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Becky Masterman describes Brigid Quinn, the 59-year old protagonist of her debut novel, Rage Against the Dying, as a cross between Bruce Willis and Sarah Jessica Parker.

 

Masterman, Becky_CREDIT Neal KreuserRAge Against the Dying

 

It turns out people are interested in female characters over the age of 30, in spite of what one agent to whom Becky Masterman initially sent the book said. In fact, people are so interested in a well-crafted mystery about a woman over the age of 30 (retired FBI Agent Brigid Quinn is 59) that Ms. Masterman’s novel was nominated for six “Best First Novel” awards given in the mystery/thriller genre. And Brigid will be back, Fear the Darkness, the second in what I can only hope is going to be a long series, will be out from St. Martin’s Press in January 2015.

In her interview, Ms. Masterman gives us some fascinating insight into how she created this unique character, including inspiration from a J. Jill catalog and a friend with long, white hair worn in a pony tail. She described Brigid as “Miss Marple she ain’t.” That’s true. Brigid has a gun and isn’t afraid to use it.

We also discussed the popularity of mystery fiction and how writers approach their craft. In Ms. Masterson’s case, it wasn’t difficult to explain; she has a manifesto. And she shares it with us here.

 

The Reader’s Manifesto
Courtesy of Becky Masterman

I’m about to give you, Author, a little piece of my life.  No matter what you write, fiction or non, thrillers or high literature, here is what I deserve in return:

  • Give me at least one character I can hang my heart on.
  • Make me laugh and cry.
  • Hold me in suspense by making me wait for the payoff.
  • Thrill me with the unpredictability of an action I should have seen coming.
  • Make me stop and gasp at a fresh way of saying something old—but don’t do it too often because that’s just showing off.
  • Move my heart with compassion for a part of humanity I’ve never understood before.
  • Make me know I’m not alone by expressing feelings I never knew I felt.
  • Enlighten me.
  • Change me.

Finally, Author, grow comfortable with failing to achieve all this as you write, for I grant you will certainly fail most days.

Photo of Becky Masterman © Neal Kreuser

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Her Rage Against the Dying has received nominations for “Best First Mystery” awards from the genre’s top organizations.

Talk about last laughs: when Ms. Masterman first submitted her novel (with the then title One Tough Broad) an agent rejected it, saying “no one was interested in a woman who’s over 30.” Well, plenty of people are interested in Ms. Masterman’s 59-year old Brigid Quinn, who can kick ass with the best of them of any age, any gender.

SoM’s interview with Becky Masterman will be posted later this week.

 

Masterman, Becky_CREDIT Neal Kreuser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also coming up: Mike Lawson on his recently released Joe DeMarco mystery, House Reckoning; David Rosenfelt on Hounded; and Roger Hobbs talks about his much-nominated first novel, Ghost Man.

Photo © Neal Kreuser

 

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Later next month, just in time for a good Labor Day read, Summer of the Dead—the third in Julia Keller’s series about Raythune County, West Virginia prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins—will be released.

 

CT keller_bks.jpgSummer of the Dead

 

If you haven’t read Ms. Keller’s previous two works A Killing in the Hills and Bitter River, I suggest you start reading now. If you are already waiting for Summer of the Dead, I suggest you download the e-short story, “The Devil’s Stepdaughter,” a look into Bell’s back story. Consider it a concentrated chill.

This is a long interview. Although I had no troubled editing down my ramblings, Ms. Keller speaks as eloquently as she writes: every anecdote is worth listening to. At the end we discuss the work of T. Jefferson Parker and Stuart Neville and Ms. Keller perfectly describes how important place and setting are to crime fiction, and I feel she knows whereof she speaks, for there are few better practitioners.

Photo of Julia Keller ©Mike Zajakowski

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Speaking of Mysteries is taking a short break to catch up on its reading and to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday.

