Friday, June 29, 2012

COLIN COTTERIL ON WRITING

Colin Cotteril
Today I welcome back  Colin CotterilColin Cotterill is a London-born teacher, crime writer and cartoonist. He currently lives in Southeast Asia, where he writes the award-winning Dr. Siri mystery series set in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos, and the Jimm Juree crime novels set in southern Thailand.  Mystery Readers NorCal hosted Colin a few years (photo from that evening by Carol Fairweather). What a great evening. I just finished reading and loved Grandad, there's a Head on the Beach, prompting me to ask Colin to write a short piece for Mystery Fanfare. Thanks, Colin, for obliging.

COLIN COTTERIL:

It’s difficult for me to write about myself with any conviction because I lie, professionally. I look at some of the rubbish that’s written about me on the internet and I’m painfully aware that the vast majority of it came from my own pen. This leaning towards self-fictionalization, coupled with the onset of dementia (Brought on, no doubt, by years of playing sports in which being kicked in the head was expected – nay, applauded.) means that I’m not sure I can write this introductory blog in a definitive manner.

In brief, there are one or two facts that cannot be denied as there is documentary evidence declassified by the Ministry of Alien Life Forms: my birth – October 2nd, 1952, my origin – Wimbledon, England, my gender – male, my chosen career – Physical Education teaching. From then on everything starts to get a little abstract. It’s rumoured that I left England in the mid-seventies as a small barrel of limes on a pirate ship in search of treasure and women with firm breasts. I washed up, ten years later, on a rocky beach in Australia, lucky to be alive. I traded my earring for temporary ownership of an English tongue. For many years I taught this unfathomable and illogical language to newly arrived boat people, none of whom were aware that I could neither spell nor punctuate. (unnecessarily glary decorations which still today I consider to be gratuitous.)

Given this aversion to rules, there are a number of theories in circulation in the cloisters of academia, as to why I chose to become a novelist. Some say it was an attempt on my own life, albeit a slow one, as most people who endeavor to make a living as a writer ultimately starve to death. Others say I was inspired by some of the great writers of my age: Orwell, Hemmingway, Barbara Cartland, none of whom I’ve read.

Perhaps there’s truth in the story that I merely got tired after 27 years of cycling to class through the rain and staring into thirty blank masks in the name of education. Perhaps it was then that I took to the word processor.

How I went from there to international literary stardom I have not a clue. I merely awoke one morning to the sound of hundreds of women throwing themselves at my front door like disoriented starlings. Ironically, there was not a firm breast amongst them as my books attracted a following of ladies ‘of a certain age’. They were not, I soon discovered, in love with me, but with my protagonist, Dr. Siri Paiboun the septuagenarian Lao surgeon who lives, loves and talks to spirits in my Coroner’s Lunch mystery series. He, it was, who brought me to the brink of Nobel Prize nomination. Awards fell on me like sleet. I became hugely wealthy and bought Western Samoa and bits of Fiji. These I use as getaways from the paparazzi.

But was I losing touch with the career that had inseminated me? Was I ignoring the little writers who will always be nobodies yet look up to me for inspiration? I needed to get back to the grass roots. So it was I started a new series under the assumed name of Colin Cotterill (which I later discovered was, coincidentally, my birth name.) And thus was born the Jimm Juree investigations. Set in a little fishing village in the south of Thailand, the J books follow a dysfunctional Thai family that leaves the big city and tries to make a go of it at a deserted beach resort in an awful location. (A place, incidentally, that I made my home four years ago. It’s horrible. Don’t even think about moving here.)

I see from the New York Times bestseller list that Jimm 2: Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach has hit the streets in North America. Although you’d never learn this from the title, it begins with Jimm finding a head on the beach…and telling her granddad, a retired, forty-year career traffic policeman. Thence follows a rip-snorting, seat-edging romp of a chase as the family sets out to find the identity of the head and the bastards what done it.

At the moment, I’m evidently writing the third in the series, The Axe Factor, in which I’ve decided to take a starring role as an introverted author of mystery novels set in some unknown southeast Asian country. I’m planning to have a romantic interlude and/or sex with my protagonist. Fiction knows no bounds.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut by Nora Ephron

We have lost one of the most amazing people in the literary and media fields with the passing of Nora Ephron. What an impact she has made. I'm sure you've read all the tributes and memorials that have been pouring out over the last two days. Nora Ephron: R.I.P.

Mystery connection: I love this parody of Stieg Larsson she wrote for The New Yorker. Apologies to The New Yorker for reprinting, but I felt compelled to share the short essay.
 
The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut 
by Nora Ephron July 5, 2010

There was a tap at the door at five in the morning. She woke up. Shit. Now what? She’d fallen asleep with her Palm Tungsten T3 in her hand. It would take only a moment to smash it against the wall and shove the battery up the nose of whoever was out there annoying her. She went to the door.

“I know you’re home,” he said.

Kalle fucking Blomkvist.

She tried to remember whether she was speaking to him or not. Probably not. She tried to remember why. No one knew why. It was undoubtedly because she’d been in a bad mood at some point. Lisbeth Salander was entitled to her bad moods on account of her miserable childhood and her tiny breasts, but it was starting to become confusing just how much irritability could be blamed on your slight figure and an abusive father you had once deliberately set on fire and then years later split open the head of with an axe.

Salander opened the door a crack and spent several paragraphs trying to decide whether to let Blomkvist in. Many italic thoughts flew through her mind. Go away. Perhaps. So what. Etc.

“Please,” he said. “I must see you. The umlaut on my computer isn’t working.”

He was cradling an iBook in his arms. She looked at him. He looked at her. She looked at him. He looked at her. And then she did what she usually did when she had run out of italic thoughts: she shook her head.

“I can’t really go on without an umlaut,” he said. “We’re in Sweden.”

But where in Sweden were they? There was no way to know, especially if you’d never been to Sweden. A few chapters ago, for example, an unscrupulous agent from Swedish Intelligence had tailed Blomkvist by taking Stora Essingen and Gröndal into Södermalm, and then driving down Hornsgatan and across Bellmansgatan via Brännkyrkagatan, with a final left onto Tavastgatan. Who cared, but there it was, in black-and-white, taking up space. And now Blomkvist was standing in her doorway. Someone might still be following him—but who? There was no real way to be sure even when you found out, because people’s names were so confusingly similar—Gullberg, Sandberg, and Holmberg; Nieminen and Niedermann; and, worst of all, Jonasson, Mårtensson, Torkelsson, Fredriksson, Svensson, Johansson, Svantesson, Fransson, and Paulsson.

“I need my umlaut,” Blomkvist said. “What if I want to go to Svavelsjö? Or Strängnäs? Or Södertälje? What if I want to write to Wadensjö? Or Ekström or Nyström?”

It was a compelling argument.

She opened the door.

He handed her the computer and went to make coffee on her Jura Impressa X7.

She tried to get the umlaut to work. No luck. She pinged Plague and explained the problem. Plague was fat, but he would know what to do, and he would tell her, in Courier typeface.

< Where are you > Plague wrote.

< Stockholm. >

< There’s an Apple Store at the intersection of Kungsgatan and Sveavägen. Or you could try a Q-tip. >

She went to the bathroom and got a Q-tip and gently cleaned the area around the Alt key. It popped into place. Then she pressed “U.” An umlaut danced before her eyes.

Finally, she spoke.

“It’s fixed,” she said.

“Thanks,” he said.

She thought about smiling, but she’d smiled three hundred pages earlier, and once was enough.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Upcoming Desert Mystery Conferences

Two great conferences coming up in the Desert (Scottsdale, AZ) in the next two months!

