San Francisco knows how to throw a party! Yesterday's Pride Parade was the best ever. Almost half a million people turned out to participate, watch, and interact! What a great day! The variety of organizations, companies, politicos, and other groups was staggering. Apple must have had over 1000 marchers, waving rainbow flags, and interacting with the crowd. The Netflix float was awesome with 'stars' from some of my favorite Netflix originals. Starting at 10:30, the parade was still going at 4:30, and that didn't include the entertainment and 'party' at Civic Center which began at 1:30. I believe that lasted until the wee hours of the night.
Books were front and center at the Parade. The American Library Association was in town for its annual conference. What a weekend for it. Several members of ALA marched in the Pride Parade with posters of book covers celebrating gay themes.
Also marching was the SF Library Bookmobile, with its attendant librarians, friends, and placards.
And, in case you want to see a few other photos from the Parade, here are some snaps I took.
Patrick Macnee, star of the 1960s Avengers TV series, died yesterday at the age of 93.
Best known for playing John Steed in the 1960s television spy show,
died at home with his family at his bedside, his son Rupert said. Macnee, who served in the Royal Navy during World War Two, also played roles in theatre, appearing on Broadway.
Avengers co-star Dame Diana Rigg paid tribute, saying: "Patrick was a very dear man and I owe him a great deal". A statement on Mcnee's website read: "Wherever he went, he left behind a trove of memories."
Art Scott will present a slide show and talk on the Art of Robert E. McGinnes at the Livermore Civic Center Library on Sunday, August 23, at 2 p.m.
Art Scott, co-author with Robert E. McGinnis of The Art of Robert E. McGinnis, will discuss the works of painter Robert McGinnis, a master illustrator who created poster art for movies such as Breakfast at Tiffany's, seven of the James Bond films, the Odd Couple, and others. In addition, McGinnis is a legendary book cover artist, illustrator for major magazines, and a painter of landscapes, Western scenes, and beautiful women. His work appeared on Mike Shayne titles and the Perry Mason series, and he produced 100 paintings for the Carter Brown adventures. His work became famous in other genres, as well: espionage, romance, historicals, gothics and Westerns.
Livermore Civic Center Library, 1188 S Livermore Avenue, Livermore, CA
A new exhibition showing previously unseen photographs of British writer Agatha Christie is to open in London on August 26 and run through September 6. The event, at the Bankside Gallery in London, marks the 125th anniversary of the birth of the Queen of Crime.
This exhibition will feature rare photographs from the family’s personal
archive. The captivating images, displayed alongside first editions of
her most famous mysteries, convey humor, intelligence, travel and
adventure, and include moments with family, friends and canine
A portrait by painter Oscar Kokoschka, painted in 1969 for Christie's 80th birthday, will also be displayed. Read more HERE.
Sylvia Ulan, 77, died May 14, 2015. Sylvia was an avid reader and mystery fan. I enjoyed spending time with her and her daughter Deborah at Left Coast Crime. Sylvia was not at LCC this year due to her illness. Because she was an active member of our mystery community, and I thought I'd share the following obituary that appeared in several Phoenix area newspapers. Her high spirits, reading recommendations, and mystery and other literary contributions will be missed.
in the Bronx, N.Y., Sylvia Ulan was raised in Albany, N.Y. She graduated
from Oneonta Teachers College and taught elementary school in the Albany
school system for several years. She moved to Tucson to teach and
attended the University of Arizona to earn her master’s degree in
education. Mrs. Ulan also taught in Ray, AZ, a small rural mining
community in Pinal County that no longer exists. While attending the UA,
she met Leon Ulan and they married in 1962. Mrs. Ulan worked in the
family business as a licensed insurance agent, real estate broker,
office manager and bookkeeper. She was an active member of Temple
Emanu-El and was a member of its Sisterhood. She also volunteered with
the Girl Scouts, PTA and attended classes for a masters in Judaic
In 1981 the family moved to Scottsdale and she started her
involvement with the Phoenix chapter of the National Council of Jewish
Women, where she would serve in all capacities, including president. She
also volunteered with Women in Community Service, Church Women United
and Brandeis. When she moved back to Tucson, Mrs. Ulpan chaired the
first Tucson Brandeis book and author luncheon. Her community
involvement included political campaigns at all levels and advocating
for women’s rights and issues.
