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Crime Fiction Academy

Users and Suckers and Steady Bad Luckers: Writing Complex Characters with William Boyle (Sold Out)


3 Sessions via Zoom

Out of stock

Friday - Sunday 2:00 pm EST - 4:00 pm EST February 12 to February 14, 2021

This workshop has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Thierry Kehou at

As a kid, I always had some sense that crime fiction was about expertise, that I’d never be able to write about committing crimes because I wasn’t a crook. As I read more and read more widely, I realized I wasn’t interested in those stories anyway. What drew me into crime fiction and continues to draw me in, both as a writer and reader, is looking at the lives of desperate characters making bad decisions, doing the wrong things to stay afloat or out of some sense of revenge or retribution, letting their instincts lead them down crooked paths. To me, that’s what makes the best of crime fiction so universal. I’m not interested in characters who plot the perfect murder or detectives who solve crimes—I’m interested in the folks who are fighting to survive, to get out or break free, who are fed up with losing and want a shot at winning at any cost. In this course, we’ll consider the craft of building complex characters in crime fiction, characters rooted in loss and desperation. The course will be a mix of lecture, reading/discussion, writing, and Q&A.

Over three classes, we’ll look at a couple of craft essays, including one by Walter Mosley. We’ll also read several stories (possible authors: Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Lucia Berlin, Derrick Harriell, Willy Vlautin, Megan Abbott, Sara Gran, Patricia Highsmith, and Luis Alberto Urrea). We’ll feature writing exercises and assignments intended to help build rich and complicated characters in crime fiction.

All Levels
Capacity: 20

This workshop will take place online via Zoom. Participants will receive instructions for access prior to the first session.


Led by

  • William Boyle (Credit_ Katie Farrell Boyle)

    William Boyle

    William Boyle

    William Boyle is from Brooklyn, New York. His novels include: Gravesend, which was nominated for the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in France and shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in the U.K.; The Lonely Witness, which was nominated for the Hammett Prize and the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière; A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself, winner of the Prix Transfuge du meilleur polar étranger in France; and, most recently, City of Margins. He guest edited the noir volume of Nicolas Winding Refn’s He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.