Ellie Alexander, whose Bakeshop mysteries are based in a fictionalized Ashland, has plotted a weekend of immersive activities for Oct. 20-22
By Peter Finkle for Ashland.news
Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot or Juliet Capshaw at the first-ever immersive Ashland Mystery Fest on Oct. 20, 21 and 22 .
Meet and interact with 10 mystery book authors at the Ashland Library and at author pop-ups around town. Attend a Mystery Mixology event, an Hercule Poirot play, the Mystery Pub Crawl or a Haunted Ashland walking tour. Some events will be ticketed and some will be free. Some ticketed events are already selling out, so learn more and register for events at AshlandMysteryFest.com.
Ellie Alexander, author of an 18-book mystery series that is set right here in Ashland, came up with the idea of the Mystery Fest. If you have ever been to Mix Bakeshop on the Plaza, then you have been to the inspiration for Alexander’s fictional Torte Bakeshop. Torte is the home base for Juliet (Jules) Capshaw and her mother to offer food and drink pleasures and to solve crimes in fictional Ashland.
An immersive experience
The weekend is designed as an immersive experience for locals and for readers who will be coming from all over the country. Alexander told me that not so many younger readers participate in book clubs these days, but they like to have immersive experiences in which they can feel they’re a part of the fictional world of their favorite books.
“I’m writing an interactive mystery, based on the series, that Mystery Fest attendees will get to solve. There will be clues embedded all around town, and people will have the whole weekend to try to figure out whodunit,” Alexander said.
In addition to food, drink, talks and walks, the immersive weekend includes Alexander’s just-written interactive mystery. Based on the Bakeshop series, the mystery will include clues around town so you can try to figure out whodunit. Grab your first clue for the interactive mystery at either the Friday kickoff reception (a ticketed event) or at the Paddington Station store.
Ashland: Fictional or real … or both?
Alexander described both sides of the “fictional or real” question. Her statements on both sides of the coin surprised me. “Every week I hear from readers who are either coming to Ashland for the first time, because of reading the books and wanting to see the locations that inspired the series — or the opposite. The opposite are readers who email me saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I wish Ashland existed’ (thinking it is a fictional town she made up for the books). Then I write back to them, ‘It really does exist; it’s real.’” She even has a list of places to go that she sends out any time she gets an email from a reader saying, “I’m visiting Ashland. Where should I go?”
Chamber and Travel Ashland are organizing weekend
Alexander and Pam Hammond of Paddington Station brought the idea for a Mystery Fest weekend to the Ashland Chamber of Commerce early this year. The chamber and Travel Ashland saw the potential to bring a new group of visitors (and readers) to Ashland. They are working closely with many local businesses and organizations to make this an exciting weekend they hope will become an annual event.
Ashland Chamber is involving local businesses in creative ways. Here are just two examples.
- Alexander told me, “My friend Jennifer Chow writes this great L.A. Night Market series and her book is called ‘Death by Bubble Tea.’” I laughed as she continued, “Jennifer is going to do a pop-up talk on Saturday at the Matcha Boba House on East Main Street.”
- CJ Connor, who has a mystery series featuring board games, will be at Funagain Games on Sunday — yes, the board games shop.
Even Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara will be involved. He will join Alexander and fellow authors Kyra Davis and Gigi Pandian for a Saturday panel at Ashland Public Library titled: “What Never Happens at a Crime Scene.”
Speaking of the festival, Alexander said, “It’s like the mystery event of my childhood dreams, where you get to be your own sleuth for the weekend.”
For a schedule of events and to sign up for ticketed events, go to AshlandMysteryFest.com.
Peter Finkle gives Ashland history and art walking tours. See WalkAshland.com for walking tour information, or to request a custom tour.