The Second Black Beacon Book of Mystery will be released on the 8th of July (but the Kindle version is available for pre-order at just $1.99 instead of $3.99, and you can add it to your Goodreads list today) and to celebrate this new volume of short mysteries bound to get armchair detectives the world over donning their deerstalkers, we’re interviewing the contributing authors. Are you ready to glimpse the inner workings of these criminally clever minds? Sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy the following interview—on second thoughts, don’t drink that!
It’s always tricky interviewing a mystery writer about a particular story because we don’t want to give anything away, but can you tell us (carefully) where the idea for your story came from?
Daydreaming about yummy desserts. Good ol’ fashion comfort food to warm the innards on a cold winter’s day. What followed was my imagination taking me to snakes. I know, it makes no sense, but
there you go. Why leave home when we can imagine ourselves anywhere, doing anything? I did a bunch of research, and voila! I had the idea. The story flowed from there.
There are several sub-genres of mystery fiction, but the stories in this anthology are traditional fair-play mysteries in which the reader can try to solve the puzzle before all is revealed. What makes this kind of mystery so timeless?
I think readers love to be engaged. I know I do. Growing up and reading the great mysteries by the likes of Agatha Christie and my favourite, Rex Stout, I was always trying to see if I could figure it out before the truth was revealed. Watching mystery shows on TV with my kids over the years, often I got it figured out before they did. Sometimes they’d make me write down who-dun-it well before the ending. When I was right, it drove them crazy ~wink, wink~
Give us one classic mystery writer you admire and one new talent (not from this anthology) readers ought to discover.
Rex Stout is by far my favourite. I call them my Archie books, and I’ve read them over and over. I’m sure I have most that were published back in the day. I started collecting them thirty years ago. I have a good writer friend, Marcelle Dubé. I don’t know that she’s exactly new (she’s been writing for at least twenty years, with a bunch of books and stories to her credit), but even so, she might be new to others, and I love her writing! She’s definitely one of my faves.
Is this the first mystery your protagonist has solved?
This is the first story my protagonist has appeared in. He came to me one day, talking in my ear, telling me about his latest adventure which included bread pudding. He seems accomplished so I’m pretty sure he’s solved other cases. He simply hasn’t told me about them yet ~wink, wink~
If you were a detective, private investigator, investigative journalist, or amateur sleuth, what would be your trademark quirk?
I’m not a hat person, but if I were, I’d wear a hat similar to what Arlo Guthrie wore on the Alice’s Restaurant album. I wrote a story (published in Murder! Mystery! Mayhem!) with my ‘60s private-eye gal wearing that hat—I like to think she was me, in another universe.
Have you ever solved a real-life mystery?
I fixed a broken lamp once, which was a total mystery to me. Had to make a trip to the hardware store for the electrical parts and ask how to do the job. Three hours later (and three good stiff rye ‘n cokes later) I got ‘er done, and didn’t electrocute myself. Not the mystery you’re asking about, but hey! It was a mystery to me at the time. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little fortitude and willpower in the guise of a bunch of Q-tips (used as scaffolding to keep the wiring intact) and duct tape.
How important is setting to you in your writing? Have you lived or visited where your story is set?
Setting is most certainly important. It can set the mood, the tone, and the voice of the story. No, I didn’t actually visit the setting where my story takes place in the Second BBB of Mystery, but I got close with a holiday in London. Research provided more insights.
What do you aim to give your readers?
Entertainment. A jolly good story, as the English would say. One where the reader says at the conclusion of the story, hey! That was pretty darn cool!
What are you working on now?
I have a PI named Syd Malloy who lives and works in post-WWII-Vancouver solving cases with his long-time pal, Detective Al Simms. (I have no idea why that era other than Syd came to me, talking in my head, and he had stories to tell). I’m hoping to make a second collection of short stories featuring Syd. My first collection, Syd Malloy, Private Investigator, There Goes the Neighbourhood came out in 2022. The book features some previously published Syd stories, and some new ones.
Where can we find you online?
www.karenmkeeley.blogspot.com which is a work in progress.
Thanks for playing along. Enjoy the tea!