Just in time for Halloween, the season of fright, homegrown mystery maven Margaret Maron heads to UNCG to introduce audiences to another successful woman mystery writer.

The inaugural installment of what may become a series, “Margaret Maron Presents Women of Mystery,” features writer Nancy Pickard. The program, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, in the Virginia Dare Room of the UNCG Alumni House.

Pickard © Walt Whitaker Photography lightened (1)

Nancy Pickard

Maron, a Johnston County native, lists numerous accomplishments and awards that include an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from UNCG in 2010. She attended Woman’s College, now UNCG, from 1956-58. She planned to study education but switched her major to English after one class. She left after her sophomore year and took a summer job at the Pentagon, where she met her husband.

“Nevertheless, I have always had warm memories of UNCG,” she says, “because it was my first step toward finding my tribe, my entrance into a wider world that valued intellect and the joys of the written word.”

In 2006, Maron loaned her papers to University Archives and Manuscripts in Jackson Library. She also has established an endowment in the UNCG Excellence Foundation to enhance the preservation of her papers and other collections in University Archives and Manuscripts

She has long been active in mentoring other writers and writing about compelling issues impacting North Carolina. Maron’s latest novel “Designated Daughters,” the 19th featuring Judge Deborah Knott of the fictional Colleton County east of Raleigh, appeared in August. As the Chicago Tribune has declared, “There’s nobody better.”

For the first in what will hopefully become a yearly fall series, Maron chose to invite her friend, colleague and fellow author Nancy Pickard. Pickard, a Missouri native who lives in Kansas, is a successful author in her own right. Like Maron, Pickard is a founding member and former president of Sisters In Crime, the international organization dedicated to the advancement of women mystery writers, and she is a former national board member of the Mystery Writers of America.

Especially known for her Jenny Cain series, Pickard too has won numerous writing awards. When she was ten years old, she resolved to have horses, solve mysteries, help people and be happily married. She writes that “for 30 years after that, I forgot on any conscious level about that wish list. When I finally came across it again, I was 40 years old, married to a cowboy, doing volunteer work and writing murder mysteries.”

As for writing murder mysteries, Pickard says she owes it all to Nancy Drew.

“Margaret Maron Presents Women of Mystery” is sponsored by the UNCG University Libraries.