Mrs. Ulan was preceded in death by her husband, Leon. Survivors
include her children, Deborah (Todd Weinstein) Ulan and Paul (Gail)
Ulan, both of Phoenix; brothers Norman (Nancy) Berlat of Houston and
Irwin Berlat of Tucson; sister Sandy Brown of Oceanside, Calif; and four
Services were held in Phoenix with interment in the Temple Emanu-El section of Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson.
Memorial contributions may be made to National Council of Jewish Women, 1011 W. Las Palmaritas Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85021.
Father's Day. My father passed away 12 years ago, but I still think about him every
day. He encouraged and supported me throughout my various careers and
educational pursuits, and he always told me I could accomplish anything
and succeed in whatever I did.
My father was the ultimate reader. His idea of a good vacation was sitting in a chair, 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 now read more hardboiled,
darker mysteries. So many times when I finish a book, I say to myself, "I have to send this to Dad. He'll love it." My father
engendered my love of mysteries through his collection of mystery
novels and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines. I like to think he's up there somewhere in a chair surrounded by books and reading a good mystery.
Here's to you, Dad, on Father's Day!
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 missed any titles.
** And a very short list of Crime Fiction that focuses on Fathers and Sons. Perhaps this will be the theme of next year's Father's Day post. Have a favorite Father and Son Mystery? Post below in comments. FATHERS AND SONS and FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS in CRIME FICTION
His Father's Son by Tony Black Secret Father by James Carroll The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter Hot Plastic by Peter Craig The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron Lars and Little Olduvai by Keith Spencer Felton The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon King of Lies by John Hart The Good Father by Noah Hawley A Perfect Spy by John LeCarre To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Son by Jo Nesbo The Godfather by Mario Puzo The Roman Hat Mystery; other novels by Ellery Queen (Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay) Paperback Original by Will Rhode
Thanks to Craig Faustus Buck for sending links for all the nominated Macavity Award Short Stories. Here's a chance for you to to read all the stories and make an informed decision before submitting your ballot! The Macavity Awards are nominated by and voted on by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal, and friends and supporters of MRI.
Craig Faustus Buck: "Honeymoon Sweet" (Murder at the Beach: The Bouchercon Anthology 2014, edited by Dana Cameron; Down & Out) Barb Goffman: "The Shadow Knows" (Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley; Wildside Press) Paul D. Marks: "Howling at the Moon" (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2014) Travis Richardson: "The Proxy" (Thuglit #13, Sept./Oct. 2014) Art Taylor: "The Odds Are Against Us" (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2014)
Thanks everyone for permission to link the stories.
The Macavity Awards are nominated on and voted on by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal, and friends and supporters of MRI. The nominations below have been published in 2014. Awards will be presented at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, in Raleigh at the opening ceremonies in October. Congratulations to all.
Macavity Award Nominations 2015 (for works published in 2014)
Best Mystery Novel
The Lewis Man, by Peter May (Quercus)
The Last Death of Jack Harbin, by Terry Shames (Seventh Street)
The Killer Next Door, by Alex Marwood (Penguin)
The Day She Died, by Catriona McPherson (Midnight Ink)
The Missing Place, by Sophie Littlefield (Gallery)
The Long Way Home, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Best First Mystery Novel
Invisible City, by Julia Dahl (Minotaur)
The Black Hour, by Lori Rader-Day (Seventh Street)
Someone Else’s Skin, by Sarah Hilary (Penguin)
Dear Daughter, by Elizabeth Little (Viking)
Blessed Are the Dead, by Kristi Belcamino (Witness Impulse)
Dry Bones in the Valley, by Tom Bouman (W. W. Norton)
Best Mystery-Related Nonfiction
Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer's Journey, edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Henery Press)
The Figure of the Detective: A Literary History and Analysis, by Charles Brownson (McFarland)
Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe, by J. W. Ocker (Countryman)
400 Things Cops Know: Street Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman, by Adam Plantinga (Quill Driver)
Best Mystery Short Story
“Honeymoon Sweet” by Craig Faustus Buck, in Murder at the Beach: The Bouchercon Anthology 2014, edited by Dana Cameron (Down & Out)
“The Shadow Knows” by Barb Goffman, in Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Talley (Wildside)
“Howling at the Moon” by Paul D. Marks, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2014
“The Proxy” by Travis Richardson, in Thuglit #13, Sept./Oct. 2014.
