Sunday, October 2, 2016 – LADIES OF INTRIGUE CONFERENCE
The 3rd annual LADIES OF INTRIGUE event will be held on Sunday, October 2, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hotel Huntington Beach, 7667 Center Avenue, Huntington Beach.
Aspiring crime novelists and mystery lovers alike will enjoy this day-long conference featuring more than 15 women mystery writers. Headlining the outstanding lineup is Carolyn Hart and Robin Burcell.
Carolyn Hart is the winner of the Agatha Award in 2003 and the Malice Award in 2007. She has also received the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Amelia Award from Malice Domestic. Past national president of Sisters in Crime, she was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 2014. In her career event finale, she will be interviewed by author Rhys Bowen.
Robin Burcell is the award-winning author of the Kate Gillespie police procedural series and the Sidney Fitzpatrick thriller series. She currently co-writes with international best-selling author Clive Cussler. Their first co-written book debuts in September.
Other popular mystery writers including Kathy Aarons, Lisa Brackmann, Ellen Byron, Kate Carlisle, Donis Casey, Hannah Dennison, Kate Dyer-Seeley, Earlene Fowler, Daryl Wood Gerber, Naomi Hirahara, Linda O. Johnston, Carlene O ‘Neil, Laurie Stevens, and Pamela Samuels Young.
Tickets are $60 before August 15th and $65 after that date. Lunch is included. Free Parking.
For registration and additional information visit us at: www.mysteryink.com
Maine native whose family has lived there since the 1600s, MIKE BOND is a best-selling novelist who has covered death squads, guerrilla wars and military dictatorships in Latin America and Africa; Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and Europe; and environmental issues worldwide. Bond writes and gives frequent testimony and interviews worldwide on wilderness protection, endangered species, elephant poaching, wolves, whales, tigers, raptors, rain forests, climate change, renewable energy and ecosystem loss. Bond has been called the 'master of the existential thriller by the BBC and “one of the 21st century’s most exciting authors” by the Washington Times. His ancestors were among the first westerners in Hawaii, he is a bestselling novelist, international energy expert, war and human rights correspondent and award-winning poet who has lived and worked in many remote, dangerous parts of the world. His critically acclaimed novels depict the innate hunger of the human heart for what is good, the intense joys of love, the terror and fury of battle, the sinister vagaries of international politics and multinational corporations and the vanishing beauty of the natural world His books include Killing Maine, Saving Paradise, The Last Savanna, House of Jaguar, among many others.
Mike Bond: Mysteries of Life
In all the world there’s only one mystery story. It’s entitled, What’s Gonna Happen Next? And what it’s really about is life and death.
Life and death are our greatest, our final, mystery. We’re here, wherever here is, in a universe we don’t understand, in something we call time that we cannot understand, where nearly everything is beyond our comprehension. Where what we don’t know far outweighs the little we think we do know.
And when we die, what then?
Despite such concerns we do a good job of soldiering along, pretending we’ve got it all figured out (there is or isn’t a God etc., or maybe that we’ll be reborn and all this will be explained later). Or we ignore it – why worry about what we can’t possibly understand? We go to meetings and fall in love and get stuck in traffic and avoid thinking of death.
But death is what’s really going to happen next.
Thus we love mysteries and thrillers where characters risk death, or die unexpectedly, victimized by evils or fate. Because in these stories we experience death yet come back alive. And each experience helps us understand life and death a little more.
When we say mystery we mean the unknown, something we want to know. Whether it’s the identity of a killer, a motivation of a character, or a puzzle we can’t solve, mystery draws us in, entices us, worries us, begs to be elucidated. But the real mysteries – life, death, time, the universe, the soul – are all around us, and we can’t solve them.
Mystery had once a far more sacred meaning, which still endures subconsciously: from the Greek mystērion, the secret worship of a deity or sacred thing. Its root is myein, to shut the eyes. In ancient religions, certain rites, called mysteries, were practiced only by initiated persons, and included sacrifices, purifications, dances and songs. In the early Christian churches, the mystery meant the sacrament, the Eucharist itself, the essence of God.
So we shut our eyes, eradicate the visible, in order to understand the sacred meaning of life. Similarly, when we read mysteries we come in contact with the unknown, with death, crime and motivation, the sacred. And the deeper this contact the more permanent the experience.
Thus in a mystery the writer should put you, the reader, in the dangerous, exciting center of the story. The writer must not only tell the tale, but must also so deeply communicate the action, the place and circumstances that you, the reader, live them too. So that you are there, and the story becomes yours. And that when you’re old it’s still yours. Because you’ve lived it.
In my own life I’ve been tantalized by mystery, by what is behind the wall, over the next hill. As a result I’ve lived some terrifying times, in wars and revolutions, or alone and hunted in deadly foreign cities, clinging to a cliff without a rope, hunting elephant poachers, lost in vast deserts or freezing in the north. Because penetrating the mystery turned me on so much I couldn’t resist, no matter how dangerous it was. Because living that deeply is a key to the mystery. It doesn’t decode the mystery but it helps us understand it.
These experiences, and the mysteries behind them, are what I try to share. As in our prehistoric days, when we sat around a fire at a cave mouth and talked about what each of us had seen that day, where the antelope were grazing or cave lions might be lurking. We were sharing tidbits of the unknown, giving each other the knowledge to live more successfully, to survive.
Charles (“Chuck”) Rosenberg is a Harvard Law School-trained lawyer who has been a partner in a large, international law firm and, simultaneously, an adjunct law professor who has taught numerous law school courses, from copyright to criminal procedure. He received his undergraduate degree from Antioch College and has served as the credited legal script consultant to TV’s The Paper Chase, L.A Law, The Practice and Boston Legal, a full-time on-air legal analyst for E! Television’s O. J. Simpson criminal and civil trial coverage, and a former board member of the Taos Film Festival. His latest novel, WRITE TO DIE, is published by Thomas & Mercer.
