Daryl Anderson http://darylanderson.org mystery writer, florida author, crime writer, Private Eye, detective, carina press, Addie Gorsky, crime fiction Sun, 03 Sep 2017 20:50:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 http://darylanderson.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Me-sunglasses-316x378-2-150x150.jpg Daryl Anderson http://darylanderson.org 32 32 Magical Venice! http://darylanderson.org/magical-venice/ http://darylanderson.org/magical-venice/#respond Sun, 03 Sep 2017 20:41:27 +0000 http://darylanderson.org/?p=927 Continue reading ]]>

Do believe in magic?

I do, but then I’m a writer, and writers are great believers in magic. We dream up stories, write them down and make them real–if that’s not magic, what is?

But until recently I hadn’t realized that there were truly magical places in the world, places where enchantment is the norm and not the exception–a place like Venice.

It was my first visit to Italy, and as I tend to approach travel from a historical stance, I did my homework and learned that people who would become the first Venetians fled to the lagoon on the Adriatic as a means to escape the “barbaric” invaders that swarmed the mainland after mighty Rome’s fall.

Lady Venice’s Triumph over Italy
The Doge’s Palace
The Doge’s hat

This isolation proved advantageous and during the middle ages the Republic of Venice became a great empire, ruled by a series of Doges, a series of pompous-looking white guys in funny hats.

Somehow these Doges paled when compared to  pale waxworks when compared to a Caesar or Medici.

Or maybe it was the hat. I really don’t like the hat.

And then I’d heard all the stories about the beauty and romance of Venice, stories that my contrary cynical thought too good to be true. Wasn’t that just travel-book fluff?

My husband and I arrived in the afternoon and while I was charmed by the gondolas and labyrinthine streets, and enjoyed the tour of the Doge’s Palace, something was missing. After an early evening rain, my husband and I walked back to San Marco’s Square.

The Piazzo was almost deserted, at least by Venetian standards.  We walked up and down the Piazzo, listening to the various orchestras in front of restaurants, stopping if we heard something we liked.

An Adriatic breeze had blown the last of the storm clouds away, and the sky was a unique shade of indigo blue. I was gazing at the silhouette of the winged lion of St. Mark, and at that moment, the violist started playing Moon River.

And that’s when it hit me–the magic of Venice.

The appreciation of true beauty always contains a tinge of sadness, and as the notes of Moon River floated over the Piazzo, I knew that this moment was just that–a single moment that would soon pass. But since nothing gold can stay and beauty doesn’t last, we should grab the moment when is comes and hold on for dear life.

The Venetians know this. Their forebears built this city out of desperation and fear. Riding Fortune’s Wheel, they won and lost an empire, but they left us this place, and made this beautiful night possible, questa bella notte.

Once back in the States, I put together a video to try to express my experience that magical night.

Venice is my magical place–what’s yours?

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Wicked Florida! http://darylanderson.org/wicked-florida/ Fri, 28 Jul 2017 14:56:06 +0000 http://darylanderson.org/?p=489 Continue reading ]]>

I’ve always said that Florida is the ideal home base for a mystery writers–there are just so many interesting ways to plan a murder.

This point was reinforced last year when I attended a fun exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History called Wicked Plants, based on the amazing book by Amy Stewart. While perusing some of Mother Nature’s nastier botanical creations, I couldn’t help notice that many of the plants could be found in my home state of Florida–a few are even in my garden.

Along with the usual suspects such as deadly nightshade and water hemlock, I discovered a wonderful new villain called the rosary pea, so-named for its beautiful, but highly toxic seeds that resemble rosary beads. Rosary peas have long been used in jewelry making, but many a careless person has died after pricking a finger while handling one of the seeds.

This immediately put my writer’s imagination in gear. Under the right circumstances, the little rosary pea would make a clever murder weapon. All a crafty killer had to do is slip a few rosary peas, which had been carefully pricked to release the toxin, into the bead box of an annoying jewelry maker. Pretty darn close to a perfect crime, don’t you think?

Inspired, I created a little video about not only the  wicked plants, but all the reptiles and critters that make up the darker side of the Sunshine State, the place I call  Wicked Florida.

