If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

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.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

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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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

An Interview with the 2014 Agatha Best Short Story Nominee Authors



Malice Domestic’s 2014 Agatha Nominations for Best Short Story are:
“A Year Without Santa Claus?” (PDF) by Barb Goffman (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Jan./Feb. 2015)
“A Questionable Death” (PDF) by Edith Maxwell, History & Mystery, Oh My (Mystery & Horror, LLC)
“A Killing at the Beausoleil” (PDF) by Terrie Farley Moran (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2015)
“Suffer the Poor” (PDF) by Harriette Sackler, History & Mystery, Oh My (Mystery & Horror, LLC)
“A Joy Forever” (PDF) by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, March 2015)

Barb, Edith, Terrie, Harriette, and B.K (Bonnie) are all talented and seasoned short story authors. We are so pleased to welcome them to WRITERS WHO KILL to answer a couple of questions about how they weave their magic. Enjoy their answers, then take the opportunity to enjoy reading their nominated stories (just click on the links above). You’ll be delighted by their inventiveness and skill. Thanks so much to Barb, Edith, Terrie, Harriette, and Bonnie, and best wishes! -- Paula Gail Benson

Each of you is an accomplished short story author. What is the lure of writing short fiction and why do you find the craft satisfying?

Barb Goffman
BARB GOFFMAN:    There’s something special about getting an idea and bringing it to life, telling a story that entertains people or moves them or surprises them--or in the best of circumstances, does all three things at once. Other people can create things with hammer and saw or ingredients or music. I’m blessed that I can create worlds with words. That’s why I love writing.

Why short stories? One reason is because they’re so focused. I can start writing a story and finish it, in many cases, within a few days. That appeals to the part of me that likes getting things done and crossing them off my never-ending to-do list. I get a story idea, find the time to write the story (often the biggest challenge), revise, get feedback from trusted friends, revise once more, and send it off. With a novel, an author can spend months on the same story. In that same time span I can create a bunch of tales. It makes me feel productive. I like that.

EDITH MAXWELL:  I like writing just a nugget. Books are so long and complicated. It’s refreshing to focus on just one thing, only a few characters, the essentials of setting. My last few stories, including “A Questionable Death,” have all used the 1888 setting and main characters of my Quaker Midwife Mysteries. I’ve really enjoyed carving out one small new story from the wider palette of the historical series.

Terrie Farley Moran
TERRIE FARLEY MORAN:             I have always loved reading short fiction. In fact I’ve had a subscription to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine since I was 14 years old and I began reading Alfred Hitchcock not too many years later. Nearly a dozen years ago I wrote a novel and I was just starting the second draft when my Sisters in Crime chapter put out a call for submissions for an anthology. I wrote “Strike Zone” and discovered that I loved writing short mystery fiction as much as I had always loved reading it. A short story is economical in words and ideas. The writer has to get the story rolling, make her point and end it. And she had to do it in a way that entertains the reader. I love meeting that challenge.

HARRIETTE SACKLER:      Great question. Over time, I’ve found that writing short stories is a terrific way for me to explore subjects I’m interested in. Ever since my undergraduate days as a sociology major, I’ve been fascinated by how people interact with society. After exploring topics related to my interest, I find the outcome is often a short story. My Agatha-nominated story resulted from a visit to London’s East End and my research on Victorian life during the 1800’s. For me, it’s an interesting and satisfying progression and allows me to move from place and time to place and time exploring different topics.

B,K, Stevens
B.K.STEVENS:          I enjoy writing both short stories and novels. It all depends on the story I want to tell, the characters I want to develop, and the effect I want to create—some are right for short stories, some for longer forms. In “A Joy Forever,” for example, the plot idea is simple, I wanted to work with only three characters, and I wanted to create a humorous effect. If I’d tried to stretch the plot idea out to novel length, it would have gotten unbearably boring; if I’d piled on subplots, the slender foundation would have collapsed under their weight. And if we’d had to see Gwen suffering for year after year, I think her story would have become so poignant that the humor would have been lost. Similarly, if I’d added more characters, they would have been a distraction from the little three-person drama I wanted to develop. In “The Philosophy of Composition,” Poe says that because short stories can be read in one sitting, they can achieve a “unity of effect” longer works often lack: Thoughts about the outside world never interrupt us while we’re reading, so the story can draw us in more completely. I agree with Poe, partly because every element in a well-written short story can be directly relevant to one central effect. So there are no internal interruptions, as well as no external ones—perfect for a “unity of effect.” Of course, a novel can develop a variety of effects, and that can be delightful, too. I don’t think one form is better than the other. I think they’re just different.

