CWA Anthology of Short Stories - Mystery Tour - edited by Martin Edwards **Blog Tour Author Post**

I'm delighted to be taking part in the celebrations for the publication of the CWA Anthology of Short Stories (Mystery Tour) by Orenda Books. These are all new stories by members of the Crime Writer' Association. Every one of the 28 short stories shares the theme of travel or international destinations.The authors are a mixture of established writers and newcomers to the genre. 

The contributers are: Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick.

    I am happy to be able to share with you an author post by Kate Rhodes whose contribution is called, Snowbird. Kate kindly agreed to answer some of my questions.

Welcome to Books, Life and Everything, Kate. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a writer.

It still amazes me sometimes that I have ended up as a novelist. I was the archetypal late developer, going to university as a mature student, but it was my first job as an English teacher that embedded my love of the written word. I was lucky enough to work for several years in a sixth form college, and sharing my passion for poetry and novels made me decide to start writing myself. I can honestly say, I’ve never looked back.

What is it about the crime genre which attracts you?   

I think it’s the ingenuity of crime novels’ plots, as well as the opportunity to write about a wide range of human emotions. All crime writers strive to create original stories, rather than pumping out hackneyed potboilers, so modern plots have to be breathtakingly clever. I also love the fact that you can write about evil, as well as good traits in the characters you create. I genuinely believe that you can cover almost any topic under the sun in a well-written crime novel.

 What do you think makes a satisfying short story?

Short stories should be like photographs. They need to deliver their message with such clarity that they will linger for a long time in the reader’s memory.

 Within the brevity of the short story form how do you go about establishing setting, character and plot?

All three aspects are very important in the short story genre. You are only going to enter the fictional world for a very brief period of time, so the setting has to be atmospheric and memorable. Characters also need to be quirky, and gripped by a dilemma that will keep the reader hooked until the final world. But of course, plot is most important of all. I love short stories that deliver a wicked twist in the tail, but more observational character-driven stories can be deeply satisfying too.

Tell us a little about your writing routine.

I may sound like a masochist, but I write almost every day for five or six hours. It’s a passion, as well as a job for me, and I like to give myself plenty of time to achieve my deadlines. I’m expected to produce one book a year , but in reality the time I get is limited to seven or eight months, before the editor and copy editor get to work. I write and edit from around 11am until 5pm, with few breaks. I wish my brain sprang into action first thing in the morning, but it needs several pints of coffee before my imagination warms up!
Which crime writers do you admire and why? (contemporary or from past years)

I really enjoy Melanie Mcgrath’s work. Her latest novel, GIVE ME THE CHILD engrossed me, because it’s a tremendously clever and heartfelt piece of psychological crime writing. Laura Wilson’s dark and fascinating crime novels are also books that I always pre-order. I could name dozens of others, but these two are really at the top of their game.
Without spoiling the plot, can you sum up your short story in one sentence?

A plastic surgeon is excited about retiring  to a beautiful location in Florida, but his past travels with him.

Kate Rhodes
 My thoughts about The Snowbird by Kate Rhodes

It is very hard to write a few thoughts on a short story, I have discovered, without totally giving away a vital part of the story. I really have come to appreciate Kate's final answer where she sums up her story in 15 words. I'm so sorry, Kate, I didn't mean to set something so difficult, honest! 

     I'd say the part I appreciate the most is how Kate sets the scene in Key West with the use of evocative details and manages to tell you some of the history of the place through inference, such as the links between street names and past hurricanes. In Nicole, Kate has created an intriguing character who always seems to be holding something back. she is so controlled. Jeff, so used to observing every detail in his profession as a plastic surgeon, has missed something crucial right in front of his eyes.

    The scene is set, the past referenced, characters developed and a plot completed in such a succinct way that I have to applaud. Kate Rhodes has produced a thought provoking and glittering little jewel of a story. In a short story, every word has to count. In Snowbirds, it certainly does, even the title. Well done!

 Thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater of Orenda Books  for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.

Check out the rest of the tour


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