Showing posts with label Dave Zeltserman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dave Zeltserman. Show all posts

06 June 2017

New York, New York


by Paul D. Marks

First up, let me congratulate O’Neil De Noux on his Shamus nom. Good luck!

***

New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town. The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down. Or is it the other way around? Amy (the wife) and I recently spent a week in New York City and I’m still not sure.  (Well, I am, but it plays better the other way.) And now the legally required disclaimer: I wrote about this trip for another blog a few weeks ago as my last slot for SleuthSayers was the family blog post that Amy did. So I didn’t have a chance to talk about our trip here. But it was writing-related and so great and so much fun I wanted to share a slightly revised version with SleuthSayers too.

Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building
The trip came up very unexpectedly when I got an e-mail from Janet Hutchings, editor of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, telling me that my story Ghosts of Bunker Hill had won the 2016 Ellery Queen Readers Poll and inviting us to come to the Ellery Queen cocktail party and awards ceremony, as well as to be their guests at the Edgar Awards. I think I was in disbelief for several days, so we made no plans to head to New York…until the wonderful reality actually sunk in and we headed off to The Big Apple from The Big Sour, I mean, Big Orange.

We booked out on Jet Blue because we heard about their great on-time record. We got lucky—they were late both coming and going. I guess someone has to be the exception to the rule.

The week was a whirlwind of adventures and some sightseeing, much of it filled up with literary events. We arrived Monday night and since the hotel is next door to Grand Central Terminal we decided to check it out and have dinner at the famous Oyster Bar. Talk about a cool place. Then we walked around the neighborhood near the hotel late into the night.

On Tuesday we went to the Ellery Queen offices for tea with Janet and Linda Landrigan of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and Jackie Sherbow, senior assistant editor for both EQMM and AHMM. Also there were Doug Allyn and his wife, Eve. Doug’s stories came in #2 and 3 in this year’s poll. But he’s been #1 11 times. I think it will be a long time before anyone can top that!

From L to R: Jackie Sherbow, Doug Allyn, Linda Landrigan,
Janet Hutchings, Me
Everyone was very gracious. And it was good to talk with Janet again and Linda, who I’d met briefly before. And to meet Jackie for the first time in person, but who I’ve had a lot of correspondence with.
Me and Jackie Sherbow.
After the afternoon tea, Jackie very graciously offered to be our guide on the subway, something I really wanted to do. So we subwayed to Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop for a gathering of Edgar nominees, authors, publishers and more (I think we fell into the “more” category, though now that I think about it I guess I’m an author too). It was crowded, it was fun. It was great to see the famous bookstore. And to meet Otto Penzler himself. And to see some people I know, including Edgar nominee Jim Ziskin and many others. And Doug Allyn was kind enough to introduce me to several people.


In the subway: L to R: me, Eve Allyn,
Doug Allyn and Amy
After the party at the Mysterious Bookshop, Jackie was once again our subway guide, taking us to a real New York pizza place that she likes. So she, Doug and Eve, and Amy and I, braved the rain to get to the subway and then the pizza place. And in a scene that could have been out of a Woody Allen movie, we stepped just inside a local market to get out of the rain for a few minutes. I was waiting for the “nasty” New Yorkers to kick us out, but nobody was nasty and nobody kicked us out. Eve grabbed some plastic bags from the produce section to cover our heads and we ventured back out into the rain. We still got soaked by the time we made it to the pizza place. But the pizza was good and it was all worth it. After dinner, Jackie headed home. Doug and Eve, Amy and I took a cab back to the hotel. And this was the one loquacious cabby we had the whole time we were in New York and he was a riot. When we were just about at the hotel he nudged through a crosswalk and some guy in the walk started yelling at him, challenging him to a fight. Now we felt like we were in New York.

