I may be the only New Yorker who has not seen Hamilton.
Correction: I may be the only New Yorker who has no intention of ever seeing Hamilton. It’s not that I think it’s an unworthy effort – I’m sure the world was waiting breathlessly for a hip hop musical about one of my favorite founding fathers. And with the help of a little Krazy Glue, I could probably sit through two hours of rapping colonials.
The reason I probably won’t see it is that a few years ago I wrote Treason, a musical about Benedict Arnold. Since Arnold himself was a notorious traitor, he was an unlikely protagonist. So, in the style of Evita, I have the young Alexander Hamilton serving as a Che Guevara type narrator who takes the audience on the journey, commenting on the action and appearing in key scenes – as he did in real life, being the aide-de-camp to General Washington at the time.
However, being a white woman who writes somewhat traditional musicals, I realize the show that absorbed two years of my life is now dead in the water. I would never be able to convince anyone that I was writing Treason long before Hamilton break danced onto the scene – I have no doubt the word “derivative” would surface with any producer I was foolish enough to approach.
More power to the creators of Hamilton for their fresh new take on an important time in American history – I too believe immigrants “get the job done,” yada-yada-yada. Most of us are immigrants, and one job we got done very efficiently was the slaughter of this land’s only rightful occupants, the Native Americans.
I’m sure Hamilton is an important teaching tool for people who knew little of that time period or the truly fascinating title character. But having done countless hours of research, I’m not in that target audience, so I’ll save my $400, or whatever the outrageous price of a Broadway musical is these days, to see Book of Mormon, thanks very much. Mormons are still a mystery to me.
So what’s a girl to do? Just what you do after a bad breakup – move on, get over it, write a new show. I’m thinking about a rap version of the Trump Administration. I really think Sarah Huckabee Sanders deserves a hip hop dance number, with the Washington press corps as the chorus. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.
(Thank you, Carole, for inviting me to be a guest blogger. We were colleagues at NYU for many years and have followed one another’s writing careers. Although we write in different genres, we have much in common besides our love of teaching workshops: We are disciplined writers, we are devoted to our students and we are courageous, prolific, transgressive writers. )
Here’s the scoop on my “NOMADS TRILOGY,” a compendium of three books in one volume – short fictionalized stories which reviewers have compared to Lydia Davis. I began the series in 2000 when I was working on “Another Day in Paradise,” a book about international humanitarian relief workers. That was an intense experience as many stories were about war and natural disasters. In order to keep myself sane I began to sketch small fictionalized stories just for myself. It was all I had time to do in between travelling, interviewing and editing manuscripts. The atrocities I was witnessing, or reading about, were heart rending. As a child of refugees myself, I was drawn to the subject, and also traumatized by it. I needed release and solace. These short NOMADS stories are the result.
I showed a few to writer friends and they commented on the precision of the writing, the unusual genre I’d chosen—some were even very funny – and the experimental feel of the work. Even after “Another Day in Paradise” was published, I continued writing these short stories as an exploration and a writing practice. Titles began to accumulate in my journal. Before long I had enough pieces for the first volume. Two more followed, and now I have published them all together.
All three books were launched as “theatrical evenings” at the Cornelia Street Café in Manhattan by actors taking turns on a small stage reading a selection of stories. I look forward to another performance event soon to celebrate the publication of “NOMADS TRILOGY.” Carole, I hope you will be there! It will be wonderful to see you, as ever.
As for me, how can I not admire Carole Bugge? That is a rhetorical question. Thank you again for your interest in my work, your professional companionship, and your inspiration and imagination.
Diana was born with a book in one hand and a passport in the other. Maybe it was A Tale of Two Cities, but she was soon wandering Paris cobblestones. An Asian importing business led to LA where she worked as a scriptwriter until her characters demanded their own novels. The first was Stinger, set in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She lives in a small Northern California town with her family.
When a secret shipment of Stinger missiles goes missing near the Khyber Pass, CIA officer Nick Daley becomes entangled in an unusual triangle with a San Francisco journalist and her former lover, now an elusive Afghan leader with a price on his head. These characters lead us into a realm of intrigue and betrayal, where hidden agendas provide their own kind of veil until the truth is revealed in a shocking climax.
The Movie in Your Head
Many years ago I wrote a screenplay set in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A romantic thriller with a twist, Stinger was optioned by a noted London producer who shared my view that it could become an exciting international production. As such things happen, the option lapsed, for in those pre-9/11 days few people were interested in the region.
The characters, however, kept urging me not to abandon them and so I wrote their story, my touchstone the film Casablanca. My novel too is a romantic triangle that takes place during a time of war, when no one is who he or she appears and intrigue is everywhere.
These days, the region is on everyone’s map. And so, Stinger was published as an ebook. Then came the opportunity for Audible.com to release it as an audiobook.