1. July 13: THE POISONED PEN CONFERENCE: Entertain the Exotic!
AZ Biltmore 9:30 AM-4:30 PM
Registration $20 Cash Buffet lunch
 

Programs with each author, Lunch Speaker: Dana Stabenow, Book Room and Signing 

PROGRAM
9:20 AM Welcome (with coffee)
9:30-10:15 AM: Alex Kava
10:30-11:15 AM Francine Mathews
11:30: 12:15: Jesse Kellerman
Lunch and Book signing for Kava and Kellerman
1:15-2:00 PM Howard Anderson
2:15-3:00 PM Mark DeCastrique
3:15-4:00 PM Timothy Hallinan & Martin Limon
4:00-4:30 PM Panel for questions plus booksigning


Come the night before to hear Linda Fairstein and Joseph Kanon (7/12)
 ***

2. August 11: SISTERS IN CRIME DESERT SLEUTHS chapter Presents: The 2012Write Now! Conference - “Criminal Minds: Investigating Today’s Writing Scene”

When:
  August 11, 2012  8am to 5pm 
Where:  Millennium Resort & Villas, 7401 North Scottsdale Road Scottsdale, AZ 85258.

FEATURED SPEAKER: Dana Kaye – Publicity Guru
Other speakers:  mystery writer and psychologist to the stars, Dennis Palumbo; award-winning thriller author Sean ChercoverDenise Dietz, Senior Editor for Five Star Publishing, who will be taking a limited number of appointments.  Plus an FBI profiler is being added to the speaker lineup.  Future speaker announcements to come.

For more details go to http://desertsleuths.com/conference  or  Register Here

Monday, June 25, 2012

"BOOK PLATES"

I have multiple sets of unique dinnerware, many of which are lettered. I always like to read. However, I don't have these Book Plates. They are a must have! Only thing missing are the words....

Saw them on Book Riot. Here's the link to purchase them. Since they're sold by the case, should we get together and share?


10 Weird Things about Edgar Allan Poe

For those Poe-aholics out there comes this wonderful post from Matthew Mercier at the Tor website.   

10 Weird Things about Edgar Allan Poe.  Check out the info on all 10, ending with #1-his love of cats.
 
Hat Tip: BV Lawson

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cartoon of the Day: Agents


ForeWord Book of the Year Awards: Mystery

At a ceremony yesterday at ALA’s Annual Conference in Anaheim, California, ForeWord named Book of the Year Award winners in several categories. These books, representing the best independently published works from 2011, were selected by a panel of librarian and bookseller judges.

The Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction was given to The Permanent Press for All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen. “It’s a rare pleasure to find a protagonist who reads like a literary figure in a thriller,” said editor-in-chief Julie Eakin.

Also of interest to mystery readers: Winners in Mystery (Adult Fiction)

Gold: Trick of the Dark by Val McDermid (Bywater Books)

Silver: Poison Makers by Jimmy Olsen (Hoffman House Press
Bronze: Medieval Murders by Aaron Stander (Writers and Editors)

ForeWord Reviews, a journal dedicated to reviewing independently published books, was established in 1998 and serves as the flagship periodical of booksellers, librarians, agents, and publishing professionals who want to access the best titles from small presses. ForeWord also provides a myriad of services to publishers, including international trade representation, Book of the Year Awards, Clarion fee-for-review service, publicity tools for authors, and an interactive website for the reading community at: www.forewordreviews.com.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mystery Writers and their Typewriters: World Typewriter Day

World Typewriter Day: Writers and their Typewriters


Patricia Highsmith: Olympia SM3


Alfred Hitchcock: Underwood Champion portable


Gypsy Rose Lee: Royal portable


Elmore Leonard: IBM Wheelwriter


Mickey Spillaine: L.C. Smith Standard Super Speed


Donald Westlake: Smith-Corona Silent-Supers

To see more writers and their typewriters, go to the Classic Typewriter Page

National Typewriter Day: Crandall Antique Typewriter

Today is National Typewriter Day! I remember my first typewriter, an old Remington, that was my mother's when she was growing up. My friends had flashier sleeker typewriters, but I pounded away on that old keyboard. Later, much later, I got an Olivetti. Fast, noisy, but so much better.. or so I thought at the time.

I didn't have this Crandall New Model, but it's a gem isn't it? Photo and text from AntiqueTypewriters.com.

The Crandall New Model, "one of the most beautiful typewriters ever made." It has a wonderful curved and ornate Victorian design and is lavishly decorated with hand painted roses, accented with inlaid mother-of-pearl! 

Lucien S. Crandall was born in Broome County New York in 1844. He would become one of the great early typewriter pioneers during the 1860s and 1870s. He patented perhaps ten typewriters with six or so being manufactured. All of his designs are very intriguing and brilliantly imagined machines. 

The Crandall - New Model was his third typewriter to be manufactured but the first to have some success in sales. The Crandall was the first typewriter to print from a single element or "type-sleeve", well before IBM's 'Golf ball' of 1961. The Crandall's type-sleeve is a cylinder, about the size of a finger, which rotates and rises up one or two positions before striking the roller, achieving 84 characters with only 28 keys. The type-sleeve is easy to remove, allowing for change of font style and character size. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

Ok, maybe you don't think of the names Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg in the same breath, but it's going to happen in the future.

From MediaBistro:
Janet Evanovich has inked a deal with Random House for four more novels in her Stephanie Plum series.  She also sold four novels in a series co-authored with Lee Goldberg.

Here’s more from the release: “The new Evanovich-Goldberg series will feature FBI agent Kate Winslow and international fugitive Danny Cole and will be a thrilling combination of crime, romance, and adventure. The first in the series is scheduled for publication in fall 2013."

PETER MAY: FRANCE, THE WRITE COUNTRY

Like mysteries set in foreign countries? The latest issue of the Mystery Readers Journal focuses on Mysteries set in France (Volume 28:1). This upclose and personal article by Peter May appeared in the Author! Author! section of this outstanding issue. Order this issue as hardcopy or as a PDF download. Check out the Table of Contents here.

PETER MAY: 
France, the Write Country

I have written about my home country of Scotland. I have crossed the Atlantic and written about the United States. I have travelled to the Far East to write about China. Now I am writing about my adopted home—France. And in many ways it is the most difficult assignment yet.

I started going to France nearly forty years ago. I bought my first house there twenty-five years ago, and I have lived there full-time for the last ten. The mistake that those in the Anglo-Saxon world make is in thinking that because the French look like them they are like them. They are not. And it is not just a matter of language. It goes much deeper. It is cultural, political, societal.

Although ostensibly a Catholic country, France is determinedly secular, and really quite irreligious.
While Nicolas Sarkozy heads up what is regarded in France as a right-wing administration, both he and his party would defend to the death political principles that most people in the United States would regard as "socialist."

Vast amounts of money are lavished on what are seen as the twin pillars of civilised society— health and education. A recent OECD survey into health services around the world placed France at No.1—while the United States languished around 37th. Not a reflection of healthcare standards, but one of access.

The French education system is widely regarded as one of the best. At its top level, attained only by exceptional academic prowess, a system of Grandes Ecoles (literally, big schools) turns out the civil servants and politicians who have been running France since the Second World War. And they have achieved remarkable things. France has an infrastructure second to none—a network of motorways that feeds every part of the country, like the body's cardiovascular system; high speed trains by which you can set your watch; eco-friendly tramways being installed in every large and medium-sized city; a nuclear power programme that provides around seventy percent of the country's electrical needs.

The average French worker enjoys at least five weeks' vacation each year, much more than his Anglo-Saxon counterpart, and yet the French worker achieves a higher rate of productivity. He then uses his vacation time to indulge the French love of family. Every break from work, of even just a few days, sees a mass migration around the country, as people return to their roots and families gather to enjoy long meals around tables groaning with good country cooking.