Some of the creatures/poison plants are Florida natives, but many–like the rosary pea–are invasive, hitchhikers from all over the globe who’ve made their home in Florida and now thrive. So far I’ve used three of the wicked species from the video in my novels, though I’ve not yet been able to work a snake into one of my murderous plots, which is regrettable because snakes are such a vital part of the wild Florida that I love.

This pretty garter snake came into our house through the doggie door, making himself comfortable in the guest bedroom. The guest was not amused.

Although I’d come with several scenarios–one involving a pet python–none quite passed the credibility test. Sure, there’s a suspension of disbelief in fiction, but there’s a limit as to how far it will stretch before breaking.So imagine my surprise when last month one of my discarded plot points became reality when a deadly cobra escaped its cage in a quiet Florida neighborhood.

So the next time a seemingly impossible plot occurs to me, I’m going with it.

After all, I live in Wicked Florida!

Mixing Genres: A Dangerous Game http://darylanderson.org/mixing-genres-a-dangerous-game/ Mon, 08 May 2017 15:25:45 +0000 http://darylanderson.org/?p=472 Continue reading ]]>

Although I’d dreamed of writing when I was a kid growing up in Baltimore, life kept getting in the way of dreams, when it should have been the other way around. And so it was only after several careers, which included food service, English teacher and psych nurse, that I finally took the plunge and dove headfirst into fiction writing–though at first it felt more like a belly flop.

Coming from an academic background, I read lots of books on the craft of writing, most of which were unhelpful. (FYI, a decidedly helpful book is Stephen King’s On Writing.) Wading through the material, one warning kept appearing, usually in all caps and with an exclamation point or two:


“Thou shalt not mix genres!”

I understood the danger. Readers like to know what they’re getting into and if a book crossed too many genres–maybe a science-fiction western with a comic slant–it would fall by the wayside. And yet following this rule too strictly is self-limiting. I agree with David Byrne:

Putting everything into little genres is counterproductive. You’re not going to get too many surprises if you only focus on the stuff that fits inside the box that you know.

In other words, good writers make their own boxes. Either a book works, or it doesn’t.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet John Connolly at a book signing on a Friday night in London. Connolly is the author of the Charlie Parker thrillers. For those of you not familiar with the series, they’re rather odd books with elements of crime fiction, myth, supernatural, with a dash of dark humor for spice.

Incredibly, these disparate elements come together to form a compelling universe of good and evil, and something in-between.

Here I am, schmoozing with John Connolly

It doesn’t hurt that his writer’s toolbox is full. He’s a gifted stylist whose prose often veers into the poetic. And he’s no slouch at characterization. His characters not only bleed, but eat, fall in love, and make bad jokes. They live outside the pages.So how does Connolly do it?

For me, one of Connoly’s  most touching characterizations was that of mechanic Willie Brew, whose story figures prominently in  The Reapers. Save for his association with Charlie Parker and his lethal friends Louis and Angel, Willie’s  sixty years on earth have passed largely unnoticed. A workaday everyman, he worked at fixing cars, got married, got divorced, then worked some more. But in Connolly’s hands Willie’s small life becomes very large, achieving a certain dignity. When Willie’s asked to put everything at risk for his friends, we know exactly what he’s giving up.

I still think about Willie Brew. If he had the chance to do it all over again, would he make the same decision?

But perhaps the most compelling part of these novels is in Connolly’s portrayal of evil.  Too often evil is rendered in the abstract, Have you ever noticed that evil is often sensed, rather than seen or felt? I think writers sometimes shy away from the concrete in their descriptions because they fear winding up with a cartoon devil with horns and tail that wouldn’t scare a five-year-old.

Here’s hoping Charlie Parker keeps fighting the darkness for a long, long time.But Connolly doesn’t look away from the face of evil. In his books, it is felt, seen, smelled, touched and even…well, you get the idea.


April in the City of Light http://darylanderson.org/april-in-the-city-of-light/ Thu, 23 Mar 2017 21:43:52 +0000 http://darylanderson.org/?p=467 Continue reading ]]>

The Eiffel Tower puts on a show!


I’m not sure what makes a city great, but I know a great city when I meet one. I’ve been fortunate to have visited some of the famed cities of the world: New York, London, Chicago, Dublin and Paris. Each is unique, but all have claimed a place in my heart. I’ve often wondered what it is about these cities that intrigues me so. What are the elements of a truly superior city?

