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

February Interviews

2/5 Heather Weidner, Glitter, Glam, and Contraband
2/12 Rhys Bowen, Above The Bay of Angels
2/19 Elizabeth Penney, Hems & Homicide
2/26 Annette Dashofy, Under The Radar

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
2/1 Valerie Burns
2/8 Jeannette de Beauvoir
2/15 Kathryn Lane

WWK Bloggers: 2/22 Kait Carson, 1/28 & 1/29 Special Interviews with Agatha Nominees by Paula Gail Benson


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, will be released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here on April 29th.

Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!

KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.

Paula Gail Benson's story "Wisest, Swiftest, Kindest" appears in Love in the Lowcountry an anthology by the Lowcountry Romance Writers available 11/5 in e-book and print format on Amazon. The anthology includes fourteen stories all based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Kaye George's "Grist for the Mill" was published in A Murder of Crows anthology, edited by Sandra Murphy on October 9th.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Fourth Wise Man’s Journey

It’s become my tradition here at Writers Who Kill (either for my first or last message of the year) to give a recap of the December production I direct at my church. I realized the latest was the 19th program I’ve worked on for the St. Paul’s Players. In the beginning, we paid royalties for recognized musicals. We also have used a public domain script, The Living Last Supper, a “bringing to life” of the Da Vinci painting, which we perform every other year during Holy Week before Easter. In addition, we began writing our own plays and composing original music.

This year, I determined that we would base our play on “The Other Wise Man,” a short story written by Henry Van Dyke, an author and clergyman who is well known for composing the lyrics for “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.” We used one original song, but mostly adapted lyrics to traditional hymns or used carols and religious melodies (including “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” the tune Van Dyke selected for his words to “Joyful, Joyful”) as our music. It was particularly effective for this production, which we called The Fourth Wise Man, the story of Artaban, a magi seeking the king whose birth is foretold by the star.

Artaban tells his fellow scholars that he has sold all his earthly goods to buy a sapphire, ruby, and pearl to take as gifts to the king. He intends to join the magi, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, and invites the other scholars to go with him.

They either scoff at his folly or have excuses for why they cannot accompany him. So, he starts his journey, but is halted when he comes across a dying man in the desert. He sells his sapphire to provide care for the man and to buy supplies to help him catch up with the magi.

He arrives in Bethlehem after the magi and Holy Family have departed, on the day of the slaughter of the innocents by Herod’s troops. His ruby goes to spare the life of a child.

Finally, after a life of searching, he arrives in Jerusalem thirty three years later, on the day Jesus has been sentenced to crucifixion. As he heads toward Golgotha, hoping to purchase Jesus’ freedom, he is confronted by a young woman who has been seized as a slave to pay her father’s debts. Artaban gives his pearl to ransom the woman’s life.

Then, he is imprisoned beneath a column of the temple in an earthquake. As he lies dying, he mourns that his life has been meaningless. God’s voice from Heaven tells him, “What you have done for others, you have done for me.”

If you would be interested, please click on this link to read Van Dyke’s story. It has been adapted into many versions, including a one act play and an opera by M. Ryan Taylor.

When I first began writing the script for our production, I found it difficult to tell people the story without crying, it resonated that deeply with me. The production itself became a true labor of love. I asked a group of players who have participated in several of our programs to be in the cast. We all were good friends and worked well together. Because we had only seven in the cast, everyone except the actor who played Artaban had to play multiple parts. Our performers also had to accomplish all the scene changes with the help of one excellent stage manager (Pat Jarvis, the wife of Jim Jarvis who played Artaban).

Each of the actors brought unique talents to the production. At the beginning, Valerie Ward played a haunting rendition of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” on the flute. Mark Wade, a former sports broadcaster, dressed in Laurence of Arabia style garb, served as our storyteller, helping the audience navigate the different places and time periods. Our scholars included John Arnold, Olin Jenkins, and Randy Nolff, whose camaraderie from The Living Last Supper was apparent. John, Olin, and Randy also took turns as Roman soldiers. Brenda Byrd started as Artaban’s housekeeper, then played the young woman facing slavery in a later scene. Jim Jarvis, who often has excelled in more comic roles, took on Artaban, and I can’t imagine anyone else giving a more poignant performance. I told him at our cast party that I will always see his face as Artaban when I reread the story.

