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

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


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.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Game’s Afoot. Again.

by Paula Gail Benson
Asa Arnold, John Arnold, Jinny Davis Nantz, and me waiting for the show to start!

John Arnold as Holmes
For my first WWK message of each New Year, I enjoy sharing the adventures my church’s drama group had with its holiday production. This year, our St. Paul’s Players asked if we could revisit some territory we previously explored: an adaptation of a Sherlock Holmes story.

In 2013, we did a musical version of what I believe is the only Sherlock Holmes Christmas story that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote. “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” is a mystery involving a lost hat and Christmas goose. Because the owner is not found, the goose is cooked for a holiday dinner and when it is carved open, a stolen precious jewel is discovered inside. The theme of the story is redemption. After discovering the thief, who admits his crime, Holmes lets him go. Holmes justifies his action by telling Watson, “I suppose that I am commuting a felony, but it is just possible that I am saving a soul. This fellow will not go wrong again; he is too terribly frightened. Send him to jail now, and you make him a jail-bird for life. Besides, it is the season of forgiveness.”

Asa and John Arnold

Jim Jarvis as Watson
During the summer, I began looking over other Holmes’ adventures, searching for one that was no longer protected by copyright and had an appropriate holiday theme. When I came across “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches,” which actually mentions the blue carbuncle, I took that as a sign I found my story.

The Copper Beeches is a stately country home inhabited by a strange family. Mr. Jethro Rucastle, while jovial, has a mean streak and a secret. His wife is stern and complicit. His son has the talent of being able to kill cockroaches with his shoe.

When Miss Violet Hunter is offered the job as governess, for an exorbitant salary, she seeks Sherlock Holmes advice: should she take the job? Holmes agrees that the requirements she cut her hair, wear a particular dress, and sit in a certain chair in the parlor sound ominous, but if she accepts employment, he agrees to investigate if she sends for him. She very quickly does.

Margaret Davis, Olin Jenkins, and Andy Fiffick in rehearsal
Our adaptation was titled Christmas with Holmes and Watson. Our incredible photographer was Colleen Fannin Arnold, who also was a member of our cast, along with her husband John, who played Holmes, and son Asa, who played Young Master Rucastle.

Brenda Byrd and Reggie Hall
For any Holmes aficionados, you know that many of the stories are more talk than action. Analyzing the crime becomes the focus, which is fine for reading while sipping tea or a hot toddy by the fireplace.

However, on the stage, too much talking can be deadly. And not in an entertaining way.

The first thing I needed to do was figure out how to open up the story. I decided to have a “Greek chorus” of sorts that I called “the Baker Street Irregulars.” While a handful of actors had single roles, such as Holmes, Watson, Violet Hunter, and Jethro Rucastle, the majority served as utility players, each taking on several parts. For music, we used traditional English carols with story appropriate lyrics.

LaTynia and Sydnie Taylor
Holmes purists probably would be skeptical about our adaptation, which evolved from the folks playing the roles. Reggie Hall, the laughing, but mysterious Mr. Rucastle, looks exactly like Santa Claus. In fact, he is a proud graduate of a professional Santa Claus School in Michigan. So, throughout our story, we made some illusions to Mr. Rucastle’s Santa-like appearance and by the conclusion, had him dressed in the American traditional red suit with his wife decked out as Mrs. Claus. To match him, Sherlock Holmes took his curtain call dressed as Father Christmas.

I’m so very grateful to our cast and crew who give their time through the fall in rehearsals and spend the first two Friday nights of December performing for a dinner theatre audience. I’m proud to say both performances were full houses. In addition, we collected almost $1,000 for our selected cast project charity, the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital Foundation.

John Arnold and Reggie Hall
Now, my question for the New Year is, what shall we do next?


Kait said...

OK, that looks like too much fun. What a great cast. Happy Christmas!

Tina said...

How I wish I could have been there for that!

Art Taylor said...

Such a fun project--and love the photos! Thanks for sharing!

KM Rockwood said...

What a creative project! I bet everyone involved had a great time.

Gloria Alden said...

Paula, as I'm sure I mentioned last year, I wish so much I could live close enough to have gone to that show. I love local theater productions, and yours sounds so awesome. A now retired librarian who started one of my book clubs went to that Michigan Santa school too and is now Mrs. Clause every year. She loves it.

Warren Bull said...

What fun!

Grace Topping said...

Can you create a video of it next year so that you can share it on YouTube or some other method? I would have loved to see it. You are so creative, and I am sure your church members really enjoy your efforts. Congratulations on another great production.

Shari Randall said...

What fun! I love hearing about your productions and this one sounded great. I, too, would love to see it - maybe a WWK field trip is in order.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

What a fun event! True Christmas spirit in a new and novel form. Can't wait to hear about next year's production.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Dear Kait, Tina, Art, KM, Gloria, Warren, Grace, Shari,and Margaret, thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind comments. I always enjoy the delight and challenges that come with working on a stage production. We're lucky to be a group of folks who enjoy each other's company, which makes the work easier. I would be excited to have you all come for a performance!

Anonymous said...

The lighting and sound crew were outstanding!

Paula Gail Benson said...

That's what the lighting and sound crew always tells me!