A few years my husband and I visited Paris in April. While he ran the Paris marathon, I ran around Paris. These are some of my stops. Join me and maybe together we can decide what makes Paris great.

The architecture of Paris is justly admired, and none more so than the Eiffel Tower, Paris’s most iconic symbol. Standing tall and proud, it is the brightest beacon in the city of light.

The magnificent and monumental Arc de Triomphe was commissioned in 1807 after Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz, when the Emperor rode the crest of fortune’s wheel. As I viewed the massive structure, I thought of War and Peace, Ozymandias and the Russian winter that would soon destroy Napoleon’s Grande Armée.

 These somber thoughts vanished when I climbed to the top of the Arc and saw the Champs Elysees below, glistening in the twilight like a magic carpet. Somehow, the impossible seems possible in Paris.

Versailles is one of the must-see tourist destinations. I like to look for the human side of history and it was

Doing the Versailles Shuffle in the Hall of Mirrors

difficult to find at that cold palace. (Clothes of gold offer little comfort–give me soft cotton and fleece.) I’m sure having to dance the  “Versailles shuffle” detracted from my enjoyment–the crowds were horrendous–but there was one human connection.

Passing through Marie Antoinette’s bedchamber, I recalled that this was where she and Louis cowered when the crowd of angry peasants arrived from Paris. The mob had marched from Paris carrying pitchforks and sticks and now they demanded their king’s surrender. In those final desperate moments of freedom, Louis and Marie Antoinette clung together.

From that point onward, it was a slow march to Monsieur Guillotine for Louis and his queen.

A recreation of Marie Antoinette’s cell, prior to her appointment with the guillotine

Paris is most alive in its streets and cafes. Unlike my fellow Americans who are protective of their personal space, Parisians happily sit elbow to elbow in crowded cafes.

I’m going to wind up this little tour with a visit to the exquisite basilica of Sacré-Cœur, which stands on a hill in Montmartre.  When I first saw Sacré-Cœur in the early nineties, I wasn’t familiar with its history. At that time I saw a gleaming edifice in white stone that was both elegant and imposing, a product of  La Belle Epoque.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris

First a little history: During the final decades of the nineteenth century Paris experienced an explosion of art and literature. Renoir painted, Gide brooded, and Stravinsky wrote music so revolutionary it provoked listeners to riot. Yet this golden age was rooted in blood, which brings me back to Sacré-Cœur.

The Franco-Prussian War was an unmitigated disaster for France. After the surrender of Napoleon III in 1871, a revolutionary uprising called the Paris Commune seized power in Paris. They held on for two brutal months before being obliterated by the regular French army and were buried on a hilltop in Montmartre.

In the humiliating aftermath of defeat, the people of Paris erected a grand basilica where the martyrs lay buried. After all, the Communards were secular and had no love of priests.  So this was a way of doing penance and erasing the past that had caused such pain.

The history of Sacré-Cœur reads like a metaphor, but I’m not sure what it means. I only know that there is something eternal in that white stone and something horrible as well. There are many places like Sacré-Cœur in Paris, places where the past and present collide.

So what makes Paris great?

The answer is everything. Architecture, art, open spaces, history, culture–all conspire to form the city of light. I don’t think I’d want to live in a world without Paris, and even though it may be years before I see her again, I keep her in my heart.

Perhaps Ernest Hemingway said it best:

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

Sweet Dreams http://darylanderson.org/sweet-dreams/ Mon, 13 Mar 2017 19:08:33 +0000 http://darylanderson.org/?p=463 Continue reading ]]>

People often ask me where I get my ideas for stories. Of course, all fiction stems from the imagination and the simplest answer is that I make it up. But the imagination is not an bottomless pool of ideas–like anything else, it needs to be fed. So when not actually scribbling away, I’m busy replenishing the toolbox of imagination.

One sure way to get my creative juices flowing is a visit to an old graveyard. From Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel to Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, writers have sought inspiration in these cities of the dead. Join me for a little tour of some of my favorite spots.

Is she looking homeward?
The Angel of Peace
Forest Hills Cemetery,  Boston

This contemplative angel brought to mind the sad lyricism of Thomas Wolfe,

You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile….back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time–back home to the escapes of Time and Memory–Thomas Wolfe

A penny for your thoughts?
Antietam Cemetery, Maryland

The Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, was  the bloodiest day in American combat history with over 23,000 casualties on both sides. More than twice as  many Americans were killed or mortally wounded in combat at Antietam that day as in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War combined.

