“Preparing for the Audience” (by Michael Haskins)

A former journalist, Michael Haskins began his fiction-writing career in the pages of EQMM’s 2007 March/April double issue, with the Department of First Stories tale “Murder in Key West.” The central character of that story, Key West journalist Mick Murphy, was soon to star in the author’s first novel. He has since reappeared in eight more books, including one to be released March first, entitled Mick Murphy’s Law. He was also featured in the Shamus-nominated story “Vampire Slayer Murdered in Key West” (EQMM September/October 2011) and in the story “Hemingway’s Typewriter,” in this year’s January issue. The author has created in Mick a character with many parallels to himself. Both know the Florida Keys well; it has been Michael’s home for over a decade, and in addition to having served as information officer for the city of Key West, Michael recently became one of the organizers of the Mystery Writers Key West Fest. In such roles, he’s had to learn how to meet the public, and he shares some of his insights on public speaking here.  —Janet Hutchings

I’ve been asked to speak to the Friends of the Library in Marathon, one of the islands that make up the Florida Keys this month. It’s a great opportunity for a writer. Most of us are homebound, as we write alone, and some even shy when it comes to speaking in public.

Today, as the publishing world changes and the writer’s role expands, we must be willing and able to meet the public and entertain them with stories and backgrounds of our characters and ourselves.

Most of the audiences I’ve encountered consider my books, the characters in them, and me to be one. If they walk away bored, they won’t buy your book. If you’re able to entertain the audience with anecdotes that make them feel they’ve gotten an insight into you, your book, and your characters, they are more likely to buy and enjoy your book.

A little humor goes a long way in relaxing those listening, and it doesn’t hurt the writer to see people laughing with him or her instead of at. The humor should be personal. I like to work in an ex-wife story about using some of the ex’s uniqueness in one or more of my characters. Mentioning how upset she’d be knowing that she helped me create a character that’s loved/hated usually gets a laugh from the guys in the audience and snickers from the women.

The audience is there to listen and ask questions, so ask them questions too. Ask for a raise of hands of those who read fiction and then nonfiction, and you can always ask who’s there because they tagged along with someone. Get those people listening and you’ve captured the whole audience. Thank those who got dragged along for not falling asleep when you’re done. If you get a laugh, you’ve done well.

Set the scene with humor and the audience likes you. They not only like you, but many of the faces staring back at you will want to be you. Of course, by you I mean a writer. I often tell my son when he complains about the “trolley” full of tourists slowing traffic in Key West, that those people envy you, want to be you because they think that you live in paradise.

It’s not much different from how the public sees writers. One book or ten books, a writer is a writer and the public has its expectations. If they only knew the reality of a writer’s life!

How do you make it easy to stand in front of people at a book signing or a library gathering? If you have a simple answer, please let me know. It’s work, and today a necessary part of being a writer.

I have learned from standing in front of an audience wishing I’d checked to see if I spilt something on my shirt at lunch some things I’d call universal.

First, eat lunch afterward!

Second, there are stock questions you can expect and plan for. Have that humor set aside and waiting as soon as the question is asked.

This happens to every writer, I don’t care who you are. You’re at a party, a book signing, or library talk, someone is going to tell you they have a great idea for a story, but not the time to write it, so how about teaming up. Be gentle, be kind, but remind them that if they write one page a day for a year, they’ll have a 365 page book. One page!

But there are fun questions too! Here are some I seem to be asked at talks and book signings, and my answers.

Q: What made you want to be a writer? A: Murdering my ex-wife (women writers, feel free to change this to ex-husband) would get me jail time, as a writer I can kill her/him repeatedly and get paid for it. Smile as you say this.

Q: Where do you get your ideas? (It’s always good to tell the public occasionally “That’s a good questions.”) A: I get ideas from the short sidebar newspaper articles I read. They’re usually about the unusual and often go along with the “what if” theory of writing. Most people miss these stories, so when your book or short story is published, people wonder how you got that idea.

Q: What’s your writing schedule like? A: My answer today is different from what it was when I also worked at a steady job. I mention how I used to be up at 5 A.M. and write for an hour or two and then go to work. Today, I tell them, it’s up at 6 A.M. and I’m at work; I write longer because I am working at home.

Q: What’s your writing day like? A: I always begin with something about how what works for one may not work for another, so try to find the time/place/system that works for you. Me, I tell them, I write daily—Monday through Friday—and those days writing are more than sitting at the laptop. Writers write themselves into dead-end corridors all the time. Our characters take on a life of their own and don’t care what we had planned for them. How do I handle it? I wander around the house, talking (arguing) with my imaginary friends. I live in a stilt house (eight feet above the flood level is the law in the Florida Keys) so I often go downstairs, under the house that we’ve set up as another room for entertaining, maybe smoke a cigar and think. My wife calls it goofing off, but to my imaginary friends and me it’s as much a part of my writing process as the keyboard and editing. Giving a little personal information can endear you to your audience and they walk away thinking of you as a friend.

You have to find your comfort zone when meeting the public. You are serious about writing but you see the humor in your life. I found that the audience wants to find a similarity between us. They want to relate, and you should help them with your anecdotes.

Prepare. List items you want to talk about on an index card. Rehearse your talk, your humor in front of a mirror, with your significant other (I avoid my children, they are much too scary as an audience). Know what you want to say, in general. Choose a short chapter from your book to read and then go to the Q&A and have fun. If there’s a back story to the chapter you’ve read, give it to them before the Q&A. It’s another personal touch the audience takes home with them. If you are enjoying your time with them, they will enjoy their time with you.

What’s that get you? A good afternoon or evening, a growing fan base of readers, and you’ll be a little more relaxed the next time you get to stand up and introduce yourself. Lunch or dinner can follow as a celebration ritual.

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“Murder Most Entertaining” (by Lucy Ribchester)

Although she has had a number of stories in other periodicals, Edinburgh native Lucy Ribchester makes her EQMM debut in our March/April 2015 issue (currently on sale). Earlier this year, her first novel, The Hourglass Factory (Simon & Schuster, U.K.) was released to critical praise. The book is set in London in 1912, at the time of the suffragette movement, and it’s in the classical tradition she discusses here. —Janet Hutchings 

When I first heard the phrase “cosy crime” I thought it sounded like an oxymoron. No matter how twee the community in which the crime is committed, from St. Mary Mead to Midsomer, surely murder is murder. There is nothing innocuous or cockle-warming about being stabbed, strangled, or poisoned to a painful death.