Charles Rosenberg: What Do Readers Want?
Freud once asked of Marie Bonaparte the (sexist) question, “What does woman want?” With apologies to Freud for adapting his question, I want to ask “What do readers want?”
For most of history, writers found out what their readers wanted indirectly—by looking at sales figures, by reading professional reviews in newspapers and magazines, by hearing from agents, editors and writing teachers, and by talking with friends, acquaintances and other writers (most of whom probably didn’t say what they really thought). Unless they got tons of pointed fan mail, writers didn’t usually have direct access to the views of hundreds (or even thousands) of ordinary readers of their books.
Now, thanks to reader reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads, plus lots of blogs, writers are awash in reader opinions—if they want to read them. Some authors don’t. I do, and here are a couple of things I’ve learned.
To start with, I’ve learned that even people who like a particular genre (e.g., crime fiction) vary widely in what they’re looking for. For example, in a review of my first novel, Death on a High Floor (I was lucky enough to have over one thousand Amazon reviews for that book), one reader wrote, “Couldn’t put it down!” But several days earlier, another reader had written: “A fun book, but slow at times.”
What to make of this? After reading many more reviews, I concluded that some readers simply like a fast burn—murder on page 1, likely killers identified soon thereafter, protagonist and a lot about his/her character not long after that, mainly generated through action, action, action. Some readers, by contrast, prefer to let the story and the characters build. But, clearly, these days the vast majority of crime fiction readers want a fast start.
These different “pacing” preferences aren’t really surprising. As the late novelist John Gardner said, the job of the writer (quoting Coleridge) is to create in the mind of the reader, “the willing suspension of disbelief for the moment,” so that the reader can be persuaded “that the events [the writer] recounts really happened or might have happened . . .”, thus creating what Gardener calls the “fictional dream.”*
The problem is that people dream different dreams. What will quickly entice one person into a fictional world won’t always work for others. Why? Because the dream the author has on offer to the reader must fit with the reader’s own mindset about what might be real, or should be real, or at least what might be realistically imagined.
So what’s the best path for an author to decide about pacing? Should I do what I like best for myself (I tend to prefer a medium burn) or do what the majority of readers seem to want? When I reread the first draft of my new novel, Write to Die, the murder that’s key to the book didn’t occur until Chapter 3. After reading it, I said to myself, “You know, it appears that most of my readers prefer a fast burn.” The murder is now on page 2.
It’s not only reader preference on pacing that I learned more about from reader reviews. I’ve also come to understand that if you create good characters, you’d best be careful what you do with them in any sequels. In Death on a High Floor, I created Jenna James, a young, feisty, self-confident, brilliant trial lawyer. Many readers loved her. In the first sequel, Long Knives, I moved Jenna to a new setting and gave her some life challenges. So while she’s still young and feisty, she’s also at times scared, paranoid and defensive. When I wrote her that way, I thought I was just writing her going through a very bumpy period. A lot of readers agreed, but a small, rather vocal minority hated what I’d “done to her.”
In my new novel, Write to Die, the first of a planned series, I’ve created two new characters, Rory Calburton, a forty-year old, rather stuffy lawyer-partner, and Sarah Gold, a thirty-year old woman associate who’s into heavy risk-taking (and hey, with only ten years between them, there’s always the opportunity for romance). I think they’re good characters, and I hope readers will like them. But I’ve learned from reader reviews that when I write the sequel, I have to be careful not to change them too much. Because if you manage to create a great character, you no longer fully own her.
*The Art of Fiction, Notes on Craft for Young Writers, John Gardner, pp. 22-24, 38 (First Vintage Books Edition, 1985).
Elaine Viets has written 29 books three series: the dark Francesca Vierling newspaper mysteries, the traditional, humorous Dead-End Job mysteries, and the cozy Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper mysteries. She returns to the dark side with Brain Storm, the first mystery in her Angela Richman, death investigator series, and her 30th novel. Pre-order the Brain Storm e-book for $1.99 through August 1. http://amzn.to/29KudfA
Elaine Viets: Going Back to the Dark Side
I'm going home – and my home is dark, violent and bloody. After twenty-four cozy and traditional mysteries, I'm writing dark mysteries again: the Angela Richman, Death Investigator series.
My first series, the Francesca Vierling newspaper mysteries, was hardboiled. When Random House bought Bantam Dell and wiped out that division, I switched to the funny, traditional Dead-End Job mysteries, featuring Helen Hawthorne. The Art of Murder, the 15th Dead-End Job novel, is just out in hardcover. I also wrote ten cozy Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper mysteries.
I love both series, but I never abandoned the dark side. I wrote dark short stories for Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and anthologies edited by Charlaine Harris and Lawrence Block. I wanted to spend more time on the dark side, but I didn’t want to do another police procedural or a private eye with a dead wife or a drinking problem. Other writers had done those and done them well.
Angela Richman, my new protagonist, is a death investigator in mythical Chouteau Country, Missouri, stronghold of the over-privileged and the people who serve them. Brain Storm, the first mystery in the new death investigator series, debuts August 2.
My death investigator mysteries aren't too gory – not like Patricia Cornwell's "I boiled my dead boyfriend's head." This series is closer to Kathy Reichs's Tempe Brennan series.
Many readers aren't familiar with death investigators, but the profession practices nationwide. At a murder the death investigator is in charge of the body, and the police handle the rest of the crime scene. The DI photographs the body, documents its wounds, and records the body core temperature, clothing and more. Death investigators work for the medical examiner. They are trained professionals, but do not have medical degrees. I wanted the training – and the contacts – to make the new series accurate. Last January, I passed the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course for forensic professionals at St. Louis University, a two-credit college course.