Previous visitors had left coins on many of the soldiers’s headstone. Most were pennies, though I spotted a few nickles. Was this a fee for the ferryman or was there some other meaning?

Later I read that coins left at grave sites held a special meaning for the military dead, with each denomination meaning something different. But it all comes down to remembrance, which is the last gift the living give the dead.

Antietam Battlefield
City of the Dead, with luxurious above-ground accommodations,
courtesy of Marie Laveau
Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans

Mark Twain was much impressed with the neat necropolises of New Orleans:

Many of the cemeteries are beautiful, and are kept in perfect order. When one goes from the levee or the business streets to a cemetery, he observes… that if those people down there would live as neatly while they are alive as they do after they are dead, they would find many advantages in it; and besides, their quarter would be the wonder and admiration of the business world.

I was touched by these dual headstones in Copp’s Hill, the grave site of two young brothers, one-year-old Josiah and his three-year-old Nathaniel, who died on the same bleak November day in 1721.In not too long a time, the writing on the stones will be erased.

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

I have heard it said that parents in olden days didn’t mourn their lost children as we do because childhood death was so common. What nonsense! Here is the Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet lamenting the death of her infant  grandson, who died being but a month, and one day old.

No sooner came, but gone, and fall’n asleep,
Acquaintance short, yet parting caused us weep;
Three flowers, two scarcely blown, the last I’ th’ bud,
Cropt by th’ Almighty’s hand; yet is He good.
With dreadful awe before Him let’s be mute,
Such was His will, but why, let’s not dispute,
With humble hearts and mouths put in the dust,
Let’s say He’s merciful as well as just.
He will return and make up all our losses,
And smile again after our bitter crosses
Go pretty babe, go rest with sisters twain;
Among the blest in endless joys remain.

Memorials aren’t limited to angels and headstones. When Grace died at five years old from whooping cough, her lifelike statue was encased in glass, where it remains as pure and unblemished as the day it was created. From her expression, she must have been a serious little soul.

Forest Hills Cemetery

Some statuary borders on the whimsical–check out this pair of beds.

This might just be a straightforward representation of the actual beds of the deceased, but every time I look at this picture I think of Prospero’s words, when he realized the party was indeed over.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
I bet Shakespeare visited a graveyard or two in his day!
Sweet dreams.
A Visit with Mr. Dickens http://darylanderson.org/a-visit-with-mr-dickens/ Fri, 03 Mar 2017 22:39:12 +0000 http://darylanderson.org/?p=427 Continue reading ]]>

Throughout his all-too-brief life, Charles Dickens was constantly on the move. By any measure, his list of residences is astounding. Perhaps he inherited this restless spirit from his father, who moved from pillar to post, usually one step ahead of the creditors. Sadly, most of Dickens’s home no longer exist, their presence–or rather absence–marked by a sign or commemorative plaque saying Charles Dickens once lived here.

But that’s okay–a great city such as London is like the Phoenix, constantly recreating itself in the ashes of its own destruction. And anyway Dickens’s London still exists in the pages of his books. Still, there is a remaining jewel: 48 Doughty Street.  In 1837, Charles Dickens, his wife Catherine, and her seventeen-year-old sister Mary Hogarth moved to the handsome residence, a house that befitted Dickens’s position as a rising novelist.

Delighted with his new digs, Dickens wrote: “It was a pleasant twelve-room dwelling of pink brick, with three stories and an attic, a white arched entrance door on the street level, and a small private garden in the rear…. a genteel private street with a lodge at each end and gates that were closed at night by a porter in a gold-laced hat and a mulberry-colored coat.”

48 Doughty Street
Charles Dickens Museum

This beautifully restored house is now home to the Charles Dickens Museum and a must-see for any lover of Dickens.When my husband and I visited, we were lucky enough to catch the costumed tour.

Here’s the set-up: It is 1839. Mr. Dickens and his family aren’t at home, but the chatty housemaid invites inside for a look around. I rather suspected the young flibbertigibbet was in her cups, but who can blame her? It was a chill April morning and I’d have gladly joined her in a bowl of Smoking Bishop, if she’d offered.

