Interview with Sue McGinty About Somewhere in Crime
Marilyn: Tell us about the latest Central Coast Mystery Writers anthology of short fiction.
Sue: You bet, and thanks for asking me to discuss my current favorite subject, “Somewhere in Crime.” Thirteen authors have contributed fifteen truly amazing mystery, time travel, suspense and mood pieces. Many of the stories feature imagined episodes in the lives of real historical characters: Doctor Sigmund Freud, Agatha Christie, actresses Violet Strange, Marion Davies and Carole Lombard.
Selecting the final fifteen proved to be a tough job that took several months. Co-editor Margaret Searles and I agree the result was worth it. The San Luis Obispo County Library system apparently thinks so, too. They have recommended it as a selection for reading groups.
Marilyn: Central Coast Mystery Writers sounds like a local group. Tell us about them.
Sue: The Central Coast Mystery Writers is not a group, per se, but we do publish under that name. “Somewhere in Crime” is our sixth anthology in fifteen years. We still sell copies of several older ones like “Gone Coastal,” “Never Safe” and “Some of Them Are Dead.”
We started as a band of mostly local authors, but for this anthology, we needed to gather historical mysteries from many perspectives. So we put out a call for contributions to other Sisters in Crime chapters as well as NightWriters, our amazing local all-genre writing group.
Other SinC chapters represented by our “Somewhere in Crime” authors include (but are not limited to): Lori Hines, Tucson, AZ, Nan Mahon, Sacramento, Gay Totl Kinman and myself, LA chapter. (I belong to both LA and the Central Coast SinC.)
Marilyn: The cover just invites you into the book. Is there a story behind it?
Sue: I just love our cover. The sepia tones so typify the appearance of an old library in a Victorian mansion. Look closely, though, and you’ll see signs of blood. Aha, the plot thickens. Liam Heckman, son of former SinC CCC president, Victoria Heckman, who has multiple stories in the book, designed and executed the artwork. I suspect that Liam has a bright future ahead as a book designer if he so chooses.
Marilyn: What timeframe does the book cover?
Sue: A very long one—from the fifteenth century to the 1960’s, with many stops in between. Several stories deal with life in the early to mid-twentieth century, my favorite time in history.
In 1926, Agatha Christie and Doctor Sigmund Freud have a mysterious encounter on the Orient Express that changes Christie’s life, thanks to the imaginings of Paul Alan Fahey. Who’s to say it didn’t happen?
In Victoria Heckman’s “The Trouble with Burlesque,” aspiring actress, Violet Strange encounters murder in a live-theater world threatened by the fledgling movie industry. In “Steamboat’s Suit,” also by the author, a young girl tangles with the Mob.
Our 1960’s story, “Captain of the Rags,” details the effects PTSD and the perils of street life through the eyes of a homeless Viet Nam war vet. Thanks to NightWriter author Anne Schroeder, I have a new appreciation for the desperate plight of street people.
Marilyn: Several stories deal with non-traditional forms of justice. Was that deliberate, and can you cite some examples?
Sue: No, it was totally accidental, but Margaret Searles, my co-editor and I, are very happy with the result. We feel it’s very appropriate to represent that point of view in this somewhat-offbeat collection.
In Gay Toltl Kinman’s, “Hidden Past,” a classic stranger-comes-to town tale of the old west, an old score is settled in a new way. In “The Crime of Edward Palmer” a man’s invention has far reaching effects and unintended consequences, thanks to the writing skills of Warren Bull. “Bal Masque” by Eileen Dunbaugh deals with class warfare in the Hudson River valley. Things are turned upside down there when a bumptious newcomer survives even as landowners face charges.
“Raitea” by Molly Doust, “Perseverance” by Nan Mahon, and “Carpe Diem” by KM Kavanagh occur in various timeframes, the latter during darkest days of the Spanish Inquisition. These tales pose a common dilemma: Is there ever a justified murder?
Marilyn: Do any of the stories feature a Central Coast setting?
Sue: Two as a matter of fact. The first, DK (Dave) Farris’ “Sojourn at the Coast” is told in letter format and whisks the reader off to Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo in the nineteenth century when, despite a thin veneer air of civility, the whole area was still very much the wild, wild west.
My story, “Uncertain Sanctuary,” set in 1939, transports Astrid Cole, a sixteen-year-old orphan with a secret, to the windswept bareness of the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. Here, as the sole female, she becomes the indentured servant of four lightkeepers. It soon becomes apparent that Astrid is not the only one with a secret.
Marilyn: You mentioned that a couple of the stories deal with time travel. Tell us about them.
Sue: I’d love to. Lori Hine’s little gem, “The Yellow Rose,” ethereal as its name, deals with true love, time travel and reincarnation. Susan Tuttle’s “The Some When Murder” asks the question: Are children born with a “knowingness” that is lost with age?
Marilyn: Which story do you consider the most controversial?
Sue: Arguably, my co-editor Margaret Searle’s contribution, “Dago Red,” could be considered controversial. It ignores political correctness in the interest of story development and the accepted usage of the term in the 1940’s timeframe. The effect is a realistic story that many readers consider their favorite.
Marilyn: Where can we find “Somewhere in Crime?”
Sue: The book retails for $14.95. Amazon has both print and Kindle copies available, the latter for $2.99. In the Central Coast area, Volumes of Pleasure in Los Osos and Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay also stock the book. Since we love independent bookstores, we hope locals buy their copies from them. Of course, our Central Coast Sisters in Crime chapter has copies for sale. Contact me at SueGinty@aol.com for mail orders.
If you’d like to read a review of the book from the May 20, 2012, San Luis Obispo Tribune, follow this link: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/05/20/2074213/central-coast-mystery-writers.html
Marilyn: Tell us what you’re working on now. Any plans for another Bella Kowalski book?
Sue: Presently, I’m working on three books simultaneously and I’m not sure that’s such a good idea for someone with a sequential mindset. One is an e-book nonfiction project that I’m not currently at liberty to discuss. The second is a rewrite of an historical fiction World War II mystery, coming of age novel, currently called “The Secret Beyond the Door.” (It’s had many titles.)
“Murder in Mariposa Bay” will be number three in the Bella Kowalski Central Coast mystery series. This is where I’m currently concentrating most of my energy. In it Bella steps way out of her comfort zone when she confronts something in her husband Mike’s mysterious past. She also has reason to suspect the Mafia may be about to usurp the construction of the Los Lobos wastewater treatment plant, which, of course, is all kinds of fun to write about.
Marilyn: Thank you so much, Sue, for telling me and my readers all about Somewhere in Crime.