Jackie guiding us through the subway.
Wednesday we had a free day, so we played tourists (which we were). Lots of other tourists all around us. We did a tour of Grand Central Terminal, which was right next to the Grand Hyatt Hotel where we were staying and where the Edgars would be held the following evening. (On the other side of the hotel was the Chrysler Building, which we had a view of from our window. Now that’s pretty cool to be sandwiched between the Chrysler Building and Grand Central. During our tour we had another “New York” experience when some jerk called the tour guide a “dirty scumbag” and neither she nor any of us on the tour could figure out why or what she’d done. But despite that, most everyone was really friendly and nice and we had no problems with anyone.

Grand Central Terminal
After our tour of Grand Central we followed Clint Eastwood’s “Speed Zoo” example from the movie True Crime, where he jams his kid through the zoo at the speed of sound, and did “Speed New York.” We bought tickets for the hop on-hop off buses—buses where you can get on at one location and off at the next, hang out, then get back on and go to the next location. This way we saw a lot of the city in one day. Everything from the Empire State Building to the Flat Iron and various neighborhoods. We also hopped onto the Staten Island Ferry. From there we could see the Statue of Liberty. We ended the day in Rockefeller Center and then Times Square and dinner in a pretty good Italian restaurant off Times Square. Our meal was served family style—and being only 2 people we ended up with enough left over to feed everyone in Times Square.

The next day was the Ellery Queen cocktail party and awards, held at a specialized library not too far from the hotel. And it was a truly terrific experience. But the best part (besides picking up the award of course 😉) was being able to meet people in person that I know online but hadn’t met for one reason or another. Fellow SleuthSayer David Dean. Tom Savage. Dave Zeltserman, who published some of my stories early on in his HardLuck Stories magazine, and whose Small Crimes was just made into a movie on Netflix that released recently, so check it out. Besides hanging with Janet, Linda and Jackie, we also got to hang with Doug and Eve Allyn again, both of whom were great to hang with.
Me and Doug Allyn at the Ellery Queen Cocktail Party

And, of course, it was more than a thrill to win the award!
Me receiving the Award

And then it was off to the Edgars that evening. Very exciting. And all was going well, I even liked the food (and who likes the food at these things?), until the Master of Ceremonies, Jeffrey Deaver, stumbled and then fainted on the stage while doing some introductions. That was scary. Luckily he was okay, though whisked off to the hospital to make sure it was nothing serious. I believe tests showed that it wasn’t—hope so.

That’s the litany, now for the real deal: While we loved New York and all of the events, the best part of anything like this, Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, etc., is the people. The community of mystery writers is a very warm, very supportive group. And, as I’ve mentioned, it was great to see old friends and also meet new people. We saw Jim Ziskin and Catriona McPherson, and had a nice chat with both of them. Met Otto Penzler. And it was good to meet Sam Reaves, Dave Zeltserman and too many others to name here. And great to spend time with Janet, Linda and Jackie.
Amy and Jackie at the Edgars.

New York has a bad rep in some ways and people who know me thought I’d hate it (as I haven’t been there in years…decades). I loved it. I loved the crowds. I loved the energy. I loved the writing community. I loved this whole unexpected trip. And I’m more than appreciative to Janet Hutchings for publishing Ghosts of Bunker Hill and taking a chance on my first story for Ellery Queen, Howling at the Moon (which, by the way, made it to #7 in the Ellery Queen Readers Poll). And to Linda Landrigan for publishing my story Twelve Angry Days in the current (May/June 2017) issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. And to Jackie for everything she does to keep the wheels turning. And last but certainly not least to the people who voted for Ghosts of Bunker Hill and made it #1.

***

Something else that hit me while in NYC was the use of location.  Setting plays a major role in most of what I write. Author S.W. Lauden has said about my work, “I just read your next novel Vortex. I loved how the action bounced around Southern California, almost as if the region was one of the main characters.”

