Killer Nashville 2020 and COVID-19 by Ray Peden

Killer Nashville 2020 and COVID-19

by Ray Peden

I first walked through the doors of the Hutton in 2012, introverted, intimidated, friendless, and unpublished. As an alumnus of 7 Killer Nashvilles, I’m still an introvert, but now I have two well-received suspense/thrillers published, made the short-list for a Claymore and Silver Falchion, been a contributor on numerous panels, gotten a powerful blurb from Clay and others, but most importantly, have slowly accumulated a growing stable of writer friends, all trying to tackle that daunting, elusive, hair-pulling, moving target we know as the @#$%^&* publishing business. My literary financial portfolio hasn’t changed much since I started, but the human experience has.

Armed with some strong anxiety meds (metaphorically speaking), I was looking forward to KN-2020, ready to multiply my friend count, but C-19 tells me otherwise. Bummer. But I’d much rather look forward to seeing comrades in 2021, healthy and brimming with enthusiasm, than chance it now. Not to mention I’m not particularly looking forward to saying goodbye to my family via Facetime with a tube down my throat.

Although it’s been batted around, the idea of a virtual conference doesn’t do KN justice. It’s been said by many that the informal gatherings in hallways, and more so at breakfasts and crowded after-hours round tables by the bar, anchored by tall tales, white lies, and alcohol, is where the real value of KN is spawned. After all—and this is not to diminish the deft organizing skills of KN staff—but these interpersonal exchanges are where the heart of Killer Nashville is most skillfully nurtured. I won’t say I have learned it all, nor that panels have no further value in developing my skills, but the luncheons, award banquets, and elsewhere is where the real value of a prestigious, successful, long-running writing conference shines. And so it is here.

So, to this end, I offer my sad regrets for this year and look forward to seeing everyone next year, God willing, and the creek don’t rise. My book 3, The Bourbon Conspiracy, needs my full attention. Cheers, Clay. You made a tough decision, but the right one. One that all of us, expressed or not, understand.

Ray Peden took a slight detour from the creative pleasures of his youth and molded a 43-year professional career, not as a writer, but as a Civil Engineer, General Contractor, Home Builder and Designer, Land Developer, and Public Relations Copywriter.

Along the way he found time for other pursuits: magazine editor, R&B guitarist, painter, cartoonist, drill sergeant, carpenter, stone mason. Throw in three ex-wives, three amazing daughters, four grandchildren and counting, and it was time to retire to a new career, the thrill-a-minute life as a novelist, counting bodies, conspiracies, and emotional conflicts while he sips bourbon and watches the Kentucky River roll by. Visit him at