Magna cum Murder

Crime Writing Festival


October 19-21, 2018 

The Columbia Club, Indianapolis, IN


Guest of Honor ~ Reavis Z. Wortham

International Guest of Honor ~ Peter Lovesey

McM new logo Sponsored by 
Ball State University
Muncie, Indiana

Magna cum Murder
Kathryn Kennison

Steering Committee
Mara Higgins
Amanda Lindsay
Ruthie Lucas
Mary McGhee
Arthur Soto
Diane Watters
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Suzanne M. Harding

Years ago, Suzanne M. Harding lived in a log cabin in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains in New Mexico, miles from the nearest library and on the other side of the mountain from a bookstore.

During one particularly blustery winter she found herself trapped at home as snowfall periodically closed local roads. That's when she took up her pen and, in her own words, "began writing a mystery out of a sheer need to read a new story."  With that, the former teacher, cab driver, secretary, art director, and chef launched herself into a new career: mystery writer.

Suzanne, mentor and friend to many writers, not just in Indiana, died Tuesday, March 27, 2018, at her northside Indianapolis home of natural causes. She was 72. To the end she was doing what she loved--writing.

"Suzanne was driven to write with purpose and skill. She understood the craft of writing and wanted to pass that talent along to anyone who was interested," said Diana Catt, one of the original members of In Mysterious Company, a writing critique group founded by Suzanne. "She wanted to mold fledging writers into successful, fulfilled authors. I will miss her wisdom and friendship."
More than thirty short stories were published in various online and print magazines and anthologies, including those produced by the Speed City chapter of Sisters in Crime. Her most recent short story, "You Belong with Me," appears in the anthology,  Happily Ever After by Bella Books under her pen name, S.M. Harding .

Her novel,  I Will Meet You There ,  the first in a mystery series set in southern Indiana, was published in 2015 by Bella Books;   A Woman of Strong Purpose , appeared in 2016 and Speak in Winter Code, in 2017. Suzanne was working on other books in the series at the time of her death.

She taught classes at the Writers Center of Indiana and participated in panels for their annual Gathering of Writers, as well as at Indy Author's Fair. She had appeared on panels at Magna cum Murder. She gave the "First Book" talk at the Antioch Writers' Workshop in Dayton, Ohio. She edited and contributed an essay to  Writing Murder , a collection of essays by Midwestern authors about writing crime fiction.

"What I loved most about Suzanne was that she had a voice and she wasn't afraid to use it," said Brigitte Kephart, an Indianapolis writer who was a member of In Mysterious Company. "So much wisdom spilling from her mouth like a fountain and I will be ever a creek run dry from her passing."

She deeply influenced the Indianapolis writing community as a teacher, mentor, friend, and inspiration.

"Suzanne taught me the importance of discipline, of sitting myself down, and doing the hard work of writing," said Janet Williams, a journalist and writer who met Suzanne at a class at The Writers Center.

D.B. Reddick, also a member of In Mysterious Company, described her as "a tremendous mentor and leader of our critique group. All of us would agree that she helped make us better writers."

Suzanne will live on in her own words, " Writing is like following the strands of a spider web. Each filament--setting, character, POV, tension, dialogue, plot, voice--is separate, yet they crisscross and it takes every one to make the whole story strong."

-Brigitte Kephart