“The Odds Are Against Us” by Art Taylor, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov. 2014
Sue Feder Memorial Award: Best Historical Mystery
Queen of Hearts, by Rhys Bowen (Berkley Prime Crime)
Present Darkness, by Malla Nunn (Atria)
A Deadly Measure of Brimstone, by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur)
An Officer and a Spy, by Robert Harris (Knopf)
Hunting Shadows, by Charles Todd (Wm. Morrow)
Things Half in Shadow, by Alan Finn (Gallery)
Join Mystery Readers NorCal on Wednesday, June 24, 7 p.m. in Berkeley. Post a comment below with your email address if you'd like to attend.
Brian Freeman is a bestselling author of psychological thrillers, including the Jonathan Stride and Cab Bolt series. Since 2005, he has sold books in 46 countries and 20 languages. His stand-alone novel Spilled Blood won the award for Best Hardcover Novel in the International Thriller Writers Awards, and his novel The Burying Place was a finalist for the same award.
His debut thriller, Immoral, won the Macavity Award and was a finalist for the Dagger, Edgar, Anthony, and Barry awards for Best First Novel. Immoral was also chosen as International Book of the Month by book clubs aournd the world and was a Main Selection in the Literary Guild and the Book of the Month Club.
In addition to his intense, character-driven thrillers, Freeman enjoyed success in a completely different genre with his romantic comedy-drama The Agency, which People Magazine described as 'entertaining...witty..a delight."
Brian lives in Minnesota with his wife, Marcia, and their three cats.
I've always wanted to have more cooking demos at mystery conventions. There have been a few, but in my mind not enough. I've often moderated the 'culinary crime' panels, and one year we handed out recipes with the poisonous ingredients mentioned as optional ingredients. In one of the Culinary Crime classes I taught, each week I prepared the foods mentioned in the book sans the poisonous ingredient.
Mystery Readers Journal has had 4 issues so far on Food Mysteries with another coming out this summer. The mystery genre is rampant with poisoned chocolates, lethal legumes, and murderous mushrooms. But clearly Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime, is also the Queen of Poisons. She was an apothecary during WWII and so many of her books revolve around poison. So it should not come as a surprise that this year's Agatha Christie Festival will host a cooking demo with a poisonous twist. French writer Anne Martinetti is going to recreate the recipes from Agatha Christie's books at part of the Agatha Christie Festival this September. What fun!
A unique cookery demonstration is to be held to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie, the Queen of Crime. It will be in Christie’s own Devon kitchen, and guests are advised to treat samples with extreme caution. The French writer Anne Martinetti will be recreating recipes from
Christie’s books, singling out those particularly suitable for
concealing poison as an extra ingredient. As any devotee of Miss Marple
or Hercule Poirot knows, the great detectives only have to show up for a
morning coffee, light luncheon or afternoon tea party for one of the
guests to topple over the table clutching their throat and turning blue. Martinetti will be speaking and cooking at Christie’s beloved holiday house, Greenway – the home she called “the most beautiful place in the world” – now in the care of the National Trust. The event is part of the Agatha Christie festival this September, held in and around Torquay where she was born on 15 September 1890. Food, not always lethal, figured heavily in Christie’s books and in
her real life. Festival director Anna Farthing recalled that Christie
often noted after social engagements that the company had been trying
but “the eating good”. An archive photograph shows Christie at work in
the rather grim kitchen of the beautiful Georgian house on the river
Dart, where her grandson Matthew still remembers delicious meals cooked
by Granny. Martinetti has carved out a unique niche in the overcrowded
coffee-table cookery books realm: criminal food. Her books, with
diabolically punning titles, include Alimentaire Mon Cher Watson!, of
Sherlock Holmes recipes, and her Agatha Christie volume, Cremes et
Chatiments, or Creams and Punishments. “I’m very excited and impressed to cook at the same place where
Agatha Christie was, especially when I see the photo of her with her
apron,” Martinetti said. “It will be a great experience for me, and I
hope that the soul (or maybe the ghost) of Dame Agatha will smell the
perfumes from the recipes and enjoy. “I
think I will share the cake called Delicious Death cooked in the novel A
Murder is Announced – it’s a fabulous chocolate cake. Maybe I will also
prepare fish butter, the weapon in Sad Cypress, and let people guess if
I have added strychnine.”