Young Mr. Dickens

Catherine Dickens

During his three-year sojourn at Doughty Street, Dickens was a happily married young husband and father who’d just experienced his first commercial and critical successes, with The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, and Nicholas Nickleby.

Although they grew apart as the years and babies accumulated, during their stay on Doughty Street, Charles and Catherine were an attractive young couple, very much in love.

When our hostess led us into the room where he had penned these three early novels, I was momentarily struck dumb. This was where Oliver Twist drew his first breath and Nancy her last, Sensing my interest, our hostess took me aside for a private word.

“I daresay when I first entered Mr. Dickens’s employ. I thought the master was mad as hops! I’d be passing on the stairs and here him in his room talkin’ and yellin’ to himself in all different kind of voices. I would have sworn to the Beadle he weren’t alone, though I knew the truth of it, I did.” The good woman laughed and lowered her voice. “Why, once I peeked in and he were winkin’ and twitchin’ at himself in the mirror, like one of them crazed folk at Bedlam!”

“He was happy here,” I said, and a shadow passed over the kind woman’s face. “Wasn’t he?” I prodded.

“You’ve read his books, so you know how it was–how it is. Life is always mixed up, not all one or the other. Come, let me take you to her room.”

“Mary’s room?” I whispered and our hostess nodded.

The room where Mary died

Charles Dickens was inordinately fond of his pretty sister-in-law Mary Hogarth, a pretty ephemeral creatures of sweetness and light. One night in 1837, Mary  fell ill. She died the following day, in Charles Dickens’s arms.

Mary Hogarth, aged 16, shortly before her death

Distraught, Dickens removed a ring from Mary’s cold finger and placed in on his own,  where it remained for the rest of his days. Inconsolable after the loss of “so perfect a creature,” he was unable–for the first and last time in his professional life–to put pen to paper. Time and deadlines passed, with no new installments of The Pickwick Papers or Oliver Twist.

Dickens never really recovered from the tragedy–Mary’s untimely death haunted his life and his fiction. His novels are peopled with the ghosts of Mary Hogarth. To some this might seem hard, but that’s what writers do: they mine their own lives and the lives of others to create art.

In The Old Curiosity Shop–a mere three years after the tragedy–Dickens created his most  direct representation of Mary in Little Nell, an impoverished, sickly waif of “not quite fourteen”. As Little Nell’s life hung in the balance, two continents nervously awaited her fate. In a nineteenth-century version of going viral, frenzied New Yorkers were so eager to read the final part of Dickens’ story that they crowded the docks on a daily basis, shouting to the sailors on incoming ships, “Is Little Nell dead?”

(Spoiler alert: Yes, she is. In fact, Nell’s death scene is one of the most moving in Victorian literature, no small feat.)

In David Copperfield, Dickens’s most autobiographical novel and one of my personal favorites, Mary is resurrected in the character of wise Agnes. At least here, Dickens wrote himself a happy ending, endowing his literary doppelgangers of David and Agnes with marital contentment.

After leaving the death room, we followed our hostess to the dining room, where I was cheered to find the dining table set for guests.

But then, Mr. Dickens so loved company–he was an actor on the stage of life, playing his role to the hilt.

As our time at Doughty Street drew to a close, I thought that this little house was not unlike one of Mr. Dickens’s books. His novels brimmed with life,but death was a constant presence, the uninvited guest at life’s banquet. Though he recognized the evil that men do, he affirmed–again and again–the power of the human heart. Though a frail organ, Dickens believed that there was no darkness so profound that it could not be illuminated by a loving human heart.

I’d like to believe he was right. Wouldn’t you?

All too soon, it was time to leave 1837 and the cozy house on Doughty Street. In farewell, our hostess quoted these words form the conclusion of The Pickwick Papers, when our narrator bids a final goodbye to that goodhearted fool, Mr.Pickwick.

Let us leave our old friend in one of those moments of unmixed happiness, of which, if we seek them, there are ever some, to cheer our transitory existence here. There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast. Some men, like bats or owls, have better eyes for the darkness than for the light. We, who have no such optical powers, are better pleased to take our last parting look at the visionary companions of many solitary hours, when the brief sunshine of the world is blazing full upon them.

Well said, Mr. Dickens.