Writers and artists are universally revered. Not in the sense that the Brits and Americans have developed the cult of celebrity, but in a way that manifests itself in genuine respect. Talent is cherished, and the French love-affair with the written word is undiminished. Every village, small and medium-sized town, and city, has its own annual book fair. Writers are invited, and people flock in their thousands to meet them, to buy their books and have them inscribed with very personal dedications.

Even the genre of crime, in which I write, is regarded as literature. The French call the literary crime novel the "roman noir"—the black novel. Crime writing festivals—salons de polar—are to be found throughout the country. So it is little wonder that it is here that my career has been both nourished and celebrated. My series of China Thrillers have become bestsellers, and my Lewis Trilogy was critically acclaimed, nominated for and winning several literary prizes.

It was my novel The Blackhouse, rejected by every major publisher in the UK, that was taken up by the French, who bought world rights and turned it into a huge bestseller across Europe—including the United Kingdom, where it has now sold nearly 200,000 copies.

So how to write about this hugely diverse and culturally different country? Only through the eyes of an outsider. For you are born French, and no matter how many years you might live there, you will never be French. As as result I created the character of Enzo Macleod, a Scot with an Italian mother who has lived in France for the last twenty years and has a French daughter. This, it seemed to me, was the only way to write from the inside and the outside at the same time.

Enzo is a former forensics expert, now teaching biology, who is endeavouring to use new science to solve old French cold cases.

There are five books in the Enzo Files series. They are published in America by Poisoned Pen Press, are rapidly being bought up around Europe, and shortly to appear in the UK. But a French publishing deal still seems a long way off. For although I have been adopted and lauded as a foreigner living and writing in France, French publishers prefer that I apply my writer's observations to other countries.

Which is a shame, because as I travel around France my French readers tell me they are desperate to read about Enzo. Perhaps one day they will.

Buy this issue of Mysteries set in France (volume 28:1)! Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable PDF.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

ENDEAVOUR: Masterpiece Mystery, July 1

MASTERPIECE Mystery!
Sunday, July 1, 2012, 9 PM on PBS

Before Inspector Morse, there was the rookie Constable Morse, fed up with police work and ready to nip his career in the bud by handing in his resignation. That is, until a murder turned up that only he could solve. Shaun Evans stars as the young Endeavour Morse, before his signature red Jaguar but with his deductive powers already running in high gear, on Endeavour.

Prequel will be set in 1965 and takes place in Oxford, the setting for "Morse" and spinoff series "Inspector Lewis," which will see four new episodes on "Masterpiece Mystery!" Russell Lewis, creator of the spinoff, wrote"Endeavour.

Roger Allam stars as DI Fred Thursday and Abigail Thaw (Inspector Morse star John Thaw's daughter) makes a special cameo appearance in Endeavour.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mistresses of Mystery: Christie & Marsh

I think Robin from Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore in Ann Arbor posted this on Facebook awhile ago. Love it.  Dame Agatha Christie and Dame Ngaio Marsh: Mistresses of Mystery. Probably in the 50s..


Femmes Fatales Classic Pulps

Not sure if you've seen this new series of classic reprints, but Femmes Fatales is a great imprint from the Feminist Press at the City University of New York. Femmes Fatales restores to print the best of women's writing in the classic pulp genres of the mid-20th century. From mystery to hard-boiled noir to taboo lesbian romance, these rediscovered Queens of Pulp offer 'subversive perspectives' on a turbulent era.

The latest in the series is Mother Finds a Body by Gypsy Rose Lee with a foreword by Erik Preminger. This is the steamy sequel to The G-String Murders. I hadn't read it before, and I read it in one sitting. My kind of book.

I love the size, shape and covers of these paperbacks.. and, of course, the authors, content and titles. The books are available as paperback or eBook.

Already in the line-up:
The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee
Skyscraper by Faith Baldwin
Bedelia by Vera Caspary
The Blackbirder by Dorothy B. Hughes
Bunny Lake is Missing by Evelyn Piper
The Girls in 3-B by Valerie Taylor
Women's Barracks by Tereska Torres
Laura by Vera Caspary
Now, Voyager by Olive Higgins Prouty
In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

July:
Strangers on Lesbos by Valerie Taylor
Mother Finds a Body by Gypsy Rose Lee

September:
By Cecile by Tereska Torres

Book Love


Friday, June 15, 2012

Cartoon of the Day: English Teachers' Party

Love this! From LoosePartsComic.com


Father's Day Mysteries

My post for Father's Day. I no longer celebrate Father's Day, since my father, Joseph Rudolph, passed away 10 years ago. I think about him every day. He encouraged and supported me throughout my varying careers and educational pursuits, and he always told me I could accomplish anything and succeed in whatever I tried.

My father was always reading. His idea of a good vacation was sitting in a chair and reading a good mystery. It never mattered where he was, the book took him to other places.

My father and I shared a love of mysteries. Over the years my taste in mysteries has changed. I read more hardboiled, darker mysteries now as he always did. So many times when I finish a book, I say to myself, "I have to send this to Dad. He'll love it." Sadly, he's no longer here. My father engendered a love of mysteries in me through his collection of mystery novels and Ellery Queen Magazines. I like to think he's up there somewhere in a chair reading mysteries. Here's to you, Dad, on Father's Day! 

Here's to you, Dad, on Father's Day!

As his headstone reads,

Beloved husband, father, grandfather
Beloved physician, teacher, friend
A man who practiced chesed*
And loved his fellow men

*kindness, pure giving

FATHER'S DAY MYSTERIES

Father’s Day by John Calvin Batchelor
Father’s Day by Rudolph Engelman
Father’s Day Keith Gilman
Dear Old Dead by Jane Haddam
The Father’s Day Murder by Lee Harris
Day of Reckoning by Kathy Herman
Dead Water by Victoria Houston
Father’s Day Murder by Leslie Meier
Father’s Day by Alan Trustman

Murder for Father, edited by Martin Greenberg (short stories)
"Father's Day" by Patti Abbott --short story at Spinetingler
Collateral Damage: A Do Some Damage Collection  e-book of Father's Day themed short stories.

Let me know if I forgot any titles. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Macavity Award Nominees

The Macavity Award Nominations! Books/stories were published for the first time in the U.S. in 2011. This award is nominated by and voted on by members and supporters of Mystery Readers International, as well as subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal. Winners will be announced at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, in October, in Cleveland, OH this year. The Award will be presented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How cool is that? The Macavity Award is named for the "mystery cat" of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats).

Congratulations to all!

Best Mystery Novel
 
1222 by Anne Holt, translated by Marlaine Delargy (Scribner)
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (Mulholland Books)
The Ridge by Michael Koryta (Little, Brown)
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey (Dutton)
Hell & Gone by Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland Books)

Best First Mystery Novel
 
Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Crown)
Nazareth Child by Darrell James (Midnight Ink)
Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (Atlantic Monthly)
All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen (Permanent Press)
The Informationist by Taylor Stevens (Crown)
Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson (Harper)

Best Mystery-Related Nonfiction

Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure by Leslie Budewitz (Linden)
Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making: More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks by John Curran (HarperCollins)
Wilkie Collins, Vera Caspary and the Evolution of the Casebook Novel by A.B. Emrys (McFarland)
The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge by T.J. English (William Morrow)
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion by Charlaine Harris (Ace)
 
Best Mystery Short Story


"Disarming" by Dana Cameron (EQMM, June 2011)
"Facts Exhibiting Wantonness" by Trina Corey (EQMM, Nov. 2011)
"Palace by the Lake" by Daryl Wood Gerber (Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology, Wildside Press)
"Truth and Consequences" by Barb Goffman (Mystery Times Ten, Buddhapuss Ink)
"Heat of Passion" by Kathleen Ryan (A Twist of Noir, Feb. 14, 2011)
"The Man Who Took His Hat Off to the Driver of the Train" by Peter Turnbull (EQMM, March/April 2011)

Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award

 
Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen (Berkley)
Narrows Gate by Jim Fusilli (AmazonEncore)
Dandy Gilver and the Proper Treatment of Bloodstains by Catriona McPherson (Thomas Dunne/Minotaur)
Mercury’s Rise by Ann Parker (Poisoned Pen)
Troubled Bones by Jeri Westerson (Minotaur)
A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper)
 

Cartoon of the Day: Books

Shared this on Facebook, but realized lots of people might have missed this great comic from Ralph and Chuck! I know this is my situation....