Nevertheless it’s a subgenre that continues to enchant us the world over—upstanding, tea-drinking, God-fearing communities with all sorts of sinister secrets at their hearts, leading to violent demises of vicars and grand dames. Whatever it is about it there is no doubt we want to read about murder in a light, safe and entertaining way. When I sat down to write my first novel, The Hourglass Factory, although I didn’t necessarily want to write something too cosy, I was suddenly faced with the dilemma that must confront every crime writer from hardboiled P.I. creators to psychological chroniclers: How (and why) do you transform something as abhorrent as murder into entertainment?

Ignoring the argument that crime fiction puts an important squeeze on its fictional societies, forcing them to reveal their fault lines and true colours (because while I do believe that is true of many writers, that isn’t my goal when I sit down to write), there is the plain and simple problem of describing death in a way that keeps the reader hooked, while showing enough respect for the victim. How do you judge how much empathy we should have for them? How to judge the correct amount of horror to sit between thrilling writing and salaciousness?

I found that precedent helped. When trying to emulate your heroes you don’t stop to think too much about why they made their decisions—just paying attention to the tone of their descriptions and how they use murder in their plots is enough at first, like a sketcher trying to trace the shape of an existing drawing. Agatha Christie described her books as “puzzles,” Dan Brown has called his “treasure hunts.” Seeing the murders for their functionality in fiction rather than for the devastation of their real-life counterparts helps to create distance from the horror of what you are setting out to do.

Christie also was a master at choosing an odious victim—someone the reader is invited to hate (along with everyone else in the book). Brown’s and Jed Rubenfeld’s murders tend to happen to peripheral characters we don’t get to know very well. If the murder of someone we dislike or have not invested much in serves to take us on a symbolic journey that brings the world’s forces back into alignment by the end, then they have served as a sort of stand-in sacrificial lamb in the land of the book.

But when it comes to description, having a horror for what you are writing probably helps. Assuming your reader is a reasonable human being, there shouldn’t be the need to spoon-feed to them that what they are reading is repugnant. Christie favoured blood-lite deaths; poisoned darts, lethal injections, single gunshot wounds from small pistols. John Dickson Carr and Conan Doyle focussed on the intricacy and ingenuity of the deaths to draw attention away from their violence. But in novels where gore takes the fore, such as Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter books, the author depends on our repugnance—plays to it in fact—to take us to the edge of our terror thresholds, the very limits of our tolerance.

But although that sorts out some of the how, there is still the why. Why is crime fiction entertaining? I’m still not quite sure, but I know that as a reader, film-lover, and writer I’m glad it exists. I’ve always hated rollercoasters. The idea of being plunged upside down or thrown around, disorientated, discombobulated, hurt and dizzied has never held much appeal for me. Yet still theme parks continue to be a staple family pastime: a symbol of wholesome fun. Despite the discomfort of the ride it takes us out of everyday sensations, allows us for a few minutes to feel something extraordinary. Similarly crime fiction allows us to peep behind the curtain of things not usually seen or discussed, aspects of life that hopefully most of us will never confront in the real world—but which still exist.

Hitchcock once said that he was a very easily frightened person, and this he described as his “good luck in life. I’m fortunate to be a coward, to have a low threshold of fear, because a hero couldn’t make a good suspense film.” He advocated turning this fear outward, perhaps recognising how much he enjoyed being frightened: “You should make the audience suffer as much as possible.”

Perhaps at the end of the day entertainment isn’t always meant to be pleasant or pleasurable. We want to stretch the peripheries of the body and mind in all directions, not just the happy ones.

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“Saved by Ellery Queen” (by Russell Atwood)

When I first came to EQMM in June of 1991, editor-in-chief Eleanor Sullivan was no longer able to work due to illness and the magazine was being run by Russell Atwood, EQMM’s managing editor. Russell was anxious to get on to other things in his life, especially his own writing, but he stayed at the magazine for an extra couple of months so that I could learn the ropes before having to find a replacement for him. I’ve never forgotten the generosity of his staying on—but that’s the kind of person he is. His decision to go freelance and thereby make more time for his own writing paid off. Five years later, he appeared in EQMM’s Department of First Stories with “East of A” (June 1996), which subsequently was expanded into his first novel, of the same title, published by Ballantine/Fawcett. Payton Sherwood, the protagonist of that highly praised debut novel, appeared again in Losers Live Longer, from Hard Case Crime, and Russell tells us he is currently working on a third book in the series, Cheaters Never Quit. He has also produced numerous live-action shows, including Ghost Stories Live! and the Nickie, Jameson, and Fred Show, all of which are available for viewing on YouTube under his production name SidMartyLovecraft.—Janet Hutchings

I met Ellery Queen when I was fourteen years old, in January of 1979 at the dinner celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the first Ellery Queen novel, The Roman Hat Mystery. At the time my family lived in Massachusetts, far from Manhattan, but I’d read about the event in Chris Steinbrunner’s Jury Box pages of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. I badgered my father into taking me to New York City to attend this event (it would be my Christmas and birthday presents! I pleaded). My dad wasn’t a fan of mysteries himself—or even much of a reader; his limited selection of books consisted of Ted Williams’s autobiography and a coin-collector guide—but he took me anyway, God love him.

I’d become a fan of Ellery Queen watching the NBC series that starred Jim Hutton and David Wayne. It only ran for one season, produced by the creators of Columbo, Richard Levinson and William Link (themselves alumni of EQMM, having had their first fiction published in the magazine), but I believe from the very first I was won over by the moment when Hutton turned to face the camera and obliterated the fourth wall to present his famous challenge to the viewer: “Well, I now know who the killer is. . . . Do you? All the clues have been revealed.” I’d been brought up on TV, like most people of my generation, but this was the first time a television character had literally spoken directly to me (or at least that’s how it felt to me—lying on the living room floor with my chin propped up in the palm of my hands—he was talking to me alone).