In the next few weeks we plan to have interviews with Pulitzer Prize winning author Julia Keller (A Killing in the Hills, Bitter River) to talk about Summer of the Dead, the third mystery in her series about Acker’s Gap, West Virginia Prosecutor Bell Elkins.

SoM also plans to talk to Charles Cumming about his newest thriller, A Colder War. Ex-MI6 agent Tom Kell, still on the road to redemption, is back working for his former employers in the politically charged atmosphere of Turkey. The novel has been out in the UK since April, but is due to be released stateside in mid-August.

David Rosenfelt newest novel, Hounded, featuring attorney—and dog lover—Andy Carpenter, is due out July 22. SoM plans to speak to him in early August.

We have other asks out as well, including Becky Masterman, whose first mystery, Rage Against the Dying, was nominated for an Edgar Award this year.

 

 

 

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Toto, I don’t think we’re in Cabot Cove anymore.

For the most part, popular culture associates the intersection of mysteries and the state of Maine with Murder She Wrote. You know, the circa ‘80s episodic TV series that featured the quite brilliant Angela Lansbury as a bicycle-riding, Miss Marple-esque mystery writer in a fictional Maine seaside hamlet, surrounded by quirky, but good-hearted, friends and neighbors.

That is not the Maine of Paul Doiron’s series.

 

Doiron, Paul_CREDIT Credit © 2012 Lori Traikos_Bad Little Falls_massacre pond

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Doiron’s Maine is actually two Maines, the more affluent, suburban coastal areas and the interior and northern sections of the state that are less well known and traveled. To paraphrase Paul’s description, these are the parts of Maine that are on the way to Canada by routes no one takes.

This is the world where Paul’s character Game Warden—and in the fifth book, The Bone Orchard— former Game Warden Mike Bowditch, lives and works. It’s a world that’s full of beautiful—but indifferent—nature that contrasts with the cruelty of humans against both other humans and the world in which they live.

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Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch is back in The Bone Orchard, the next installment in the series.

 

Doiron, Paul_CREDIT Credit © 2012 Lori Traikos_Bad Little Falls_massacre pondBone Orchard[1]

 

Former editor in chief of Down East: The Magazine of Maine and registered Maine guide specializing in fly fishing (who has also been nominated for Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Thriller Award, as well as winner of The Maine Literary Award) Paul Doiron talks to SoM about the fifth installment in his series, The Bone Orchard, due out July 15.

And for those of you who are wondering, as I did, how to pronounce Mr. Doiron’s surname, I suggest reading his tongue-and-cheek explanation on his website. You will have to listen to the interview, which will be published on Monday June 23, to see if I get it right.

 

Photo of Paul Doiron © 2012 Lori Traikos

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“The suburbs are filled with secrets.”
–Megan Abbott

 

1R_Megan_Abbott_(credit_Drew_Reilly)[1]Abbott.TheFever_final jacket

 

Read any of Megan Abbott’s last three books and you’ll find there is no darker heart than that of a teenage girl. I think she’s invented a genre: teenage girl suburban noir. Reading one of Megan’s novels is a little like looking at the American dream from the inside out: all the nasty bits that are usually hidden are revealed. Don’t just take my word for it,  Entertainment Weekly called The Fever one of the “10 Must Summer Reads.” I think that’s an understatement.

In mid-September, Megan is appearing at Bloody Scotland in Stirling, Scotland on a panel with another doyenne of dark, Scottish crime novelist Louise Welsh. It’s worth going to Bloody Scotland for that talk alone, let alone all the other great writers scheduled to appear.

Megan is without a doubt one of the country’s best novelists, but she’s pretty darn good as a magazine writer as well. Below are links to some of the pieces she wrote for LA, The Los Angeles Times Magazine.

Q+LA: Elmore Leonard

Pretty Tough

Robert Crais: Man of Mystery

Human Touch

On the Edge of Nothing

 

A special shout out to Thom Meredith, without whose technical wizardry and patience, this podcast in particular–and Speaking of Mysteries in general–would not be possible.

Photo © Drew Reilly

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