To me, location can sometimes be a driving force for the characters. Of course, they have inner motivations, but where they live, the zeitgeist, ambience and flavor of the city or desert or whatever locations the stories take place in adds to their motivations. And being in New York really made me notice the different energies and vibe of different cities. They really do have personalities of their own and those personalities influence and affect the characters. There are some stories that could only take place in New York and some that could only take place in LA, and not just by mentioning a street name or a location, it’s more than that. It’s the spirit of the place that comes through.  For me that location is often, though not always (see my story Deserted Cities of the Heart in Akashic’s St. Louis Noir and set there, of course) Los Angeles. And even though LA’s been done to death you might say…you haven’t seen my LA.

For more on my relationship with the City of Angels, please check out this link to my very first SleuthSayers post:
http://www.sleuthsayers.org/2015/02/adventures-in-la-la-land.html 

***

And now for the usual BSP:

My story Twelve Angry Days is in the May/June issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, on sale at newsstands. Or click here to buy online. If you like food and you like mysteries, I think you might like this story.



***

I'll be at the California Crime Writers Conference in Culver City, June 10th and 11th. I'm on a panel called "The Long and Short of It: Short Stories and Novellas vs. Novels" with William Kent Krueger, Kate Thornton and Travis Richardson, moderated by S.W. Lauden. Hope to see you there!
http://www.ccwconference.org/


13 October 2015

JEWISH NOIR: The Interview





Editor Kenneth Wishnia gathered 33 stories together in what Booklist called “a first-rate collection of short stories dealing with traditional noir subject matter and tone but offering Jewish variations on the theme.”

As one of the contributors, I’m offering a look under the hood. First, an interview with the editor, and then a group interview with over a third of the authors. Buckle up!

Michele Lang, Ken Wishnia & Melissa Yi at the Mysterious Bookshop

Q: Say something Jewish.
Ken Wishnia: You call that a question? What kind of question is that?

Q: Say something Noir. 
Ken Wishnia: Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Oh, sorry. That’s horror. You said noir.

Q: What made you decide the world needed a Jewish Noir anthology?
Ken Wishnia: The JEWISH NOIR anthology was originally Reed Farrel Coleman’s idea, and we agreed to co-edit it. Then he signed a contract to do the next three Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone novels, and had to drop out. So I ended up being the sole editor. 

Q: Give me a few words about your story. 
Ken Wishnia: It’s based on my parents’ experiences in the late 1940s when they were the first in their families to go to college, and these were exclusive colleges, which also meant being among the first Jews in those traditionally WASP enclaves. They came from Brooklyn, from working-class immigrant families that had just survived the Depression and WWII, so as you can imagine, much tension ensues. 

Q: Tell me about the trials and tribulations and joys and sorrows in birthing this book. Aw, come on. Tell me.
Ken Wishnia: OK, first we queried everyone in sight. Then we got commitments from some very big names. Then we pitched the anthology to a number of publishers using those names, and when they all turned us down, we went with PM Press, who have been fabulous to work with. Then the big names dropped out. So I went outside the box, inviting a number of unorthodox writers (in both senses) to contribute stories. Then some of those writers tried to drop out, claiming they really weren’t “noir” writers, and I had to do a lot of emailing back-and-forth to convince them that their stories were sufficiently noir for our purposes. The result is a very strong anthology, with very few of the “usual suspects” in it. 

Q: How did you choose the stories?
Ken Wishnia: I went after certain names, but there was also a lot of serendipity involved. I met three of the contributors at NoirCon and invited them to submit because… well… because they were at freaking NoirCon, for God’s sake. Isn’t that enough? Jedidiah Ayres cracked me up just with his bio, then his reading was so outrageous that I just had to ask him to be one of our “you don’t have to be Jewish to write Jewish Noir” contributors. Check out his story, “Twisted Shikse,” and I’m sure it’ll make you a fan of his work. Or something. And I met a couple more contributors at Bloody Words in Toronto, as you may recall. So I hope that these authors view their inclusion in JEWISH NOIR as the result of being in “the right place at the right time,” ‘cuz it’s true.