Now that I'm writing dark again, my writing has changed. Here's what happens when I jumped from cozies to hard-boiled:
My characters can cuss. Angela Richman's best friend and colleague is Katie, Chouteau County assistant medical examiner Dr. Katherine Kelly Stern. Pathologists tend to be eccentric, and Katie is based on a real pathologist who’d perfected the art of swearing. Her profanity was a mood indicator. I could tell how angry she was by whether she used "fricking," "freaking," or the ultimate F-bomb and how often she employed these and other cuss words. Oddly enough, when she swore, the words didn't sound offensive.
Katie cusses with style and grace in Brain Storm.
Body counts. In cozy and traditional mysteries, the murders take place offstage. In the new death investigator series, readers aren't forced to take a blood bath, but they will see crime scenes and forensic procedures. They'll get a firsthand look at the sights, sounds, even the smells of death.
Real weapons. In cozy mysteries, when Josie Marcus battles killers, she resorts to “domestic violence," using kitchen tools, gardening equipment, and whatever she can grab for weapons.
Helen Hawthorne in the Dead-End Job mysteries is a little bolder. She's armed with pepper spray to take down killers, though in Checked Out she did get sprayed with her own weapon.
In Brain Storm, when Angela confronted the killer, she was in an office, surrounded by the standard supplies: waste baskets, chairs, coffee mugs, letter openers. I was prepared to have Angela grab one, when it dawned on me: Wait! This isn't a cozy.
You can use firepower.
So Angela shot the killer in the head. It felt so good.
CWA GOLDSBORO GOLD DAGGER
Dodgers, Bill Beverly, No Exit Press
Black Widow, Christopher Brookmyre, Little Brown
Real Tigers, Mick Herron, John Murray
Blood Salt Water, Denise Mina, Orion
CWA IAN FLEMING STEEL DAGGER
The Cartel, Don Winslow, William Heinemann
Rain Dogs, Adrian McKinty, Serpent’s Tail
Real Tigers, Mick Herron, John Murray
Make Me, Lee Child, Bantam Press
The English Spy, Daniel Silva, Harper Collins
CWA INTERNATIONAL DAGGER
Title, Author, Translated by, Publisher
The Truth and Other Lies, Sascha Arango, Imogen Taylor, Simon & Schuster
The Great Swindle, Pierre Lemaître, Frank WynnE, Quercus/Maclehose
Icarus, Deon Meyer, K L Seegers, Hodder & Stoughton
The Murderer in Ruins, Cay Rademacher, Peter Millar, Arcadia
CWA SHORT STORY DAGGER
As Alice Did, Montalbano’s First Cases, Andrea Camilleri , Pan Macmillan
On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier, John Connolly, Hodder and Stoughton
Nocturnes 2: Night Music, John Connolly, Hodder and
Bryant & May and the Nameless Woman, Christopher Fowler, London’s Glory, Bantam
CWA NON FICTION DAGGER
The Golden Age of Murder, Martin Edwards, HarperCollins
Sexy Beasts: The Hatton Garden Mob, Wensley Clarkson, Quercus
You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat), Andrew Hankinson, Scribe
A Very Expensive Poison, Luke Harding, Faber
CWA DEBUT DAGGER
For 15 years the CWA has been encouraging new writing with its Debut
Dagger competition for unpublished writers.
A Reconstructed Man, Graham Brack
A State of Grace, Rita Catching
Dark Valley, John Kennedy
Wimmera, Mark Brandi
The Devil's Dice, Roz Watkins
CWA JOHN CREASEY (NEW BLOOD) DAGGER
Fever City, Tim Baker, Faber&Faber
Dodgers, Bill Beverly, No Exit Press
Freedom’s Child, Jax Miller, HarperCollins
The Good Liar, Nicholas Searle, Viking
CWA ENDEAVOR HISTORICAL DAGGER
The House at Baker Street, Michelle Birkby, Pan Books
The Other Side of Silence, Philip Kerr, Quercus
A Book of Scars, William Shaw, Quercus
The Jazz Files, Fiona Veitch Smith, Lion Fiction
Striking Murder, A. J. Wright, Allison & Busby
Stasi Child, David Young, Twenty7Books
DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY The Dagger in the Library is
awarded for an author’s entire body of
Tony Black Alison Bruce Elly Griffiths Quintin Jardine
Craig Sisterson announced the Finalists for the 2016 Ngaio Marsh Award. What fabulous books. I'm a judge for this Kiwi Award, so I've been reading these great books! Such fun!
Finalists for the 2016 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel:
•INSIDE THE BLACK HORSE by Ray Berard (Mary Egan Publishing);
•MADE TO KILL by Adam Christopher (Titan Books);
•TRUST NO ONE by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press);
•THE LEGEND OF WINSTONE BLACKHAT by Tanya Moir (Vintage);
•AMERICAN BLOOD by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin);
The finalists for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel:
• INSIDE THE BLACK HORSE by Ray Berard (Mary Egan Publishing);
• THE FIXER by John Daniell (Upstart Press);
• THE GENTLEMEN’S CLUB by Jen Shieff (Mary Egan Publishing); and
• TWISTER by Jane Woodham (Makaro Press).
The judging panelists were crime writing experts from New Zealand,
Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Nordic
countries. The winners will be
announced at the 2016 WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on 27 August.
The Ngaio Marsh Awards were established in 2010 and are made annually
for the best crime, mystery, or thriller novels written by New Zealand
citizens and residents. For more information, visit the Awards' Facebook page here or email email@example.com. Thanks to Craig Sisterson for all he does for this award!
Edgar Award Finalist Sally Wright's most recent novel, Behind The Bonehouse, the second in her Jo Grant mystery series, is driven by the conflicts and emotional connections in three family businesses in the horse industry in Kentucky in the early '60s.
Wright's Ben Reese series chronicles the investigations of a WWII Ranger turned academic archivist in six mysteries that unfold in Britain, the US and Italy where he researches arcane artifacts while seeking some sort of justice for the victims of unsolved murders.
