Last weekend I attended the 2018 New England Crimebake. I had not been before and wasn’t sure what to expect. But if you are a crime novel writer or reader, this is a place to celebrity-watch and get fired up over all the great new books coming out. This year’s Guest of Honor was Walter Mosley, creator of Easy Rawlins and writer of many bestsellers. His novel “Devil in a Blue Dress” was made into a movie starring Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals. It’s excellent — watch it any chance you get and read the book for its superb blending of mystery and character motivation.
This year the administrators set up a short-short story contest. In no more than 150 words, we were challenged to write a flash story in which a crime occurs [any kind], using no less than ten words from a list of seventeen that were taken from the titles of Mosley’s books. I had a blast with it [I managed to use fourteen words from the list]. Three winners were chosen, and I was one of them. It was the greatest thrill to stand up in front of a few hundred writers and readers of crime fiction and read my own story! It’s something to remember always.
This is me on the right, with the other two winners [I’m ashamed to say I didn’t note down their names; hopefully the Crimebake website will post them soon] and Mr. Walter Mosley himself. By the way, if you ever get a chance to listen to him talk about the craft of writing, grab it! He is fun and informative and a natural speaker, which is not always the case with even the best writers.
So, just for fun, here’s the story, with words from Mosley’s titles underlined:
HEY, I LIKE TO COOK
Hey, I like to cook, and all I want is a quiet existence. So I felt fortunate to have found a cheap basement apartment that had access to a charcoal grill on the patio. But I hadn’t counted on the apartment manager’s dog, a raging evil brute with big ugly teeth that got a thrill out of chasing me away from my apartment door when I came home every single day.
The manager laughed when I complained and then tried to put his hand up my dress. But he got used to seeing me cooking on the patio, so pieces of butterfly “chicken” on the grill didn’t cause him any fear, even after the dog came up missing. The dog’s mistake was liking my cinnamon buns with just a kiss of arsenic. His owner’s mistake was accepting my invitation to a delicious backyard fry-up.