Louise Penny's Still Life to be TV Movie

CBC Arts will be producing a TV movie based on Louise Penny's Still Life.  The network did not announce when the films are likely to be completed.

Hat Tip: Lesa Holstine

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quote of the Day

"The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters." 

--Ross Macdonald

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Katherine Hall Page Literary Salon June 19

Join Mystery Readers NorCal for an afternoon Literary Salon in Berkeley (CA) with award winning mystery author Katherine Hall Page. 2 p.m. in the Garden. Make a comment below with your email address for directions and to RSVP.

Katherine Hall Page is the author of the Faith Fairchild mystery series The Body in ... , starting with The Body in the Belfrey. The latest, the 19th, is The Body in the Gazebo. Faith is a caterer and minister's wife--and yes, there are recipes! Katherine has been a guest on my other blog: www.DyingforChocolate.com (Brownies, Bread Pudding & Have Faith in Your Kitchen  and Mystery and Chocolate: Chocolate Bread Pudding), as well as a contributor to Mystery Readers Journal.

Page received her BA from Wellesley College, majoring in English and went on to a Masters in Secondary Education from Tufts and a Doctorate in Administration, Public Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard.

Married for thirty-five years to Professor Alan Hein, an experimental psychologist at MIT, the couple have a twenty-seven-year-old son. It was during her husband's sabbatical year in France after the birth of their son that Ms. Page wrote her first mystery, The Body in the Belfry, 1991 Agatha Award winner for Best First Mystery Novel. The fifteenth in the series, The Body in the Snowdrift, won the 2006 Agatha Award for Best Mystery Novel. Ms. Page was also awarded the 2001 Agatha for Best Short Story for "The Would-Be Widower" in the Malice Domestic X collection (Avon Books). She was an Edgar nominee for her juvenile mystery, Christie & Company Down East. The Body in the Bonfire was an Agatha nominee in 2003. Page's short story, "The Two Mary's" was an Agatha nominee in 2004. The Body in the Lighthouse (2003) was one of three nominees for The Mary Higgins Clark Award. The nineteenth in the series, The Body in the Gazebo, was published bin April, 2011.

Descended from Norwegian-Americans on her mother's side and New Englanders on her father's, Ms. Page grew up listening to all sorts of stories. She remains an unabashed eavesdropper and will even watch your slides or home movies to hear your narration. Her books are the product of all the strands of her life and she plans to keep weaving.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ngaio Marsh Award Longlist 2012 Revealed

I'm very excited to post the Longlist for the 2012 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. This is the second year that I'm a 'judge.' The Award will be presented at a ceremony at The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival in September.

The Ngaio Marsh Award is given for the best crime, mystery, or thriller novel written by a New Zealand citizen or resident, published in New Zealand or overseas during the past year.

A panel of seven local and international judges is currently considering the longlisted titles. This year the judges are from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and New Zealand. The three finalists for the 2012 Ngaio Marsh Award will be announced in July.

The longlist titles are:

• COLLECTING COOPER by Paul Cleave (Simon & Schuster) 
• LUTHER: THE CALLING by Neil Cross (Simon & Schuster) 
• FURT BENT FROM ALDAHEIT by Jack Eden (Pear Jam Books) 
• TRACES OF RED by Paddy Richardson (Penguin) 
• BY ANY MEANS by Ben Sanders (HarperCollins) 
• BOUND by Vanda Symon (Penguin) 
• THE CATASTROPHE by Ian Wedde (Victoria University Press)

The longlist reflects the growing depth and breadth of contemporary New Zealand crime and thriller writing, said Judging Convenor Craig Sisterson. “This year’s longlist features everything from dark serial killer tales to the latest books in popular detective series, ‘ripped from the headlines’ psychological suspense, and a prequel to one of the most compelling TV crime series of recent years. We have the mysterious tale of a narcissistic restaurant critic’s kidnapping, penned by New Zealand’s poet laureate, and an engaging debut thriller written under a nom de plume.”

 It will be a tough decision for the judging panel to narrow the field to three finalists and pick a winner, said Sisterson. “There was some exceptional crime, mystery, and thriller fiction penned by New Zealanders last year. It is great to see one of the world’s most popular forms of writing starting to flourish a little more on our own shores, though it makes our job harder.”

 The Award, established in 2010, is named for Dame Ngaio Marsh, who is renowned worldwide as one of the four Queens of Crime of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Dame Ngaio published 32 novels featuring Inspector Roderick Alleyn between 1934 and her death in 1982. With sales in the millions, and her books still in print to this day, Dame Ngaio is one of New Zealand’s most successful authors in history.

I can't wait to read all the titles on the Longlist! It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it!

Anthony Award Nominations

Anthony Awards will be announced at Bouchercon in Cleveland in October. Congratulations to all.

NOMINEES:

BEST NOVEL
The End of Everything - Megan Abbott [Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown]
Hurt Machine - Reed Farrel Coleman [Tyrus]
The Drop - Michael Connelly [Little, Brown]
A Trick of the Light - Louise Penny [Minotaur]
One Was a Soldier - Julia Spencer-Fleming [Thomas Dunne/Minotaur]

BEST FIRST NOVEL
Learning to Swim - Sara J. Henry [Crown]
Nazareth Child - Darrell James [Midnight Ink]
All Cry Chaos - Leonard Rosen [The Permanent Press]
Who Do, Voodoo? - Rochelle Staab [Berkley Prime Crime]
The Informationist - Taylor Stevens [Crown]
Purgatory Chasm - Steve Ulfelder [Thomas Dunne/Minotaur]
Before I Go to Sleep - S.J. Watson [HarperCollins]

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
The Company Man - Robert Jackson Bennett [Orbit/Hachette]
Choke Hold - Christa Faust [Hard Case Crime/Titan]
Buffalo West Wing - Julie Hyzy [Berkley Prime Crime/Tekno]
Death of the Mantis - Michael Stanley [HarperCollins]
Fun & Games - Duane Swierczynski [Mulholland]
Vienna Twilight - Frank Tallis [Random House]

BEST SHORT STORY
"Disarming" - Dana Cameron, EQMM June'11, p.24
"The Case of Death and Honey" - Neil Gaiman, A Study In Sherlock, p.167 [Bantam]
"Palace by the Lake" - Daryl Wood Gerber, Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology, p.184 [Wildside]
"Truth and Consequences" - Barb Goffman, Mystery Times Ten, ~p.128 [Buddhapuss Ink]
"The Itinerary" - Roberta Isleib, MWA Presents The Rich and The Dead, p.189 [Grand Central]
"Happine$$" - Twist Phelan, MWA Presents The Rich and The Dead, p.276 [Grand Central]

BEST CRITICAL NONFICTION WORK
Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure - Leslie Budewitz [Quill Driver/Linden]
Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making: More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks - John Curran [HarperCollins]
On Conan Doyle: or, The Whole Art of Storytelling - Michael Dirda [Princeton University Press]
Detecting Women: Gender and the Hollywood Detective Film - Philippa Gates [SUNY Press]
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion - Charlaine Harris, ed. [Ace]

Randal S. Brandt's David Dodge Discoveries

David Dodge in Navy uniform, with wife Elva 1942
Today I welcome back Randal S. Brandt, librarian at The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, and the creator of two critically-acclaimed websites: Golden Gate Mysteries, an annotated bibliography of crime fiction set in the San Francisco Bay Area, and A David Dodge Companion, chronicling the life and works of mystery writer David Dodge (1910-1974).

