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

August Interview Schedule
8/7 Rhys Bowen Love and Death Among the Cheetahs
8/14 Heather Gilbert Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass
8/21 Lynn Chandler Willis Tell Me No Secrets
8/28 Cynthia Kuhn The Subject of Malice
8/31 Bernard Schaffer An Unsettled Grave

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 8/3 M. S. Spencer, 8/10 Zaida Alfaro

WWK Satuday Bloggers: 8/24 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

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.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology will be released on June 18th.

Congratulations to Margaret S. Hamilton for being a finalist in the Daphne Du Maurier contest. Margaret competes in the Unpublished/Mainstream mystery/suspense category.

Congratulations to Shari Randall for WINNING the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interview about the book here. Yay, Shari!

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files

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

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.

James M. Jackson extends the Seamus McCree series with the May 25th publication of #6, False Bottom.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Why I read kid books By Lori Rader-Day

Here’s a story for you. Back when the first Harry Potter book came out, a friend of mine tried to convince me to read it. I refused. “That’s a kid’s book, isn’t it?” I sneered. (I can literally feel the face I must have made.)

Fast forward a couple of years, and that same friend brought me back from England a paperback of the first book as a souvenir. If it’s a present, I have to read it. Also, it was short—who doesn’t love a quick read? Fast forward several more years and, long story short, I’m standing in line at midnight at my local bookstore for the last in the series.

Harry Potter tricked me.

Since then, I’ve made room on my shelves and in my reading list for books that are meant for much younger readers. Much younger. I have read a few young adult books, but that’s not what I mean. My sweet spot is 8 years to 12, kids. The middle-grade book.

If that book is a mystery, well, even better. In April, I’m leading a discussion with some of the Edgar Award-nominated (search category for “juvenile”) mysteries for young people at the Edgar Symposium in New York. That’s a job I volunteered for; I’ve been happily reading the nominees in preparation.

So why does a 40-something who once scoffed at reading under her age group now find joy in finding a smart kid-lit mystery?

A few reasons...

I’m tired.
So are you. Modern life is exhausting. You know what you don’t want? War and Peace, just this minute. Sure, classics are great. Dense reads are fantastic. But it’s OK to read something sweet, too. And it’s certainly fine to read something fun, even if it’s meant for the tween set. Besides, many of these books will take you to a different place just as handily as a book written for an adult. Have you read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy? Start here and then talk to me about how reading books for young people isn’t proper use of your time.

I’m keeping track.
I read about 50 books a year—about 30 less than I used to, before I started writing a book a year—which is a good haul. I keep track of what I read on Goodreads and in a notebook I keep at home. There’s no prize for that. I just do it, because if I didn’t, I would come on here and tell you I read 10 books last year. But since I’m keeping track, what’s wrong with a few short reads? A few palate-cleansing page-turners you can get done in one sitting is a good way to get your reading goal for the year met. I don’t count picture books. I’m not a monster.

I want to be distracted.
When I’m drafting my mystery novels, I don’t tend to read anything too closely aligned. Sheila Lowe’s mystery series on forensic handwriting, for instance, even though my new book, THE DAY I DIED, features a handwriting analyst. Why not? Because I didn’t want Lowe’s books to leak into mine. I read nonfiction, non-mysteries, and mysteries that are so unlike my style that I can be sure I’m not borrowing. This is where a strategically placed pile of kid lit can help me out.

I want to support mystery books for kids. Actual kids.
I’m a mystery fan from way back because of what I read when I was 8. To support the publishing of mysteries for young people, I buy mysteries for all the young readers in my life. The kid gets a present, and one I like giving. Suggestion: I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen is a mystery picture book, and it’s subversively funny. Check out the Edgar series from Jennifer Adams. He nevermore wants to go to bed! Selfishly, we also want these kids loving mystery now, so that they’ll be reading mysteries when they’re older.

I want to remember the joy of reading I got when I was a kid.
Most of us got our start as writers by being voracious readers. Do you remember? Walking into a library and knowing that you could take home any book in the place? Do you remember finding a book that took you somewhere you’d never been, somewhere you didn’t know existed, someplace that maybe doesn’t really exist? There’s magic in the words shared between writer and reader. Most of the time I’m on the job doling them out, but it’s nice to remember what it felt like to be on the receiving end, to be told a good, ripping story, just like when I was a kid and writing a book seemed like something only other people were allowed to do.

The good news is that those Edgar Award nominees I’m reading have been very good. When you go looking for a book that will turn you back into a gleeful kid, you won’t have to look that hard.

Lori Rader-Day, author of The Day I Died, The Black Hour, and Little Pretty Things, is the recipient of the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Good Housekeeping, and others. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches mystery writing at StoryStudio Chicago and is the president of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter.


Jim Jackson said...


As my grandkids grew up, I had the pleasure of reading to and with them. My holiday gifts to them have usually been boatloads of books and then I get to read them too! And I have thoroughly enjoyed reading both MA and YA novels.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

After James Marshall died, I bought the complete series of George and Martha, hippo friends. The target age was probably 3-9. These wonderful stories were designed to teach how to treat people in relationships--with kindness, insight, and sensitivity all the while acknowledging human foibles. I've often wondered if children got the message. James Marshall must have been a wonderful man.