Q: How did you arrange the stories?
Ken Wishnia: My original plan was to arrange the stories in chronologically in order of when they took place, because I figured we’d get a lot of historical pieces (ancient Israel, medieval Europe, 19th century Europe, etc.), but of the 30 original stories in the anthology, the earliest period depicted is the 1940s; five of the stories take place in this decade, and all the others in the decades since then. So I went with themes. Very broad themes….

Q: Is there anything you would have done differently?
Ken Wishnia: I was supposed to be discovered by a rich benefactor and get a six-figure advance, but I just never quite got around to it.

Q. I can't believe how many book launches you're having across the United States. How did you manage that?
Ken Wishnia: In fact, JEWISH NOIR, for whatever reason, is getting more attention than anything I’ve done in years. I’m also spending a f*ckload of money on publicity, but so far the thing itself is driving most of the interest. So clearly we’re filling a niche that we didn’t know existed (well, Reed Coleman knew it) and there’s simply no way to plan for that.

Q: Israel.
Ken Wishnia: Isra-- what? Sorry, never heard of it.

But seriously folks, the one story in JEWISH NOIR that takes place in Israel is “Good Morning Jerusalem 1948,” written by Michael J. Cooper, who, as his bio tells us, is a pediatric cardiologist who frequently travels “to Israel and the West Bank to volunteer his services to children who lack adequate access to care,” which gives him the authority to say anything he wants as far as I’m concerned.


Now let’s talk to the contributors! Harlan Ellison couldn’t make it, but I’m sure he wanted to.



1. Say something Jewish.

Moe Prager/Reed Farrel Coleman and BK Stevens: Oy vey iz mir.

Steven Wishnia: Oy vey. Gey kakken oyfn yam. If I sold coffins, nobody would die.

Wendy Hornsby: Oy. Such a versatile word. Cleaner than the French merde, and applicable to as many situations.

Melissa Yi: Sydney Taylor, Johanna Reiss, and Art Spiegelman.
Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind-Family series first introduced me to Judaism. I remember feeling smug that other people in my third grade class were like, “What’s Chanukah?” and I could’ve told them about dreidels. When my family moved to Germany, one of my favourite books was The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss. And who can forget Spiegelman’s Maus I & II?

Adam D. Fisher: The Jewish people is the eternal people that is always dying.

M. Dante: Baruch Dayan Emet.

Robert Lopresti: “We have to believe in free will.  We have no choice.”—I.B. Singer

Alan Gordon: A long time ago, in a tiny village in the Carpathian Mountains ...

S.A. Solomon: The Jewish Noir launch party at the Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan conclusively established that NYC has the best bagels on the planet.

Heywood Gould: Pupik.

SJ Rozan: You can't ride two horses with one behind.

Michael J. Cooper: His luck should be as bright as a new moon. (ie. – no moon)
Zayn mazl zol im layhtn vi di levone in sof khoydesh.
This is, perhaps the dark side of one of my favorite passages from the Psalms (139:12);
Night shines like the day and darkness is as light.

Dave Zeltserman: I first was going to provide a smartass response, such as simply oy vey or matzah balls. Next I considered writing about arguments I used to have with my dad about whether certain ballplayers were Jewish or not or my affinity to the Three Stooges, which was no small part due to my granny (who was the last person you’d expect to know about the Three Stooges) proudly telling me how they came from the same part of Russia as she did. Finally, though, I decided to write about how I and every other Jewish person I’ve known wear our emotions so heavily on our sleeves. When we’re pissed, you know it. When we’re miserable you know it. The rare times we’re happy, you know it. When I was I was in college back in the late 70s and early 80s, I had a Navy ROTC scholarship, and I was miserable. Given the record amount of times I was written up for my uniform not being right and all my other infractions, no doubt the officers and other kids in the program equally knew it. You had until the end of your sophomore year before you had to commit, and I tried for 2 years to talk myself into sticking with it, but I was a computer science major, and all I wanted to do when I graduated college was design and write software, and the last thing I wanted to do was spend four years on a ship. When I dropped out of ROTC at the end of my sophomore year, it was no surprise to anyone. What did surprise me, though, was that this kid who was Mr. ROTC also dropped out the same day. This kid always appeared to be so gung ho, his uniform always perfect, and he was considered the top in the program as far as future officer material. I’d never really talked with him before, but  that day we ended up having a few beers together, and he told how miserable he’d been in the program. He completely fooled me and everyone else, while I fooled no one.

