by Paula Gail Benson
It is a thrill and honor to welcome the 2018 Anthony short story nominated authors to be with us at Writers Who Kill. All these writers have distinguished careers and bring their best game to these stories, which offer a terrific assortment (in time periods and genres) for end of summer reading.
Here are links to this year’s nominated stories:
“The Trial of Madame Pelletier” by Susanna Calkins, Malice Domestic 12: Mystery Most Historical: http://www.susannacalkins.com/short-stories.html
“God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Jen Conley, Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash: https://www.jenconley.net/
“My Side of the Matter” by Hilary Davidson, KillingMalmon:
“Whose Wine Is it Anyway” by Barb Goffman, 50 Shades of Cabernet:
“The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place” by Debra Goldstein, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, May/June 2017: http://www.debrahgoldstein.com/otherwritings/night-burned-ms-dixies-place-alfred-hitchcock-mystery-magazine-mayjune-2017/
“A Necessary Ingredient” by Art Taylor, Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea: http://www.arttaylorwriter.com/books/a-necessary-ingredient/
If you haven’t already, please take time to read the stories being recognized this year. If you are a short story writer, they will make you proud (and very likely envious!), and if you aren’t, they will make you want to try your hand at the craft.
Thank you, Susie, Jen, Hilary, Barb, Debra, and Art, for taking time to answer a few questions!
WHO IS THE PROTAGONIST OR CENTRAL CHARACTER OF YOUR NOMINATED STORY?
Hilary Davidson: The central character is Zachary Streckfus, who slowly reveals how and why he killed a man. Streckfus was a name borrowed from Truman Capote, whose birth name was Truman Streckfus Persons. The title of my story, "My Side of the Matter," is also borrowed from Capote, though his story was more of a comedy about a very immature man meeting his new wife's relatives, and mine is about a very immature man determined to seduce a woman who hates him.
Barb Goffman: My protagonist is Myra, a secretary in a large DC law firm. For 40 years, Myra has worked for Douglas, from his earliest days as an attorney through his rise to run the firm’s litigation department. She’s always felt like a vital member of his team, and she thinks of Douglas like her brother. But now, in her final week before retirement, Myra learns that Douglas doesn’t value her in the same way. She feels neglected. Unappreciated. Angry. And she decides before she leaves the firm for the last time, she’s going to teach some lessons about what’s really important in life. But Myra’s bitterness leads her to make potentially disastrous decisions—for others, as well as for herself.
Debra H. Goldstein: The protagonist in “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” is a black nine-year-old boy. Except for one reference as “Maisie’s boy,” he is unnamed. His name is unnecessary because in the greater realm of literature, he could be any child coming of age while observing the racial, civil, and political strife in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960’s.
The child is the narrator, so the events and other characters are seen through his eyes. As he tells the story of the night and an obvious murder, he also serves to raise the subtle specter of other societal crimes. The protagonist’s innocent retelling of “The Night they Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place” is what makes the story go beyond being a simple whodunit to subliminally allowing the reader to contemplate diversity and tolerance.
Art Taylor: Ambrose Thornton is the son of a very successful businessman in a mid-sized Southern town—a trust fund baby you might call him, living simultaneously off of his father’s wealth but also in the shadow of that father’s success. He doesn’t necessarily need to work, but his father expects him to have drive, determination, and a solid work ethic anyway. So because of his love of classic private eye fiction—Hammett and Chandler and Ross Macdonald and more—Ambrose sets up his own private eye office. But he doesn’t pursue any actual business because all he wants to do is hide in that office, away from his father, and read more of those stories he loves … unless a young woman (herself a twist on the conventions of the genre!) knocks on his door and hires him for a case. She’s a chef, has just opened a new restaurant in town, and has heard that someone in the area is growing tonka beans, outlawed by the FDA but a prized delicacy in French cuisine—and can’t Ambrose please help her find them?
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION OR FIRST GLIMPSE OF THIS CHARACTER AND WHAT MADE YOU CERTAIN THAT YOU WANTED TO WRITE ABOUT THIS PERSON?
When I was asked to write for the anthology, I picked the song “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” It has a very foreboding tone, heavy with dread and darkness. I wanted to write a story that captured the same sound.
This character is made up but the story was inspired by the recent release of a local murderer in Ocean County, where I live. In 1985 a fifteen-year-old boy gruesomely killed his 13-year-old neighbor. I was a teen when it happened and I suppose it always stuck with me.
|Debra H. Goldstein|
For more information about the lives and work of these very talented authors, please check out the following:
Susanna Calkins was born and raised in Philadelphia, and lives outside Chicago with her husband and two sons. Holding a PhD in history, Susanna writes the award-winning Lucy Campion historical mysteries as well as the forthcoming Speakeasy Murders, both from St. Martin’s Minotaur. MURDER KNOCKS TWICE, set in Prohibition-Era Chicago, will be out Spring 2019. “The Trial of Madame Pelletier,” her first published short story, appeared in Malice Domestic: Mystery Most Historical (Wayside Press, 2017). Read more about her work at http://www.susannacalkins.com/
Jen Conley’s short stories have appeared in Beat to a Pulp, Just To Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash, Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen and many others. She has contributed to the Los Angeles Review of Books, has been shortlisted for Best American Mystery Stories and is one of the former editors at Shotgun Honey. Her Anthony Award nominated story collection, Cannibals: Stories from the Edge of the Pine Barrens, is available now. She lives in Brick, New Jersey. Check out her website at https://www.jenconley.net/
Hilary Davidson is the author of the Lily Moore series—which includes The Damage Done, The Next One to Fall, and Evil in All Its Disguises. She also the author of the standalone thriller Blood Always Tells and a short-story collection called The Black Widow Club. Her next novel, One Small Sacrifice, will be published by Thomas & Mercer in May 2019. Visit her online at http://www.hilarydavidson.com
Barb Goffman loves writing, reading, air conditioning, and her dog, not necessarily in that order. She’s won the Agatha, Macavity, and Silver Falchion awards for her short stories, and she’s been a finalist for national mystery short-story awards twenty-two times, including eleven times for the Agatha (a category record). Her book Don’t Get Mad, Get Even won the Silver Falchion for the best collection of 2013. Barb is thrilled to be a current Anthony and Macavity award finalist for her story “Whose Wine is it Anyway?” from the anthology 50 Shades of Cabernet. She works as a freelance editor and proofreader and lives with her dog in Winchester, Virginia. Learn more at www.barbgoffman.com
Agatha and Anthony nominated Judge Debra H. Goldstein’s is the author One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. Her prior books include Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Debra’s short stories have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. She is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppies, serves on SinC’s national board, and is vice-president of SEMWA. Find out more about her writings at www.DebraHGoldstein.com
Art Taylor is the author of On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. He has won three additional Agatha Awards, an Anthony Award, two Macavity Awards, and three consecutive Derringer Awards for his short fiction, and his work has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories. He also edited Murder Under the Oaks: Bouchercon Anthology 2015, winner of the Anthony Award for Best Anthology or Collection. He is an associate professor of English at George Mason University. Check out his website at http://www.arttaylorwriter.com/