The Detection Club http://darylanderson.org/mystery-writing-agatha-christie-poe-detection-club-crime-fiction/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 21:47:57 +0000 http://darylanderson.org/?p=413 Continue reading ]]>

As such things go, detective fiction is the new kid on the literary block. Unlike romance, which can trace its roots back to the middle ages, the detective story burst on the scene in 1841 with Edgar Allen Poe’s detective Auguste Dupin.

Several decades later, Sherlock burst on the scene in A Study in Scarlet and the game was really afoot. By the twenties and thirties the so-called Golden Age of Detective Fiction arrived, when the likes of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers plied their trade. As many of these writers were based in London, it was perhaps inevitable that they formed their own society–the Detection Club.

Like any club worth its salt, there was an elaborate initiation ceremony including a sacred oath:
Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on or making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?

The Detection Club, detecting the Sunday Times

Personally, I have no problem with most of the oath, though I confess to enjoying a little jiggery-pokery now and again. In addition to the blood oath, members were also expected to follow ten commandments in writing a mystery.

The rules were set down in stone by Ronald Knox in 1928. Let’s take a look at five of Ronnie’s rules and see how they’ve stood the test of time:

Rule 1: The criminal must be named in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.

I have no problem with the first part as it’s just a question of playing fair with the reader. Also, the interplay between the sleuth and killer is a big part of the fun in any murder mystery. However, I’m no so sure about about that last bit. If Agatha Christie had taken this rule to heart, she’d have never written the classic The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, where–spoiler alert–the killer narrates the tale. In fact, some contemporary reviewers were so upset, they actually called the Grand Dame of Mystery a cheat!

Agatha Christie

Rule 2: There must not be more than one secret room or passage.

I guess Dan Brown didn’t get the memo.

Rule 3: No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.

An excellent  rule as the real deal–or poison–is almost always preferable to some made-up concoction. I added “almost” because this was another commandment that Christie broke, most notably with the fictitious hypertensive drug Serenite in A Caribbean Mystery and the equally fake sedative Calmo in The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side.

Rule 4: No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.

This depends upon how intuition is defined. A gut feeling or sudden insight is valid only when the insight is based on information that the sleuth has gathered.

Rule 5: The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.

In other words, play fair with your readers, or else you won’t have them for very long! In the opening chapter of Death at China Rose, I slipped in a little fact that virtually identifies the killer. Of course neither my sleuth nor the reader has the context to use that information at that early date–sneaky, but fair.

Before I get to my final verdict, here’s a quick cautionary tale.

When I attended the University of Florida, postmodernism was the big thing. In one of my classes the professor instructed us to write an paper without any rules. Taking him at his word, I wrote a frenetic paper that incorporated everything from Derrida to Moby Dick to Elvis’s phallus. (Trust me, you don’t want to know.)

Elvis, shaking his money maker

Writing the paper was a liberating experience. I jumped from topic to topic in a steam of consciousness that would have done Joyce proud. It was fun and I even got an A!

A year of so after the fact, I was going through some old papers and came across my forgotten masterpiece. A sappy smile on my face, I started reading. Pretty soon, my smile twisted into a grimace. The damn essay made no sense. It was just a bunch of random thoughts tied together with string and spit, signifying nothing. (Sorry, Elvis.)

The fact is that rules exist for a reason. A writer can  break any rule she pleases, but only if it serves a purpose.

In other words: Rules are useful, unless they’re not!

Murder in Mystic Cove wins Book of the Month poll at LASR http://darylanderson.org/murder-in-mystic-cove-wins-book-of-the-month-poll-at-lasr/ Tue, 04 Nov 2014 17:25:27 +0000 http://darylanderson.org/?p=214

BoM 2014 October Murder in Mystic Cove

Murder in Mystic Cove Cracks Bestseller List! http://darylanderson.org/murder-in-mystic-cove-cracks-bestseller-list/ Fri, 03 Oct 2014 16:54:44 +0000 http://darylanderson.org/?p=202

Murder in Mystic Cove made the USA Today Bestseller list!

Murder in Mystic Cove Book Trailer http://darylanderson.org/murder-in-mystic-cove-book-trailer-2/ Wed, 30 Jul 2014 16:49:17 +0000 http://darylanderson.org/?p=166

Check out my new book trailer!