2. Say something Noir.

Alan Gordon: In my recurring dream, I'm in the electric chair. Right before they pull the switch, the guard asks, "Would you mind? It's for the Warden." And he places on my lap a container of Jiffy Pop.

BK Stevens: Oy vey iz meir!
M. Dante: David Goodis

Michael J. CooperIf you don’t want to grow old, hang yourself when you’re young.
As men vil nit alt vern, zol men zikh yungerheyt oyfhengen.

Melissa Yi: ’What is to give light must endure burning.'—Victor Frankl

Steven Wishnia
I'll quote two other people.--"We're all fucked. What did we have kids for? To make more customers for Guinness?" —my friend English Steve Harrington, during a rather alcohol-fueled discussion of global warming. 
--"Hudson County is a great place to work for a newspaper. Our politicians aren't sophisticated yet: They still take money in brown paper bags. They could steal half the county and people wouldn't care, but if their cable TV goes out for five minutes, they'll scream." —the late Stuart Rose, the editor who hired me at the Hudson Dispatch in northern New Jersey in 1990.

SJ Rozan: But you can't help trying [to ride two horses].

Robert Lopresti: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde

S.A. Solomon: A mystery man in a trench coat made off with the bag of bagels ... along with a serrated knife. What bloody deeds will play out on the rainswept streets of Manhattan? You say it was editor Ken Wishnia? Oy. Some people will do anything for leftovers. (Thanks, Ken, for the awesome spread!)

Dave Zeltserman: I fell in love with noir when I first read Double Indemnity by James M. Cain, if you can equate being dragged into a character’s personal hell with literary love. This love affair only grew stronger when I later discovered Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, Dan Marlowe, Cornell Woolrich, and many other noir writers. There’s something so primal and raw about this kind of literary noir that is hard to find in any other fiction.

3. How did you end up in Jewish Noir?


Moe Prager/Reed Farrel ColemanLong story short. Ken and I were supposed to be co-editors, but I got really frustrated at the inexplicable lack of interest in the project from publishers. Then I landed the gig writing Jesse Stone novels for the Estate of Robert B. Parker. I gave Ken my blessing to carry on alone if he wished as long as I could still be a contributor. That this project came to fruition is all to Ken’s credit. He would not be deterred.

Alan GordonGood Karma. I got Ken Wishnia into Queens Noir.

Steven WishniaWell, I'm Ken's older brother. He told me he was doing it, so I sent him the story. We have a good enough relationship so that he would have told me if it was a piece of crap.

SJ Rozan: I wasn't looking where I was going.

Robert Lopresti: My wife, who is Jewish, attended the Jewish Noir panel at Bouchercon last year.  Afterwards she asked Ken Wishnia if there were any openings (a few) and whether the authors need to be Jewish (no).  So I wrote fast.

4. Give me a few words about your story.


Moe Prager/Reed Farrel Coleman, “Feeding the Crocodile”: Easy. It is said that you feed the crocodile in the hope that he will eat you last. Think of that phrase in terms of a death camp.
Steven Wishnia, "The Sacrifice of Isaac": A tale of money, power, real estate, and race set in 1990s Brooklyn, it begins with a klezmer wedding-band bassist buying cocaine from the son of a politically connected Hasidic real-estate developer in the back room of a catering hall in Williamsburg.

SJ Rozan, “The Flowers of Shanghai”: Shanghai Ghetto, rain, cold.  Oppression, resistance, flowers.