Here's a new one. I love to go to Mystery Conventions, but I can't get to them all, so here's an alternative for me...and for you.
BritCrime is a free online crime festival that will run for the first time in July 2015, as a result of a grassroots initiative instigated by author Helen Smith. The festival will have more forty crime authors.
Helen Smith explains, ‘and although we love attending festivals and enjoy meeting readers, it’s important to balance time spent at events with time spent writing. Festivals can also be expensive for readers, especially when travel and accommodation is factored in, so we founded BritCrime to provide free, accessible events that every reader can attend, wherever they live.’
BritCrime 2015 will take place July 11 to 13, 2015 and will feature live Q&A panel discussions hosted on Facebook, as well as informal ‘Meet us in the bar’ sessions for late night chat. The festival will provide updates from BritCrime authors attending New York’s ThrillerFest, as well as a look ahead to Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate the following week, where many BritCrime authors will be in attendance.
Content will be available on the BritCrime website and social media platforms, including giveaways, video sessions and interactive Google Hangouts. More than 500 people have already signed up to receive the festival mailing list, which offers the incentive of a Kindle Paperwhite giveaway for one lucky subscriber.
Edgar-winning author Alex Marwood was the first to sign up for BritCrime. ‘BritCrime is organised by authors, and it feels great to be in control of how the event goes. We’ve already reached more than 70,000 people via our online channels, and this is just the start of what we hope to achieve.’
BritCrime is a free online crime writing festival which takes place 11 to 13 July 2015.
Awards. Awards. Awards. So many. I still think awards help guide reading, so I'm an advocate. Awards also help authors by getting their good books noticed. So here's a new one for the books! I'd never heard of the Dead Good Reader Awards, but now that it's been explained by The Rap Sheet (and thanks for posting!)--that the creation of this new award was only announced in April by the crime fiction UK Web site Dead Good. There are six prizes in total, each “celebrating a unique element in crime writing” and in some cases a specific author who has gained renown in the genre. Winners are to be selected through online polling as well as by a vote among attendees at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, England, July 16-19.
The Dead Good Reader Awards Shortlist
The Dead Good Recommends Award for Most Recommended Book: •The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins (Transworld) •I Am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes (Transworld) •The Defence, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion) •I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh (Sphere) •The Lie, by C.L. Taylor (Avon) •No Other Darkness, by Sarah Hilary (Headline)
The Lee Child Award for Best Loner or Detective: • Cormoran Strike, created by Robert Galbraith (Little, Brown) • John Rebus, created by Ian Rankin (Orion) • Harry Hole, created by Jo Nesbø (Vintage) • Lacey Flint, created by Sharon Bolton (Transworld) • David Raker, created by Tim Weaver (Michael Joseph) • Vera Stanhope, created by Ann Cleeves (Pan Macmillan)
The Val McDermid Award for Fiendish Forensics: •Bones Are Forever, by Kathy Reichs (Cornerstone) •Die Again, by Tess Gerritsen (Transworld) •The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths (Quercus) •Flesh and Blood, by Patricia Cornwell (Harper) •Rubbernecker, by Belinda Bauer (Transworld) •Time of Death, by Mark Billingham (Sphere)
The Reichenbach Falls Award for Most Epic Ending: •The Defence, by Steve Cavanagh (Orion) •The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins (Transworld) •The Nightmare Place, by Steve Mosby (Orion) •I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh (Sphere) •Personal, by Lee Child (Transworld) •The Skeleton Road, by Val McDermid (Sphere)
The Dr. Lecter Award for Scariest Villain: •The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes (Harper) •Into the Darkest Corner, by Elizabeth Haynes (Myriad) •An Evil Mind, by Chris Carter (Simon & Schuster) •The Stand, by Stephen King (Hodder) • You Are Dead, by Peter James (Macmillan) •The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson (Quercus)
The Patricia Highsmith Award for Most Exotic Location: • Amsterdam, The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, by Marnie Riches (Maze) • Bardsey Island, The Bones Beneath, by Mark Billingham (Sphere) • Boston, The Kind Worth Killing, by Peter Swanson (Faber) • Greece, The Long Fall, by Julia Crouch (Headline) • Nepal, The Lie, by C.L. Taylor (Avon) • Oslo, Police, by Jo Nesbø (Vintage)
Given for the best mystery published during the prior calendar year
In Memory of David G. Sasher, Sr. Voting will take place during the Deadly Ink conference. The David Award will be presented at the Saturday Night Banquet. Congratulations to all!