My fascination with the “detective,” to begin with, probably stems from the fact that I was once falsely accused of a crime I didn’t commit. Or don’t believe I committed; I was only six years old at the time. During a pool party at my parents’ home in 1969, my mother’s diamond engagement ring went missing. She’d taken it off and left it on the kitchen sink’s drainboard while rinsing out some glasses and plates. About twenty-five friends and family were in attendance. It was late—about 9:30 P.M.—but I’d come down in my PJ’s to investigate the frolicking. I remember none of this myself, but it’s how the story goes: The ring was suddenly gone and I was accused of taking it (even now, I wouldn’t put it past me, I still love shiny objects). To this day, it has never resurfaced, but a family legend grew from it that I was the one responsible.

I never shook the mixed feeling of guilt and affront; for decades all I desired was just to know the truth. Even before I knew what a detective was, I wished one had been there: a Holmes, a Poirot, an Ellery Queen, someone to set the record straight. I’m only guessing now, but I believe that’s where my affinity with the amateur sleuth was born. Certainly after my first viewing of The Hound of the Baskervilles, starring Basil Rathbone, when I was ten, the detective became my hero for life. If only HE’D been there that night, I would not have been unjustly branded a thief for ever after.

I tried to be Holmes for many years after that, but I learned I had neither a feel for the violin or a knack with chemistry. I felt defeated. I’d never be Holmes. But then one night, I met Ellery Queen (not in person yet, but on the TV screen). He was a regular guy. Absent-minded, clumsy, unkempt, shirt untucked, and . . . a dreamer. He was me. So from then on, I was determined to become HIM.

I wanted to solve crimes just like he did every week. And I wanted unjustly accused people to come to me for help in proving their innocence. But in order for that to happen, I first had to write (and publish) detective stories Or else how would people know I was good at solving them? (Quick reminder: I was twelve-years-old. . . . It made sense then).

My first murder mystery involved a dying clue. A man was found shot in his library, limbs draped on the library ladder, his lifeless hand gripping a hardcover book. The house was surrounded by newly fallen snow, only the five inhabitants could’ve committed the crime. All family members. Wife, brother, brother-in-law, sister, and grandmother. The book he’d clutched with his last bit of life was: THE BASIC GUIDE TO ENGLISH GRAMMAR.

Well, of course, you can guess who the killer was once I tell you that on the spine of the book the last gilt letter was faded so the dying man saw the word: Gramma. He’d foolishly hinted to the old woman that he was planning on sending her to a nursing home, and she rebelled and shot him through the heart.

I submitted this story to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and—naturally—it was rejected (I was a first-time teenager). But in seclusion, with concentration, aided by determination, I finished it.

And so about this time, I met my hero face-to-face. Frederic Dannay, who with his cousin Manfred B. Lee, created the character I had chosen to emulate: ELLERY QUEEN. He wasn’t the six-foot, four-inch Jim Hutton from the series. He was closer to the diminutive David Wayne who played Ellery’s father, Inspector Richard Queen. A brown-and-gray-bearded garden gnome with black horn-rimmed glasses. But he WAS Ellery Queen.

The speech he gave that night was all about his love of the genre. He and Manfred B. Lee had begun writing artfully crafted “whodunits,” but they witnessed the change that soon came to pass, and Fred Dannay—as editor of EQMM—bolstered and helped to advance writers who took the genre beyond the “guess-who’s-the-killer” formula.

Fred and Manny had begun writing Ellery Queen novels to mimic S. S. Van Dine’s Philo Vance books (The Canary Murder Case, The Bishop Murder Case, The Kennel Murder Case, etc.). But they lifted their heads and discovered there was so much more to be told in this field of writing. They became dissatisfied with the whodunit—but not with the puzzle. They realized the puzzle wasn’t merely solved by discovering who, but also how, and much more importantly why.

I only spoke with Fred Dannay for a short time that night in 1979, but that brief encounter has served me well ever since. For one thing: He was happy. He wasn’t six-foot, four-inch Jim Hutton in stature, but he was the man behind that character who had fooled so many die-hard fans with his play-fair puzzles.

Photo courtesy of Russell Atwood.

That night I also met the mutton-chopped sci-fi great (and also frequent contributor to EQMM) Isaac Asimov, who gave me the advice that writing was like having a hole in your head: “The more you pour out, the wider it gets and the easier it is to write. But as the hole grows smaller from less output . . .”

As I matured, my interest in mysteries waned, but my love of writing increased. In college I concentrated more on James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, Stanley Elkin, and Wallace Stevens. I thought I’d become a “literary” novelist when I moved to New York City after graduating with a B.A. in Literature. But of all the magazines and publishers I submitted resumes to, the only return phone call I received was from Eleanor Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. After a brief interview I was hired as her editorial assistant, a position I held for three years until her death. During my term as an editor at the magazine, I encountered again Isaac Asimov, who came once a month to oversee the editing of the magazine bearing his name—also in the same offices at that time. And best of all became friends with one of my favorite authors from the pages of EQMM, Edward D. Hoch, a man who delighted in the craft of confounding and puzzling people with problems in deduction, a soul-mate who is still greatly missed. It was also at this time, I met a young man—barely out of high school—who on the surface was a prototypical nerd, but who shared the same love of the bizarre and mysterious as I did when I was his age. Phew! Fortunately we became friends, because afterward Charles Ardai ended up as the publisher of my second novel LOSERS LIVE LONGER, under his imprint Hard Case Crime.

I’ll end this all by saying, there was a moment while I was Eleanor Sullivan’s assistant when I confronted her and challenged her judgment on some story, and blatantly asked her: “Well, why did you hire me if you didn’t think I was a good editor???”

She said, “Russell, the only reason I hired you was because you met Fred Dannay when you were fourteen.”

It humbled me, but also made me feel great. Ellery Queen had saved me after all.

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“A Brash Idea Becomes a Publishing Company” (by Lee Goldberg)

Lee Goldberg was already a well-known TV writer and producer and the author of two novels under his own name before he first appeared in EQMM in 2001. But that EQMM debut was also his start as a short-story writer. Since then he has had more than a half-dozen other stories in EQMM, most of them featuring the characters from the Monk TV series. Those stories were later incorporated into novels the bestselling author wrote for several years as tie-ins to the TV series. Lee Goldberg’s work has been recognized in the field with two Edgar Allan Poe Award nominations and two Shamus Award nominations. To date he has authored over thirty novels, including the Fox and O’Hare series, which he co-writes with Janet Evanovich. As if that were not already a very long list of accomplishments in our field, he has recently gone over to the other side of the desk, so to speak, and become the co-founder of his own publishing company. It’s a venture I’m sure many, like me, are watching with high expectations.—Janet Hutchings
Lee Goldberg

Lee Goldberg

All mystery writers have them—the cherished, often underappreciated, out-of-print books that we loved and that shaped us as writers. They are the books that made an impression on me in my teenage and college years and still feel new and vital to me today. They are the books that I talk about to friends, thrust into the hands of aspiring writers, and that I wish I’d written. They are the yellowed, forgotten paperbacks I keep buying out of pure devotion whenever I see them in used bookstores . . . even though I have more copies than I’ll ever need.

