Instead of reviewing a short story today, I'm sharing my thoughts on movie adaptations of fiction. As a mystery author, this is a bit of a confession. I had dental work done yesterday, and was in no state to do anything constructive. I checked out a dvd from the library. One of my first fictional loves was Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I thought I had picked up the 2011 film version, but it is the 2006 BBC version.
There is considerable mystery involved in Jane Eyre, although it is classified as gothic romance. Who is Grace Poole, and why does Mr. Rochester tolerate the gruff housekeeper?
I enjoyed the 2006 adaptation more than the 2011 version. Central to my enjoyment of the movie was that both Jane and Mr. Rochester are supposed to be physically unappealing. Actor Toby Stevens was, in certain scenes, too handsome, but he mostly carried off his role by means of his accurate portrayal of Rochester's gruff, at times cruel, personality. Actor Ruth Wilson captured Jane well, showing the feisty person under the mousiness.
Here's an evaluation and list of film adaptations, by Jessica Winter.
I wrote about author B. K. Stevens in previous posts. This wonderful writer passed away unexpectedly this year. Her short story The Last Blue Glass won the Anthony Award for Best Novella at the mystery fiction convention Bouchercon this month. I had met Bonnie, and enjoyed reading her excellent short stories. The Anthony was well-deserved.
Below are links to The Last Blue Glass, and articles by Art Taylor about the award, and Bonnie's life and career.
Bonnie talks about her winning story, and provides a link to read it: here.
Art Taylor at the awards ceremony on the SleuthSayers blog: here.
Art Taylor's tribute to Bonnie, and remembrances from friends and family: here.
The Smuggler of Samarkand by Martin Limon, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine September / October 2017
I have enjoyed previous tales in this series of short stories by Martin Limon featuring Il-yong, a Korean-American private detective plying his trade in China. In this story, a Muslim Chinese mother named Iparhan seeks to reunite with her adult son. Released after 40 years in a Chinese prison, she is dying. Her fervent wish is to see her son one last time.
Iparhan's son is a smuggler on the China-Kyrgystan border. Approaching him will be dangerous. Il-yong meets his guide, a tall woman named Fu Fei-fei, with hair like "a silky black river". They quote Mickey Spillane lines back and forth when they first meet.
A dicey situation turns even worse when Il-yong tries to convince Iparhan's son to visit his mother before she dies. I don't want to give away too much, so you'll have to trust me - the story is thoroughly entertaining.
For something outside the realm of short fiction, I attended a play with my two granddaughters, ages 12 and 16. Baskerville is a comedy take on Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. Both girls are active in school theater, and jump at any chance to see live theater.
Baskerville opened with slapstick humor and belly laugh inducing wordplay. I wondered whether this frenetic pace could be sustained. With occasional lulls in the hilarity, the play carried through to its climactic ending. The Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs hosts this production through October 30.
I finished my first Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library novel. I have been assigned two books in the 24 book series - number 14 and number 23. I just sent #14, tentatively titled A Whale Tale, to my agent. Now I anxiously await feedback from the editor.
I am excited about this opportunity, which is a departure from my Rock Shop Mystery series, and the traditional publishing route that has been my journey to date. Typically, an author writes a book, then seeks publication. In this series, different authors are assigned books in the series. My name will be on the books I write. Each must have a literary theme, and use existing characters and setting.
Another difference is that readers subscribe to a series, much as one subscribes to a magazine, receiving a new novel every month or so. Readers may subscribe to either hardcover or electronic versions. Have you ever been frustrated waiting for the next book in a favorite series, or been disappointed when a series ended abruptly, without completing the entire story? There is no danger of that happening with the various Annie's Attic series.
Here's a little more about the Castleton Manor series, from the publisher's website:
Faith is happy to close the book on her hectic life in Boston -- unscrupulous boyfriend included -- and enjoy a fresh, peaceful start in Lighthouse Bay, Massachusetts. The opportunity to work in the grand library at Castleton Manor, the luxury resort that caters to booklovers and encourages guests to unwind with their beloved pets, is a dream come true! Even better, the new job brings Faith closer to her family, offers free lodging in the charming on-site gardener's cottage, and her cherished rescue cat, Watson, is welcome everywhere Faith is.
Just as Faith and Watson settle into their soothing, sophisticated seaside surroundings, a rough tide of horrific events rolls in, leaving a series of lies, deceit and murder in its wake! Caught in the middle of this whirlwind, Faith is shocked to learn she is the main suspect in a murder investigation. Will she be able to clear her name before the true culprit succeeds at keeping her quiet at all costs? Find out how the story unfolds when you send for your copy of A Novel Murder!
My Castleton Manor novel has the literary theme of Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Faith's cat becomes obsessed with finding a whale, which throws him into the middle of a murder mystery.
In other writing project news, I have plans for a fourth Rock Shop Mystery, more short stories, and a stand-alone novel.
Woodland Park Public Library
218 E. Midland Ave. Woodland Park, CO 80863
October 11 - 2pm
This Wednesday, October 11, I am joining other local authors at the Woodland Park Library.
For an inside peek at what authors think of library events, author Maris Soule recently blogged on this topic. Are author events worth the time and effort? She lists the pros and cons of participating here.
Cabin Fever by David Edgerley Gates, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine September / October 2017
Deputy Hector Moody's truck breaks down in the Montana wilderness. A storm is coming. His day goes from bad to worse when he takes shelter in an old cabin, and encounters two escaped convicts. Then lightning strikes, and the forest fire erupts. Author Gates does a terrific job of making these events seem plausible. The tension builds as firefighters converge on the forest fire, while a SWAT team hunts for both Deputy Moody and the convicts.
Gates breaks one of the rules of short story writing, and does it well. The common advice is to not switch point of view in a short story. This is true, unless you are a skilled storyteller. Cabin Fever is told from multiple points of view. One character is Deputy Moody's girlfriend, Doctor Katie Faraday, who sets up a clinic to treat the firefighters for minor injuries and smoke inhalation.
"Hector's over in the Gallatin," she told him. "Ranch hands at the Two Forks called in suspicious rustling activity."
The ranchers ran cattle on federal land, under permit. The cows ranged fairly wide, and sometimes you lost track.
"Well, we've got a thing," Frank Child said.
Katie knew what cops meant by a "thing." It didn't usually presage good news.
There is a lot going on in this story, told with edge-of-your-seat intensity.
One day while walking through a park with my husband, we spotted a painted rock on the side of the trail. We marveled that someone would create a little work of art, and leave it in the park for the elements to batter or a random admirer to take it home.
Later, I learned about 719 Rocks! I was intrigued by the idea of people putting their creativity, heart, and time into projects that they simply gave away. Not knowing where they might end up. Most likely, never learning where their little works of art went.
When I saw painted rocks around town, they made me happy. They made me think. People talk about random acts of kindness. The painted rocks are gifts of the heart thrown out into the universe, not knowing where they may land, hoping they bring a smile to a child, or hope to someone who is struggling. People regularly post on the Facebook site that finding a rock helped them turn around a difficult day.
I talked the grandkids into painting rocks with me. We set some out at random. Two have appeared on the Facebook page. One traveled from Old Colorado City to a downtown park. I am totally hooked, and have my rocks and paint on a table in the family room. My husband scoffed at first, then insisted he needed the tiny blue and yellow minion I painted for his desk.
A recent magazine article explains the groups mission here. The group made the local newspaper here.
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