Tag: crime fiction

crime fiction

Becoming a Woman of Mystery

My question to my fellow Missdemeanors–if you had the opportunity for a do-over, if you could walk away from your current life and reinvent yourself, where would you go and who would you be?

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You Wrote a Book, Now What?

You want to be a published author. Perhaps you have written your first murder mystery novel and you think it’s pretty good. Don’t be shy! Pat yourself on the back! Writing an 80,000-90,000-word book is no small feat.

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Holding Out for the Ordinary

Holding Out for a Hero They say you should never meet your heroes. Late last night (early this morning, TBH), I finished writing a paper about the heroification of George Washington. I examined biographies written about him over the past two centuries. Historiographical (the history of writing history) trends come and go but depictions of George Washington have remained remarkably stable since the eighteenth century. He’s always portrayed as a Great Man, Hero of the Nation, Father of His Country. Even biographers who claimed to want to humanize him ended up deifying him. Washington was turned into an imposing figure with about as much depth as the thickness of the paper on which the glowing words about him were printed. The Trouble with Paragons In the process of becoming heroified, George Washington became, well, dull. Flawless is boring. Let’s be real, no one likes a goody-goody. Admires from afar (but secretly resents), perhaps. But “likes,” in the sense of “is intrigued by”? Nah, not so much. We talk a lot these days about finding characters relatable. What we mean is, we find them interesting. Think about it? Do you really “relate” to the serial killer in the book you just […]

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3 Stories & a Moral

Some years back the Mystery Writers of America had an open call for stories about odd partners. I came up with a truly fabulous idea, wrote it. Sent it in. Rejected. Usually I’m philosophical about rejection, but this one stung. Took the story and stuck it in a drawer and festered until, last year, I saw an open call for a new MWA anthology with the theme of Crime Hits Home. I remembered the old story, rewrote it, sent it in and….. But wait. Meanwhile, I was working on another story and I absolutely loved the first line. I liked the rest of the story too, but I didn’t think any part of it beat the first line. Then I saw an an open call for the Malice Domestic anthology titled Murder Most Diabolical. Something about the word diabolical took root in my mind. It gave me a way to reframe the story, and so I set to work and…But wait. Meanwhile, I spent years workshopping a mystery novel about Anne Boleyn. The people in the workshop loved my novel. My agent loved my novel, but unfortunately, after a valiant effort, it didn’t sell. So I put it aside, but […]

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Locked Room Mysteries

Locked room mysteries are awesome because they usually present the environment as an oppositional adversary. It’s easy to imagine oneself trapped with a killer, and how delicious to burrow under a blanket and know you’re safe, while reading about people who most certainly aren’t.

So, here are three locked room mysteries I’ve read lately that are chilling, thrilling, and all around awesome.

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Put a Dead Body in It

I recently spent a long weekend binge-watching horror movies/series. After several hours of corpses, missing people, and mysterious figures hiding in dark corners, it hit me that, of the shows I watched, only the haunted house story felt like horror (and even that had a few whodunnit moments). The others felt more like crime fiction. People were being murdered, perhaps more gruesomely/inventively than in straight-up crime fiction, and someone else had to figure out the who and why before the whole town ended up dead. Prior to the horror movie marathon, I went on a trip and met someone who announced that they preferred “English literary novels” over crime fiction. I replied, “put a dead body in it and it’s crime fiction.” This person later conceded that Wuthering Heights was a crime novel. I argue Crime and Punishment (crime right there in the name), Hamlet, Les Miserables, and half of what Dickens wrote fall under the crime fiction umbrella. Jane Eyre stopped pretending to be lit-tra-chure and became The Wife Upstairs.  These revelations prompted me to ask my fellow Missdemeanors: What books, short stories, films, TV series, etc., that aren’t traditionally thought of as crime fiction also work as crime […]

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Death at Greenway: Lori Rader-Day

I was honored to receive an advance copy of Death at Greenway annotated by the author Lori Rader-Day, which I won in a charity auction. I made myself read it slowly, savoring the experience of having the insight of the author as I read her fabulous story about Agatha Christie’s holiday home. Lori generously answered a few of my questions to share with Miss Demeanor’s readers.

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The Fundamental Interconnectedness of Crime

O Frabjous Day! That’s what I exclaimed the day I went online again. The logistics of a cross-country relocation and moving into a new apartment meant that I went without Wi-Fi for several days. Quelle horreur! You wouldn’t think I was old enough to remember the days before Wi-Fi was a thing. I missed being able to connect to the world in an instant. Absence Makes the Heart Grow Desperate My days spent without made me realize how reliant, dependent even, I’ve become on the internet. How did I manage growing up in the analog age, a time when I had to look up information in a set of encyclopedias (which still take up an entire shelf in one of my mother’s bookcases) or physically go to the library and use a microfiche machine? I had to *gasp* get up and walk ALL. THE. WAY. over to the TV set to change the channel, of which there were only 4 or 5 (6 or 8 if I stayed up late and adjusted the antenna just right). My address book (printed on paper!) only had one line for a phone number because people only had one line, a landline—and no space […]

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Name It, Wear It, Eat It, Drink It

While images of James Bond and his martinis and Nero Wolfe and his beer, and apocryphal quotes about the degree of inebriation best suited to writing, come readily to mind, no one thinks as much about a character’s favorite shade of nail polish or preferred aftershave. The Missdemeanors were up to the challenge, however. I asked them, You’ve been hired to create a new cocktail, ice cream flavor, or lipstick color. You have to name it after a book, fictional character, or author. Who’s it named for and what’s it like?

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