I’m incredibly proud that last year’s “The Cumberland Package” (AHMM, May 2016) has been named a finalist for the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Derringer Awards. I mean, like busting-at-seams proud.
Of being named, because the crime space these days is terrific in its voice and depth. The stuff that leaves me vibrating explores in stark terms human nature at core. Not much more human than the crimes we choose to commit–or choose not to.
And there’s the bust-at-seams honor. Any story of mine is thought even near the best of that buzz level?
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Here’s my Derringer finalist Q&A.
And here’s each of the finalists’ Q&A. Fascinating behind-scenes stories. Writer-to-writer, what it took is where it’s at.
Sherlock Holmes. Just that name conjures up a lean man in cape and deerstalker tracking through the moors or pacing 221B Baker Street over a multi-pipe problem. Holmes long ago achieved literary escape velocity, transcending Victorian London, crime fiction and even Conan Doyle. First sleuthing upon the page in 1887’s A Study in Scarlet, these days scads of pastiches and reinterpretations are published every year. Holmes movies, television series, theatre productions. Holmes societies across the world. The game has never been more afoot.
What about him has such lasting magic?
Last year I found myself immersed in that question, tasked at Continue reading “The Case of the Conjuror’s Trick”
March 24, 2016
By Certified Mail
Mr. Robert Mangeot, Author of Shameless and Baseless Works of Fiction
Dear Mr. Mangeot:
The venerated and venerable law firm Vernon Stagg and Associates represents the selfsame Vernon Stagg, Esq., a noted figure of legal and civic stature in the greater metropolitan Nashville area. We mean none other than the capitol of the great state of Tennessee. Music City.
As you must surely know, having authored such a mistaken and misguided mischaracterization as “The Cumberland Package,” published in the May 2016 edition of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, you present to Nashville’s reading and voting public a grievously and grotesquely false depiction of Vernon Stagg. For the legal record and for all other records of important nature, now and in perpetuity, in his representation of Mr. Chit “Big Kick” Bowling, Vernon Stagg at no time and in no way engaged in any of the following: conspiracy to commit murder; bribery and fraudulent practices concerning the Tri-Star Bison Show and Sale; inappropriate promiscuous and/or intimate behaviors; unethical billing practices and breaches of client confidentiality; and habitual listening to Artie Shaw’s music. While Vernon Stagg does enjoy a fine swing orchestra, he has no love for the tuneless timbre of a clarinet. This is well-known to his friends and associates and to entire sub-portions of the Nashville community at large. That the Tennessee Bar Association (“The Bar”) may have pursued similar such outrageous claims against Vernon Stagg is both inconsequent and irrelevant. The Bar’s long and lamentable smear campaign against Vernon Stagg is well-documented and understood for the petty display that it is. Vernon Stagg’s good name remains unbesmirched. Given said unbesmirchitude, any portrayal to the contrary represents an assassination of Vernon Stagg’s considerable character and his income, electoral and romantic prospects.
And yet your pernicious portrayal Continue reading “Humor: In Which Vernon Stagg Self-Lawyers Up”
Vernon Stagg was born from a bad book.
A manuscript actually, mine sadly, and fortunately for us all I abandoned it before the querying stage. This was 2011, early yet for me into This Whole Writing Thing. The manuscript was a sort of Westlake-ian, Hiaasen-ian lovechild romp, and no matter what I did, it came out low on cohesion but high on character.
Such as somewhere in Part Two, when one of the baddies, a gold-digger who can’t believe her luck–or abide her fiancé’s creepy attachment–needs a lawyer on her side. The chapter opens with her asking for help busting a prenup, and suddenly this Vernon character Continue reading “Behind: “The Cumberland Package””
One fated French night in 1700 or thereabouts, so the story goes, Dom Pierre Pérignon was stalking his Hautevillers cellar, turning his bottles, and the great monk decided then was as good a time as any to have a taste. And what he tasted went down crisp and bright and bubbly, the first modern champagne. and he cried out, his voice echoing through the chalk caverns, “Brothers, come quickly! I am drinking the stars!”
A great story, if total hokum. Yep, it never happened, but Continue reading “Behind: “What Settles After the Stars””