Saturday, September 19, 2015

Genre-Sliding with Margaret Atwood in nEvermore! Tales of Murder, Mystery and the Macabre

Please welcome this weekend's guest blogger,  Caro Soles, a mystery maven of incomparable energy and talent. Caro is the founder of Bloody Words, Canada's biggest mystery convention, which finally closed in 2014. Her work includes four mysteries (one of which was short listed for a Lambda Literary Award), the sf series, THE MERCULIANS plus two short story collections and four novels under a nom de plume. She has edited several anthologies, the latest nEvermore! Tales of Murder, Mayhem and the Macabre, co-edited with Nancy Kilpatrick.

Learn more about Caro at


Every good story has a mystery curled up at its centre. This is not to say that every story is a mystery. I remember being impressed while reading an essay by Nicola Griffith who said that writing a genre novel, whether science fiction, fantasy, or mystery, distorts the shape of the story, unbalancing one or two of the elements to such an extent that the whole is literally pulled out of shape. Of course she said this far more elegantly than I, but that is the gist of how I remember it. I promptly imagined a beautiful round orange being squished and shoved until it literally went pear-shaped, as the Brits say. It went from being one thing to being another.

This calls to mind what one astute reviewer wrote about my first mystery novel, The Tangled Boy. If you take the murder out of the story, he wrote, you still have a story, only now it is a coming-of-age/coming out story. Although at the time I was, of course, outraged, gradually I saw that he was right. Now I see it is all about genre. What he meant was that I had not written a genre mystery. And he was right. Genre is all about emphasis. Are you concentrating on the crime? Is everything else secondary to this? The crime provides the main story line, and this shoves other elements out of alignment. Genre is also labeling, which is imperative in our current market-place. There is no label for just “good story”, and if there is no label, the publisher/bookseller, etc. has no idea how to sell the thing. Genre stories have to be pear-shaped.

Back in the days of Edgar Allan Poe, and to a lesser extent the days of my childhood, (Note: These were not the same days) there was no such concept as genre. Poe wrote everything. And that was what Nancy Kilpatrick and I were looking for in stories for nEvermore!, our Poe-inspired anthology. To get what we wanted, we contacted writers well known in different genres, from literary to fantasy, to mystery, to outright horror, and invited them to genre-slide. Could they do it? They all professed enthusiasm for the idea. For Margaret Atwood it was easy. She does this all the time. Others could reflect the Poe influence by writing pretty much in their familiar arena. The mystery crew, all from different categories of crime writing, took a bit of nudging to slide out of the more rigid structure needed for mysteries but they all came through in the end with flying colours. All of the stories are inspired in some way by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Some authors came through with a modern take on a familiar story, sometimes obvious, sometimes more subtle. Other writers went with atmosphere and themes. Still others played with style. No matter how they did it, they all went a little pear-shaped for nEvermore! Tales of Mystery, Murder and the Macabre.

How successful were they? Publishers' Weekly has already called the anthology "Eclectic and delightful...a cache of worthy tributes...". The ebook is already out on Amazon, and will be available in October from all other ebook dealers. In Canada, the print version of nEvermore! hits the bookshelves in September. Pick up your copy and slide along with us! Try it. You'll like it! If you are in any of these places, drop by and say hello! 

Sellers & Newel - Toronto- Sept 24, 6 - 8
Sleuth of Baker Street - Toronto - Sept 26, at 2 - 4
Word on the Street -Toronto - Sept 27
Edgar Allan Poe Museum -Richmond, VA - Oct 7, at 6 - 9pm
Bouchercon - Raleigh, NC - Oct 8 - 11
Horror-rama - Toronto - Oct 17 - 18
Paragraphe - Montreal - Nov. 3, at 6 pm
World Fantasy Con - Saratoga Springs, N.Y. - Nov 5 - 8
Dark Delicacies Bookstore, Los Angeles, CA - Dec 5

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