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

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

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.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Finding Island Inspiration

By Shari Randall

Islands. They conjure images of serenity and endless beaches. Isolation. Cut off from the worries of day to day life one can find peace, relaxation, escape. On a truly isolated island one escapes even Internet and cell connections. You can be alone with your thoughts, your loved ones, or loved one. Alone.
Potato Bay

No wonder so many writers have marooned their characters on an island. Mystery writers have joked for years about how difficult cell phones have made our lives. Any sensible potential victim with a cell phone will call the police when faced with a threat. Writers say "Kill your darlings;" to that I add, "kill the cell phones."

I just returned, not too much worse for wear than a sunburn and some sore muscles, from the spectacular Channel Islands National Park off the coast of California. The centerpiece of the trip was a sea kayaking adventure to explore caves in the Santa Cruz Marine Reserve that are only accessible from the ocean.
One of the large sea caves

As the ferry crew cast off from the pier in Ventura, my writers mind started cataloging the many dangers of a voyage to an island twenty-two nautical miles from the mainland. An island with a thinly staffed parks service and no cell reception.

Well, I survived the deadliest threat - camping. My husband jokes that my idea of camping is a hotel without room service. All I can say is he knows me well and thank God for the cushy mat my sister-in-law gave me.

 The Channel Islands are known for the aforementioned sea caves and the island fox. The foxes are small and diabolically cute as they nonchalantly trot through your campsite looking for cookie crumbs. Not sure how they could be worked into a mystery plot - perhaps some kind of genetically modified rabies could be introduced?

The sea caves, however, were a different story and my mind raced as I flailed into a wetsuit for our kayak trip to the sea caves. Our guide, Dave, was wonderfully informative and safety minded. If only he knew what was going through my mind when he led my group to the sea lion rookery (abandon victim among bad tempered animals?) and the sea cave known as Boom Box (no one could hear an abandoned kayaker shout for help over the reverberating sound caused by the crash of waves in the dark, narrow barnacle covered walls. Did I mention the barnacles were razor sharp?)

One sea cave was plot perfect. Dave promised a narrow labyrinth ending in a little beach. We paddled into the cave one at a time following the bright beam of Dave's headlamp into the dank pitch dark. Our kayak slid through twisting, head ducking passageways too narrow for us to use a regular paddle stroke.

Dave cheerfully warned us that if we fell in we'd have to swim out in the pitch dark, somehow avoiding the razor encrusted walls, like a dead serious game of Operation.

As I wondered if my daughters knew where to find my will, we paddled into a chamber not much bigger or higher than grandma's kitchen. As Dave had promised, there was a rocky beach at the end, and a seal was sleeping on it.

All the barnacles were forgotten in that delightful moment. In the spotlight of Dave's headlamp we watched the seal wake up and look at us looking at him. He (the seal) was unimpressed. We headed back, negotiating a spin in the space an inch or two wider than our kayak. Dave did the same and got a bit hung up, but managed to get us all out safely so the next kayak could pay a visit to the sleepy seal.

That night, as the foxes sniffed around our tent and I drifted off to sleep, I thought how enriching travel can be, especially for a writer seeking an unusual, cell phone free setting.

Have you been inspired by your travels?


Julie Tollefson said...

Maybe it's because I live in landlocked country, but I always find ... inspiration? something to fear? ... around water. Canoes and kayaks, especially, can take you to the most amazingly isolated-feeling spots that make the perfect setting for murder or a body dump. The murky waters of the bayou, the oxbow cut off from the main river channel. We canoed a narrow stream once, steep banks lined with a dense tangle of trees and vines, and nearly every tree held a vulture. Talk about creepy - and perfect for fiction.

E. B. Davis said...

I've written short stories set in places I've traveled. The newness of a place heightens the senses as yours has obviously done. So, can we expect a short story or novel set in the Channel Islands?

Someone disappears out of every kayak. One middle-age woman notices that those who disappear are anglers carrying bait. She also noticed the seal's nose twitched like hers does when eating her favorite pizza. She suspects the seal pretended to be sleeping. On her next ride into the caves, she plants bait in her pocket along with a water-proof camera and a Taser. The hell with animal activists...the poser seal has teeth and cunning but will be no match for her.

KM Rockwood said...

What a delightful trip!

I need to feel like I really know a place to use it for a setting, so I haven't used places I've traveled, except for one story set in Alcatraz. And I had to do lots of research, in addition to visiting it.

Sometimes, when the setting is a real one, I visited it several times to get the right feel for the story.

Warren Bull said...

I'm always on the look out for mystery ideas. I set one short story in New Zealand using local words and phrases while visiting there. I believe I am the the world's best known author to write about the "mean streets" of Manhattan.....Kansas.

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, this sounds like a wonderful experience. I'm emailing my California daughter to read your blog and maybe plan a trip for the two of us to take together. I've been to Santa Cruz more than once with her, but not the Channel Islands. I never heard of them before.

As for setting mysteries in places like this, I'd have to visit it first. I have set a mystery along the Appalachia Trail in Shenandoah National Park because I backpacked that section of the trail a half dozen times or more until my sister and I covered the whole section of it in that area.

Margaret Turkevich said...

what a wonderful experience!

A long time ago my husband and I hiked across the causeway to Lindisfarne, a tidal island off the Northumberland coast. And of course, we didn't leave enough time to make the return trip before the tide rolled in...so a nice retired couple scooped us up and drove us back to the mainland. Lesson learned: read and memorize the tide chart.

Kait said...

What great pictures! Yes, travel is inspiration. All through the 1980s I ran a friend's company in the Caribbean. First he was based in St. Thomas, then for the last seven years, in Sint Maarten. Unfortunately, I had to travel there every weekend and I had a condo next to the sea to stay in. Sigh- talk about your awful jobs! I did a lot of writing when I lived there. I was alone in the condo most of the time, I'd turn on the porch lights (close enough to the sea to be bug free) take my legal pad and write for hours. It was magnificent.