Showing posts with label Tom Piccirilli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tom Piccirilli. Show all posts

16 October 2017

Whatever Happened to Fan Mail?

Jan Grape by Jan Grape

When I was a pre-teen girl (age 9 to 12 maybe) in a small West Texas town growing up I read fan magazines by the dozens. Falling in love with male and female stars both, No, I wasn't confused about my sexuality. I had no idea what homosexual or heterosexual was, I just loved to see beautiful movie stars and handsome movie stars and dreaming about being a movie star myself someday.
Girls my age wrote fan letters to stars back then: Dear Miss Monroe, I thought you were really, really good in The Seven Year Itch. I saw it 3 times. Sincerely, Jan Barrow
Yet my absolute favorite stars were in Westerns: Roy Rogers and Dell Evans.
Dear Mr. Rogers, Did you really fall in love with Miss Dale Evans when you first saw her? Sincerely, Jan Barrow.
We wrote letters to those we admired. Put them in envelopes, addressed them after we searched and searched for an address, licked a stamp to put on the envelope. We made sure we put out return address in big letters, both inside and out. Jan Barrow, Box 413, Post, Texas. Then walked the four long blocks to the post office to mail it. Surely you remember waiting and hoping day after day that you might one day get an answer back.

Just when you had given up hope a letter came. Oh no, it wasn't a letter BUT it was an autographed picture of Roy and Dell and Trigger. Does anyone remember the name of Dale Evans' horse†?? (Answer at the end. And I didn't have to look it up but it did take me a couple of minutes to remember it.) I would guess that Trigger was one of the most famous horses ever who wasn't some race horse. Oh yeah. How could I ever forget the Lone Ranger's horse Silver. He yelled, Hi-yo, Silver at least 3 times in every movie.

Even when I was a grown woman and had three kids I wrote two fan letters. One was to a television star, Dennis Weaver, who played in a series called McCloud. About a lawman working in Manhattan, riding his horse, cowboy hat and all. I wrote to him just to tell him how much we enjoyed his show and wished it was on every week. He wrote a nice note back, with an autographed photo and asking me to write to the network which I did. I think the show was on for five or six seasons, can't remember for sure now. But my husband and I really enjoyed that show.

The second fan letter I wrote as an adult was to Isaac Asimov. Thanking him for all the wonderful stories and books he had written through the years. Told him I was hoping to be published one day. He wrote me back on a postcard thanking me for writing and telling me to keep writing. I was lucky enough to meet him in 1988, the first time I ever went to the Edgars in NY City.

Jan Grape and Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov. Yes, that's me in my fancy hat.
The first ever fan letter I ever got was from Tom Piccirilli. He and I had appeared in a couple of anthologies. I don't have that letter anymore. Wish I did, since Tom has passed away. Tom became one of my non-favorite, favorite writers with Choir of Ill Children. I'm not really a fan of horror and yet this book is so beautifully written and it's proclaimed as Southern Gothic. I personally like his crime noir books best. I especially liked The Last Kind Words.

I got to write to Tom when he was undergoing cancer treatment to tell funny story about his fan letter to me in hopes of giving him a laugh. A few days after I got this letter from Tom, I was visiting my daughter and her family in Ft. Worth. I mentioned the fan letter and since I had it in my purse, I pulled it out and read it out loud at the dinner table. Her husband, Stin asked me to repeat the man's name. I said, Tom Piccirilli. And Stin said, that sounds like the name of a newly discovered disease. "Sorry, ma'am. you have Pictorial. Hate to tell you we don't have a medication to treat Piccirilli yet, but the CDC is working on it and we hope to have a Piccirilli vaccine soon."

I only got a couple more fan letters after that because suddenly we had the Internet and people could write to you via e-mail. Now they write to you on FB or Twitter. They write nice notes but somehow I miss real fan letters.

† Dale Evan's horse was named, Buttermilk. Whatever happened to Trigger and Buttermilk and their German Sheppard, Bullet, I'll suggest you Google, it's interesting. If you're curious about that sort of thing.

Art Taylor, we congratulate for winning the macavity Award for Best Short Story “Parallel Play” (Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, Wildside Press).

Bonnie Stevens, we congratulate for winning the Anthony Award for “The Last Blue Glass” (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Dell, April 2016).

05 August 2013

What R U reading?

Jan Grape by Jan Grape

With the current heat wave in TX there's only one thing you can do to stay cool. Find a comfortable chair and a good book.

For some strange reason, my favorite thing to read is a mystery. Honestly, I don't try to figure out whodunit, I'm more interested in the characters. I have many favorites. If I start listing them, I'll get carried away and even then I'll leave off someone. Then I will get upset with myself because I left off one of my all time favorites, so I won't name names.

However, I recently read an ARC, titled The Last Whisper In the Dark by Tom Piccirilli. The book just came out from Bantam.  Unfortunately, I had not read the previous, The Last Kind Words, I will be purchasing it soon. It's the story of the Rands, a family of criminals...but not your usual criminals. They are creepers, cat burglars, grifters, con artist .It's in their blood and what they do is just their destiny. And to add to the strangeness they're all named after dogs.

Our protagonist is Terrier, father is Pinscher (who is creeping up on Alzheimer's,) grandfather, Shepherd, who is in the latter stages of the disease and who Terry calls, Old Shep. There is a brother, named Collie, who for some strange reason, (if you haven't read the first book you don't know why,) goes on a killing spree and has been executed for his crimes. Terry's sister is named Airedale, he calls her Dale. There are two uncles, Mal (amute) and Grey (hound.)

Terry is in love with Kimmy, who now is married to Terry's one-time best friend, Chub. And I think Kimmy's little girl, Scooter, is Terry's biological child. I don't think I was ever sure about that but it's obvious he loves her and her mother dearly. The locale is Long Island, NY but that is incidental to the story.

Mr. Piccirilli has written an unusual cast of character who slowly become real folks as you continue to read. The mystery is not so much who does what, although there are twist and turns as Terry becomes involved with his estranged maternal Grandfather. Terry's mother was disowned when she married Pinscher and Terry doesn't know any of the maternal side until the man calls and wants to see his daughter before he dies. The old man is on his deathbed. Mother Rand goes but Terry goes with her and it soon becomes apparent the old man wants to talk to Terry too, and he wants Terry to steal something for him.

If that's not complication enough, Terry's sixteen year old sister is involved with some hooligan thugs and looks as if she could be in big trouble almost immediately if not sooner. And Kimmy's husband Chub is involved with some really bad guys and Terry's got to try to save Kimmy and his daughter.

Some reviewers compare the writing to Raymond Chandler and call The Last Whisper very dark. I suppose it is more in the noir category than anything else but it's such an intriguing cast of characters that all I could do was keep turning pages to see what would happen next. It's also probably much better if you read Last Kind Words first because without that background you're a bit lost until about a third of the way into it.  But it is definitely worth your time, especially if you like that sort of thing. Great characters and a well-written story, I mean.

The other ARC I read lately is NOT exactly a mystery. It's A Wilder Rose, by Susan Wittig Albert. It's the surprising true story of Rose and Laura Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie books. I'm not going to review it here as Susan is going to write an article in my place in the very near future and I don't want to step on her toes, but is a fascinating story within a story of the collaboration of a mother and daughter and the blending of facts and fiction unraveling the mystery of these books.

So what are you reading?