I’ve been at this long enough that many of my own books have fallen out of print, too. But I brought them back in new, self-published Kindle and paperback editions and, to my surprise and delight, they sold extremely well. It occurred to me that if I could do it for my books, why couldn’t I do the same thing for all those forgotten books that I love?

So, a little over a year ago, I started negotiating with the estate of an obscure author whose books I greatly admire but that never achieved the wide readership and acclaim that they deserved. I was in the midst of those talks when, at a Bouchercon in Albany, I told Joel Goldman, a good friend, mystery writer, lawyer, and a successful self-publisher of his own backlist, what I had in mind.

Joel got this funny look on his face and said, “That’s a business model. I really think we’re on to something.”


It turned out that, like me, he’d been getting hit up constantly at the conference by author-friends who were desperate for his advice on how they could replicate his self-publishing success with their own out-of-print books . . . many of which had won wide acclaim and even the biggest awards in our genre. He’d been trying to think of a way he could help them out.

Now he thought he had the solution. What if we combined the two ideas? What if we republished the books that we’d loved for years as well as truly exceptional books that only recently fell out of print?

It sounded great to me. And at that moment, without any prior intent, we became publishers of what we considered to be the best crime novels in existence. It was a brash act . . . and that’s how, as naturally as we became publishers, we found our company name.

Brash Books.

One of the first calls I made was to Tom Kakonis, whose books were a big influence on me, to ask if we could republish his out-of-print titles. His thrillers, including Michigan Roll and Criss Cross, achieved that perfect, delicate balance between drama and dark, almost outrageous humor, without going too far in either direction. It’s a skill that Elmore Leonard and Tom mastered, and that I’d hoped to some day be able to pull off myself. (I’m still trying.) I read Tom’s books the first time for pure pleasure but then again . . . and again . . . to see if I could discover how the magic was done.

In the mid 90s, I sold my first hardcover novel under my own name, My Gun Has Bullets, to St. Martin’s Press and went to a Bouchercon with a bunch of bound galleys in my bag. I spotted Tom there and nervously approached him for a blurb . . . and to my astonishment, he not only agreed to read my galley, but a few weeks later, he gave me a great review.  Getting that blurb was almost as exciting for me as being published in the first place.

I’d never forgotten that experience. Or him. So naturally he was at the top of my call-list when we started this venture. And this time, he thrilled me again by saying yes to letting us republish his books. He also mentioned that he had a novel that he wrote some years ago, but had stuck in a drawer because he’d been so badly burned by the publishing business. I asked if I could read it . . . and he sent it to me. I was blown away by it and so was Joel. We couldn’t believe that a book this good, that was every bit as great as his most acclaimed work, had gone unpublished. It was a gift for us to be able to publish it. And that’s how, unintentionally, we decided to publish brand new books, too.

Tom’s unpublished novel, Treasure Coast, became our lead title when we launched in September 2014 with thirty books . . . from authors as diverse as Barbara Neely, Dick Lochte, Gar Anthony Haywood, Dallas Murphy, Maxine O’Callaghan, Bill Crider, and Jack Lynch, to name just a few. Now we’re on track to publish eight to ten novels each quarter, one or two of which will be brand new, never-before-published books.

It’s a business that’s very much a labor of love for us both. We get a bigger thrill now out of seeing new copies of our authors’ books than we do our own. The widow of one of our authors got teary-eyed over Brash’s editions of his out-of-print books because we were treating them the way he’d always wanted. We got tears in our eyes, too. We started Brash Books for moments like that and for Tom’s dedication in Treasure Coast:

“For Lee Goldberg, who may have rescued me.”

For me, that was coming full circle. I may have rescued him, but the example he set with his books helped launch my career . . . and now a publishing company, too.

Our goal with Brash Books is to introduce readers, and perhaps future writers, to great books that shouldn’t be forgotten and to incredible new crime novels that we hope will be cherished in the future.

And yet, to our frustration, our list still doesn’t include any books by that obscure, deceased author who brought Joel and I together in this brash publishing adventure. We’re still negotiating with that author’s estate. But we’re not giving up. I love those books too much to let go. I just bought two more of them at a flea market today. . . .

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These days I’m not much of a traveler; it generally takes a business commitment to get me to leave home. It’s not that I don’t like being in new—and even exotic—places. I do. It’s just that getting there is no longer any fun at all. The romance has all but gone out of the transit part of travel.

A few years ago I saw David Suchet as Poirot in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. How wonderfully it recreates the sense of adventure I used to associate with trains. In it, the director of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits says to Hercule Poirot that a train “lends itself to romance, my friend. All around us are people, of all classes, of all nationalities, of all ages. For three days, these people, these strangers to one another, are brought together. They sleep and eat under one roof, they cannot get away from each other. At the end of three days they part, they go their separate ways, never, perhaps, to see each other again.”

Of course, that train ride of Poirot’s was supposed to have taken place in the 1930s. But for at least a couple of decades after that, travel, especially aboard trains and ships, continued to have an aura of romance: people dressed for a trip if it involved a public conveyance, even a bus, let alone luxurious transport like the Orient Express. For most people, the journey was considered an event, not simply a means of getting from A to B. I saw a remnant of that about a decade ago when I took an overnight train from New York to Georgia. In my car there happened to be a number of elderly African-Americans, all dressed rather formally compared to the younger travelers in the car, and all conveying, by the courtesy of their gestures and remarks, a sense of pleasure in and attentiveness to their fellow passengers and the journey itself. You could imagine such a group forming the cast in a Golden Age mystery.