Warren Bull said...

There is some wonderful literature written for younger ages. I enjoy reading it too. I recommend a series that I don't recall the author of but it has snuffle bunny in the titles.

Gloria Alden said...

Lori, I taught third grade for 20 years not starting until I was 48 years old. I had so many favorite children's chapter books that I read every year to each class, books that only the most gifted of children would read on their own, but ones that captivated all the students.
One of the ones I started with was a junior edition of Robinson Crusoe. Not that I thought that was a great book, although the kids liked it, but because I had a reason for that. I read the first several books of The Chronicles of Narnia, I read The Cay by Theodore Taylor, a book for older children, but because in Robinson Crusoe the native Friday was made to look inferior. In the Cay, Phillip,a young white boy made to think black people were inferior, when the ship he was on was torpedoed during WWII, he ended up on a raft with a black man named Timothy, who saved his life and taught him how to live on his own on an island after Phillip went blind. Later when we were studying Native Americans, I read to them The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Spears in which a young boy was left behind by his father, on land his father had claimed in Maine and built a cabin on, while the father went back to Boston to get his wife, his little daughter and a new baby. Matt had problems. His gun was stolen, a bear got into the flour barrel, he fell out of a tree. Meanwhile, he had been watched by an Indian tribe, who started to help him, especially Attean, the grandson of the leader who was ordered to help him in exchange for Matt teaching Attean to read, which the Indian boy resented. My goal was to make a Venn diagram
in which each book was in the circle with something about the characters and the books for the students to see what was similar and what was different and which book was more real.
Robinson Crusoe was rated at the bottom of the list for not being realistic. These weren't the only chapter books I read to my students by any means. Some were light and funny ones,too. I still like young adult books and one I can't recommend high enough is WONDER
by R.J. Palacio. That should be read in every middle-grade or junior high classroom. It's no wonder it's a New York Times Bestseller. And yes, I loved the children's books I read to my own children when they were small especially Miss Twiggley's Tree, which is buried somewhere among my children's books minus the cover because it had been read so many times to my children and grandchildren. P.A. I can't tell you how many times when I was reading one of those books or The Door in The Wall, that I got so choked up I had to hand it off to one of my better readers seated on the floor near my rocking chair. And yes it was when Timothy died, but also when Phillip was finally rescued from the island after being blind and alone so long and his parents were there. And when Matt's family finally showed up at Christmas after the Indian tribe had gone west and he refused to go with him.

Lori Rader-Day said...

I still remember my teacher in fourth grade reading us Where the Red Fern Grows. How I didn't sob for the rest of that year, I have no idea.

KM Rockwood said...

A good book is a good book. While it may be aimed at a certain age group, it will have universal appeal.

When I was in 4th grade, the teacher started to read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. And we moved! I hadn't paid the least bit of attention to the title or the author, and it was several years before I could figure out what she had been reading and able to finish it myself.

I often read the American Girls Addie series to my special ed classes. All the kids were interested in that story, and it certainly gave us a basis to discuss many aspects of history and current day issues.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Lori, I totally understand! In my previous life I was a children's librarian and the best part of my job was that I HAD to read so many children's books. Great work is being done by authors who write primarily for young people. One of my personal favorites is The Westing Game - have you read it?

And EB - I adore James Marshall's stuff - hilarious! He was a genius.

Grace Topping said...

I am a voracious reader, and it grieves me that neither of my daughters enjoy reading that much. I read to them when they were young, took them to the library, and bought them books. You can lead a kid to books, but you can't make them read!! They are both now in their 30s. Occasionally, they will tell me about something they've read, and I feel like jumping for joy. One of my daughters drives a lot for her job and has discovered recorded books, which is great. The Harry Potter book that I bought them, I ended up reading.

Kait said...

How delightful. I confess to reading The Little Prince a gazillion times. I justify it by reading it in several languages. Then there's A Wrinkle in Time and The Secret Garden, the annual Little Women read. The book I pick up in B&N because it just feels right in my hand (and the cover art knocked my socks off). How much fun you must be having reading for the Edgars!

Linda Thorne said...

Enjoyed your post. In the past couple of years, I've read a number of Beth Fine's Picaresque of Imagine Purple's books. They are for middle school age kids up until high school. I read them before sending them to my grand children and learned a lot. Kids learn while having fun reading the mystery in the heart of them. I don't think most kids books are too young for any of us. Sometimes they take us back.

KM Rockwood said...

Grace, my mother was always disappointed that none of her daughters read all that much or appreciated the books she'd so carefully saved for us. Then along came my daughter, her granddaughter, who started reading them and loved them.

C. T. Collier said...

I grew up on Hardy Boys mysteries, and I get a big kick out of Stuart Gibbs Spy School books. I'm reminded that suspending disbelief is part of the fun of reading. And that taking myself too seriously is a pitfall to be avoided at all costs. Enjoyed your post!