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


Here are our August WWK interviews:

August 1 Rhys Bowen, Four Funerals and Maybe A Wedding

August 8 Liz Milliron, Root Of All Evil

August 15 Kellye Garrett, Hollywood Ending

August 22 Joyce Tremel, A Brewing Trouble Mystery Series

August 29 Dianne Freeman, A Ladies Guide to Etiquette and Murder


Our August Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 8/4--Kelly Oliver, 8/11--Lisa Ciarfella, 8/18--Margaret S. Hamilton, 8/25--Kait Carson.


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.

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Bad-Natured Botany by Holly A. Chaille


Poisonous plants have long played the villain in both fiction and non-fiction over the centuries. Perhaps you’ve read about Socrates being forced to drink poison hemlock while his acolytes watched. There’s also that most badass of botanists, Locusta, who became such a well-known expert in her field that the Romans essentially had her on speed dial to off one another when reasonable discourse failed them, which happened frequently. She was prolific in knowledge and talent, utilizing such classics as nightshade and arsenic, and, when it came time to take out that most Noblest of Romans, Augustus, she added mushrooms—the Deathcap variety.
Holly with Moonflower
Agatha Christie is perhaps fiction’s most profuse poisoner, utilizing digitalis (Appointment with Death), opium (Sad Cypress), monkshood (4.50 to Paddington) and hemlock (Five Little Pigs) and many others. One might wonder why so many of her books revolve around poison. She developed an interest while working in a medical dispensary and sealed her fate once she took her exam for the Society of Apothecaries. She often spoke of her admiration of poisons as the ideal murder weapon because of the many ways they can be delivered to the intended victim and the amount of time certain poisons take to manifest in murder. Guns shoot, ropes strangle, but poisons, ah poisons. They stalk, pounce, and paralyze in ways that guarantee surprising and unnerving story lines for readers.  
Here in the twenty-first century the happenstance of hemlock or opium is too out of place for reasonable minds to accept as a likely murder weapon. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens of other potential perps lurking around your back door or local Lowe’s. I have a dedicated area in the  backyard that’s my poison garden, which includes several plants that were already growing here when I moved in. The aforementioned monkshood and digitalis (foxglove) are present, as are hellebore (Lenten rose) and yew. I’ve added castor bean, poppies, larkspur, and Angel’s Trumpet.
Angel’s Trumpet, also known as Brugmansia, is my favorite and it has a lead role in my manuscript The Poison Season.  It’s a member of the nightshade family which also includes jimson weed, bindweed and moonflower. In the summer evenings I can sit and watch the blooms of my peach and cream plants spiral open. The scent is, quite literally, swoon-worthy. While researching the flower for my story I spent a little too long sniffing blooms and became a bit nauseated.  It passed after a few minutes, and I’ve learned to be more cautious when I’m hanging out with these clever killers.
Another favorite, Moonflower, is a close relative of Angel’s Trumpet. Whereas the Angel’s Trumpet blooms hang down and sway like the skirt of a southern belle, the moonflower faces upward, a beacon for evening moths to come and get their pollen on. Moonflowers open rather quickly, in about seven minutes, right at dusk. It’s a lovely show and guaranteed to provide great photo opportunities.
As a writer I am, by definition, curious. I could spend all of my time researching poisonous plants and like the rest of you authorial assassins, my browser history is ridiculously suspicious. By having a poison garden in my back yard, I can tear myself away from the computer, go outside for a breath of fresh air (not too close to the Angel’s Trumpet), and still be researching my work. I highly recommend investing in a few felonious flowers for your research and relaxation. Plus, a garden gives you a good place to dump the bodies.
If you’re into Mother Nature’s murder mob, check out these sources for more information:
Kathryn Harkup’s book on Agatha Christie’s poison AIS FOR ARSENIC https://www.amazon.com/Arsenic-Poisons-Agatha-Christie/dp/1472911326/ref=mt_paperback?_encoding=UTF8&me=
Holly A. Chaille is an advanced master gardener and writer plotting gardens and murders in northern Indiana. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime and knows more ways to use poisonous plants than her husband would like. Chaille is querying her first novel, The Poison Season, a suspense about sisters, the thin tendril between love and betrayal, and of course, poisonous plants. Find her at: https://www.hollyachaille.com/


6 comments:

Margaret Turkevich said...

I wrote a satisfying short story about monkshood infused in vodka as the perfect medium for undetectable poison.

Thanks for the list of plant poison references.

And good luck with your query.

E. B. Davis said...

I used cyanide as the murder weapon in one of my WIPs. It worked perfect at the champagne tasting for the wedding party! Your knowledge will be invaluable. I have research poisons whenever I decide to use them. Thanks for blogging with us, and good luck with your MS.

KM Rockwood said...

Such a lot of good information! And you do have your weapons at hand. Like any intimate knowledge of something you use in your writing, I'm sure it adds a depth, even if you don't refer to specific details.

Warren Bull said...

I've used Jimson Weed and Oleander. What a fun blog.

Shari Randall said...

Fun blog! Good luck with your querying, Holly!

Gloria Alden said...

I have three books of poison and have used poisons in several of my short stories. I have friends who jokingly tell me that wouldn't want to eat meals at my house when they saw the books. Because I am a gardener, I have some plants that are poisonous, too.