“Romance” in the wide sense in which Christie uses it in that passage from Murder on the Orient Express is a key component in many mysteries. The sense of possibility that comes from the newness of people, situations, and places can be, in itself, an engine for suspense. The reader comes to such a story expecting something unusual to happen, and maybe that makes the suspense writer’s job just a little bit easier. I think my interest in travel mysteries has to do with there being so few opportunities to find that kind of romance in the real world anymore. Most real-world travelers these days are hooked up to smart phones or tablets, or in some other way shut off in their own self-contained worlds, rather than attuned to the people around them—and to be honest, I’m no exception.

My trip to Long Beach in November, for the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention, served to remind me, however, that there’s sometimes a bit of intrigue and magic to be found even in contemporary travel.

Long Beach, I discovered, is the current home of the Queen Mary, one of the greatest of the transatlantic passenger ships of the nineteen thirties through the sixties. She’s slightly dilapidated now, as I discovered in my very brief visit aboard her, though she’s currently operated as a hotel and museum. But even though the ship could use a bit of sprucing up, there’s no way to miss how glamorous it must have been to take passage on her. Her size alone was enough to inspire my awe. Add to all of that that the ship is reputed to be haunted—ghost tours are one of the attractions—and you’ve got a perfect setting for a story of mystery, intrigue, or the supernatural. And in fact, in the ship’s heyday, several mystery writers incorporated this classic passenger ship into their fiction. Perhaps the most notable of these writers was Jack Finney, who, incidentally, got his start in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1946 with the short story “The Widow’s Walk.” Finney is perhaps most famous for his time-travel novel Time and Again, but his novel employing the Queen Mary, Assault on a Queen, was made into a movie starring Frank Sinatra.

After my visit to the Queen Mary, freshly infused with a sense of the grand adventure travel must have been back then, I made my way to LAX for a red-eye flight, expecting that the sundry irritations of contemporary travel would soon erase that pleasant daydream. I was not mistaken. Boarding a plane has become a lengthy and bizarre ritual in which not one’s social class exactly, but one’s “preferred status,” determines the order of boarding and guarantees a claim to the inadequate overhead luggage space. I mention this because it led to a minor incident with a surprising denouement. Ahead of me in the last boarding class was a young man who could possibly have been Middle Eastern. He spoke little English and seemed slightly anxious—a mood that became greatly pronounced when, on his reaching the door to the plane, a steward blocked the way and informed all of us that there was no space left for carry-on luggage and that all remaining bags would be tagged and transferred to the luggage hold. The young man refused to surrender his bag, arguing with the steward and holding up the rest of the line. I didn’t see how that finally played out as I was eventually waved through to my seat. But a few minutes later the young man appeared on the plane and took the seat directly across the aisle from mine. Despite the disruption, it looked as if we’d depart on time—until the steward came back and informed the young man that the captain wanted to speak to him. Apparently the captain was satisfied they weren’t dealing with someone dangerous, and preparations for departure continued—until an announcement was made that fuel had spilled on the runway and we’d all have to get off the plane.

I won’t bore you with the confusion surrounding our long wait in what was becoming the middle of the night. Suffice it to say that another plane in another terminal was eventually found for us and we were allowed to reclaim our carry-ons—none of which had yet been put in the luggage hold. Not hesitating to push and shove his way through the crowd, the young man who’d been so reluctant to relinquish his bag made it first to the new terminal, where he’d be sure, even in the fifth boarding class, to get the thing on board this time.

Again, I was not far behind him in line, and now his behavior was even more unsettling. Leaving his bag at the head of the line, he moved a few yards away and stood fidgeting and looking around him. The terminal was almost empty except for our flight by this time—around 1:30 in the morning. There was no sign that boarding was to begin any time soon. As I observed the man with the bag, I wondered if anyone else had an eye on him.

It was at this point that, in the near silence of the late-night terminal, there came the sound of a violin. And everyone seemed to turn as one. A passenger at the end of one of the lines had apparently opened his carry-on—a violin case—and begun a medley of classical pieces. Balm to his fellow passengers, and no one seemed to feel it more than the man with the bag, who entirely abandoned his luggage and moved a good thirty feet away to climb up onto a luggage trolley where he could watch the musician play. He listened for quite a while—we all did—until boarding was finally announced. I knew as soon as I saw him flock to the source of the music that the man with the bag was simply another tired and frustrated traveler. But it could have ended a different way—it could have made material for a mystery story. And that violin player? He added an element of romance that I hadn’t at all expected to encounter; when he finally came into view, filing past our line to board the plane, we could see that he looked more like a teenage rapper—leather jacket and cap on backwards—than a classical violinist. As Christie said, ”people of all classes, of all nationalities, of all ages . . . [who] cannot get away from each other . . . ” Put them together and it can make for some great surprises. —Janet Hutchings

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“Boredom, and Other Cures for the Modern World” (by Antony Mann)

Antony Mann is an Australian writer who grew up in and currently lives near Sydney. His work first appeared in EQMM in 2002. After a long absence he will be returning to our pages in the May 2015 issue with the story “The Greater Good.” That tale, like much of his work, reflects an offbeat and very distinctive way of seeing the world. In this post, Antony talks about creativity, and it’s appropriate, for he’s one of the most original writers currently working in the mystery short story field. His stories (one of which won the U.K. Crime Writers’ Association’s Short Story Dagger) have appeared in many different periodicals, and his short-story collection, Milo & I, published in the U.K. by Elastic Press, recently found a new audience when it was reprinted in Japan.—Janet Hutchings

I grew up in a house of books, in a city of libraries. It was my father who was the insatiable reader. Every Saturday morning the whole family would drive the two or three miles to the nearest shopping centre, buy our groceries at the supermarket, then head for the municipal library next door.

These were the days pre-computer, so you didn’t have much choice when you ventured into a library—you could come home with a book, or you could come home with nothing. I would gather up my Moomintroll stories, or novels about giant exploding fungus pods threatening to obliterate all life as we know it (I think I read that one four times), and Dad would grab his stack of WWII histories and his Rex Stouts and Agatha Christies.

It’s a cliche to say it, but back then, in the 1960s and 1970s, life was simpler. In the times before the advent of the personal computer, there were fewer distractions. I was by no means a bookish child, and I would always have rather been out playing football or riding my bike or exploring the bush with my friends, but life was also made up of a lot of empty spaces. There were no such things as play dates. Either your neighbourhood friends were around, or they weren’t. If you were left to your own devices when the day was sunny, you’d be out in the back yard, pretending to be that year’s football hero or practicing throwing darts at trees. If it was raining and you were stuck indoors, you could watch TV until your mum or dad kicked you out of the room, and then you had to fend for yourself. You could play a board game until your bickering with your siblings drove your parents mad, or you could find somewhere quiet and read a book.

