Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!
Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!
Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.
KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.
Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!
Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."
Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.
Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Guest Blog: Jeri Westerson
E.B.D.: How do you combine a murder mystery and mysticism in one novel, based in the fourteenth century, which is actually combining three genres? And is there a fourth, romance element?
Jeri: Can I sneak a vampire cat in there, too? But seriously, the mysticism is only a small part of it. And I like the reader to be a bit ambiguous about it; does the relic really have these powers or are the characters projecting their own beliefs and wishes into it? The relic becomes what Alfred Hitchcock called the McGuffin, the object that propels the plot and puts everyone into action. Sometimes the relic becomes central to the story and sometimes it’s its own red herring, having little to do with the plot. And then, of course, it’s in an historical setting which already gives it something of an otherworldly feel. Crispin is a hard-boiled detective in the Middle Ages and comes with all those tropes you usually see in hard-boiled stories—hard-drinking, chip on his shoulder, lone wolf, corruption, loose women--but it’s not anachronistic. Everything, including the mores and attitudes of its central characters, are true to the period. And romance? Well, yes, Crispin is a sucker for a dame in trouble. And he is a sexy beast.
E.B.D: So your fan base must include romance, history, science fiction, mystery buffs? Does that leave out any readers, except maybe true crime?
Jeri: Funny you should say that, because my third book, The Demon’s Parchment, is based on a true crime! So I guess I’ve got them all covered! I don’t think there are too many science fiction readers as fans, though there are a lot of male readers and some male young adult readers (I think the cover brings them in. Crispin looks like he belongs in a video game—which I think is an excellent idea. Anyone interested in going for it?) There are some fans in there of hard-boiled fiction, but the majority of the fans are readers of historical mystery and some who specifically only read medieval mysteries. They like history with their fiction.
E.B.D.: Were there any books you used as a model for your books?
Jeri: Oh, yes. I keep rewriting Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. :)
E.B.D.: Were you a History or English major in college?
Jeri: I was not a history or an English major in college. I started off life wanting to be an actress so I was a theatre major, but after some real world auditions I discovered that I wasn’t cut out for that kind of rejection so I switched to the other thing I had an aptitude in, which was art and became a graphic artist, working in Los Angeles for about fifteen years.
E. B. D.: Were you always interested in medieval England?
Jeri: As for my interest in history, that was just what I grew up with. My parents were rabid Anglophiles and there were always books—both fiction and nonfiction--and discussions about English history, particularly about the medieval period. I was a goner.
E.B.D.: I noticed on your http://www.getting-medieval.com/ blog, references to medieval weapons, battles, and code of chivalry, how do you research your novels?
Jeri: I was writing historical novels for about ten years before I switched to writing mysteries so I already had a lot of research in my pocket. But there’s always some extra research to do, like about real historical figures or on archery, for instance, that I needed for my latest book, Serpent in the Thorns. I first go to my own book shelves. If it isn’t there, I go to the Internet and ask on a list serve of medieval scholars, historians, and professors what books they would recommend. Then it’s off to my local university library where I can almost always find the reference I’m looking for. Sometimes I have to contact archives in England but I can always reach those online. Those guys have been most generous with their time, copying maps and floor plans for me and snail mailing them. I think they are just so happy to talk with someone who is interested in what they are doing that they are willing to go that extra mile.