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


For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.

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!


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

St. Hilda's College Crime Fiction Weekend - August 14 & 15, 2020

This year, because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the annual St. Hilda’s College, Oxford Crime Fiction Weekend was available online for the first time. I’ve wanted to attend this conference for years because it delivers an international crowd from “over the pond,” including authors new to me.

With an “All Our Yesterdays” historical crime fiction theme, each online video streaming presentation lasted ½ hour with a follow-up Q&A. Topics ranged from The Invention of Yesterday with Andrew Taylor and Val McDermid; The Cold Finger of Time with du Maurier and Vine with Mary Paulson-Ellis; Out of Time: the protagonist and the point of historical fiction with Abir Mukherjee; Jill Dawson and Plotting in lockdown: Patricia Highsmith and ‘A Suspension of Mercy’; Tom Wood and You couldn’t make it up: Bloody Murder and Brilliant Science in the golden age of Crime Fiction among others.

The panel discussions were so British, so educated, so erudite I found myself juggling a different non-American vocabulary, typing ‘Brilliant!’ into the sidebar notes while picturing Ron Weasley’s goofy Hogwarts enthusiasm in my head. An interactive whodunnit The Murder of Lucy Ackroyd was also offered with the winner awarded a Scottish teacake that sounded suspiciously like an American Mallomar cookie, delicious in any case.

One panel discussion brought up a suggestion that is still stuck in my head. It was proposed that there were three types of narrative structure:

1.      Explicit Narrative – what the writer presents directly.

2.      Implicit Narrative – what the writer presents in-directly (via sub-text, etc.)

3.      Reader’s Narrative - what the reader gets from the narrative based on the personal experiences and knowledge they bring to the table.

And then this mind-blowing remark was made: “Writers may not have a better insight into the story than any other readersuggesting that once a story has established an independent life of its own, it may develop into a form or a reality that is different from what the author intended.

Wait a second. When I heard that I wondered: if a story has an independent future, did it also have an independent (e.g., pre-author creation) past? That question threw me back to Stephen King’s suggestion from his book On Writing:

“…stories are found things, like fossils in the ground. … Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it’s enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all those gigantic ribs and grinning teeth.”

Do stories live independently of their creator pre- and post-creation? And why do some stories touch our collective central nerve at a certain point in time and fall flat at others?

As you can see, I certainly got my money’s worth of “thinking great thoughts” from the St. Hilda’s conference and my VISA card took a direct hit at Blackwell’s online bookstall. Which books did I buy?

·    The Crime Fiction Writer by Jill Dawson (a biography of Patricia Highsmith)
·        The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (A Dr. Ruth Calloway Mystery)
·        An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
·        Dissolution by C.J. Sansom

My book budget was limited to four purchases, but there are plenty of intriguing new suggestions. I’ll be back for more.


Kait said...

Oh, Martha, this sounds brilliant. I am so sorry I missed it.

I too recall the quote from Stephen King's book. In many ways it makes sense and explains why waves of books are written on similar topics as first releases as if the topic is floating in the ether and available for multiple interpretations.

Martha Reed said...

Hi Kait - it does seem sometimes like an odd serendipity and I've seen it often enough to wonder about it. The real takeaway from the conference was the list of new writers. I'm working through the stack I bought and I'm loving the strong use of non-American vocabulary!

KM Rockwood said...

A similar phenomena occurs when you start reading the comic page in the newspaper, and four of them revolve around kites stuck in trees.

I firmly believe that stories have a life of their own. Sometimes I feel like a stenographer, taking down what the characters dictate, and then acting as an editor, to organize and clarify what's going on. But it's not often I feel like it's "my" story.

Martha Reed said...

I agree! I've never felt like I was writing 'my' story, and that's half the fun. I get to read the story first (and then edit it to make it even better).

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Fascinating. What a great conference. Thanks for the overview.

Martha Reed said...

I’m hoping to attend it in person next year.

Grace Topping said...

Thanks, Martha for the recap of the conference.