It was in these quiet times that I read my Moomintrolls and my exploding fungus epics. Then, as I grew older, I began to take a passing interest in the books that my father was bringing home. I’ll tell you for free, I have a good working understanding of the causes and the course of the Second World War. But it was in these years of growing up that I also found Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. There was Ellery Queen himself, of course, and Lew Archer and Sam Spade.

There is no doubt that these heroes of mine have in some way informed my own crime writing, giving me a solid platform on which to at least try to build. But I wonder also about the other quiet spaces of my childhood, the ones in which nothing was happening. We had the time for nothing back then, you see. We could afford to be bored—or perhaps it was that our parents could afford to let us be bored. There was no expectation that every hour of every day would be filled with . . . something.

Nowadays, it feels sometimes as though we’re missing those empty times and spaces from our lives. There is always some new thing to occupy the hours, be it obsessively checking our e-mail or surfing the net, responding to texts, or playing those addictive little brain-sucking games on our tablets or smartphones. Our children must be entertained with the latest blockbuster film or DVD, or pacified by the newest electronic toy, or educated and enthralled by endless after-school activities lest their very brains atrophy through disuse. Our culture loathes the idea of a vacuum, and we are the creators of our culture. Which is a little frightening, because it was during those empty times and spaces that people used to learn how to create.

In 1958, Professor E. Paul Torrance began testing American children for creativity, in the same way that intelligence quotients had been measured for decades previous. Though assessing creativity remains an inexact science, the results are measurable. A high score on the Torrance test is an accurate predictor of growing up into an industry where innovation and creativity are crucial, be that entrepreneur, doctor, software developer, or writer.

In 1990, while IQ scores continued their inexorable rise due to enriched learning environments, for the first time Creativity Quotient scores began to trend down. They’ve been decreasing year on year ever since. Blame has been laid at the foot of overstuffed school curricula which leave no room for creative thinking, and the insidious intrusion of all-consuming technology into the lives of ourselves and our children.

Findings such as these correlate with other recent studies which reveal that being bored is actually a spur to creativity. It is these empty spaces where we have nothing to do which give rise to the ideas which, for we writers at least, are so important to our daily work.

Sadly, in today’s world there is no longer any need to be bored. We can always find diversion if we want it, and want it we do. We crave novelty, moving without pause for reflection from one bright thing to the next, never satisfied by the sparkly baubles of modern life. I feel it myself, the pull of this easy distraction, eating into my time. It almost seems these days that we must find a way to impose a kind of artificial boredom on ourselves, a way to provide the space in which ideas might percolate into our consciousness. The demands of modern life decree that we mark out and defend a quiet realm for our writing, but also for our reading and, indeed, for unadorned thinking. If we don’t, then like the children of the Torrance tests, our creative life will surely be diminished.

Those of us born before the computer age have an advantage over our children. We’re fortunate in that we learned back then what we need to remember today—how to make our lives simpler, how to be less the slaves to the frantic pace of the modern era, which threatens constantly to distract us from the things which matter. We have lived this simplicity —this boredom—before, and so we can find it again if we make the effort. It takes discipline, but it can be done.

Our children, though, the writers and readers of the future, are born into this new and frantic world. They have never had the experience of living in another time. It’s up to us to help them, provide them with an environment in which their creativity will blossom. And in doing so, we’ll be sustaining and nurturing our own creative impulses as well.

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“A Day in the Life of the Creative Writer” (by David Dean)

David Dean debuted in EQMM’s Department of First Stories nearly twenty-five years ago. In the ensuing years, while also pursuing a full-time career on a New Jersey police force, he produced dozens more stories. He is a winner of the EQMM Readers Award, and a nominee for the Edgar, Shamus, Barry, and Derringer awards—all for his short fiction. Although he has concentrated primarily on short stories throughout his literary career, in recent years, he’s turned his attention to longer fiction, producing the 2012 novel The Thirteenth Child and 2014’s The Purple Robe. His latest EQMM story, “Her Terrible Beauty,” appears in our upcoming March/April double issue. Here he is describing a typical day in his life as a creative writer. (He wrote this for us back in December, in what is, after all, a season of distractions!)—Janet Hutchings

December 18, 2014 (last year)

It occurred to me recently that many of you, as you struggle through your work day, probably stop and ask yourselves, “Gosh, I wonder what David Dean’s day is like?  I’m sure I can’t imagine, but I bet it must be exciting as all get-out being a writer! How does he stay so darn creative?”  Then sigh, add another packet of sweetener to your coffee, and stumble back to your desk.  Well, that’s all over now—not your working, I’m afraid, but your ignorance of how I get my mojo going!  Pull your socks up, and tie your sneakers, ’cause we’re off to the races!

Most days, after a dreamless, restful slumber, I stretch, yawn contentedly, and rise at about seven in the A.M.  Unlike many, I don’t have to, as I’m a retired person.  But having been a cog in the great American work force for forty-two years, I now find it difficult to sleep beyond seven, which is not fair.  Still, I rise uncomplainingly, and make my way downstairs.  Today, I find my wife of thirty-six years, Robin, cheerfully doing her exercises and preparing for another day of herding kindergarteners.  “Good morning,” I call out, and then, with a puzzled expression on my face, no doubt, ask, “Isn’t the coffee made yet?”  To which she replies, “Oh, did I forget to tell you that the maid quit yesterday . . . and that it’s the butler’s day off—silly, forgetful me!”  She has a wry sense of humor for so early a riser.  So . . . I make the coffee, as well as my morning bowl of porridge.  Next to a good night’s sleep, a good breakfast is paramount to a creative day! Here’s an interesting tidbit for you—during the course of my life, I’ve probably consumed a thousand times my weight in oatmeal.  My creative side asks, “How big an oatmeal statue of me might that make?” And my other creative side answers, “Big enough to make even Kim Jong-un envious!”