This article, A Conversation with Randal S. Brandt, originally appeared in the Lowestoft Chronicle and is reprinted in its entirety with the permission of Randal S. Brandt and Lowestoft Chronicle.

Lowestoft Chronicle is an online magazine, published quarterly, featuring fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, interviews, and artwork, with an emphasis on humor and travel. Website: www.lowestoftchronicle.com

 ***
In 1998, while helping to clean out a mini-storage space in Walnut Creek, California, librarian Randal S. Brandt came across the find of his dreams—a complete, unpublished novel by his favorite author. The manuscript was The Last Match by David Dodge, who had died some twenty-four years earlier, and was hidden away among the papers he had left to his daughter, Kendal Dodge Butler. Dodge, a popular travel writer and The New York Times best-selling author of the travel guide The Poor Man's Guide to Europe, is best known for his mysteries, two of which have been turned into movies—Glenn Ford took the lead role in Plunder of the Sun in 1953, and in 1955 Alfred Hitchcock made his novel To Catch a Thief into a timeless classic starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.

After converting the fragile typewritten original to electronic format, incorporating the author's many corrections and additions, and correcting typographical errors, Brandt posted a synopsis of the unpublished novel on his website, A David Dodge Companion. Eight years later, acclaimed pulp fiction publisher Hard Case Crime would publish the novel, which Lowestoft Chronicle can testify is a terrific read and a worthy addition to the Dodge canon of work.

This month Lowestoft Chronicle cornered Randal S. Brandt, the world's foremost David Dodge chronicler, to find out more about his ongoing work and learn about his latest discoveries.

Randal, you briefly mention on your website your meeting with David Dodge's daughter, Kendal Dodge Butler, in 1997. What made you decide to contact her? You haven't said much about that meeting. How did it go? Did you discuss How Green Was My Father and How Lost Was My Weekend and her travels with her father?

RSB: If the circumstances of my meeting with Kendal were described in a novel, no one would believe the incredible coincidences. My wife and I had been reading David Dodge's books for a couple years when we happened to notice the phrase "Dead Men Pay No Taxes" in a column in our newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicle. The item, written by columnist Jon Carroll, was about David Dodge's tax situation—20 years after his death! It mentioned his daughter (this was how we learned her last name was now Butler) and that she lived in Walnut Creek, which is a city just 15 miles from where we live in Berkeley. We looked up her address and wrote her a letter, explaining that we were fans of her father's books, that we were practically neighbors, and that we'd love to meet her, if she was so inclined. We got an enthusiastic message back from her almost immediately and we made plans to visit her at her home.

Kendal was incredibly gracious. She said that her father always enjoyed meeting people who liked his books, and that she felt the same way. She had gotten out some copies of short stories that had been published in magazines, clippings, and family documents to show us. When I explained that I was a librarian and that I had been considering putting together a bibliography of her father, she offered to let me borrow them. Over the years, Kendal's support for my research never failed. She generously shared details of her life with her parents with me and allowed me access to family photographs, correspondence, and other documents. That's why the website is dedicated to her.

The timing of that meeting turned out to be fortuitous, as well. It was less than a year later when Kendal decided to retire, sell her house, and move back to Mexico. We did keep in touch after she moved, though, and whenever she returned to the Bay Area, we always managed to arrange a visit.

When you helped Kendal Dodge Butler clear out her storage space in Walnut Creek did you expect to find unpublished David Dodge material? Was Kendal aware of the unpublished manuscript? What were your initial thoughts about The Last Match?

RSB: Honestly, I had no idea of what to expect. Kendal had indicated that she had papers from her parents, but even she did not really know what was included. Certainly, I was hopeful that the papers would yield unpublished material, and I was thrilled to discover a completed novel and a couple of short stories. The manuscript of The Last Match was kind of a mess. It is a typescript carbon copy, on thin paper, with numerous corrections, additions, and deletions in Dodge's handwriting. The first thing I did was photocopy it, so that I could handle it without risking any damage to the original. But, it was pretty tough reading, with all of the annotations. Kendal wanted a copy, naturally, so I made the decision to re-type the whole thing, making Dodge's corrections as I went along. (Of course, this turned out to be a very fortuitous decision on my part when Hard Case Crime came calling several years later, but that is another story.) When I first read The Last Match, I thought it was a solid novel, but not Dodge's best effort. It has all of the hallmarks of David Dodge at his best: clear, uncluttered writing, sparkling dialogue, well-drawn characters, and globe-spanning settings. It is certainly an obvious attempt to recapture some the magic of To Catch a Thief, with a protagonist, "Curly," who is less than honest, to put it mildly, and a heroine who is beautiful, rich, and seemingly unattainable to someone like Curly. It also contains a lot of recycled material, especially from Dodge's travel writing.

In some ways, though, that makes the novel one of Dodge's most personal (as Kendal's afterword to the Hard Case Crime edition makes perfectly clear) and it is a book that grows on you. Kendal's initial reaction to it was not entirely favorable, and neither was Charles Ardai's (the publisher of Hard Case Crime), but they both changed their minds about it. I read it again recently and it does stand up nicely with Dodge's other works.

In terms of that question you're often asked ("Why David Dodge?"), he's such a good writer that there certainly ought to be a website dedicated to him, and I'm enormously grateful to you for providing one. What exactly made you decide to create the website "A David Dodge Companion" in the first place?

RSB: There are a variety of reasons why I created the website. The first is that there just isn't that much biographic or bibliographic information about David Dodge anywhere else. Once I started collecting this information, I wanted to share it. Naturally, the easiest way to do that is with a website. Remember, though, that this was in the mid-1990s, early days of the internet. At the time, I was working in a small academic branch library at UC Berkeley and was tasked with creating the first website for my library. The University Library as a whole was also developing its web presence and had started conducting classes and workshops for library staff in basic HTML. I attended some of those classes and got started. Each library staff person was also given a small amount of personal web space to do with as they pleased. I used mine to create the first version of the David Dodge website in 1997. It was very, very basic at first—just a listing of Dodge's books, short stories, and articles. A couple of years later, Kendal's stepson, Lewis Butler, proposed registering a domain name as a birthday present for Kendal. So, "A David Dodge Companion" is really a collaborative effort between Lewis and me. He hosts it and maintains the domain; I provide the content.

You've said before that your original idea for the website was a bibliography of Dodge's works. There's an incredible wealth of information on the site. What made you decide to do so much research?

RSB: Because it is just so much fun! I am privileged to work in a world-class library. Although the library does not hold all of Dodge's books, it does have nearly every journal or magazine that Dodge ever appeared in and nearly every magazine or newspaper that carried a book review of Dodge's works. The library also provides access to a multitude of sources of biographical information, and continues to provide me with new information all of the time. Most recently, I discovered, via census data, the addresses of the buildings where Dodge lived in Berkeley as a young boy. I knew he had been born and spent his childhood years in Berkeley, but I had no idea where he lived. I found two different residences for him in Berkeley, along with an address in Pasadena where he moved with his mother after his father's death. Coincidentally, one of the Berkeley addresses is an apartment building right next door to my daughter's orthodontist's office.