by Jane Cleland
THE QUESTION OF THE MISSING HEAD
by E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE
by Annette Dashofy
DEATH AND WHITE DIAMONDS
by Jeff Markowitz
THE ROAR OF THE CROWD
by Janice MacDonald
THE OUTSMARTING OF CRIMINALS
by Steven Rigolosi
Mystery-Thriller Saturday: An Afternoon of Chaos, Killing, Crime, and Kidnapping @Kepler’s
Event date: Saturday, June 27, 2015 - 1:00pm to 5:00pm
Event address: 1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA94025-4349
Saturday, June 27, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Sponsored by Peninsula Arts & Letters, Kepler’s
Books, Mystery Writers of America (NorCal Chapter) and Sisters in Crime
1:00 p.m.: Face-off -- Plotters Versus Pantsers
Do you outline before you start writing your book or do you just plunge in and write by the seat of your pants?
Outliners Paul Draker and Steve Hockensmith will face off against Cara Black and Catriona McPherson in crime fictions’s version of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. This panel will be refereed (or moderated) by Me.
2:30 p.m. - It's Not Me, Babe
Writing about a character way different than you
Can you successfully walk in someone else’s shoes? David Corbett, Seth Harwood, Terry Shames, and Laurie R. King
will discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of writing characters who are
very different to themselves. This panel will be moderated by Kepler's
favorite Keith Raffel.
4:00 p.m. - Mystery Trivia
Join us in teams of two to four and put
your knowledge of mysteries to the test! There will be prizes. There
will be snacks. There will be much raucous laughter. There might even be
Click HERE to find out more about the mystery/thriller writers who are participating. And don't forget to order your tickets HERE.
The Wolfe Pack announced
the finalists for the 2015 Nero Award. This prize is presented
annually “for the best American mystery written in the tradition of Rex
Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories.” Congratulations to all!
• Herbie’s Game by Timothy Hallinan (Soho Press) •The Detective & the Pipe Girl by Michael Craven (HarperCollins) •First Light by Al Lamanda (Five Star) •The Detective by James Patrick Hunt (Cengage Gale) •Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon (Crown)
Winner will be announced at the Black Orchid Banquet in New York in December.
If you know me or read my blog, you know I don't like using books in art--defacing books, that is. However, sometimes books are just no longer readable--or they're full of mildew and bugs..or they're in the dumpster and can't be salvaged. Then, I guess I give using them in art a pass. Last weekend at the Bay Book Festival, I saw these two art works in a booth! I am so sorry that I didn't take the name of the artist. These were my favorites.
Mapback Monday: Jack Iams' What Rhymes with Murder? "When a lusty Lothario sings his serenade, romance rhymes with death!"
I love these Dell Mapbacks, don't you? This is #631. And, the price can't be beat! 25 cents!
From the 1950 Kirkus Review: City Editor Rockwell and his hard to woo and win Jane (of Do Not Murder
Before Christmas) are again confronted by bodies when the Record is
threatened by the new, mobminded owner of the Eagle and one of its
imported gunsels killed. The murder of a radical, lecherous poet puts
Rockwell hors de combat, endangers Jane and it is the Record's society
editor Debbie who unmasks a jealous villain while Rockwell untangles the
mobster's death. Two solutions to double-deading in a light touch,
lover interest mystery.