Fortunately for me, Robin likes to read the newspaper before she departs for school each day, so it has already been fetched in before I wake.  This is really great during the cold winter months, and when it’s raining, as I catch a chill easily.  Though I will confess, I sometimes find the pages a little wrinkled, and the sections out of order.  But, I don’t complain, just smooth them out once again and carefully realign the disordered sections, because being informed of current events is paramount for a writer to stay . . . well . . . um . . . current.

So now, having breakfasted and read the paper, I wash the dishes, make the bed, and dress myself.  As my uniform wearing days are over (I retired from the police three years ago), the clothes selection can be a bit overwhelming and anxiety producing.  In the beginning, I would sometimes find myself frozen in the closet doorway, paralyzed by the sight of so many shirts and trousers from which to choose.  “Why can’t we just have civilian uniforms?” I have been heard to cry, though to no avail.  Little by little I have adjusted, and can now, on most days, make a selection and dress without needing any medication or a nap.

Then I set out for a walk.  Exercise is another key element in being a creative person. I used to be something of a runner, but then my back became a problem and gradually reduced me to walking.  Which I now do twice a day; usually at two mile increments—how the mighty have fallen.  That being said, it’s a great way to start the day: fresh air, a change of scenery, a little exercise, and the beauty of nature and the seasons . . . how can you go wrong?  There are ways, actually, but I’ll save that for another time maybe.

So, having avoided the guy who’s clearly off his meds again, a vaporous wino called Captain Stinky, and a rotund fellow who steadfastly avoids eye contact whom I have christened, “Furtive Dude,” I arrive safely back home.  Robin has long ago departed for her classroom, so now I have the house all to myself. Solitude is essential to the effort at hand.  So let the writing begin!

But first, time to heat up another cup of coffee before heading up to the bedroom.  No, I’m not going back to bed.  The bedroom is where the creativity occurs.  Creative writing . . . I’m talking about writing.  Pulling out my trusty ergonomic office chair that Robin bought me (remember my back?), I settle down in front of the computer screen, take a sip of java to warm my hands and imagination, bring up the story I’ve been working on . . . then . . . then minimize the screen and check my e-mail.

Checking e-mail is one of the most important things any writer can do during his day, and is not a distraction.  I do it often.  You just never know what might come your way: contracts, fan letters; law-suit notifications—the possibilities are endless.  But today, all that’s waiting is just an update on the MLB trades happening in the off-season.  I take a peek, but don’t get wrapped up in it as I’ve got a lot of writing to do.  Besides, I’m already distressed that the Phillies have traded Jimmy Rollins—makes me sick, if you want to know the truth.

Right after the e-mail I check my Facebook page.  This may be even more important than e-mail in keeping the writer current and informed.  The knowledge to be gained through FB is possibly the best justification yet for the World Wide Web, which insiders call the Internet.  Today, I’ve been treated to a video of some youth in a distant game arcade delivering a roundhouse kick to a punching bag gizmo.  Zowie!  How the heck did he get such extension and air?  That’s one to puzzle over.  I might be able to work that maneuver into my latest story! Also—has Kim Kardashian gone a just a little too far with her latest dress?  Whoa! I say, no . . . No ma’am!

Okay, time to maximize the WIP screen (Yeah, I wondered about that, too, but found out it stands for Work In Progress).  Look at that—I’ve got some thousand words written already, which seems like a lot.  Is the screen always this bright?  I don’t remember that.  My glasses might need cleaning.  No . . . No . . . They do not need cleaning.  I just need to re-read what I’ve written so far, and just pick it up from there.  Get in the groove.  Okay . . . not bad . . . pretty good, so far . . . pretty good . . . oh . . . darn . . . really?  How many tenses can one use in a single run-on paragraph—a bunch, apparently.  Okey-dokey . . . gonna have to do a little rewriting before I forge ahead with the creative stuff.  Holy Smokes!  Is it lunch time already . . . ? Well, a writer must have nourishment to encourage the little grey cells—to the kitchen for a brief respite.

Back!  And it’s only a little after one in the P.M.; time to buckle down and get serious, discipline is the writer’s friend . . . just as soon as I open this e-mail Christmas card that has been customized for me and thirty other close friends.  It takes a few minutes to download apparently.  Wow, this digital stuff is great!  How do they do it?

Okay, maximize the old WIP.  There’re those words again . . . just waiting for their brothers.  Let me look at that outline I went to all the trouble to put together—just a little refresher on where I want to go from here.  Oh . . . hmmm . . . that’s a little different from what I’ve written . . . or vice a versa.  No matter, I’ll just rely on the old creative juices to get flowing once I’ve started writing.

No way that’s the mail lady already!  Christmas cards!  Be right back.

Why do people you haven’t heard from in years, and have long been struck off your Christmas list, always decide to send cards just days before the big event?  It never fails.  We’re out of cards, needless to say, because we hadn’t heard from these folks since the turn of the freakin’ century and didn’t count them in!  Easy . . . easy now . . . remember stress is our enemy, interferes with the creative forces.  Breathe . . . breathe . . . better. . . . Is that smoke?

My neighbor’s chimney is on fire again (yes, it’s possible; has something to do with creosote build-up, I’m told)—it happens at least once a year around this festive time.  With its usual fanfare the fire department dutifully responds in three trucks.  Even they can’t seem to muster much enthusiasm, however, and almost saunter up to the house.  The yard is wreathed in smoke.  The firefighters have to use a ladder truck to deal with it, but no harm results to house or human, thank goodness.  Half an hour later they back over my mailbox, thus completing the final act of the yule-time fire call.  Apparently awaiting this moment, some of the neighborhood kids let out a big cheer.  Every neighborhood has its traditions, I guess. I return to my ergonomic chair.  I’ll deal with it after I’ve gotten some writing done. Distractions are the enemy of the writer.

Now what? Is that a car in the driveway? Oh my God . . . Robin’s home already and I haven’t even begun supper! Where did the time go? Prioritizing is another really big element in the writer’s life, and I have to do a little of that just now and perhaps some creative speaking, as well. So, until next time, my best wishes in all your writing endeavors, and just a quick, final reminder—creativity requires discipline! Never lose sight of that!

