The writers we talk to in this issue couldn’t be more different, but each of them has spun literary gold from the real-life straw of their circumstances and experiences.
Stephen Hunter is a case in point. His lifelong interest in guns and the military are front and center in the hard-hitting Bob Lee Swagger novels (Point of Impact, Dead Zero) and other thrillers. But the father and son dynamic is the real engine of his storytelling and Hunter traces that to his own abusive father. “I seem to have gotten a lot more out of my imagination than I ever suspected was there by investigating those issues of good fathers and bad fathers.” Be sure not to miss this fascinating profile.
Small town charm, good humor, and warm friendships characterize Livia J. Washburn’s increasingly popular Fresh-Baked Mysteries and Literary Tour Mysteries. Her career began as a volunteer typist for her husband, the writer James Reasoner. “I kept telling him of other ways his stories could have gone until he finally suggested that I try to write my own,” she recalls. Good advice! John Boland has had many different jobs—journalist, hedge fund manager, small press publisher. His books and short stories are just as varied, including his new, highly praised thriller Hominid, which draws on provocative issues of evolution, genetics, and archaeology. Our reviewer loved the book and I think you’ll enjoy our interview.
Marcia Muller has an unusual hobby: creating dollhouses and miniature rooms based on her popular Sharon McCone private eye novels. “They help me visualize certain scenes, so these do feed into my work,” she says. “Some rooms I created and then wrote into the books; others, like the kitchen of the All Souls Co-op (shown on page 35), came from the books.” Muller, of course, has had a long and distinguished career, and is generally credited with pioneering the female private eye novel in the 1970s. Particularly amusing in this interview are her thoughts on putting “social messages” in novels.
This year the “Gift Guide for Mystery Lovers” offers some real gems. I’ve already bought a pair of the stylish Sherlock-Watson earrings and have my eyes on the Detective Montalbano and Commissario Brunetti DVDs... And if you often loan out your books, then the “Stolen From” Bookplates might come in handy.
Sticky-fingered friends aren’t the only threats to your personal library. Nate Pedersen describes a multitude of ills that can afflict your books—pets, dust, tape, improper shelving—and offers solutions. As he notes, “A first edition of the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, commands over $50,000 with a fine dust jacket, but less than $4,000 without one.”
The next issue of Mystery Scene will arrive in February 2012. Over the next few months, we will be publishing more original articles, book reviews, and commentary at the MS Website. “At the Scene,” our monthly e-newsletter will offer updates on events, reviews of new books, contests, fun quotes, and the popular “Writers on Reading” feature. (You may sign up for the free e-newsletter at our website.) We’ll also be active on Twitter and Facebook.
All of us here at Mystery Scene wish you a merry holiday season and a wonderful 2012. Happy reading!