"Kindness: n. the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate." That definition is from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). It describes the man who created and continues to produce Killer Nashville, the pre-eminent conference for writers of mystery, thrillers, horror, and fantasy. That man is Clay Stafford, an entertainment entrepreneur for Blackguard, Inc. which works with writers, TV, movies, agents, publishers, radio, and other venues. Clay, himself, is an award-winning author, screenwriter, movie and TV producer, actor, and educator. I just returned from this year's Killer Nashville and remain awed by Clay's genuine interest in writers, published or not.
Clay Stafford exudes kindness. My interactions with him are only two years old (both with my attendance at Killer Nashville), but I can tell you that his approach to Killer Nashville is oriented toward encouraging writers, promoting writers, bringing best-selling authors and unpublished authors together for mutual growth, and fellowship that starts at breakfast and does not end even when the conference does. Everything is couched in kindness from registration to the comfort of the facility, organizing and presenting panels, the awards banquet, and endless chances to network. It is no exaggeration that Clay makes time for everyone.
Clay encouraged me to attend, to sit in on several panels (Writing the Literary Novel, Writing Faith-Based Literature, and How To Master Setting) which I enjoyed, asked me to present a medal to one of the writers, and then asked me to have breakfast with him on the last day of the conference. One would never know he is a person of significant stature in the world of writers and entertainment.
One last thing. When the envelope was opened for a key award and he saw that I was the winner, he immediately went to David Morrell, famous creator of Rambo, and, since he knew Morrell had been a professor of mine at the University of Iowa, asked David to make the presentation. Clay was scheduled to make the presentation, but he immediately shifted and made it even more special for me. "Kindness"? Yes, I think that noun fits the man, Clay Stafford.