Sally and her husband live with their boxer dog in northwestern Ohio.
Sally Wright: The Art of Looking Back
When I was little, I spent a lot of time asking my mother and her much older parents to tell me about when they were young. I loved the stories of the early 1900s when there were still horses on every street making their way around touring cars with Eisenglass curtains, when the three of them lived in ramshackled housing on a collection of army posts spread across the country.
My father talked about his childhood too, but he was raised in an orphanage and it always made me feel sorry for him, knowing how hard it must’ve been, even though he told us the funny things, my favorite being the retired fire horse, who plowed the orphanage farm, who broke out of his stall and ran back to the firehouse every time he heard a siren.
I don’t think I’d be a writer if I didn’t like looking back, wondering about the lives other people have lived. Of course, age plays a part too. Now that I’m in my late sixties (and here undoubtedly by the grace of God) I find myself saying, when I never did before, “I won’t get to do that again. . . . No, I’ll never be able to travel there. . . . Yeah, I know, I have to stop riding. I can’t afford to get thrown again.”
Age, yes, and having cancer - they both make you reflect, which helps your writing in countless ways, while the writing itself eases the trials of transition. That’s partly why Behind The Bonehouse, the second Jo Grant horse country novel, has been so satisfying to write. I can’t ride a horse anymore, but I can write about doing it for thirty years, and describe the horse I loved the most, and relive it all while I work.
Which is not to say the book came easily. I had no idea what to write next when I’d finished Breeding Ground in 2013. I actually went to bed one night in something of a panic praying for some small glimmer of an idea. When I woke the next morning I found myself thinking about the family business my parents had started when I was four, which took me where I needed to go.
It’s a business based on formulations, and I started thinking about all the ups and downs the family’s lived through because of it. Right at the beginning, the manufacturer who was to make Dad’s product (since Dad couldn’t afford a plant of his own) substituted pages in the middle of their contract (long before there were Xerox machines, when my dad hadn’t known to initial every page), which claimed he now owned my dad’s formulation in exchange for blending the batches. My parents had to pay $20,000 – a fortune then, they definitely didn’t have – to buy back my dad’s own work, which nearly shut the business down before it got off the ground.
I thought about that, and other alarming, instructive, even gratifying events – and suddenly saw that I could use an equally dishonest setback, adapted and expanded, as the underpinning for a plot based on Equine Pharmaceuticals where Alan Munro, Jo Grant’s new husband, worked in Lexington in 1964. I could tie it in to all sorts of other things – their friends in Breeding Ground in two other family businesses, the horses there, and the racing world - in ways I thought would be interesting.
And that actually wasn’t the first time my father’s work drove a mystery. Back in the 30s and early 40s, when he worked as a chemist at American Cyanamid, Erle Stanley Gardner (author of the Perry Mason mysteries) called my father out of the blue. He wanted to know if there was something that could be put on a duck’s feathers that would keep it from floating in water. My father told him how wetting agents could be used - how they’d work and why, without injuring the duck. The two of them corresponded for some time, and when The Case Of The Drowning Duck was published Gardner gave my father the original watercolor painting that was used for the book’s cover. It now hangs in the hallway by my bedroom with a copy of a 1942 Life Magazine article (affixed to the back for future generations) that talked about the work they did to validate the plot.
And yet, when I was writing Bonehouse, I looked back on a lot more than my own family’s experiences. Setting is incredibly important to me whenever I write (or even read) a book, and I loved remembering the time I’d spent on the horse farms in Woodford County Kentucky, studying its history, getting to know the people born and raised there who appeal mightily to me.
Behind The Bonehouse takes place in several houses I’ve stayed in in Versailles and Midway, owned by friends, or friends of theirs. And I happily went back as many times as I could to take more pictures and interview experts (a US Marshall named Squirrel, the most interesting among them). The houses I describe all exist in that green rolling world, though I move them from one place to another, and change what I need to change to make the story work.
It’s fun for me to wonder and remember, amusing myself fitting pieces of the past, real and imagined and deliberately redirected - horses I’ve loved, houses I’ve stayed in, land I’ve cared about since the first time I saw it, made-up characters more real than family - into something new I couldn’t see when I started looking for a story I thought would be worth telling.
Ash Island by Barry Maitland
Before It Breaks by Dave Warner
Fall by Candice Fox
R&R by Mark Dapin
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty
The Heat by Garry Disher
Best First Fiction
Amplify-A Billy Lime Thriller by Mark Hollands
Four Days by Iain Ryan
Good Money by J.M. Green
Please Don't Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic
Skin Deep by Gary Kemble
A Murder Without Motive by Martin McKenzie-Murray
Certain Admissions by Gideon Haigh
Kidnapped by Mark Tedeschi
Killing Love by Rebecca Poulson
The Sting by Kate Kyriacou
Join Mystery Readers NorCal for an afternoon Literary Salon on Wednesday, August 3 at 2 p.m. in Berkeley CA with mystery authors R. Franklin James and Susan Spann. Comment below or send email for directions and to RSVP.
R. Franklin James
R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco East Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. Her career path shifted to Southern California where she was appointed Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles by Richard Riordan.
After a career of public service she focused on her first love, writing, and in 2013 her debut novel in the Hollis Morgan Mystery series, The Fallen Angels Book Club, was published by Camel Press. The fourth book in the series, The Trade List, was released this past June 2016.
She is on the board of Bouchercon, an international non-profit organization that has produced mystery conventions for almost fifty-years. She also serves as vice-president of the Sisters In Crime – Sacramento Capitol Crimes Chapter. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Northern California Publishers and Authors and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
James lives in Northern California with her husband. You can find her online on Facebook, Twitter and at her website: www.rfranklinjames.com.
