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


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

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: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


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, July 12, 2016

Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning


Donna Andrews, author
of two award-winning
mystery series:
Meg Langslow
and Turing Hopper
Donna Andrews, award-winning author of both novels and short stories, is one of the organizers of the Chesapeake Crimes anthologies, assembled and released by the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters In Crime. In today's blog, she discusses the latest offering, Storm Warning.


Assuming writers still hang out together in the afterlife—and I know a great many writers for whom paradise would mean quiet times at a keyboard where the words always flow, followed by visits to something rather like the bar at Bouchercon—I know one thing that would be fun to do. Let's put Elmore Leonard and Raymond Chandler in the same room and let them go a few rounds on the subject of weather. Weather and writing, that is.
If you listen to Leonard's rules for writing, rule number one is “Never open a book with weather.”

Okay. Been done way too many times, usually badly. Who hasn't seen Snoopy atop the doghouse, opening yet another story with those deathless words “It was a dark and stormy night.” Have you, incidentally, read the whole opening paragraph of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel Paul Clifford?

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.  

I'm thinking maybe Leonard has a point.
The 19th Meg Langslow
mystery, available now
But then along comes Chandler in Red Wind:

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge. 

That kind of weather opening I'll take.

When Marcia Talley, Barb Goffman, and I chose Storm Warning for the title and theme of the seventh volume of the Chesapeake Crimes anthology, we hoped people would use the weather in interesting ways—ways more Chandlerian than Bulwer-Lyttonian. We hoped to get a variety of weather—winter blizzards and summer frog-stranglers. Desert winds and icy blasts. Weather not just as atmosphere, but weather as motive, means, and opportunity. We sent out a challenge to the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and we weren't disappointed.

Well, except for one small thing. And this is just my quirk, not Marcia's or Barb's.

I really wanted someone to include Jim Cantore. 
You know, the guy from the Weather Channel, Mr. Storm Chaser himself. I have two TV-inspired recurring nightmares. One is that Peter Walsh of Clean Sweep shows up at my door and demands to inspect my closets. The other is that I look out my window and see Jim Cantore and his camera crew setting up in my front yard, signaling that I'm at ground zero for some dangerous weather event.

The newest Meg Langslow
mystery, due in August 2016.
So I was really hoping that one of our contributors would include Jim Cantore in his or her story. I toyed with a few ideas myself. Like what if he did show up in someone's yard, and that someone thought that offing Cantore would fend off the severe weather? But . . . well, Barb already did much the same thing—with a groundhog rather than Jim Cantore, but still. Read her story The Shadow Knows in our Homicidal Holidays, the previous Chesapeake Crimes volume.

Then I toyed with the idea of having Cantore as the sleuth. That was more promising, except that I quickly realized that he'd be pretty lousy at solving murders. Ever seen that video in which the college student tried to tackle Cantore when he was reporting live on a winter storm in Charleston, South Carolina? Cantore just flipped the guy aside without even missing a beat. He's that focused on the weather. And it's not as if a dead body is going to give him a clue to how deep the snow's getting or which way the hurricane would turn, so why would Cantore care? As Sherlock Holmes has said, “the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work. . . .” I can see Cantore studying hurricanes, tornadoes, derechos, blizzards . . . but fingerprints? Gunshot residue? Chain of custody? Sadly, no.


I did toy with the idea of making Cantore either the killer or at least a bright red herring. Imagine it: a serial killer who commits his crimes during major weather events. Think how hard it would be for law enforcement to catch—the murders would happen in different jurisdictions, in different ways, to a variety of people. The one common thread would be that the site of the murder would be a place where the weather was so severe that at the site of each of these natural disasters there was—as in Ellis Peters's second Brother Cadfael mystery—One Corpse Too Many. It would probably turn out that Cantore wasn't the killer. Would it be the second banana weatherman, tired of Cantore getting the spotlight? The cameraman, weary of standing hip deep in water, snow, or mud so Cantore can appear on camera? Or--

But that's a novel, not a short story. And while people have paid good money in charity auctions to be victims, suspects, and even killers in many of our stories, I have no idea if Jim Cantore would find it amusing to be suspected of being a FICTIONAL serial killer. So I put away the idea. And was mildly disappointed that no one else mentioned Jim Cantore.

