Setting Ablaze

Gone With the Wind, 1939Cue Scarlett O’Hara shambling beaten and ravenous into what’s left of Tara’s gardens. She roots in the dirt for anything, anything to eat. The music swells. Scarlett digs up a radish and tries to devour it raw. She wretches, gathers herself, and declares to a fiery sky that she’ll never go hungry again.

Like other movies turned pop culture shorthand, Gone with the Wind makes  common language to talk story mechanics, thank you Margaret Mitchell and Victor Fleming. We all know Scarlett and her arc, how this moment cues her shift in motivations come Act Two. We remember her Big Declaration as alive with Continue reading “Setting Ablaze”

Humor: In Which Vernon Stagg Self-Lawyers Up

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; Continue reading “Humor: In Which Vernon Stagg Self-Lawyers Up”

Behind: “Crack-up at Waycross”

COVER_Murder-Under-the-Oaks_x1500

First things first: the proceeds from Bouchercon’s Murder Under the Oaks go to the Wake Country Public Libraries. And folks, reading is cool.

In November 2013, thieves broke into a Modesto, CA orchard and made off with 140,000 pounds–70 tons–of in-shell walnuts. In February 2012, a shade to the north, 40,000ish tons of walnuts went missing from a Butte County processing plant. In October 2012, twin thefts near Sacramento, shall we say, bagged 82,000 pounds of walnuts. Investigators were hunting for suspects with Russian accents.

Nut theft is a thing.

Grinning a bit? Me too when I stumbled on the headlines. But the reason why? The root of all evil: an across-the-nut spike to record prices. That 70-ton walnut job? The take had a wholesale value of $400,000.

I said to myself, “I must write this.”

And you know what? I didn’t. Couldn’t. Not for a year. All I had was Continue reading “Behind: “Crack-up at Waycross””

Behind: “Death or Taxes”

Behind the Writing Scenes of “Death or Taxes,” published in the July ’14 issue of Mysterical-E.

Summer 2011: it was that purplish state of dawn. My eyes flew open. My breath caught in my throat. Inspiration had come. It was ready to bubble out, like it or not.

And I liked it. In short order I had finished 1800 words of unabashed crime fiction/ dark comedy, with the requisite twist-em-ups and even a gun. In it a hit man whacked a mob accountant in order to assume his identity and then whack the real target: the U.S. Marshal coming to bring in the accountant. Good tension, wry voice, some turns of phrase, and oh yeah, the gun.

In all It was brilliant…ly inspired crap.

Of course, in 2011, I didn’t see Continue reading “Behind: “Death or Taxes””