New directions for Dennis Lehane

The novelist best known for MYSTIC RIVER is spending the current calendar year at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, his old alma mater, teaching classes and organizing conferences:

Eckerd College, and by extension the city, can become a national

magnet for writers in the making, bestselling mystery author Dennis

Lehane said last week.

   Lehane, whose 2001 Mystic River was made into an

Oscar-winning movie, is here for the 2005-2006 school year, living in

Historic Old Northeast and teaching creative writing at Eckerd, his

alma mater.

   He’s also helping organize the January Writers in Paradise conference at Eckerd.

It’s the event’s second year. Lehane thinks the conference could

help the liberal arts college build a national reputation as a creative


   While diving into a Yankee pot roast Thursday at Midtown Sundries, Lehane casually pulled out a couple of conference nuggets:

   Stephen King, among the most acclaimed modern scary-story writers, will teach a one-day class at the conference.

The conference will also feature a reading from Lehane’s debut play CORONADO, which will have its world premiere at the Invisible City Theatre in New York on November 30. The play — based on Lehane’s short story “Until Gwen,” which was published in Atlantic Monthly and recently reprinted in both BASS and BAMS — will run until December 17, and features another Lehane — Gerry — in the cast.