Monday, 12 December 2022

Stephen Spotswood

The cover artist was Dave McKean. The book was The Sandman. And that’s how I discovered Neil Gaiman.

I hadn’t bought a comic book since I was 11. Amazing Spider-Man #316 with Venom standing over our bloody hero was a step too far for my parents. Too strange, too violent, too demonic.

I should have hid it better, but it was too late. In the trash they all went.

Cut to five years later. My high school drama class is doing secret Santa and the person whose name I drew wants an obscure graphic novel. Bookstores don’t carry it, so I’m directed to Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, Delaware. Wandering the store I notice a couple of boxes of comics on sale for ten cents a piece. Curious, I start flipping through.

Midway through the first box, I stop. It’s the cover that gets me. A shadow-box assemblage of lost objects and mysterious figures whose meaning I can’t hope to stitch together on my own.

It begs to be taken home and opened. So I do.

The cover artist was Dave McKean. The book was The Sandman. And that’s how I discovered Neil Gaiman. Idle curiosity and a handful of dimes.

These days millions know and adore Gaiman. From American Gods or Good Omens or Coraline. Thanks to Netflix, tens of millions were just introduced to The Sandman.

To me, at 16, it was a revelation. This story of a god learning to be a better person. It mixed the mythological with the base muck of everyday life; glorious schemes with petty emotions; grand overtures with dirty limericks. And the cast was full of queer, trans, and gender-fluid characters, which in 1994 was not something you saw on the regular.

My parents had given up on policing my reading material by then, but oh if they’d only known. Here was a comic with actual demons. With the Devil himself–brooding and beautiful, a four-color Renaissance sculpture questioning all the rules that had been imposed on him.

I could relate.

Neil Gaiman The SandmanI followed The Sandman to its bittersweet end a few years later, and then followed Gaiman into his career as a novelist and eventually carried him with me into my own career as a writer.

He taught me through example that it doesn’t matter how strange or larger-than-life a character is as long as at their heart they have things they desire, things they fear, things they would risk it all for. If they have dreams and nightmares.

Sometimes you end up loving those characters, or sometimes you end up hating them, but the important thing is you understand them. Maybe see yourself hiding beneath their skin.

And–with the very special ones—you take them home and invite them to hide beneath yours.

Stephen Spotswood (he/him) is an award-winning playwright, journalist, and educator. As a journalist, he has spent much of the last two decades writing about the aftermath of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the struggles of wounded veterans. His dramatic work has been widely produced across the United States. He makes his home in Washington, D.C., with his wife, young adult author Jessica Spotswood.

Stephen Spotswood on Neil Gaiman
Stephen Spotswood
Monday, 28 November 2022

"Solve a cold case, find a missing friend, bring justice to bear... hunt a killer?? I know you have what it takes, Detective. Will you help me find out what happened?"

December is the "Month of Mystery" at Hunt a Killer, the immersive murder mystery game site that aims to bring your holiday game night to new heights by putting you and your fellow detectives on the case. You'll sort through evidence like autopsy reports and physical items, piecing together clues along with interactive digital gameplay in order to solve the crime.

Players can choose from three types of games: Hunt a Killer's traditional monthly subscription told through "episodes" or boxes, wherein each box is filled with clues that bring players closer a solution each month; six-episode boxed-sets featuring previous games that allow players to tackle all 10–15 hours of gameplay at once; or single-experience premium games, perfect for one night of killer fun.

In addition to the very best promotional discounts of the year, the "Month of Mystery: 30 days. 30 deals. 30 moments of mystery" treats mystery lovers to "The Larksburg Librarian," an exclusive online short story written by Adam Mueller that will be told in daily increments throughout the month.

From what I heard, Randy was finishing up for the day and wanted to make sure the mayor had everything he needed before she left. She knocked on his door but he didn’t answer. Maybe she thought he was taking a nap. For whatever reason, she didn’t knock again until she had her jacket and her bag, ready to go. When De Smedt didn’t answer again, she helped herself into his office, and that’s when she found his body…. —Read "The Larksburg Librarian" at

For their special month, Hunt a Killer has also set up "What Happened...?" a sampler of eight fictional web-based experiences, crafted by Hunt a Killer, which jump start detectives into the action of several of their popular games. Just like a real detective, you must establish means, motives, and opportunity to figure out who the killer is and solve the case. More than just a murder mystery, each case tells a whole story wherein everyone has a secret to uncover.

Perfect for mystery and crime junkies, each Hunt a Killer box is a complete murder mystery to solve. Choose from small, medium, and large cases, puzzles, books, or a monthly subscription membership. With various game styles, prices, difficulty levels, and storylines, you can customize game night to your interests and skill level.


Hunt a Killer "Month of Mystery"
Hunt a Killer as a sponsored article
Wednesday, 09 November 2022

Mystery Scene Issue #1Fall #173 was a benchmark for Brian and me as publishers of Mystery Scene—our 20th Anniversary Issue. Winter #174 marks a sadder occasion—the final issue of Mystery Scene Magazine after 37 years in business.

The publishing industry has changed seismically over the last two decades with the advent of the internet, publisher consolidation, the birth of social media, and the rise of Amazon. It has become impossible for us to continue to offer you the high-quality print publication in which we’ve taken so much pride.

The website will remain functioning for now, as will our monthly e-newsletter. We will be refunding readers for their outstanding subscriptions over the next few months. This is a big job, so please be patient with us. We expect to have this task done by February 2023.

We want to thank our outstanding staff, particularly the indispensable Teri Duerr for all her excellent work editing, writing, and organizing over the years. Annika Larsson made all of us look good with her outstanding design skills. The quality of our contributors is apparent to Mystery Scene readers already—but let me just say how interesting, educational, and fun it was to work with them. And we want to thank all of you—we loved bringing you the magazine. Brian and I had the best job in publishing for 20 years and we want to thank you for coming along for the ride.

Kate Stine

More Mystery Scene goodbye letters and reflections can be read here. We'd also love to hear from you, the readers. Send your thoughts to us on social media @MysteryScene.


A Letter From Mystery Scene Editor Kate Stine on Our Final Issue
Kate Stine