Susan Spann Susan Spann is a California attorney and the author of the Hiro Hattori Novels featuring master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo. Her first novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur, 2013) was a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month and a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel. Her fourth Hiro Hattori mystery, THE NINJA'S DAUGHTER, released on August 2 from Seventh Street Books.
Susan is the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Writer of the Year and a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Association.
When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, and raising seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium. She lives outside Sacramento with her husband, two cats, a cockatiel, and a multitude of assorted aquatic creatures. You can find Susan online at her website (www.susanspann.com), on Facebook and on Twitter (@SusanSpann).
To date, award-winning Katherine Hall Pagehas published thirty books:
twenty-three in the Faith Fairchild series with The Body in the Wardrobe
(April 2016), five juvenile/YAs, a cookbook, Have Faith in Your
Kitchen, and Small Plates, a Collection of Short Fiction. She is Malice
Domestic 28’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. This essay missed being included in the New York issues of Mystery Readers Journal, but so glad it found a place here. Thanks, Katherine!
Katherine Hall Page: It’s a Wonderful Town
The Big Apple. Jazz musicians coined the city's familiar moniker in the Twenties. There were plenty of apples to pick from the tree, but only one "Big Apple", only one New York. If you had a gig there, you had it made. The ultimate destination. And as the title of this piece indicates, it’s impossible not to hum, or sing out loud, about it. Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but if he wanted to make it anywhere, he had to head East.
I set two books—The Body in the Big Apple and The Body in the Boudoir— in New York City, both of them prequels covering the time in my series character, Faith Sibley Fairchild’s life before she was married and transplanted to the more bucolic orchards of New England.
Growing up in Northern New Jersey, as teenagers my friends and I used to say we lived "just outside the city", omitting the fact that we had to cross a state line to get there—the coolest place on earth. At twelve, we had been deemed old enough to take the DeCamp bus together to Port Authority —in the day time. Armed with the small penciled maps my artist mother would draw, we'd head for Manhattan. One Saturday it would be museums. My cousin John convinced me to stand in line with him for several hours outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art to catch a sixty second glimpse of the Mona Lisa, on loan from the Louvre. It's the wait I remember best now, the mix of New Yorkers and out-of-towners, the jokes, the stories—holding places while people dashed off for a dog from the Sabrett's All Beef Kosher Franks stand with its bright yellow and blue umbrella. Another Saturday, we'd go from box office to box office on Broadway until we got tickets to a matinee (prices were much lower in the early Sixties). We saw everything from Richard Burton in Hamlet to Robert Preston in The Music Man. Sometimes we'd just wander, walking miles, entranced by the dramatic changes in the neighborhoods from one block to the next. Bialys and bagels gave way to egg rolls followed swiftly by cannolis as we moved Uptown.
No time of year was more magical than December and from the time I was a small child, there was always a special trip during the season to look at the Rockefeller Center tree and the department store windows. Other times of the year, my parents took us to the ballet, opera—the old Met with the cloth of gold curtain—, concerts, and special exhibits at the museums—the Calder mobiles like nothing anyone had seen before spiraling in the enormous spiral of the Guggenheim.
Then there were the restaurants—or rather one restaurant: Horn and Hardart's Automat. My 1964 Frommer's Guide advises: "Inquire of any passer-by, and you'll be directed to one that's usually no more than a block-or-two away." Sadly, they have all disappeared and trying to explain the concept to my son—you put nickels in the slot next to the food you wanted, lifted the little glass door, snatched it out and watched the empty space revolve, instantly producing another dish —is well nigh impossible. Fortunately there are old movies. Just as difficult is describing the food—the superb , crusty macaroni and cheese with tiny bits of tomato, the warm deep dish apple pie with vanilla sauce, the baked beans in their own little pot. Most New Yorkers of a certain age wax nostalgic about automat food—the meat loaf! And a whole meal for $1.00.
My husband is the genuine article. A native New Yorker, born and bred in the Bronx. "The Beautiful Bronx" when he was growing up and we have a book of the same name to prove it. When he meets someone else from the borough, talk immediately turns to the Grand Concourse, the "nabe", and egg creams. Where he lived is now part of the Cross Bronx Expressway, but he can still point out his elementary school as we whiz past. New Yorkers are very sentimental.
And to continue in the manner of Faith Fairchild's sweeping generalizations, NewYorkers are also very rude, very generous, very funny, very stylish, very quirky, and very fast. Genetically, they have more molecules than most other Americans. The moment I step off the train or plane from Boston, in imitation my pace quickens, gaze narrows, and senses sharpen. Forget all those New York designer fragrances. The essence is adrenaline, pure and simple.
These two books are paeans to New York City past, present, and future—always keeping in mind what the comedian, Harry Hershfield said, "New York: Where everyone mutinies but no one deserts." No matter the time—some things never change. It's a wonderful town.
Bill Crider is one of the nicest people in the Mystery Community, and by now you may have heard that he has a very aggressive form of carcinoma. I've known him for over 40 years, and he is one of the most supportive and positive people--a great writer, adamant fan, and nice guy. Please send powerful thoughts, prayers, and light to this wonderful man for a positive outcome. Miracles do happen.
Bill posted this on Facebook: Updated 7/25/16
Dear Facebook friends: I've been reading your many posts of love and support, and I'll admit that sometimes I've had tears in my eyes. I'm out of the hospital now, having been subjected to more tests and humiliations than anyone should have to undergo. My condition has not improved, I'm sorry to say. The VBKs were happy to see me, but they they're happy to see anyone. Turns out they weren't as lucky as we thought, though.
I won't be posting anywhere for a while, if ever, but I want you to know how much I appreciate you and your caring for me. I'll be trying to get into M. D. Anderson and hoping for a miracle. Thank you all so much for your continuing to keep me in your minds and hearts. The outlook isn't brilliant for the Mudville Nine. I might not be posting here again, so I want to say now how moved I've been by your comments. You guys are the best. Even if we've never met in person, you are truly my friends. Love to you all.