We were privileged to receive a generous gift from a couple who had been in some of our productions, Matthew and Tracy Davis Davenport, which enabled us to purchase body microphones for each of our actors. It truly made a marvelous difference in the sound quality. Several people commented that they were so pleased to be able to sit anywhere in our auditorium, without having to worry that they might not be able to hear.

Dean Long served as our lighting and sound master, ably assisted by Billy Itter, our spot light operator. Melanie Shull, an extraordinary musician, accompanied our cast and provided inspiring background music. Gary West sang two solos for our dinner theatre performance. John Henry, our wonderful producer and promoter, did extra duty assisting with the lights while Dean worked our new audio system.

Midway through rehearsals, one of the actors privately confided questioning how we would manage all the emotion and special effects required by the story. In the end, our cast, crew, and audiences were well pleased with the collaborative effort that brought everything together. And, I must admit that I took great pride in what we achieved.

Have you been involved in a theatrical production? What are your favorite memories?




Jim Jackson said...

As always, it sounds as though you had a great time and produced a wonderful play.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

It must have been a wonderful production, Paula--and to have written the script--I knew you could do it.

The story of the fourth man reminds me of a long story told by Bill Bryson about a scientist from France who, along with others in various parts of the world, anticipated an eclipse of the sun. To formulate some mathematical equation, he had to travel to some remote part of the world to observe the eclipse and take measurements.

No one had bad luck like this scientist. He missed the first eclipse because his ship sank. He lost his money, dealt with illness, but he finally arrived at his destination after years of travel. Luckily, another eclipse occurred. Ready and in the right place, it rained or was too cloudy for him to get his measurements. He returned home (it again took him years) and when he did, he found his wife had had him declared dead. She took his money and took up a new man.

Bill Bryson told the tale much better, but the two stories held some of the same elements, one reminding me of the other.

Congratulations, Paula, on another Christmas play.

Shari Randall said...

Sounds like a wonderful night and, OK, I'll admit I got a little verklempt with the story. What a gift to your community.
The story reminds me a bit of Old Befana, the traditional Italian tale of a lady who is too busy cleaning her house to follow the magi to Bethlehem. She realizes her mistake and goes after them, but is too late. She lives on as a figure who brings candy and gifts to good, soundly sleeping children. Phyllis McGinley wrote a wonderful poem about her that ends with Befana saying:
"Good people, the bells begin!
Put off your toiling and let love in."
And you're a scriptwriter, too! When do you sleep, Paula?

Warren Bull said...

It sounds like a wonderful production. I have written a play for a mystery conclave and the local police create a great "crime scene." There were clues around and a finale at the banquet ending the event. I also turned one of my short stories into a skit for a fund-raising event for a literacy program. It was a hoot!

Brenda Byrd said...

Just feel so honored to be a part of this cast and crew and under the direction of Paula. I have always had the acting bug but have not had the time for about 30 years!!!! Now I have the time and the opportunity!! Thanks Paula.

carla said...

you are amazing, Paula. so many talents.
Dang you.

KM Rockwood said...

What an amazing project! And what a gift to your community.

Kara Cerise said...

Congratulations on producing and writing another play, Paula. The Fourth Wise Man is one of my favorite stories.

Gloria Alden said...

Paula, you impress me so much. I am so tempted to fly to your area just to see next year's production. Was there a video made of it, and if there was, will it be put on You tube? I love community theater and your group seems to be quite awesome.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Everyone, thanks so much for all the lovely comments.
Thanks also for the Bryson story (E.B.) and the Old Befana story (Shari). I'm always looking for new material!
Warren, I've never done an interactive mystery theater production, but I know they can be great fun!
Brenda, you're a real asset for the Players. Please know how much we appreciate all your work.
Gloria, we did indeed make a video. I'll check with you offline about it.

Sarah Henning said...

Sounds like you had a great time, Paula

My high school had one of the top ten drama programs when I attended. At least half of the (big, suburban) school population took part in some way. My favorite production we did there was "Into the Woods." I am SO pleased that they made it into a movie, though I have no idea when I'll actually get to see it. (Because babies make movies impossible).

Susan Craft said...

Not only is Paula multitalented, we even took a painting class together at Christmas, she's the best encourager ever.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Sarah, I'm trying to find time to see the movie of Into the Woods, too. Hopefully, we can compare notes.

Thanks to my bestest buddy and painting partner, Susan F. Craft. Had a fabulous time at your online book launch this weekend. For anyone who reads historical fiction, look for Susan F. Craft's Laurel, released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.