Wendy Hornsby, “The Legacy”: Ultimately it’s about love, death, and redemption, but aren’t all noir stories?  A young woman risks her life to retrieve a family legacy, because her bubbe asked her to.

S.A. Solomon, "Silver Alert”: My story was inspired by a bit of family history: my father served as a B-17 bomber pilot in WWII, and was present at the liberation of Dachau. But the story itself is fiction.

B.K. Stevens, “Living Underwater": The central character is an English professor who becomes consumed by hatred for an administrator who is ruining his professional life. Although he knows his obsession with the Associate Dean for Academic Assessment cannot end well, the professor is incapable of breaking free. As a longtime English professor (and as the wife of a dean), I know how poisonous the pressures, frustrations, and silliness of the accreditation process can be.

Heywood Gould, “Everything Is Bashert: It's about horses, hustlers and Hasidim.

Melissa Yi, “Blood Diamonds”: Kris Rusch challenged us to write a historical short mystery, with bonus points if we wrote about a crime that was no longer a crime. I decided to add in my experience as a medical resident doctor at the Jewish Hospital in Montreal, but from the point of view of a patient. And it’s the first time my crime-fighting doctor, Hope Sze, makes an appearance in short fiction. Very exciting!

Alan Gordon, “The Drop”: Thinking about Jewish-based crime in Queens, I set my story in the world of Israeli connections in the club drug scene.

Michael Cooper, “Good Morning, Jerusalem 1948”: The story features Yitzhak Rabin as the 26-year-old commander of an elite strike force during Israel’s War of Independence. Rabin’s concerns range from the crushing heaviness of an impending military loss to the lightness of a new-found love, and the temptation of a mysterious and alluring female prisoner. And as Rabin struggles with all this, there is the forming but still very subtle specter of his future assassination – at the hands of his own people.

Robert Lopresti, “Nachshon”: Inspired by a midrash, which also inspired one of my most popular songs.

Dave Zeltserman, “Something’s Not Right”: I’ve written several of what I like to call ‘bogusly autobiographical life in writer’s hell stories’, which are noir stories where I include just enough superficial autobiographical stuff to get relatives and friends of mine nervous, and end up having my writer-protagonist on a one-way ticket to hell. With my Jewish Noir story, I did this at a far more extreme level where I’ve made my protagonist closer to myself than I’d done in any of these previous stories, and I left him nameless. What I’ve tried to accomplish with this story is leave the reader unsure whether what they’ve read was fiction or something else, at least for a few moments.

Adam D. Fisher, “Her Daughter’s Bat Mitzvah: A Mother Talks to the Rabbi”: Read it. It isn’t long. It is full of both pathos and humor and is a combination of people who came to see me and my own imagination.

M. Dante, "Baruch Dayan Emet": A funeral view offers generational and lifestyle reflection.


5. How was your experience with Jewish Noir?

Melissa Yi: Unbelievable. Honestly, I’m astonished that contributors have or will appear in New York, Raleigh’s Bouchercon, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Houston, and Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. I mean, who does that for an anthology? Is there really a Jewish mafia, because if so, right on!

SJ Rozan: Except for my story depressing the hell out of myself, it was great.

M. Dante: Is it already over? WoW. I feel like I missed it. It went so fast.

Robert Lopresti: It makes me feel guilty (something those of us raised Catholic have in common with Jews) because 1) I am not a member of the tribe, and 2) my story only has two-thirds of the classic noir formula.  But, as they say, I cashed the check.

Dave Zeltserman: This has been unlike any other anthology I’ve been part of in the way a community has formed around it. I’ve never been part of an anthology where there’s been so much communication among the authors. Of course, this is all because of Ken, and I’ve really enjoyed this aspect of it.

Heywood Gould: Don't ask...Seriously, Ken's been an astute, helpful editor and I'm happy to be in solidarity with my "luntzmann." (Compatriots.) 