Bill was our guest for a Literary Salon a few weeks ago in Berkeley. It was a wonderful afternoon by a terrific raconteur. He looked great and those who attended were rewarded with a very special afternoon. Award winning Texas author Bill Crider is a prolific writer. He has been an Edgar Award Nominee, a two-time Anthony Award Winner, and a Derringer Award Winner.
Bill Crider has written over 75 novels. He is the author of the Professor Sally Good series, the Carl Burns
mysteries, the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, the Truman Smith PI series,
and three books in the Stone: M.I.A. Hunter series under the pseudonym "Jack Buchanan." He has also written stand-alone mystery and suspense novels, as well as Westerns, Horror, Short Stories, and books for Young Readers.
Bill Crider is a native Texan who’s lived in that state all his
life. He’s been reading, writing, and collecting mystery and western
fiction for most of that time. He received a PhD from The University
of Texas at Austin, where he wrote his dissertation on Dashiell Hammett,
Raymond Chandler, and Ross MacDonald. He taught both high school and
college before his retirement, and he combined his teaching career with
his writing career, publishing more than 75 novels and an equal number
of short stories. He’s best known for the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series,
which features a sheriff in a small Texas county. Though contemporary
in setting, the Sheriff Rhodes books have many of the qualities of the
Bill Crider is also a fan. He has contributed to fanzines for decades, has been to just about every Bouchercon, publishes a daily Blog about Pop Culture, watches and enjoys noir and Western films, and so much more. He recently took in three rambunctious kittens aka The VBKs (the Very Bad Kittens).
We're pulling for you, Bill!
Bill has a new Dan Rhodes coming out in August: Survivors Will Be Shot Again. Why don't you pre-order now? Suggestion of Dana Cameron, and it's a good one!
The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers announced the winners of the 2016 Scribe Awards. This award honors “licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books.” There were also works in many different genres. Best Original Novel—General Prize -- crime-fiction related:
24: Rogue by David Mack (Forge)
Also nominated: Elementary: The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher (Titan) Kill Me, Darling by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Titan) Don Pendleton’s Mack Bolan: Desert Falcons by Michael A. Black (Gold Eagle)
Also, the 2016 Best Short Story prize went to “Fallout,” a Mike Hammer story by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, originally printed in The Strand Magazine (November 2014-February 2015).
The 2016 Dashiell Hammett Prize – awarded each year by the International
Crime Fiction Festival, la Semana Negra de Gijón - has been bestowed to
the novel Subsueloby the Argentine writer Marcelo Luján.
Marcelo Luján was born in Buenos Aires in 1973. His published works -- novels and collections of short stories include Flores para Irene (2004), En algún cielo (2007), El desvío (2007), La mala espera (2009), Arder en el invierno (2010), Moravia (2012), Pequeños pies ingleses (2013), Subsuelo
(2015), and one dozen stories appearing in anthologies in several
countries. His work has been used for public campaigns
to promote reading, the love of reading, and has been translated into
many other languages. His work has been recognized in Spain where
he has received the following prizes: Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Ciudad de
Alcalá de Henares for Narrative, Kutxa Ciudad de San Sebastián for Tales
in Castilian, and Ciudad de Getafe for Crime Novels. He was runner up for the Argentinian
Clarín Prize for Novels in 2005.
FYI: In case you're confused. The North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers awards their Hammett Prize for a work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by a US or Canadian author.
Rosemary Stevens is the author of eleven novels. For her Beau Brummell
Mystery Series she won both the Agatha Award for Best First Mystery and
the RT Reviewers Choice Award, also for Best First Mystery. Her
Murder-A-Go-Go Mystery Series was listed in the Required Reading section
of the New York Post. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley with her
family including two Siamese cats. And Flash News: Rosemary Steven's Murder-A-Go-Go mystery series set in the 1960s has been optioned for television. Stay tuned! This article first appeared in the Mystery Readers Journal: New York City Mysteries II (Vol 32:2)
Rosemary Stevens: From cupcakes to books, or how I came to love New York
I was only three or four years old at the time, but I remember the very best cupcake I’ve ever had in my life. It was the end of the 1960s, and my parents and I had traveled from Virginia to New York City to visit both sets of grandparents for the Easter holidays. One afternoon, my father was driving and my mother made him stop outside a bakery. She ran inside and reappeared a few minutes later with a white box tied with a white string. We continued to a nearby park, the name of which, if I ever knew, I’ve long forgotten, and sat down at a picnic table. And that’s when my mom handed me the best cupcake (a humble vanilla) I’d ever had before or since.
The cupcake memory is one of dozens of New York memories I’ve accumulated through the years. There were more visits with my grandparents; the long wood table at Grandma Mary’s apartment covered with an ironed white tablecloth, chock-full with holiday foods, a tinsel-heavy Christmas tree; “going down” to buy candy at the corner store—no cars involved. Then a church filled with people dressed in black when my grandfather died, visiting the hospital when my grandmother had cancer.
Through good and bad, and more cupcakes, one thing was certain: I had fallen in love with New York and considered it another home.
Should I mention the time when I was seventeen and ran away from home? I will, because it’s easy to guess that an unhappy teenager would take the train from Richmond to Penn Station never intending to return south. I met up with my equally young cousin who drove us through the streets of the City with the windows down on a summer afternoon, both of us laughing and me feeling like anything was possible because I was back in Manhattan! Manhattan, with its medley of sounds and sights and smells, the place that made me feel like no other, where hope spiraled into the stratosphere, where my smile rarely faltered, where something exciting would happen any second. I just knew it.