Have you read everything David Dodge has had published, and is The Long Escape your favorite Dodge book? You've said it was the first Dodge book you read, and has a special place in your heart, but do you think it's his best work?

RSB: I have to confess that I have not read absolutely everything. I'm pretty sure that I've collected everything (in photocopy, if not in the original), but I have not yet read all of the travel articles that he wrote for Holiday magazine and other travel publications. I've certainly read all of his fiction, most of it multiple times. As for my favorite book, that is a difficult question to answer. Yes, The Long Escape is special because it was the first one, and it certainly does hold up well under numerous readings.

But, I think my favorite of his novels is Carambola, published in 1961, which has all of the elements that Dodge perfected: an ordinary man thrust into an extraordinary situation, hair-raising suspense, and exotic locations (in this case, Cannes, Barcelona, and the Pyrenees). Ironically, this book was probably Dodge's biggest financial failure. It has never been reprinted in the U.S. and has never appeared in a paperback edition of any kind.

It seems to me that you're the ideal person to write the David Dodge biography. Has there ever been a biography written about David Dodge and have you ever considered writing one?

RSB: There is no complete biography of David Dodge, and yes, I have considered writing one. But, I think that what I really want to write is a bio-bibliography. Since bibliography is where I started with this whole thing, it makes the most sense to me. David Dodge's life is really reflected in his writing. Certainly, his travel books are incredibly personal—Kendal said she met people throughout her whole life who expected her to be the precocious five-year old with pigtails that her father wrote so charmingly about in his books—but you can trace Dodge's life through his fiction, as well. Dodge was an inveterate traveler. He was fond of saying that while most writers traveled in order to gather material to write about, he wrote books in order to fund further travel. So, I'd like to write an examination of his books and relate them to his life and travels, and also provide detailed bibliographical descriptions of each edition of the books. I've even got a title in mind: "The Poor Man's Guide to David Dodge." Now, I just have to write it.
The Dodge family at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
In April of this year you met with Kendal Dodge Butler's daughter, Kendal. How did the meeting go? What did you find among the Dodge papers this time?

RSB: Yes, I was honored to be welcomed into the home of Kendal Reynoso Lukrich and her family. (Kendal was born in Mexico and nicknamed "Kendalita" in order to distinguish her from her mother. So, for purposes of clarity, I will adopt her nickname here, as well.) When Kendal Butler died in 2007, Kendalita went to Mexico and closed up her mother's house, bringing everything back with her to the U.S. The papers contain extensive correspondence from both David Dodge and his wife, Elva, to their daughter and others. Most of this correspondence is from 1971 to 1974, but there are also some earlier letters. These letters give me a much clearer picture of Dodge at the end of his life. I knew many of the facts of David and Elva's last years, but this correspondence fills in a lot of details. Some of those details are small—for example, I found documentation showing that the exact date of Dodge's death was August 8, 1974. Previously, I had only known the month and year; none of the official sources that I had located, like the Social Security Death Index, gave the exact day. I was also able to confirm some things that I had only surmised, such as Elva's importance to David's writing process—he claimed that she was the only living person who could read his handwriting and especially relied on their shared memories for his travel writing. Other information was completely new to me. I'll give you three examples.

1) David Dodge had a contract with a publisher to write a book he was planning to call either "The Poor Man's Guide to Retirement in Mexico" or "How Green Was My Grandfather." As Elva's health deteriorated, however, it became clear that he was not going to be able to fulfill the contract. The Dodges' best friends in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico were the science fiction writer Mack Reynolds and his wife Jeannette. David and Mack considered the possibility of Reynolds taking over the material and finishing the book (Reynolds also was a travel writer). Unfortunately, that collaboration never came about and Dodge eventually returned his advance to the publisher and cancelled the contract.

2) The 1972 edition of Fodor's Mexico guidebook included an introduction by David Dodge. Among the papers that I discovered this time out is a large correspondence file about this introduction. It is obvious from the letters that there was some miscommunication between Dodge and Eugene Fodor about the editorial process, but Dodge was very unhappy with the published version of this introduction. He felt that the editors had omitted information he considered very important for tourists and had included things that he did not write (and vehemently disagreed with). Fodor offered to let him rewrite the introduction, as long as it remained the same overall length, and the file includes some revised drafts. Fodor's Mexico guidebooks carried this introduction through at least 1988; now I need to go look at the published versions and see if the changes were actually made.

3) For several years in the 1980s, a film option was held on Dodge's first novel Death and Taxes by a young, relatively unknown screenwriter and director. The amount of money involved was negligible, but the director was obviously very interested in the project. Finally, the option was dropped and nothing more ever came of it. The director, however, went on to much bigger and better things; he is now an Academy Award-winning Hollywood A-lister. We'll never know what could have been …

Kendalita has agreed to place her grandfather's papers in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. David Dodge's first series character (and the one most closely modeled on Dodge, himself), accountant-turned-amateur-sleuth James "Whit" Whitney, was a "Cal man" and I've long had the impression that Dodge, who was a high school dropout, always wished that he could have attended his hometown university. Now, finally, he's been admitted.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Denise Hamilton: Eat. Pray. Love. Sprintz

Today I welcome back Denise Hamilton. Denise Hamilton's latest crime novel, Damage Control, features a perfumista sleuth. Read her post on Femme Fatale Perfumes: Wanton Ways HERE.

Hamilton is also the editor of the Edgar Award-winning Los Angeles Noir story anthology and the Los Angeles Times Magazine perfume columnist. This post originally appeared in the LA Times, May 25, 2012.  
Reprinted with permission of the author. 

Denise Hamilton: Eat. Pray. Love. Spritz.

Now inhale deeply and feel your life transform.

It's only May, but 2012 is already shaping up as the year perfume wafted from the lively online blogs and into mainstream publishing in a big way.

These days, new fragrance releases are greeted — and critiqued — with the intellectual sophistication formerly reserved for Paris fashion shows. Perfume is an art form and the "noses" who compose cutting-edge fragrances are rock stars.

Writers, always hip to the zeitgeist, are avidly chronicling this renaissance and some books have even inspired their own perfumes.

Recent months have brought a well-reviewed thriller set in the perfume world. A memoir of love, secrets, wedding frocks and sensual awakenings. Witty, erudite reviews of 100 top fragrances. A coffee table-sized fragrance manifesto with black-and-white portraits of top perfumers. And the story of how a world-famous "nose" joined forces with a sensualist writer to create a perfume.

My review copy of Denyse Beaulieu's new memoir The Perfume Lover describes her collaboration with French perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour and was accompanied by a tiny black bottle of their new perfume, Séville à l'aube. It's an intoxicating scent of orange blossom, incense, smoke, beeswax, flowers and musk that went through more than 100 iterations before everyone was happy. It also caught the eye of L'Artisan Perfumers, a major player in the boutique fragrance world, which plans to release it commercially later this year.

Beaulieu hails from Quebec but long ago fled Canada to re-invent herself as a Left Bank Parisian sophisticate. She is a writer, translator, instructor and perfume blogger — the bilingual Grain de Musc. She writes with penetrating intellect about perfume, gender roles, cultural signifiers, the boudoir and her Bohemian life in a style that marries Jacques Derrida with Anaïs Nin.

"I've come to think of perfumes as my French lovers — a way for gifted artists to seduce me, parlez-moi d'amour me and reflect the many facets of my soul in eerily perceptive ways," she writes.

Another book released this year, Scent of Triumph, by perfume consultant and author Jan Moran, also features its own perfume — Chimere — a "floriental" based on the scent the heroine creates in this sprawling World War II epic.

