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Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'll Make Mine Poison



A few years ago when my siblings and I were camping at Grayson Highland State Park in Virginia, we went to the Visitor's Center one morning. At that time I was working on plot ideas for my third book and something in the museum sparked an idea. Without stopping to think, I blurted out, "I think I have an idea on how to poison people with plants." The sister, who was closest to me, shushed me and looked around to see if there were other visitors close enough to have heard me.

Writers have plots and ideas floating in their brains like flotsam and jetsam ready to be grabbed and worked into something that will create a story. The drifting ideas of mystery writers are maybe a little more bizarre than those of other writers.

Traditional or cozy writers often use poison in their books to kill a victim. Agatha Christie used it in many of her books. I once read someplace that poison is used more often by women mystery writers as the weapon of choice than men do. I also remember hearing once that if a victim is poisoned in real life, most often a woman did it. I'm not sure if that's correct or not, but it makes sense to me.

One of the most popular panels at Malice Domestic is that of Luci Hansson Zahray, The Poison Lady. (Although there are men at this conference, women far outnumber them.) Except for this past year because of a scheduling conflict, I have gone to every one of her panels since 2007 and always learn something new. She's incredibly knowledgeable about poisons and even brings samples to show - not share. She's a delightful speaker and quite funny, and very good about answering questions. If she can't take all of them in the time allotted at the end of her panel, you can find her in the hospitality room willing to talk to you and answer your questions there. She helped me decide on one poison when she told me how to give it to the victim and how long it would take to work. Another time I emailed her with a question and within a day or two, she got back to me with an answer.


I also have three books on poisonous plants nd three more books on all kinds of poisons. My favorite is Book of Poisons; A Guide for Writers by Serita Stevens and Anne Bannon. I also use a few chapters in Murder and Mayhem by D.P. Lyle, M.D.. I might add that people who come to dinner and see these books, or if I bring one out to prove a point like poinsettias really aren't deadly poisonous, seem to get that look of wondering f it's safe to eat at my house. Maybe those who are picking through their salads aren't really wondering if it's safe to eat.

Recently I finished the first draft of Ladies of the Garden Club in which three members of the club have met their end by some sort of poisonous plants. It puts my protagonist, Catherine Jewell, under suspicion by some since she'd recently taught a workshop on poisonous plants with a tour of Elmwood Gardens, where she works, pointing out common poisonous plants. Out of a total of seven victims in my three books, four of them have been poisoned. Maybe that's why family and friends look a little nervous when they eat at my house.

If you're a mystery writer, what method do you use most often in offing your victims?

And if you're not a writer, but occasionally have murderous thoughts, what method do you think would be the best way to eliminate the person you're angry with?

10 comments:

E. B. Davis said...

Gloria, I've used poison, shotguns, electrocution, heart meds, but my most unusual kill was by a little girl's bucket and shovel at the beach. I don't always kill. Some of my stories are crime, not murder, so I like the con as well as the kill!

Patricia Winton said...

Oh, I'm looking forward to hearing more. I'm currently plotting with poisonous plant as the weapon. In the past, I've used knives and garroting.

E. B. Davis said...

Gloria may interview Luci, Patricia, so stay tuned!

Gloria Alden said...

Actually, E.B., I've only used poison once in the 12 short stories I wrote. In the first one I had published in FISH TALES, drowning was the method of murder.I don't think I've ever used a gun - stabbing, bashing and strangling, but not a gun. Probably because I've never shot one - except a shotgun once as a kid and from its kick never wanted to shoot anything again.

Patricia, my garden has many poisonous plants, but then most gardens do. Foxgloves are often used to poison people. The berries of yew bushes are poisonous. Get a good book, and you'll learn more.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, I know what you mean. At the last Malice Domestic, Ben and I were sitting in the coffee shop/bar with Luci and PJ and Luci was regaling us with poison stories and we were asking "what-if" questions. People not from the conference, including the barista, were giving us wide-eyed looks, as if wondering whether they should call the cops. I think an interview with Luci would be great!

Warren Bull said...

I recommend Amy Stewart's "Wicked Plants" and also her "Wicked Bugs." I have used jimson weed and death capssuing information from her book. At KIller Nashville I was part of a stimulating conversation about what to do with a 6'4" 250 pound body in a bath tub.

Gloria Alden said...

I'm hoping she'll be at Bouchercon, Linda, but even if she isn't, I plan on emailing her. We don't have any openings until January at this time. I think everyone would love reading what she has to say and ask their own questions.

Warren, it sounds like a good book. I try to stick with poisonous plants native to my area. Oleander common in the west and south is so poisonous that I read of people using the sticks to roast hot dogs were poisoned. Since I live in NE Ohio, I wouldn't use it. Water from a vase which held a bouquet of lilies of the valley killed a small child who drank it. Of course, there are degrees how poisonous certain plants are. Some will merely make a person very sick, and, of course, age and health problems should be factored in, too.

Gayle Carline said...

I'm a big fan of oleander. Very poisonous, used in at least one movie (Dragonwyk). Used it in one my books.

My favorite murder was an old episode of Alfred Hitchcock, where the woman kills her husband by bashing him in the head with a frozen leg of lamb, then feeds it to the police. That's just about a perfect crime. (BTW, hubby totally deserved it.)

Gloria Alden said...

I'd love to use oleander, but it doesn't grow in NE Ohio. However, I had my protag point it out in the greenhouse of the large public gardens she works in on her poisonous plant workshop.

I loved that episode of Alfred Hitchcock. Do you think anyone could get away with that now?

Gayle Carline said...

Probably not, Gloria. Leg of lamb is too expensive. LOL