Re: RARA-AVIS: Noir Panel at LCC

From: Sandra Ruttan (
Date: 07 Feb 2007

I wasn¹t at the noir panel on Saturday morning, as I was moderating the panel on thrillers and heroes next door. I was disappointed about missing this topic.

I thought about replying to Brian¹s post, resisted, but now I do think I¹ll chime in.

I think it¹s very important to consider the fact that I was on the opposing panel, and I was sick all weekend and not around much, and I STILL heard about the noir panel and the Ken Bruen comments. Whatever the intention of the moderator this is a note to all who may be on a panel some day to consider your words carefully. I don¹t know what the hell it is with people seeming to find it trendy to take Bruen shots lately, but I find it tasteless. He¹s one of the most generous people in this business, simply a wonderful person. It¹s probably a damn good thing I wasn¹t in the room.

Since I did moderate a panel at LCC I¹m going to speak out of both sides of my mouth just a bit. In the guidelines moderators were sent, we were told we could participate in the discussions. It was therefore up to each moderator to decide how they wanted to handle that... But there is a moderators manifesto on Barry Eisler¹s website. I wish all moderators would read it and apply it.

I am personally in agreement with Donna. I think moderators should make timely comments and their main job is to keep the discussion flowing. I did not do a lengthy introduction of myself - ³my name is Sandra Ruttan and I will be moderating this panel on...²

It is here that I will jump up and BEG all conference organizers to see to it that every panelist has a microphone. Such a small thing, but I really wanted the panel to be interactive discussion, and when there are two microphones and five people, it¹s very hard to reach across someone and yank the microphone out of someone¹s hand. ARGH! However, I had a fantastic group of people who shared my thinking, and we managed to make it work. Panelists responded to each other. They raised questions too. Audience interaction was great, and we ran out of time for all of the questions. The greatest compliment to me is that I could have keeled over and died (a distinct possibility) and that panel still would have been great.

My main goal was to make the panelists look good. I did not ask questions and go down the list for all four to answer it every time. I did have tailored questions that related to the experience of each panelist. When they¹re insightful and funny and expand on the topic at hand, people enjoy it. We received a lot of compliments, but the best was the woman in the audience who said she had been hesitant to come, because of our topic, but was impressed by how we¹d expanded on the topic and she felt like she¹d learned something.

Of course, anyone who was there (which would be nobody on this list, I suppose) knows I learned a little something myself about American history...


On 2/7/07 10:52 AM, "Donna" <> wrote:
> I also felt the same. I presume it was meant to be a joke, but it didn't
> come across that way, and I felt it was insulting to Ken - who not only
> happens to be a wonderful writer who deserves all the accoldes he gets
> and more, but who is also a charming, funny, and generous man who is a
> good friend. I'm sure he would not have been upset if he were there, but
> I was upset on his behalf. If it WAS a joke, then it wasn't a very funny
> one.
>> > Brian said:
>> > Unfortunately, that is not the role of the moderator, at least not as
>> > I understand it. In fact, he's supposed to be there to keep that sort
>> > of thing from getting out of hand.
> The panels which work best are those where the moderator can fade into
> the background and have the focus be on the panelists. It's nice at
> conventions if everyone who is a moderator also gets a chance to
> actually be on a panel. That's when they should talk about themselves. I
> love a good moderator who can bring out all the panelists, who has read
> some of the work of each of them, can make the questions relevant and
> give those panelists a chance to shine.
> Donna

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