Showing posts with label SJ Rozan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SJ Rozan. Show all posts

09 May 2022

Crime Hits Home (An Exercise in Shameless Self-Promotion)


Last Monday, Liz Zelvin posted about Edgars week and the whirlwind of activities in New York. Otto Penzler hosted the launch/signing for MWA Presents Crime Hits Home at the Mysterious Bookshop, and I practiced spelling my name for a week before attending.

I hoped I would meet more of the other contributors (Six of twenty appeared), but people are being cautious in the Age of Covid. Believe me, I get that; I'm immuno-compromised myself. I still got to meet Liz, Michael Bracken, Stacy Woodson, and Brendan DuBois, all of whom were on my bucket list.

Michael Bracken, Andrew Hearn

MWA has published about twenty previous collections, all edited by a marquee author who brainstorms with the publisher for a theme, then invites ten other authors to contribute stories. The remaining ten slots are filled by blind submissions from active members of MWA.

I have answered six submission calls, and this is the second time I've had a story selected. For the record, all the other stories eventually sold elsewhere. In fact, one will appear later this year in Mickey Finn 3: 21st-Century Noir, edited by Michael Bracken. 

I knew two other contributors to Crime Hits Home. SJ Rozan, who edited the collection, has been one of my favorite writers for over a decade, and we've met before, once when she was Guest of Honor at Crime Conn. The other might have been the launch and signing for Vengeance, the other MWA anthology with one of my stories.

Connie Hambley, SJ Rozan and me

Connie Hambley, a former chapter President of Sisters in Crime New England, and I have done writing events together. We agreed that this collection may be the best anthology yet. There are two reasons for that, and they work together.

First, the collections all use a common theme, and "Home" may be the most flexible idea so far. Previous books had less wiggle room. Vengeance, for example, required that someone do something bad and someone else provide payback. I liked several stories in that volume, but even Bach or Beethoven would have been hard-pressed to produce 20 variations on the idea. Other books worked with marriage, legal thrillers, the supernatural, or the Cold War, but I think "Home" offers more possibilities.

The other strength of the collection is Rozan's choice of contributing authors. Crime Hits Home features two African-American authors, two Asian authors, a Hispanic, a transgender, and a gay. Eleven are female and nine are male, and eleven stories use first-person POV.

Those diverse cultures and viewpoints exploit that wide-open theme, and several stories never would have occurred to this transplanted midwestern WASP. Some stories were funny, several were poignant, some were downright creepy, and all of them moved the goalposts. I assumed that many submissions would involve home invasions, and other writers thought the same way. Only two stories involve anything even vaguely resembling such an idea. Brendan DuBois, one of the judges, said they received 300 submissions for the ten open slots, so standing out from the pack counted heavily.

I'm thrilled to be in a collection with Sara Paretsky, Walter Mosley and Jonathan Santlofer, and I'm even happy to be the next-to-last story in the book, just before SJ Rozan's, which has a premise that brought back memories of my own childhood with a less-sinister subtext.

I feel like I'm the opening act for Led Zeppelin.