To be honest, I am not an audio “reader,” but I know so many people are. I was curious about the audiobook process and wanted to stay involved as narrator/actor Charles Kahlenberg began to record it. He urged me to buy a good pair of headphones and agreed to send me each chapter as it was finished.
And so the story took on another incarnation. Mr. First Reader, my husband, who has been around since the screenplay days, was struck by images I know he’s read before. I found myself chuckling at a clever phrase—if I do say so myself—or at Charles’s witty delivery. As a writer, I engage with my words almost like a potter, working with them, shaping them into life—or sometimes, beating them to death! As intimately connected as I am with Stinger, I was astounded how the story came to life in a whole new way.
So, give a listen. Take Stinger with you in the car, the garden, or on a hike. Forget the movie, make your own images!
Barnes & Noble
Have you listened to a book that you had already read? I’d love to hear what you think the differences are. For the first five people who comment here, I have some giveaway copies. Thank you, Audible.com!
BILL CRIDER is the author of more than fifty published novels and numerous short stories. He won the Anthony Award for best first mystery novel in 1987 for Too Late to Die. He and his late wife, Judy, won the best short story Anthony in 2002 for their story “Chocolate Moose.” His story “Cranked” from Damn Near Dead (Busted Flush Press) was nominated for the Edgar award, the Anthony Award, and the Derringer Award. It won the latter. He’s won the Golden Duck Award for best juvenile science fiction novel and been nominated for a Shamus. His most recent novel is Between the Living and the Dead from St. Martin’s Press.
Here are a few handy links to where Bill can be found on the Internet:
AND NOW A FEW WORDS FROM BILL CRIDER ABOUT BETWEEN THE LIVING AND THE DEAD:
Thanks for the opportunity to say a few words about my latest mystery novel.
One of the difficult things about writing a series of books that’s continued for 30 years is keeping it fresh both for myself and for the readers. I know that by this time people expect certain things in each book. For me to drop the interplay between certain characters would be like Rex Stout dropping Nero Wolfe’s visits to his orchids in his brownstone’s greenhouse or like Richard S. Prather omitting Shell Scott’s description of the women he encounters. So I keep that kind of thing in the book. Besides, I love writing it.
The books always have to include a murder, too. All my books in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, including Between the Living and the Dead, are set in a small town in a mythical Texas county, the kind of place where the usual crime is something like a salad bar without a sneeze guard. In a place like that, a murder makes things a lot more interesting. I include the small crimes, because those are as much fun to write about as the characters, but I have to put in a murder or two.
So how do I make things different?
For one thing I try to have the murders related to different things, like modern cattle rustling or the prevalence of feral hogs in rural Texas or the terrible stench of factory chicken-farming. For Between the Living and the Dead, I decided to write a book about a haunted house. A good many years ago when I was writing horror novels under a different name, I planned to write a book about a haunted house, but the horror market sort of disappeared before I could do it. I never gave up the idea, however, and when I started thinking about writing another book in the Sheriff Rhodes series, it occurred to me that just about every little town has an old deserted house with a story that local people like to tell about it. Often that story involves a ghost. So why not write a straightforward mystery novel that also includes a haunted house? It seemed like good idea, and I went with it.
Naturally a haunted house has to have a ghost to haunt it, and that led me to the idea of ghost hunters. One day when I was in the Wal-Mart parking lot here where I live in Alvin, Texas, I saw a van with advertisements for ghost hunters painted all over it. If there could be ghost hunters in the real small town where I live, why couldn’t there be ghost hunters in my fictional town? The Sheriff Rhodes books have a continuing character who’d be perfect as a ghost hunter, so I drafted him for the job.
With a haunted house, a ghost, and a ghost hunter lined up and ready to go, all I needed was a murder, and I thought that the perfect place for it to occur would be inside the haunted house. That’s where it happens. I also wanted to give the house some of the usual trappings of haunted houses: spiderwebs, rats, mysterious noises, and even a surprise or two. I did that, too.
In doing all these things, I was able to come up with what I think of as a book that has the same qualities that the previous books in the series have but that also has a different kind of plot and atmosphere. It works for me, and I hope it works for my readers.
The next book in the series, to be published later in 2016, is called Survivors Will Be Shot Again, and it has an entirely different premise. And of course a couple of murders. Something to look forward to!
Life is never easy for Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes. When he is called in the middle of the night to investigate gunshots at a haunted house, Rhodes finds the body of meth dealer Neil Foshee. Recently released from jail, Foshee has his fair share of potential murderers, including former girlfriend Vicki, her new boyfriend, the nephew of Clearview’s mayor, and Foshee’s criminal cousins Earl and Louie.
Complicating matters is Seepy Benton, the community college math professor who has a new summer job. He’s founded Clearview Paranormal Investigations and wants to solve the murder by communing with Foshee’s ghost. But when Benton connects with something else instead and a second body is found, Rhodes is left with more questions than ever. Who’s the dead person? How long has the body been hidden? Is Benton really able to communicate with ghosts? And, most important, what, if anything, does the body have to do with Neil Foshee’s death?