Years later, a honeymoon at the Plaza Hotel, where the huge chocolate Easter bunny in the lobby brought back memories of that earlier Easter. The marriage didn’t last, but my love for New York never wavered. I had brunch at Tavern on the Green in the Crystal Room and dresses from Ohrbach’s and Macy’s—New York dresses--to add to my NYC memories. December of 1992 brought me to the City again, this time to be part of Paul McCartney’s rehearsal audience for a VH1 special at the Ed Sullivan Theater. This trip, I caught plays, went shopping, visited the Met, Central Park, ate the best food in the world and just walked around. Rockefeller Center was decorated for Christmas, wrapped in that special feeling. Uh, until that nor’easter hit.
So it felt quite natural when in 1995, the most exciting thing to happen to me professionally came from New York; a phone call from a wonderful editor who bought my first book.
Through the years and books that followed, I traveled to New York more often; after all, it was business, right? On every trip I experienced that same hope, that energy, that high I’d had throughout my life when visiting the City.
Then an unthinkable, terrible low on September 11, 2001, and tears that came in a flood and a heaviness that still comes to my heart.
In 2004 when it was time to begin another mystery series, I thought of setting a series in New York. There was so much good work, serious work, out there set in NYC. What could I bring to the table? Maybe something light, whimsical, a romp. I found myself turning to the 1960s.
Before TV brought us single, working girl Mary Richards in the 1970s, there was That Girl starring Marlo Thomas. On the surface, That Girl was a frothy show with fun clothes set in New York. But if you looked closer, you’d see a single woman taking charge of her life, a daring thing on TV in the 1960s. Prior to That Girl, women on TV were portrayed mainly as wives, mothers, or floozies. That Girl was a breakthrough series with lasting influence, because girls across the country watched the show and saw themselves, and saw possibilities.
I decided 1964 would be the best year to start the series. Because the first book revolves around the murder of the guitarist in a British Invasion band, I wanted to use the same year the Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. 1964 also meant I could incorporate my love for mid-century furniture as well as mod fashion.
As for the main character, a sheltered young woman living in the South felt like an older sister or cousin, and the character of Elizabeth “Bebe” Bennett was born.
Bebe’s dream is to move to New York City. She finishes courses at a secretarial school and moves over five hundred miles from home, on her own, to New York. When she gets there, she doesn’t expect to fall into sleuthing, but she finds she’s good at it, even as she sometimes bumbles along. And, yes, she falls for her boss, but her emerging career, her new roommate and friends, and her refusal to move back to the South despite her family’s pleadings, show a determined, independent young woman on her own path. Even if there are a few dead bodies in the way.
I was in New York last summer. It had been a long time between visits as I’d recently spent six years in a very different kind of city, Los Angeles. But when I walked out of Penn Station, tears of happiness filled my eyes as New York worked its magic on me.
The Girl on the Train is set for an October 7 release. Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, Luke
Evans, Allison Janney, Edgar Ramirez, Lisa Kudrow and Laura Prepon star
in DreamWorks Pictures’ The Girl on the Train, from director Tate Taylor
(The Help, Get on Up) and producer Marc Platt (Bridge of Spies, Into
In the thriller, Rachel (Blunt), who is devastated by her
recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly
perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day,
until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes
entangled in the mystery that unfolds. Based on Paula Hawkins’
bestselling novel, The Girl on the Train is adapted for the screen by
Erin Cressida Wilson and Taylor.
For many book lovers, there is nothing more exciting than the idea of
a home library. What most of the city’s book lovers don’t know is that
until recently, there was an affordable way to fulfill the dream of a
home library—at least for book lovers who also happened to be handy with
tools. In the early to mid twentieth century, the majority of the city’s libraries had live-in superintendents. Like the superintendents
who still live in many of the city’s residential buildings, these
caretakers both worked and lived in the buildings for which they were
responsible. This meant that for decades, behind the stacks, meals were
cooked, baths and showers were taken, and bedtime stories were read. And
yes, families living in the city’s libraries typically did have access
to the stacks at night—an added bonus if they happened to need a new
bedtime book after hours.
Included in this detailed historical article:
The New York Society Library, 53 East 79th Street
NYPL's Schwarzman Building, 476 5th Ave READ MORE HERE.
Chuck Greaves' (C. Joseph Greaves) Tom & Lucky and George & Cokey Flo (Bloomsbury USA)
Kermit Roosevelt's Allegiance (Regan Arts)
The Harper Lee Prize was inaugurated in 2011 to coincide with publication of the 50th Anniversary edition of To Kill a Mockingbird,
and is a joint venture of the American Bar Association and the
University of Alabama School of Law that honors a book length work of American
fiction that, in the spirit of Mockingbird, “best illuminates
the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.” The
award will be presented in September of 2016 in conjunction with the
Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington D.C.
The next issue of Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 32:3) will focus on mysteries featuring Small Town Cops. Looking for reviews, articles, and Author! Author! essays. Reviews: 50-250 words; Articles: 250-1000 words; Author! Author! essays: 500-1500 words.
Author essays should be first person, about yourself, your books, and the 'Small Town Cop' connection. Think of it as chatting with friends and other writers in the bar or cafe about your work and your small town cop connection. Add title and 2-3 sentence bio/tagline. Deadline: August 10. Send to: Janet Rudolph, Editor. firstname.lastname@example.org
Please forward this request to anyone you think should be included.
Call for Articles for 2016 (Volume 32): Big City Cops; 2017: Midwest Mysteries (excluding Chicago); Religious Mysteries, and more to come. Have titles, articles or suggestions for these upcoming issues or for new themes? Want to write an Author! Author! essay? Comment below or email Janet Rudolph.
Augustinian friar-turned lawyer William Brodrick presents Father Anselm, lawyer-turned Augustinian friar-turned amateur detective, in this thrilling and revelatory new novel, The Discourtesy of Death (The Overlook Press · Publication Date: August 2, 2016). More than a simple whodunnit, this book--and all the books of the Father Anselm series, soon to be released from Overlook--invokes serious contemporary issues, deepening the pursuit of justice for Anselm and the reader alike. William Brodrick, in a career change that reverses that of his character Father Anselm's, was an Augustinian friar before leaving in order to become a practicing barrister. His novels include The Sixth Lamentation,The Gardens of the Dead, A Whispered Name, The Day of the Lie, The Discourtesy of Death, The Silent Ones, and the latest The Discourtesy of Death. He won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger award in 2009 for A Whispered Name.
