Tag: history

history

And the Award Goes To…

The shortlist for the inaugural Staunch Book Prize, “created to make space for an alternative to the overload of violence towards women in fiction” and “awarded to the author of a novel in the thriller genre in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered,” was recently announced. The award’s creators wanted to honor “stories in which female characters don’t have to be raped before they can be empowered or become casual collateral to pump up the plot” and that don’t “celebrate the cunning (often, charming sexiness/astonishing brutality) of serial rapists and the dogged brilliance of detectives” at the expense of female characters too often portrayed as two-dimensional victims. The shortlist for the 2018 prize, to be awarded this month, includes a political conspiracy thriller, a psychological thriller, an art caper, a thriller about the immigrant crisis, and a satire about terrorism. In the spirit of new literary awards, I asked my fellow Missdemeanors, “What prize would you create and what would the eligibility criteria be?” Here are their answers. RobinMine is easy. It would be the Amazing Grace Award, which was a nickname for Grace Hopper. Without her, computers would still take up an entire room and do only […]

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History and Mystery and Crime Bakes

 I returned home from New England Crime Bake late Sunday night. I spent a wonderful weekend in Woburn, Massachusetts meeting old friends, meeting Facebook friends face-to-face, and making new friends. I participated on a great panel, moderated by fellow Missdemeanor, Michele Dorsey, where we discussed mash-ups/cross-genre novels, what they were, how they came to be, and what they mean for the publishing industry. Hank Phillipi Ryan complemented me on my panel performance. (How cool is that?) I spent time chatting with conference attendees about medicine and whiskey. I got to hang out with the incomparable Walter Mosley. And I heard Mr. Mosley, Frankie Bailey, Bill Martin, and Elisabeth Elo talk about how they use history in writing mystery. This panel especially intrigued me, as I’m a history buff. The past fascinates me. Not so much the big, well-known stories—although as I discover the version of history I learned in school as “fact” may not have been 100% accurate, I’ve re-examined some of the big stories and found them more interesting than I originally thought—but the history of everyday people. How did Regular Jane and Average Joe earn their living? What did they wear? What did they eat? What did they think […]

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Mix and Match

 I’m a fan of mix-ups, mash-ups, and cross-overs. I love it when a book or film combines elements from different genres to create a story. So I asked my fellow Missdemeanors, if you were going to write a mash-up or cross-genre novel, what two genres would you combine? (For example, western and crime fiction, romance and sci-fi,…) Bonus question, Why? PaulaShort answer for me: Unless I had a really high-concept idea, I wouldn’t do it. Because as an agent I know how hard it is to sell mash-ups. If you have a really high-concept idea, or if you are truly creating a new genre, then it’s easier. But that’s lightning in a bottle—and a high bar to meet. MicheleI’m afraid I’m pretty traditional and am unlikely ever to write a mash-up. As far as cross-genre goes, combining romantic comedy with traditional mystery is about as daring as I get. Why? Because that’s what I like to read. SusanI did actually do that when I wrote a novel that combined time travel, mystery and Anne Boleyn. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that her execution was postponed by a day, giving her an unexpected day of life, and that opened to me all […]

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Seeking Anne Boleyn

For the last few years I’ve been working on a book in which Anne Boleyn is a character. One of the thing that intrigues me, as a fiction writer, is that there are so few agreed upon facts about her. Even the year of her birth is up for debate. Some people say she was born in 1501, which would make her around 35 years old at the time of her death, a comparatively old woman in Tudor times. Others say she was born in 1507. The arguments on both sides are compelling (I think I lean toward 1507), but without knowing the precise details, we also don’t know precisely where she was born. We also don’t know if she was the oldest daughter or the youngest. So it’s fun to make up stories about her because you get to fill in all those gaps.   For the next two weeks, I’ll be traveling around England as part of a Tudor Tapestry tour led by Alison Weir, (who you may know because she’s written many wonderful books, among them Six Wives of Henry VIII, which was the book that sparked my interest in the whole subject. )I’ll be writing about my adventures […]

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Medieval dogs

 While doing research on my new mystery, I came across a completely irrelevant bit of information that I found charming. It was in a lecture by historian Toni Mount on medieval nuns. The lecture started off interesting, and then she began talking about wayward nuns. Immediately I was more interested. Then she started talking about wayward nuns and their dogs. I was hooked. Nuns were allowed to keep cats, evidently, because they took care of the mice. But they were not supposed to have dogs, because they served no purpose!!! Of course these medieval nuns led a very difficult life. They prayed and worked constantly, and with little human affection, and so it’s not surprising that they became passionately attached to little dogs, so much so that they would sneak them into church. At one point a bishop had to pass an injunction against bringing dogs and puppies into the choir, Mount points out. For those who were caught, in one particular parish, there was a punishment: the nun had to fast on bread and water on one Saturday. (A small price to pay, I suspect.)  I spend a fair amount of time holed up with my dogs. Being a 21st century writer is […]

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