In the lead-up to the launch of The Black Beacon Book of Mystery in June, we’ve asked our contributors to answer a few questions so you can get to know them better. Let’s unravel the mystery behind the stories together.
Is there a story behind your contribution to The Black Beacon Book of Mystery? What inspired you to write this mystery?
My first published story, "E.Q. Griffen Earns His Name," appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine in 1968. I was sixteen years old when I wrote it, and my protagonist was a sixteen-year-old boy named Ellery Queen Griffen. I wrote a second story about E.Q. two years later, and one about his younger brother, Nero Wolfe Griffen, a year after that, but then I moved on to creating my own characters, rather than copying those of other authors. A few years ago, I realized that the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of my first story was approaching, and I decided it would be fun to bring its main character back, fifty years older, to celebrate the occasion. Where would E.Q. be, half a century on? Well, where was I? Writing has over the decades been a paying hobby for me. My job is in education — I teach communication studies and film appreciation at a two-year college in Virginia. So why not make the adult E.Q. Griffen a college instructor? I wrote "50" and submitted it to EQMM — and editor Janet Hutchings not only bought it, she agreed to publish it in the magazine's November/December 2018 issue, exactly fifty years to the month after my December 1968 debut. The next year, I was delighted to see "50" place second in the balloting for EQMM's annual Readers Choice Award.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
In 1972, I backpacked across Western Europe and visited the Reichenbach Falls in Meiringen, Switzerland. A beautiful spot — and, unlike the fictional "221B Baker Street," a real place!
What are you writing now?
A year ago, I was asked to write a story for a collection titled The Eyes of Texas, edited by the prolific Michael Bracken. I created a Texas private investigator named Helmut Erhard, whose grandfather was a German Army officer who spent the last two years of WWII in a POW camp in central Texas and stayed on in the US after the war to raise a family. I had so much fun with the character and the small-town Texas setting that I've now written four more Erhard stories and am working on number six.
Where can we follow or contact you online?
I don't often tweet, but I'm a pretty regular presence on the Book of Faces, and I have a website at www.joshpachter.com