William Brodrick: Father Anselm and the Discourtesy of Death
Mysteries are fiction with a moral concern. Even when they are supposedly light and entertaining, questions about guilt and responsilbity, justice and mercy, right and wrong, remain central to the story. Which is why they are captivating and, dare I say it, important. Because – speaking for myself – it is when I come across something that is both entertaining and serious that I am most profoundly engaged.
Inevitably, then, the investigator in a mystery has a lot of responsibility. He or she must solve the crime. They must set things right. Restore the balance in favour of what is good, against the incursion of evil. But, if they are so inclined, they can also try and make sense of what has happened. Ask the questions we all ask when life gets messy and things swing out of control. And this is what I have tried to do with Father Anselm. Or, to be more precise, this is what Father Anselm has tried to do with me ... because one of the mysteries about writing is that characters tell you who they are and what they’re going to do. They take control and telling their story becomes a kind of willing cooperation. I’d imagined Anselm to be a former lawyer who’d become a monk who is then thrust into situations against his will – and that is who he is – but I only really met him, so to speak, in the books. His concern went beneath the resolution of a given crisis. He tried to bring justice into situations well beyond the reach of the courts. His eye was on the welfare of the perpetrator, too, as well as the victim. He wanted to understand the criminal as much as explain the crime. And so Anselm showed himself to be an investigator with a very personal sort of mission: to try and bring about some redemption, for everyone, here and now, in impossible circumstances.
Having a serious purpose doesn’t mean we can’t have a laugh. Anselm’s home, Larkwood Priory, may be a monastery, but it is populated with characters whose idiosyncrasies overwhelm any gravitas: a self-important archivist who’s permanently indignant, an aged ascetic who never stops talking about the day he met Baden Powell, a retiring guestmaster who is nervous of meeting people. And, of course, there’s Anselm ... a beekeeper who’s never got over the sting issue. Their topsy-turvy existence is one step removed from ordinary life, which gives this particular beekeeper a special vantage point onto the vexed world he left behind. And that brings me to The Discourtesy of Death, Anselm’s first outing with The Overlook Press, for it deals with the vexing question of mercy killing.
Jennifer Henderson was one of those people who knew the meaning of misfortune. A former dancer, she returned to the stage only to fall and break her neck. Paralysed from the chest down and bedridden, she grappled with depression until bowel cancer brought her life to a quick and merciful end. Or at least that’s what everyone believes. The truth could be rather different, because two years after her death, Anselm receives an anonymous letter accusing Peter Henderson, her husband, of her callous murder. So Anselm is drawn into very deep water indeed: was Jenny in fact murdered or was she helped to die? And if she was helped, had she been persuaded or forced to end her life ... because, frankly, it was considered best for everyone involved? Except, perhaps, for Jenny herself. And even then, what was left of Jenny’s life? Was it even worth holding onto, set against the difference it would make to her family if she were to quietly slip away? Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, because unknown to Anselm, Jenny’s father isn’t especially troubled by ethics. He’s set out to execute his daughter’s presumed killer.
The Discourtesy of Death is about the tricky area of choice. It is about how our choices can be tightly woven into other people’s needs and desires ... how our freedom is rarely unencumbered. It’s also a mystery. And, I hope, an entertaining one.
Shirley Jackson Awards, "in recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, The Shirley Jackson Awards, Inc. has been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic."
Best Novel: Experimental Film, by Gemma Files (ChiZine Publications)
Also nominated: Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press); The Glittering World, by Robert Levy (Gallery); Lord Byron’s Prophecy, by Sean Eads (Lethe Press); and When We Were Animals, by Joshua Gaylord (Mulholland)
Best Novella: Wylding Hall, by Elizabeth Hand (PS Publishing/Open Road)
Also nominated: The Box Jumper, by Lisa Mannetti (Smart Rhino); In the Lovecraft Museum, by Steve Tem (PS Publishing); Unusual Concentrations, by S.J. Spurrier (Simon Spurrier); and The Visible Filth, by Nathan Ballingrud (This Is Horror)
“Even Clean Hands Can Do Damage,” Steve Duffy (Supernatural Tales #30, Autumn)
Also nominated: “The Briskwater Mare,” Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press); “The Deepwater Bride,” Tamsyn Muir (Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July-August 2015); “Fabulous Beasts,” Priya Sharma (Tor.com, July 2015); “The Thyme Fiend,” Jeffrey Ford (Tor.com, March 2015)
Best Short Fiction:
“The Dying Season,” Lynda E. Rucker (Aickman’s Heirs)
Also nominated: “A Beautiful Memory,” Shannon Peavey (Apex Magazine), “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” Alyssa Wong (Nightmare), “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” Nadia Bulkin (Aickman’s Heirs), “Wilderness,” Letitia Trent (Exigencies)
Best Single-Author Collection
The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Stephen King (Scribner)
Also nominated: The End of the End of Everything, Dale Bailey (Arche Press), Get in Trouble, Kelly Link (Random House), Gutshot, Amelia Gray (FSG Originals), The Nameless Dark – A Collection, T.E. Grau (Lethe Press), You Have Never Been Here, Mary Rickert (Small Beer Press)
Best Edited AnthologyEDITED ANTHOLOGY
Aickman’s Heirs, edited by Simon Strantzas (Undertow Publications)
Also nominated: Black Wings IV, edited by S.T. Joshi (PS Publishing), The Doll Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor), Exigencies, edited by Richard Thomas (Dark House Press), Seize the Night, edited by Christopher Golden (Gallery)
Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery.” Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work.