said.

Kaminsky has written 50 published books and 40 short stories and produced five screenplays. He won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for best novel in 1989 and has been nominated six other times.

He is the immediate past president of the Mystery Writers of America. He is also a regular lecturer in the Festival of Reading series sponsored by the St. Petersburg Times.

He recently finished editing a 22-story anthology from Florida mystery writers, which includes familiar mystery authors such as Buchanan, Jeremiah Healy and Carolina Garcia-Aguilera.