Behind: “Sparks to the Bear’s Hide”

JANUARY 2013, CRITIQUE GROUP, NASHVILLE “If there’s one thing I have no business doing,” I told them, “it’s writing a spy story.” It was a sharp winter’s day, and around our pub table the critique group nodded readily. A little too readily. Crimped in my hands was a draft of the spy story I had been…… Continue reading Behind: “Sparks to the Bear’s Hide”

Show Some Love for Effie Perine

Dashiell Hammett earned his place in literary lore many times over, for amazing fiction but also for presenting the quintessential “lady walks in” opener.  The Maltese Falcon kicks off with a scene borrowed into cliché. Secretary Effie Perine leans into PI Sam Spade’s office and says: “There’s a girl out here who wants to see you.” Plot summaries barely mention Effie, and when…… Continue reading Show Some Love for Effie Perine

Behind the Short Story: “Whorling”

Albert Einstein–you know, he of the supercomputer brain–once dished out this observation on the universe: “Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.” Well said, but only half said. Sure, gravity doesn’t make people weak-kneed in love, but some force does, internal or external. Einstein didn’t name the cause because he didn’t know it. No one does. Love, a mystery.…… Continue reading Behind the Short Story: “Whorling”

Masters of Voice: Donald E. Westlake

I wish I had discovered Donald E. Westlake years earlier than I did. He is a writing hero for his ability to tell a story and to make it zing. His The Ax is as terrifying a novel as I’ve ever read. His Parker character is legendary, but it’s the Dortmunder crew I love most. Here are…… Continue reading Masters of Voice: Donald E. Westlake