Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, Tessa Arlen (Minotaur Books)
Macdeath, Cindy Brown (Henery Press)
Plantation Shudders, Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)
Just Killing Time, Julianne Holmes (Berkley)
On the Road with Del and Louise, Art Taylor (Henery Press)
ART TAYLOR: While I’ve had some situations that have sparked the ideas for stories, character is almost definitely what drives my work—though after a point, I think that character and plot should be so intensely intertwined that it’s difficult to separate one from the other. The adventures the title characters take in On The Road With Del & Louise cover a range of plot types in the mystery genre—a traditional whodunit, for example, and a twisty wine caper and an episode of domestic suspense—but throughout, it’s Louise’s voice, her observations, her desires, and her struggles that keep the whole thing moving along. I was just reading a quote from Raymond Chandler about a magazine editor pulling a bit of description from one of his stories because it held up the action; Chandler theorized that readers “just thought they cared nothing about anything but the action; that really, although they didn’t know it, they cared very little about the action. The things they really cared about, and that I cared about, were the creation of emotion through dialogue and description; the things they remembered, that haunted them, were not for example that a man got killed, but that in the moment of his death he was trying to pick a paper clip up off the polished surface of a desk, and it kept slipping away from him, so that there was a look of strain on his face and his mouth was half opened in a kind of tormented grin, and the last thing in the world he thought about was death.” That’s a long quote, I know—thanks for indulging me!—but maybe it serves as a reminder that what all of us care about isn’t just what happens next in a story, but who it happened to and how it affected her and what sense she made of it all.
Art Taylor is the author of On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories. He has won two Agatha Awards, the Anthony Award, the Macavity Award, and three consecutive Derringer Awards for his short fiction, and a selection from On the Road with Del & Louise was chosen for the forthcoming Best American Mystery Stories anthology. He is an associate professor of English at George Mason University, and he contributes frequently to the Washington Post, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and Mystery Scene Magazine as well as blogging at Criminal Minds and SleuthSayers. www.arttaylorwriter.com