Between the Living and the Dead, Bill Crider’s latest installment in the critically acclaimed Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series, finds Rhodes dealing with ghost hunters, runaway bulls, and assorted low-level crimes, including people’s failure to use their turn signals. It’s all in a day’s work in Clearview, Texas.
Soon after graduation, the acting bug left me and the writing bug took over. For one thing, I was better at it. My first six novels were for young adults, published by Doubleday, David McKay, and Random House. My seventh was rejected, and I spent the next several years trying to break into adult mystery writing. Finally I was picked up by Dodd, Mead, which became my regular publisher until it was cleaned out by a venture capitalist.
Now, for the time being, I am back to writing for young adults. My publisher is Fire and Ice, a branch of Melange Books in Minnesota.
While all this was going on, I married Yoshio Kiyabu, of Okinawan descent and Hawaiian birth. He was a travel agent in New York City, where we lived and raised two children. Now widowed, I live in the Catskill area near my daughter and her family, and I still write for Fire and Ice. Recently I received an email from a fan who begged me to write more adult books. After four more young adult novels that rattle around in my head, I will definitely go back to adult suspense.
The books I have recently written are a series about two teenage girls who, in an effort to right wrongs, get themselves into perilous situations. In the one I am working on now, the heroine tries to find a little boy she was babysitting for who didn’t come home on the school bus. In the book whose cover is pictured here, she discovers she had a brother she didn’t know about and he is suspected of murder. The body was found in his car.
The books are published by Fire and Ice and are available, in both print and electronic versions, from lulu.co and from Amazon.com.
In Under Cover, a high school youth is found dead in a car. It makes news, but has nothing to do with our heroine, Cree Penny. Until her father comes all the way from Borneo, where he has been living. It doesn’t take Cree long to discover that the owner of the car is a half-brother she didn’t know she had. This pulls her deep into the mystery, until she and her brother are tied up in the basement of a school in which explosives are set.
Matt Coyle grew up in Southern California battling his Irish/Portuguese siblings for respect and the best spot on the couch in front of the TV. He knew he wanted to be a writer as a young teen when his father gave him THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER by Raymond Chandler.
It took him a few decades but he finally got there. His debut novel, YESTERDAY’S ECHO, won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the San Diego Book Award for Best Mystery, the Ben Franklin Silver Award for Best New Voice in Fiction, and was named one of the Best Mysteries of 2013 by DEADLY PLEASURES MYSTERY MAGAZINE. The second book in the Rick Cahill Crime Series, NIGHT TREMORS, was named a top pick for 2015 by Bookreporter.com. Matt lives in San Diego with his Yellow Labrador, Angus where he is currently working on the third Rick Cahill crime novel.
Nightmares of the man he killed two years ago still chase Rick Cahill through his sleep. The memory of his murdered wife haunts him during waking hours. His private investigative work, secretly photographing adulterers, paid for his new house but stains his soul.
When an old nemesis asks for his help to free a man from prison, a man he thinks is wrongly convicted of murder, Rick grabs at the chance to turn his life around. His investigation takes him from the wealthy enclave of La Jolla to the dark underbelly of San Diego. His quest fractures his friendship with his mentor, endangers his steady job, and draws the ire of the Police Chief who had tried to put Rick behind bars forever. With the police on one side of the law and a vicious biker gang on the other, all trying to stop him from freeing the man in prison, Rick risks his life to uncover the truth that only the real killer knows―what happened one bloody night eight years earlier.
(1) Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
I watch a lot of true crime and the germ of the idea for NIGHT TREMORS came from a story that was covered by both 48 Hours and Dateline. That story is about a young man wrongly convicted of murdering his parents and the efforts to free him from prison. I fictionalized the story and added a few twists.
(2) How do you get inspired to write?
Deadlines. Inspiration is usually good for about a paragraph. The rest is sweat equity.
(3) What are you currently working on?
I just turned in the third Rick Cahill crime novel to my publisher. In it, Rick tries to prove that a cop and ex-Navy SEAL was murdered and didn’t commit suicide as ruled by the medical examiner and police. He meets resistance from the police and violence from dark forces.
(4) What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Read, write, and join a writers group. Write when things are going well. Write when it’s difficult. Keep writing.
(5) What’s the best thing about being a writer?
There are a lot of nice things. Putting a “The End” on a 90-thousand-plus word story is a great feeling and a reward in itself. I’ve met a lot of great people and made wonderful friends in the mystery writing community. Receiving an email from a reader who felt touched by your work is right at the top of the list.
(6) How do you deal with writer’s block?
I usually stare at the computer screen for about an hour or so and if nothing bubbles to the surface, I write a scene that may come later in the book but comes easily. Eventually my subconscious will solve the puzzle that had me stumped. It just may take a few days.