In The Book of Lost Fragrances, author M.J. Rose spins a heady tale of reincarnation, soul mates, ancient Egypt, a French perfume company and a fabled lost book that sparks international intrigue.

The paranormal thriller, published in March, adroitly weaves in lore about perfume distillation and enfleurage; the lavender fields of Grasse, France; the ancient world's long-lost kyphi perfume; the 18th century scented gloves that gave rise to modern perfumery and the industry regulations that — alas — have banned many raw perfumery materials today.

Rose's fictional Maison d'Etoile is a mash-up of dynastic French perfume companies such as Guerlain. One character was inspired by French perfumer (and jeweler) Olivier Durbano, whom Rose befriended while researching the scented world.

But I was most charmed by the author's evocation of the sprawling wooden laboratory desk known as the "perfumer's organ."

"She would sit … and watch the light play on the small glass bottles … [g]iving up ugly and strange and beautiful and powerful smells… Going back over two hundred years, her ancestors had sat there mixing up elixirs from the ingredients.… [S]ome of the oils … were so rare that once [her brother] finished them, he could replace them only with synthetics."

In Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure and an Unlikely Bride, Alyssa Harad recounts her Kate Chopin-like awakening to the sensual joys of perfume and the fulfillment, happiness and fragrant friendships that follow.

As a college professor, intellectual and feminist, Harad abjured fashionable, frivolous girly-girl things and viewed the pursuit of pleasure with suspicion. But one night, she read a vivid description of the perfume Paloma online and began to pine for it. When she finally sniffed it in a department store, Harad tumbled down the rabbit hole into perfume obsession and was soon ordering sample vials and lurking on blogs like Victoria Frolova's Bois de Jasmin, Marina Geigert's Perfume-Smelling Things and Robin Krug's Now Smell This, where she devoured their vibrant, passionate prose.

Soon, she would write her own missives: "Perfume tells a story on the skin. It has a beginning, a middle, and if it's good – a long, lingering end. To try a new perfume is to give yourself over to this story."

Harad, whose book is scheduled for release in June, recounts how her slow "coming out" as a perfumista provided a balm against the stress of her upcoming wedding. There are touching tales of her mother's friends throwing her a perfume shower (all the guests brought gifts of scent) and meditations on gender as she suggests perfumes for a fragrance-loving friend transitioning from woman to man.

For an insider's view, a reader can turn to On Perfume-Making by Frederic Malle, a French perfumer with impeccable lineage — he is the grandson of Serge Heftler-Louiche, who founded Parfums Christian Dior in 1947, and nephew of movie director Louis Malle.

Malle's coffee-table book, published in January, includes a foreword by Catherine Deneuve, portraits of each Malle perfumer along with a description of how they created each perfume and illustrations by Konstantin Kakanias. The publisher is Angelika Books, an imprint of Angelika Taschen, ex-wife of art book publisher Benedikt Taschen.

Malle launched his eponymous "perfume publishing house" in 2000 as an antidote to the crassly commercial, "chemical-smelling" perfumes produced by multinational firms that spend millions on marketing and celebrity faces while producing mass market fragrances of little interest and complexity.

"My plan was simple: go back to the roots of perfume making … focus on perfume rather than its image, and most of all, let perfumers take the initiative, by giving them total creative freedom."

Malle also did something revolutionary: He splashed the perfumer's name on each bottle, acknowledging "its true author, to underline the fact that we are dealing with genuine works of art." Gratified, the industry's best noses lined up to create "the classic fragrances of tomorrow:" Dominique Ropion's Carnal Flower; Maurice Roucel's Musc Ravageur; Olivia Giacobetti's En Passant.

Another important book — from late 2011 but I'm sneaking it in — is The Little Book of Perfumes: The Hundred Classics by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, who revisited 100 of their favorite perfumes from 2008's "Perfumes, the A-Z Guide." The Guide is widely regarded as the bible of perfume aficionados, many of whom can quote the snarky, funny, brilliant and synasthesiac reviews by heart.

Turin and Sanchez bemoan the fact that classics like Christian Dior Diorissimo and Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue have been defaced by reformulations. But their enthusiasm outshines their gloom, and they list many new classics worth praising.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quote of the Day

So please, of PLEASE, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install,
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

--Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lorie Lewis Ham: King's River Life

Today I welcome Lorie Lewis Ham, Editor/Writer/Creator, Kings River Life Magazine, a California Online magazine with local focus & global appeal--and very mystery related! Lorie has been writing and singing since she was a child. She has published 5 mystery novels, 4 of which combine those two with her main character being a gospel singer. Her latest venture is an online magazine with a strong focus on the world of mystery.


Lorie Lewis Ham: 
The Latest Chapter in My Writing Journal 

It seems as though I have been writing forever. I started making up short stories about my stuffed animals when I was seven, first published when I was 13, and have never stopped since. I have published poems, short stories, articles, mystery novels, written for local newspapers, and now I publish my own online magazine. Every type of writing has its rewards and challenges, but the one thing is forever true I simply must write.

Kings River Life Magazine (http://kingsriverlife.com) just celebrated its two-year anniversary and it’s been an exciting journey so far. A few months before it took flight I was let go from a local newspaper and found myself wondering what my next writing journey would be. It suddenly dawned on me that I could finally write about all of those things that my editor had told me no one would read—hence was born KRL, and guess what? People are reading it!

At first KRL’s focus was primarily local—local entertainment, history, charities, local authors and book reviews. Added in were other things important to me—going green, food, travel, and pets.

I soon discovered there were readers for a mystery section and that section began to grow and expand, and with it, I saw KRL change and grow. We still have our local side but we have so much more for our readers that are now all over the world including New York, Texas, Australia, Canada and beyond. Our mystery section now includes short stories, reviews, author interviews, book giveaways, TV and movie reviews, and other mystery related articles (such as one on Poe’s Cottage, the Conan Doyle Estate, Poirot & others), and takes up a third to half of every issue. We have writers from all over the world as well. You will even find familiar names within the mystery community doing guest articles like Jan Burke, Kris Neri, Janet Rudolph, Linda O. Johnston, Sue Owens Wright, and others.

Recently, we added a fantasy/horror section (many of which still have a mystery twist to them), expanded our travel and food sections, added mental health, and greatly expanded our animal rescue/pet section. This past March we expanded to include video interviews and started a YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/KingsRiverLife/videos) channel—starting with a bunch of author interviews at Left Coast Crime in Sacramento. I can’t wait to see what the next two years will hold as we continue to grow and expand—we are even considering starting a spin off entertainment/literature magazine next year and may expand into mini mystery video dramas—who knows!

So if someone tells you that you can’t do something that you know is your passion and what you feel you are meant to do—prove them wrong. If I had listened to my old boss, Kings River Life would never have happened. Now I can add publisher to my credits, and I not only get the joy of publishing a magazine that others can enjoy and hopefully be challenged, moved and inspired by, but I get to write about things that I’m passionate about. I loved writing about Castle, interviewing Lee Goldberg (many times), reviewing movies and theatre, and nothing will ever beat being able to interview Amber Benson (from Buffy). I also get the chance to help support things I believe in—theatre, music, writers, animal rescue and more.

A new issue of Kings River Life goes up every Saturday morning at 10 Pacific time. We also have movie reviews every Monday evening—many of which are mystery related, and generally have some extra mystery short stories going up during the week during the holidays with a holiday theme.

I hope you check us out and follow us on our journey, either as a reader or maybe even consider being a contributor. We truly have something for everyone—especially if you love mysteries like I do!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bryan Gruley Literary Salon, June 12, Berkeley

Join Mystery Readers International NorCal for an evening Literary Salon with Award winning mystery author Bryan Gruley.