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“Murder Most Advanced” by William Dylan Powell

William Dylan Powell’s Department of First Stories debut, “Evening Gold” (EQMM November 2006),  won the Robert L. Fish Award for best short story by a new American author. The Texas writer is an ad man who managed to make time for his own writing and continues to produce both fiction and nonfiction. He has recently completed a private-eye novel featuring the protagonist of his upcoming EQMM story “The Seagull and the Skull” (don’t miss it in the July 2015 issue) and is currently at work on a book of Texas history. In this post, he explains how he became a rule-breaker in his writing—and achieved success.—Janet Hutchings

The joy of stories that get deadly straight away—and yet still manage to keep the suspense going strong, all story long.

More than a decade ago, I took a creative writing class at a local university. The instructor was a well-read but snobbish academic who proselytized the joys of beat poetry, read Proust in its original French, and rolled his eyes at the James Lee Burke novel I was lugging around at the time. (I still think James Lee Burke’s The Man; living in Houston, I really enjoyed his latest, Wayfaring Stranger.)

On the first day of class, he gave us a list of ten things never to do in a work of fiction. They were given as quite concrete rules. Which was ironic, given his love of beat poetry. But when a person is first starting to write fiction, he or she takes “rules” very seriously. Years later, I don’t remember what they all were. But I do remember the number-one rule he had: “And, lastly,” he said with a dramatic flourish and chuckling a bit, “whatever you do, dear God, don’t just start out the story with a murder. Nobody cares yet!”

His point was that readers need to feel invested in the characters before they care about the murder of anyone. Fair point. Readers need to buy into the main character, and the story, for some reason. But on the other hand, murder is a shocking and scary phenomenon. When we hear a stranger has been murdered, most healthy people are interested to know why, and if the perpetrator was caught. I’d hate to think we live in SUCH a cynical world that the prospect of a stranger’s murder is less interesting than, say, reality television. I mean, I’m a pacifist and I’m pretty sure I’d rather watch an actual murder taking place than an episode of Storage Wars.

So my first night in that class I decided to write a short story that would literally break each of the man’s ten rules, just to see how it would turn out. With a dead body literally falling from the sky straight away, the result of the experiment was “Evening Gold,” my very first published piece of fiction and a proud resident of EQMM’s Department of First Stories in 2006.

Since then, I’ve really come to appreciate stories that start with a murderous bang—and yet still manage to keep readers turning the page. So I’ve thrown together what I feel are a few noteworthy examples of deadly novels that waste no time in filling up the literary body bag. I’m not talking about foreshadowing or a hint from the narrator, but blood-on-the-carpet-holy-cow-obviously-foul-play-call-the-police-chalk-outline-notify-next-of-kin murder. All right up front in Chapter 1, and all with zero apologies.

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
Hammett’s first novel, Red Harvest, opens up with the murder of a detective agency’s client, Donald Wilsson. The man hires the agency, but is then murdered before our hero gets a chance to meet with him face-to-face. The agency in question, Continental Detective Agency of San Francisco, is based on the famous Pinkerton National Detective Agency where Hammett actually worked for some time. Hammett’s hero, known as The Continental Op, spends the book finding out what really happened to Wilsson—and making sure that somebody pays. Red Harvest is a great example of classic American pulp, and was originally released as a serial in the magazine Black Mask during 1927-1928.

The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark
In yet another stellar example of Clark’s masterfully suspenseful storytelling, The Lost Years, which was published in 2013, sports the murder of a biblical scholar right off the bat. The man had recently stumbled across a letter that may have been written by Jesus Christ himself. Stolen from the Vatican in the 1500s, the letter was said to have been lost forever. But now it’s resurfaced—and scholar Jonathan Lyons is found shot to death at his desk. AND, to make matters murkier, his wife (who suffers from Alzheimer’s) is found incoherent and in the closet gripping the gun that killed him. The book opens up with the couple’s daughter reflecting on her father’s funeral and spins delightfully out of control quickly from there.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
It’s possible that there are some far-flung uncontacted tribespeople in isolated parts of rural South America who haven’t read Alice Sebold’s amazing novel The Lovely Bones. Other than that, I’m pretty sure everyone else in the Americas has read it at least once. But in case you’re not part of the Sirionó peoples, the first few pages lay out the murder of teenager Susie Salmon as the victim herself narrates; readers are driven for the finish line trying to find closure for her loving family. And the whole thing works so well because of the picture Sebold paints of the hurt, confusion, and resolve that results when reasonable folks struggle with the unreasonable evils of the world.

The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes
Set in Victorian London, this strange and playful novel not only starts with “Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever . . .” but it also starts with the murder of not-very-likeable victim Cyril Honeyman. While some pedants point out this or that inconsistency or loose end within the story, when it comes to a fantastic Victorian eccentricity-laden, steampunk-bizarro detective mystery, who cares? The Somnambulist is a rich, flavorful, super-fun read that sports a man being pushed out of a window to his death in the first chapter, and follows the investigation of this crime and others by past-his-sell-by-date magician Edward Moon and a giant mute sidekick who really likes milk. What’s not to like?

The Green Rust by Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace
Next consider this work by one-time British super-pulp author Edgar Wallace. Wallace was a writer’s writer at his peak between WWI and WWII. It was once said that at one time, twenty-five percent of all popular novels read in England were his (he wrote 173 altogether). In The Green Rust, millionaire shipbuilder John Millinborn is murdered in Chapter 1—stabbed to death with an ivory-handled knife. The plot that unfolds reveals a madman’s plan to take over the world that’s equal to any Bondian tale of international intrigue. BONUS: You can pick up an electronic version of this free on Amazon. Wallace later moved to Hollywood to be a screenwriter and passed away working on the script for King Kong.

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Set in the exotic world of sixteenth-century Istanbul, My Name Is Red opens with the murder of a miniaturist (this is a type of artists who paints a distinct style of traditional Islamic manuscripts and illustrations) in the Ottoman artistic period. The story centers around a Sultan who commissions artists to document all of the achievements he’s accomplished during his time of rule—and to do so in a European style. But since religious traditionalists of the time felt that figurative art could be an affront to Islam, the project was kept secret. Until one of the artists goes missing. The book is thick as a ripe fig with art, sex, power, religion, culture, and folklore—and it all starts with a chapter called: “I am a corpse.”

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Cover of EQMM, January 2008

Cover of EQMM, January 2006

Cover of EQMM, January 2011

Cover of EQMM, January 2010


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Cover of EQMM, January 1997

Cover of EQMM, Mid-December 1993

Cover of EQMM, January 1998

Cover of EQMM, January 1999

Cover of EQMM, January 1999


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