Do you consider your writing plot-driven, character-driven, neither, or a combination?

BARB GOFFMAN:    Combination. I start with conflict. Character reacts to conflict and that drives the plot. For instance, in my Agatha-nominated story “A Year Without Santa Claus?” my main character, Annabelle, is a determined woman who will put herself at risk in order to do what’s right. (She’s a fairy who’s the head of everything magical that happens in New Jersey, including having Santa deliver presents to kids in the state at Christmas.) When Santa says New Jersey is too dangerous for him this year (because someone--or someones--have been killing people who dress as enchanted beings), Annabelle decides she has to find the killer in order to make Santa feel safe again and thus save Christmas. If Annabelle were less tenacious or less inquisitive, the story would have gone another way. (Does she save Christmas? Read the story to find out!)

Edith Maxwell
EDITH MAXWELL:  My short stories have to be a combination – well, so do my books. Sometimes I’ll get the inspiration for a short story from a character and build the story around that. And sometimes it’s the crime that drives it. I’ve now written several stories featuring Rose Carroll, my Quaker midwife, solving crimes with her fun, eccentric friend, postmistress Bertie Winslow. Those stories definitely started with character.

TERRIE FARLEY MORAN: My writing is character driven. Whatever situation exists in any story, it is the action of the characters that moves the story forward. Every character will react differently to the exact same set of circumstances, and it is those differences that bring a story to life. I also think that setting is underrated in short fiction. Often setting can be quite effective in providing the appropriate background to give a story added zest.

Harriette Sackler
HARRIETTE SACKLER:      While I hope I create interesting story plots, I’d have to say that my stories are character driven, given that I consider “setting” an important element of character development. I want my readers to experience the time and place in which my characters live their lives.

B.K. STEVENS:         I hate to be evasive, but I’d have to say it’s a combination—and sometimes it’s more plot-driven, sometimes more character-driven. In flash fiction, for me, plot tends to dominate, since there’s not much time to develop character: I get an idea for a simple plot with a couple of sharp twists at the end, and that’s the focus of the story. The characters tend to be types—the clever detective, the sweet old lady, the greedy relative, and so on. In longer stories, the characters often become more important than plot. “A Joy Forever,” for example, began with a plot device—an idea for a murder method. If I’d written it as flash fiction, the murder method probably would have remained the focus, and I would have tried for as much surprise at the end as possible. Since I decided to develop the story at greater length, the murder method became less important, and I didn’t try to keep it a secret. Most readers will probably figure it out long before the narrator does, so the final incident in the plot isn’t likely to come as a complete surprise (though I hope readers find it satisfying and humorous). The main interest in this story, I think, centers on Gwen’s character, on her evolving relationship with the narrator, and on the fates of the works of art associated with the three characters—Mike’s statue, Gwen’s tapestry, and the narrator’s photograph.


12 comments:

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks so much for having us, Paula, and asking these great questions!

KM Rockwood said...

What a great blog! It gives us so much insight into how these amazing authors work.

Margaret Turkevich said...

best wishes to all

Warren Bull said...

Excellent information about writing short stories.

Shari Randall said...

So much to think about here. Thank you all for stopping by and thank you, Paula, for putting together another great interview.

Barb Goffman said...

Thanks for the fun interview, Paula. And thanks, everyone, for stopping by. I hope to see some of you next week at Malice Domestic!

Polly Iyer said...

Fun interview, Paul. Best of luck to you all.

Gloria Alden said...

Great interview, and I look forward to meeting you all again at Malice shortly.

Kait said...

Good luck to all!

Art Taylor said...

Such a great conversation here! Thanks for hosting this group, Paula—and congratulations to them all!

B.K. Stevens said...

Thanks so much for inviting us, Paula, and for asking such thought-provoking questions. It was fun to see what the other nominees had to say!

June Shaw said...

I really enjoyed getting to read about what inspires your shorts. You've tempted me to try writing them.