Showing posts with label Ellery Queen Mystery agazine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ellery Queen Mystery agazine. Show all posts

05 July 2019

Motivations



by O'Neil De Noux

Following up on blogs by Michael Bracken and R. T. Lawton, I am amazed at my similarity to both writers, especially R. T.

I was an army brat who went to a dozen different schools before I graduated from high school. I kept the nomadic way through college, going to three different universities in getting my degree.

I too was drafted into the US military during the Vietnam War but I took the option to enlist before reporting (spending 3 years instead of 2 in the army so I could choose my MOS). I chose photographer, like an idiot, instead of photo lab technician so they trained me as a combat photographer. I was not sent to Southeast Asia – luck of the draw.

I started out as a short story writer, wrote a lot of bad stuff. Became a novelist after I became a homicide detective. As a cop I've always taken notes for stories. George Alec Effinger showed me how to write a short story and I've been writing stories and novels since the mid-1980s. It's been a long road with a lot of rejection and a lot of acceptance.

My novels have all been published with mixed results as for sales. But they are all in print.


It wasn't until the early 1990s did I managed to get stories accepted by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (as well as Asimov's and The Saturday Evening Post) and other top markets and anthologies.



Motivation? I knew in grammar school I would be a writer. It took a long time to learn how. No way I can stop or even slow down. I write every day, even when I doing other things. I always start a novel as soon as I finish a novel. As I write the new book, the characters and the story stay with me, even when the pace is interrupted by work (back when I was working) or a short story which gripped me to write.

I love writing novels and short stories.

That's all for now.


03 July 2019

Rushing Mount Rushmore


by Robert Lopresti

An author out standing in his field
If you have time for only one blog in your busy life obviously it should be SleuthSayers.  But if you can fit in more, you might want to consider Something Is Going To Happen, the blog of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.*

They recently featured an interesting piece by Dave Zeltserman in which he described his "personal Mount Rushmore of crime fiction writers."

It's a fun concept.  Can you reduce the pantheon of the greats down to four?

I'm not going to reveal Mr. Z's choices, because you should definitely go read his piece for yourself, but I will list my own and invite you to do the same in the comments.  You will find that I overlap with his, but we are not identical.

My monument is arranged in the order I discovered the writers.

Rex Stout.  The first adult mystery writer I found after Conan Doyle.  He was the pusher who got me hooked.  Stout is all about character and voice.

Especially voice.

Nero Wolfe: "Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth."

Archie Goodwin: “When the day finally comes that I tie Wolfe to a stake and shoot him, one of the fundamental reasons will be his theory that the less I know the more I can help, or to put it another way, that everything inside my head shows on my face. It only makes it worse that he doesn’t really believe it.

Occasionally Stout has moments of plotting excellence (e.g. Too Many Cooks) but more often Wolfe and Archie have to carry him over bumps in the road.

Donald E. Westlake.  I first read his story "Come Back, Come Back," in one of those Alfred Hitchcock paperbacks.  It was a dead serious story about a cop suffering from a possibly fatal heart condition trying to convince a wealthy, perfectly healthy business executive not to commit suicide.

In high school I discovered his early comic classics, what David Bratman  called "the nephew books," in which some luckless schmuck finds himself in deep doodoo (The Spy in the Ointment, God Save the Mark, etc.)  By the time Dortmunder tried (and tried and tried...) to steal The Hot Rock I was hooked.   Westlake was the master of chaos, crisply described.  Movies based on his books usually failed because they couldn't capture his narrative tone.


Dashiell Hammett.  I confess I am not a fan of most of his novels (the exception being you-know-what).  But the Continental Op is everything the private eye story wants to be.  And could that man write an ending!  I'd give several toes to write a last paragraph as good as the one in "The Gutting of Couffignal."

Stanley Ellin.  Like Hammett, he had one great novel.  Stronghold is about a young man who grew up bitter on the outskirts of a community of modern Quakers (Ellin was one).  As a full-fledged adult psycho he brings back a gang to kidnap all of their women, yearning for either ransom or a bloody shootout with the cops.  But the Quakers won't cooperate with violence, even by calling the police.

Ellin's genius was for the short story.  "You Can't Be A Little Girl All Your Life" was a story about rape a decade before its time.  "The Question" is a quiet reflection by an executioner that turns into a stunning social comment.  And "The Payoff," well, the ending is just a punch in the gut.

So, while I brush away the stone scraps and clean off my carving tools: Who would you put on your mountain, and why?

*Also, Trace Evidence, from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.