Tuesday, June 12, 7 p.m., Berkeley, CA
Space is limited. RSVP for Directions (make a comment below with email address and I'll send directions)

Bryan Gruley is the critically acclaimed author of Starvation Lake: A Mystery, and the sequel, The Hanging Tree. His third Starvation Lake mystery, The Skeleton Box, was just published this week.

Starvation Lake was nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America, and won the Anthony, Barry, and Strand awards. The Hanging Tree was a #1 Indie Next pick and was named a Michigan Notable Book for 2011 and a Kirkus Reviews Best Mystery of 2010. It was also nominated for Barry and Anthony awards and has been optioned for a movie by writer-director John Gray.

Reviewers have compared Bryan to novelist Dennis Lehane. Secretly, though, Bryan would love to be compared favorably to Detroit Red Wings stars Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk. He’s been playing hockey since he was a boy growing up in Detroit, and still plays regularly at Johnny’s Ice House in Chicago. Hockey plays a role in the life of the fictional town of Starvation Lake, as do two of Bryan’s other passions, northern Michigan and newspapers.

He and his two brothers and three sisters have spent many weekends at their family cottage on Big Twin Lake in northern lower Michigan—not far from the real Starvation Lake. Bryan had his first newspaper job at the nearby Antrim County News in the summer of 1978.

Bryan is a reporter-at-large for Bloomberg News, writing long-form features for Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. He previously spent nearly sixteen years with The Wall Street Journal, where he shared in the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the September 11 terrorist attacks. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Pam. They have three grown children, Joel, Kaitlin and Danielle.

Ray Bradbury: R.I.P.

Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and the Martian Chronicles.. and a lot more, has died at the age of 91. So very sad. Ray Bradbury was an icon in the literary world. When I met him several years ago, I was in awe. He quickly led me into a discussion on mysteries and actually seemed to care what I was saying. I know I babbled. I've read just about everything he's written.

Not only was Ray Bradbury a great writer, but he was a great supporter of other writers, libraries, movies and human kind. He was an inspiration to so many. His writing was in so many different genre including horror, mystery, as well as science fiction and speculative fiction. He wrote 1000 words a day and sold his first story in 1941.

From the AP obituary:

“The great thing about my life is that everything I’ve done is a result of what I was when I was 12 or 13,” he said in 1982.

Bradbury’s family moved to Los Angeles in 1934. He became a movie buff and a voracious reader. “I never went to college, so I went to the library,” he explained.

He tried to write at least 1,000 words a day, and sold his first story in 1941. He submitted work to pulp magazines until he was finally accepted by such upscale publications as The New Yorker. Bradbury’s first book, a short story collection called “Dark Carnival,” was published in 1947.

He was so poor during those years that he didn’t have an office or even a telephone. “When the phone rang in the gas station right across the alley from our house, I’d run to answer it,” he said.

He wrote “Fahrenheit 451” at the UCLA library, on typewriters that rented for 10 cents a half hour. He said he carried a sack full of dimes to the library and completed the book in nine days, at a cost of $9.80.

Read the Washington Post Obit HERE.

Ray Bradbury had a wonderful essay in the New Yorker last week (June 4, 2012). Read it HERE.

Read a recent interview (although started in the 70s) with Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction in the Paris Review.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lambda Awards

The 24th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners were announced last night by the Lambda Literary Foundation in a gala ceremony in New York City.

There are 24 categories, but of most interest to mystery readers:

Best Gay Mystery: Red White Black and Blue by Richard Stevenson (MLR Press); and

Best Lesbian Mystery: Dying to Live by Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou (Bold Strokes Books).

Hat Tip: Omnimystery News

SWEDISH CRIME QUEEN: CARIN GERHARDSEN

Today I welcome Carin Gerhardsen, author of The Gingerbread House, that releases today. She has written the Hammarby series, crime novels that take place in the southern parts of Stockholm. This is the first in Gerhardsen’s series. This novel explores schoolyard bullying among young children and the effect it has on them when people look the other way. "Known for thrillers with taut, suspenseful plots and unexpected twists and turns, her novels linger in the reader’s mind long after the finish."

Swedish digital-first publisher, Stockholm Text, has published 4 popular and prolific Swedish writers. Available in paperback and e- book format, the following four Swedish novels are perfect reading for the summer: The Dead of Summer by Mari Jungstedt, Death of a Carpet Dealer by Karin Wahlberg, Killer's Island by Anna Jansson and The Gingerbread House by Carin Gerhardsen.

To win a paperback copy of The Gingerbread House, after you've read Carin's guest post, make a comment about why you'd like to read this novel. Be sure and leave your email address (ex: Jane  at  yahoo dot com), so I can contact the winner.

CARIN GERHARDSEN:

My name is Carin Gerhardsen, and I am the author of “The Hammarby Series”. I was born in 1962 and grew up in Katrineholm where the first book, The Gingerbread House, takes place. Educationally, I am a mathematician and now live in Stockholm with my husband and our two children. I made my literary debut twenty-years ago with the philosophical novel Escape from Time, but thereafter I abandoned my writing in favor of a career within IT consultancy. But my writing aspirations never left, and I decided to have one final go of it.

Since I’ve always loved reading crime novels and on top of that take a great interest in solving problems – mathematical problems, crosswords, Sudoku and all that – I decided to give crime a try. But - very importantly – without giving up my philosophical ambitions and literary quality claims. I asked myself what’s significant for a good crime novel and what ingredients from the point of view of content that applies to me specifically. And then I started writing, and just in case, I wrote three books in order to convince the intended publisher of my productivity.

Now I’m working on the sixth novel of the series. Right now the fourth and fifth novels are topping the bestselling charts of Sweden, which makes the hard work a lot easier. Naturally I am very happy about the success. An old dream I’ve nourished since I was a child has been fulfilled. But I blame myself that I didn’t take action before. If I hadn’t been so lazy I could have done it twenty-five years earlier.

The three things in all my crime novels that are most important to me are that they are thrilling, credible and captivating. By help of parallel stories and abrupt filmic cuts, I create thrill. By credibility I mean that the story must work all the way to the end. I’m allergic to crime novels that end up in a mess of improbability and emergency solutions. Like multiple personalities and identical twins for example… my starting point is that the same things captivate the reader and me. I am interested in the story of the individual, so I step inside all my characters, no matter whether they are main or minor characters, murderers or victims. Furthermore the best crime novels contain much more than the actual crime, which gives intellectual gratification, and it is also my aim to accomplish that bonus for the reader.

I figure that however I create my police team some people will criticize. In order not to be excessively politically correct and remove focus too much from the actual story, I create a credible team with a set of characters that I like to explore. I’m equally interested in the complexity of men and women myself, so to me the gender of a specific character is of less importance. I hope that goes for my readers as well, as long as the character in question is a human being of interest.

I was bored with the stigmatized crime novel inspector. I wanted my inspector to be like most people in my surroundings: nice, friendly and a good honest person without any drinking problems. All that without being a superhero of course, which I obviously find not so realistic. Same thing with the rest of the team. I prefer not to exaggerate their characteristics, which would misdirect the focus.

The Gingerbread House is a crime novel about evil and the consequences of a horrible childhood. About how disrespect from the people around you will ruin your self-confidence and your hopes for the future. As a child I was subjected to bullying and harassment, so the plot of The Gingerbread House came easy to me. Many of the scenes in the book are my own experiences. I wanted to explore how different people react differently in times of misfortune, how bad childhood experiences could form a human being. The Gingerbread House is a novel about how we all should take responsibility for the well-being of the people around us.

Finally I’d like to say that I’m very grateful that you are interested in my writing and me! I sincerely hope that you will enjoy my novels and love my characters. Keep on reading!