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

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

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, June 26, 2018

Where We Begin

“All writers are local somewhere.” – Flannery O’Connor

I have always been fascinated with writerly spaces. Mine is my office, which is filled with things that inspire me to be creative: a comfy loveseat with a view of dogwoods and azaleas, shelves lined with my most cherished books, bowls of crystals and stones to run my fingers through. When I enter this room and sit down, my brain recognizes the cue and shifts into appropriate gear.

I have toured Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home, where I laid eyes upon his desk and petted his six-toed cats. I have knelt in wet grass and smelled the daffodils that inspired William Wordsworth. And last month, I stood by the window where the young Flannery O’Connor first gazed at Savannah and began to write about the South that she saw through that wavy glass.

The Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home sits on Lafayette Square, one of Savannah’s twenty-four downtown mini-parks arranged in a neat grid pattern. It is grassy and shaded with live oaks, the murmur of traffic mingling with the burble of a fountain. Much about it has changed since Flannery lived there in the early decades of the twentieth century, but one thing has remained the same: it provides a stunning view of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah.

Flannery attended mass at that cathedral every single morning, along with her mother. It was one of the first things she ever saw as a baby, its spires dominating the landscape just outside the window next to her bassinet. In a similar fashion, her Catholicism would loom large in her writings, though not always as obviously or picturesquely. As Flannery herself explained, “I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.”

The rest of the home was equally revealing, richly restored with help from the Savannah College of Art and Design, whose students researched and replicated the décor as closely as possible, from the colors of the paint to the gilded gold trim that runs along the top of the walls, an opulent touch in an otherwise modest dwelling.

We saw the bathroom where young Flannery would hold “reading salons” with her friends, arranging pillows in the bathtub and decorating the toilet with fresh flowers (she would get in trouble many times for flushing those flowers, and also for featuring Grimm’s Fairy Tales in her readings—the violence and bloodshed in those stories delighted the precocious Flannery but terrified her more sheltered playmates). We saw the yard where she taught her chicken to walk backwards, which so startled her aunt that she called in a film crew (you can watch that video of Flannery and her amazing chickens, for even though the fowl refused to perform its trick for the camera, the director managed to fix the problem just fine, as you can see for yourself here).

We also saw her library, which is filled with Flannery’s books. Some of them contain what amounts to one-star reviews written in her elementary school handwriting. She was a harsh critic—“I didn’t like this book very much,” reads one summation—but she obviously loved the concept of books as much as she loved language and words and stories. Her devotion shows everywhere you look.

I look now at my own writing space with fresh eyes. Though I do not think my childhood home will be immortalized, I do think I can learn a great deal about my writerly self by pondering the view from my bedroom window. Scuppernong vines planted by my father stretch along the edge of dense woods, a liminal zone where wildness meets civilization. It looks safe out there, but the lush grass grows tall in the spring and hides rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. The train no longer runs behind those trees, so I no longer hear that lonesome call in the night.

Except that I do, no matter where I live and write. Just like I imagine Flannery always saw those elegant French Gothic spires, even on her farm, even on her sick bed, even with her eyes shut. 
*     *     * 

Tina Whittle writes the Tai Randolph mysteries for Poisoned Pen Press. The sixth book in this Atlanta-based series—Necessary Ends—is available now. Tina is a proud member of Sisters in Crime and serves as both a chapter officer and national board member. Visit her website to follow her on social media, sign up for her newsletter, or read additional scenes and short stories: www.tinawhittle.com.


Annette said...

I long to have a lovely writing space. Alas, mine is a small cluttered mess, but I can dream of sights like these.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Great visit to Flannery's Savannah home. Will you do a sequel on the peacock farm?

Grace Topping said...

Interesting post, Tina. I’m still trying to get over the shocking ending of Flannery O’Connor’ “A Good Man is Hard to Find. “ LOL. It would be interesting to see her home and where she wrote.

KM Rockwood said...

Combining two of my favorite vacation adventures--visits to historic places, especially houses, and exploring the backgrounds of writers I admire!

Kait said...

Wonderful post! I love looking at writer's workspaces. It's fascinating to see where their creativity came to roost.

Tina said...

I am VERY excited to get to Andalusia, which may be open now after a multi-year remodel. The ending to "A Good Man" haunts me too, but seeing Flannery's first workspaces, I understand that she saw grace everywhere. Even in chickens and murderers.

Liz Milliron said...

Maybe someday I'll have a writing space - when the kids leave. For now, I'll have to crab space where I can get it.


Warren Bull said...

I visited Ngaio's home in New Zealand and sat in her writing chair.

Shari Randall said...

What a wonderful post, Tina, haunting, just like O'Connor's work. Flannery is one of my favorites, or maybe I should say, writers I greatly admire. Who can forget those stories!

Gloria Alden said...

I've been to Emily Dickinson's home, Henry David Thoreau's home as well as Emerson's home and Louisa May Alcott's home. I was also at Abraham Lincoln's home in Illinois. I'm sure there were others that I forgot, too.

Jim Jackson said...

I've visited the house and sold books on Lafayette square during the annual Flannery O'Connor celebration. And I drive by the cathedral every Sunday during the winter months on my way to the Unitarian Universalist church one square over. No doubt that the places we live imprint themselves on us for better or worse.