BK Stevens: It was great. I don't usually think of myself as a noir writer, so making a conscious effort to write a noir story was an interesting challenge. I also enjoyed working with Ken. He suggested some changes in the ending, I made them, and I think they improved the story. And I'm enjoying getting to know the other authors better, both through the e-mail blasts and through the guest posts a number of them are writing for my blog, The First Two Pages. All in all, it's been a decidedly un-noir experience--fun, satisfying, and friendly.

Wendy Hornsby: I’ve contributed short stories to lots of anthologies, but I’ve never before experienced the gung-ho support the contributors have given this collection. It’s been fun so far, and I’m certain that when we all get together at book events after the October release date that general hilarity will ensue. It’s a great collection of stories by an interesting and diverse assemblage of authors.

Moe Prager/Reed Farrel Coleman: Dark.


Michael J. Cooper: And herein lies the redeeming silver-lining of a Jewish history filled with the darkness of dislocation, diaspora and death; all of us, Jews and non-Jews alike, have the opportunity and responsibility of rectification, tikun, of partnering with the divine and with each other—dispelling darkness by gathering the bright sparks of divine emanation through acts of compassion, justice and loving-kindness.


03 March 2015

Her Terrible Beauty


by David Dean

The title of this piece just happens to be the title of my latest story in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.  This is not a coincidence.  I am utilizing my God-given right to promote my work in lieu of the huge monthly check I would normally receive from our generous paymaster, Leigh Lundin.  But I will not just promote, but educate as well, sprinkling tidbits of information throughout that cannot possibly be found on the internet.  For instance: Saint Patrick's Day is two weeks from today.


Yes, only a few hundred million of us woke up knowing this today.  What the devil does it have to do with my latest groundbreaking literary effort?  Very little, actually, but since this auspicious occasion just happens to be coming up, I thought I'd smoothly weave it in.  Just watch my handiwork.

My story takes place in antebellum Alabama, circa 1831, within the diocese of Mobile and concerns a brother and sister, murders and miracles, duels and deceptions.  It ends with a hanging.  St. Patrick has nothing to do with any of it.  Yet, if you go to Mobile, as I have, and visit the magnificent Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception you will discover a small, unique statue of him situated to the right of the altar.  If you look up, and you should, you will find a ceiling exquisitely rendered in gold leaf patterns of alternating fleur-de-lis and shamrocks, heraldic symbols of both France and Ireland.  Mobile, like most of the Gulf Coast, was originally colonized by the French and, in fact, it was here that the first Mardi Gras was celebrated in North America; not in New Orleans.  This was in 1703--another fun fact.  It is celebrated in Mobile to this day. 

How did St. Patrick sneak into this decidedly French environment, you may ask?  The answer lies with all the Irish priests and bishops entombed in the vault beneath the Cathedral.  In those days, the Irish were mighty and prodigious evangelizers of the Catholic faith and were forever charging into the breach.  It appears that they charged into the Mobile colony.  The French and the Irish have a long relationship actually, as both have found themselves squared off repeatedly with their mutual enemy, the English.  One happy result of this alliance was Hennessey Cognac; another the breathtaking ceiling of the Cathedral.  More fun facts as promised.

My protagonist opens the story with a request for one of these priests (French or Irish, it doesn't matter).  He wishes to prepare himself for his impending exit from this perplexing world of ours.  A rider is sent to Mobile to fetch one.  Thus begins our tale of madness and murder.  It's in the March/April issue along with many fine tales by such notables as Doug Allyn, Dave Zeltserman, S.J. Rozan, Loren D. Estleman, Marilyn Todd, and more!  I hope that you will get a copy of this issue, and that if you do, you find your visit to L.A. (Lower Alabama) interesting.

P.S. During my time here the news broke of Harper Lee's impending book release.  This was big down here as Monroeville, a nearby community, is both Ms. Lee's home and the setting for "To Kill A Mockingbird."

P.P.S. Oh yes, almost forgot, our fellow SleuthSayer, Dale Andrews, vacations yearly in nearby Gulf Shores, Alabama--a final fun fact.