Ah, well. Dibs on the idea, though. I just might find a way to talk Cantore into it, one of these days.

And in the meantime, check out the variety of weather-driven stories to be found in Storm Warning. 

CABIN FEVER, by Timothy Bentler-Jungr
THE KNITTER, by Robin Templeton
Latest anthology
in the Chesapeake Chapter of SINC
series of Chesapeake Crimes
WHITEOUT, by Maddi Davidson
THE HISS OF DEATH, by Lauren R. Silberman
FROZEN ASSETS, by KM Rockwood
THE STORM IN THE TEACUP, by Linda Ensign
STORMY WITH A CHANCE OF MURDER, by Alan Orloff
THE LAST CAVING TRIP, by Donna Andrews
INNER WEATHER, by Carla Coupe
SHELTER FROM THE STORM, by Shaun Taylor Bevins
THE SECOND STORM, by Marianne Wilski Strong
THE HOUSE ON SHILOH STREET, by Adam Meyer
STEPMONSTER, by Barb Goffman
THE GARDENER, by Kim Kash
PARALLEL PLAY, by Art Taylor

p.s. My story's not a Meg story. And it's not funny. That is not a confession of failure; it's not meant to be funny. And if you're claustrophobic . . . just skip over “The Last Caving Trip.”

10 comments:

Margaret Turkevich said...

The Weather Channel is celebrating its 30th anniversary and I suspect Jim Cantore has been with them for many of those years. It's not a weather event without Jim or his colleagues blown sideways by the wind, submerged in pounding snow, or drenched to the skin in torrential rain. Their presence authenticates for us that indeed it is a serious storm. Thundersnow! Derecho! The eye of the storm!

My favorite weather story: Susan Hill uses torrential rain and an ensuing flood to great effect in The Betrayal of Trust, when the body of a long-missing young woman is found.

Congratulations on publication.

Grace Topping said...

Thanks for stopping by Writers Who Kill. It is always a pleasure to read your books and hear you speak. I've attended some of the panels you've presented in Northern Virginia and have always found them beneficial.

Warren Bull said...

In New Orleans Noir from Akashic Books half the stories are post-Katrina.

KM Rockwood said...

Margaret, you and Donna seem to see eye-to-eye on Jim Cantore's importance to all things weather-related.

Grace, I love Donna's books, too. It's a pleasure being in the same SINC chapter with her.

Warren, I'm going to have to take a look at that!

Gloria Alden said...

Jim Cantore is not on my local TV, not that I watch TV much, but I think it's funny the ways Donna came up with ideas to get him in a story. I've only had rain storms in one book, I think, but since the one I'm working on is in January, I think a blizzard would work nicely.

Barb Goffman said...

I love stories in which weather plays a role in the plot, where characters find ways to use storms or whatnot to their advantage. Weather can also wonderfully set the mood. We're fortunate to have so many stories that use the weather well in Storm Warning, including K.M.'s story with two homeless people on the street on a bitterly cold night. Thanks for letting WWK readers know about the anthology, K.M.

Polly Iyer said...

I find weather isn't mentioned enough in books. Nice weather, maybe, but not often is there rain or thunder. Not often do our characters get soaked or can't go somewhere because of a storm, unless that storm is important to the story. The anthology sounds terrific. Nice post.

Shari Randall said...

Donna, I'd love to read your Jim Cantore story!

KM Rockwood said...

Gloria, a blizzard in your little town would work beautifully!

Barb, thanks for all your hard work on the anthology.

Polly, I thin you're right--characters don't have to deal with the weather much unless it's an important part of the story.

Shari, I'm with you. I'd love to read that story.

Art Taylor said...

Great post here! Thanks for giving all of us in the anthology such a nice shout-out. :-)