The Hollow Girl by Reed Farrel Coleman The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith Toyko Kill by Barry Lancet Hounded by David Rosenfelt Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon
Best First P.I. Novel
Invisible City by Julia Dahl Bad Country by C.B. McKenzie Last of the Independents by Sam Wiebe Wink of an Eye by Lynn Chandler Willis City of Brick and Shadow by Tim Wirkus
Best Original Paperback P.I. Novel
The Detective and the Pipe Girl by Michael Craven Beauty With A Bomb by M.C.Grant Critical Damage by Robert K. Lewis Street Justice by Kris Nelscott Moonlight Weeps by Vincent Zandri
Best P.I. Short Story
“Clear Recent History” by Gon Ben Ari in Tel Aviv Noir
"The Ehrengraf Fandango " by Lawrence Block in Defender of the Innocent
“Fear Is The Best Keeper of Secrets ” by Vali Khalili in Tehran Noir
“Mei Kwei, I Love You” by Suchen Christine Lim in Singapore Noir
“Busting Red Heads” by Richard Helms in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
Best Indie P.I. Novel
The Shadow Broker by Trace Conger Nobody’s Child by Libby Fischer Hellmann Played To Death by BV Lawson The Kids Are All Right by Steve Liskow Get Busy Dying by Ben Rehder
Gay Mystery: Blackmail, My Love by Katie Gilmartin (Cleis Press)
Boystown 6: From the Ashes by Marshall Thornton (MLR)
Calvin’s Head by David Swatling (Bold Strokes)
DeadFall by David Lennon (BlueSpike)
Fair Game by Josh Lanyon (Carina Press)
A Gathering Storm by Jameson Currier (Chelsea Station)
Moon Over Tangier by Janice Law (Open Road)
The Next by Rafe Haze (Wilde City Press)
Lesbian Mystery: The Old Deep and Dark by Ellen Hart (Minotaur)
The Acquittal by Anne Laughlin (Bold Strokes)
Done to Death by Charles Atkins (Severn House)
Slash and Burn by Valerie Bronwen (Bold Strokes)
UnCatholic Conduct by Stevie Mikayne (Bold Strokes)
Today I welcome Lori Roy. Lori is the author of the Best First Novel Edgar Award for Bent Road. It was also named a New York Times Notable Crime Book, and named a 2012 notable book by the state of Kansas. Her second mystery, Until She Comes Home, was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Her third novel, Let Me Die in His Footsteps, launches today! Lori Roy lives with her family in west central Florida.
Lori Roy: What's in a Title
It’s August 12th, 2014, midmorning on a Tuesday. Here in Florida, I have my most recent novel up on my computer screen. Denise Roy, Dutton Senior Editor, has the same pulled up in her New York office. Looking for phrases that might inspire a title, we’re paging through the text together. Some of our ideas are too familiar. Others, too forgettable. Yet others have been used too recently or too frequently. Today is the day we must, absolutely must, decide on a title for my third novel. Our deadline is noon.
Titles are tricky business. Many theories exist as to what makes a good title. There’s even a website that will quantify a title’s chances of becoming a bestseller. As to my own theory, I’m searching for those perfect few words that will intrigue a reader as her eyes scan the bookshelves of her favorite bookstore, and that will further offer insight once she has read the book.
By late morning, I have filled a page in my spiral notebook with ideas. Denise and I decide to hang up and work separately to see what new possibilities we might shake loose. I stare down on my list and let out a sigh. A few are of the titles are intriguing but not necessarily insightful. I would call them trite. Others are insightful but not intriguing. These, I would call befuddling. I continue scanning the manuscript for the one perfect phrase that will capture the heart of my 95.000 word novel, and approximately 45 minutes before our deadline, I receive an email from Denise. While googling a phrase from the book, she stumbled upon a Bob Dylan song titled LET ME DIE IN MY FOOTSTEPS. What do you think of this direction, she asks.
I click on the link Denise has included in her email and listen to the song. I google the lyrics and read along as I listen yet again. I go so far as to sing along. The noon deadline is nearly upon us. I email Denise back to tell her I like this direction. I like it a lot. And as I wait to hear if the new title has been accepted, I do some research.
The song was written during the Vietnam War Era, and there are various theories as to its intended meaning. While I won’t speculate as to Mr. Dylan’s intentions, I hear a song that cautions against allowing the weight of fear or judgment to put us in a figurative grave long before we are put in a literal grave. At the heart of my third novel, which we are trying desperately to title, is a community that allows itself to be guided by such fear. The people of the small, fictional town choose to sacrifice another in order to ease their own fears and recapture hope for better times. The consequences of their actions are disastrous and deadly. Alternatively, there is one character in the novel who doesn’t succumb to fear and demonstrates the courage to seek a better life. While this character does not appear often in the novel, he is among the most significant. Given his important role, Denise and I decide to make a slight change to Mr. Dylan’s title—choosing to use ‘his footsteps’ instead of ‘my footsteps.’ Intriguing and insightful. It meets both of my tests.
A few days later, I see a tweet that references this new title. Yes, Denise confirms, it’s official. The title of my third novel, out today, June 2, 2015 is LET ME DIE IN HIS FOOTSTEPS.