Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Guest Post: Ed Lynskey

Please join me in welcoming Ed Lynskey, author of the new book, Quiet Anchorage to Always With a Book! Today Ed talks about writing Quiet Anchorage.

                             A Small Town Named Quiet Anchorage

           As far as I know, no small town exists that’s called Quiet Anchorage. Just plain Anchorage in Alaska, sure, but not Quiet Anchorage. How I derived the name is lost to my memory. Perhaps I spotted the nautical term—quiet anchorage—used somewhere in my reading. On the other hand, the small town’s creation sprang out of my own personal experience. I grew up in a rural hamlet located in Virginia. While not a unique upbringing, there is a distinctive vibe to a small town you can only pick up by hanging out there. 
          My small town was a whistle stop along the railroad. A lazy river with an old mule canal meandered through the town. There was one traffic light. A laundromat, bank, drugstore, grocer, clothier, florist, and hardware store lined Main Street. The local eccentrics perched on a sunny bench situated in front of the clothing store. In other words, my small town was like any other one dotting the American landscape. My make-believe Quiet Anchorage was based on what impressions I soaked up after all these years later.
I had some concerns of adopting a setting—the small town—that’s been used over and over in modern fiction, especially mysteries which is the genre I practice in the most. But then I thought of all the novels that are set in New York City, Boston, or New Orleans (pre-Katrina, of course). There’s nothing wrong with any of those places (I honeymooned in The Big Apple). It’s just that I’ve been to those large cities so many times already. Then I felt a little better about picking my small town as the setting. My two septuagenarian sisters, Alma and Isabel Trumbo, solve a homicide mystery after their niece Megan is accused of killing her fiance Jake.  

One of the main appeals to the writing of Quiet Anchorage was settling into the leisurely pace and slower rhythms of the small town existence. The town isn’t close to being a seedy, desolate locale as you’d encounter when reading a noirish yarn. Quiet Anchorage is both a nice place to visit and even go live. Families live there, and children play there. When Jake’s murder rocks its axis, the townspeople reel from the shock over the lurid deed unheard of until then. 

            The local sheriff is convinced in his rush to effect an arrest of Megan's guilt. Of course, he underestimates the resilience, tenacity, and wiles of her two little aunts. There's a Southern expression used that says when an old lady dies, a library burns down. So true, it applies here. As natives, Alma and Isabel know their town inside and out. All the dirty secrets, old scandals and lengthy grudges mark where they being their prying around. Plus their lifetime as mystery reading fans has schooled them well in the ways to root out a killer in hiding. My hope is the read will like them and cheer them on in their investigation.

            Quiet Anchorage is my first cozy mystery. There's no sex or violence in it. My previous books have been in the hardboiled or noir vein that tells an edgier, hairier narrative. My reservation, among the several I had, doubted if I could pull off spinning a credible, entertaining story of my two amateur sleuths. so far, the review and reader comments on Quiet Anchorage have been favorable ones. That's a relief to me. I haven't fallen on my face or embarrassed myself. In fact, I may elect to press ahead and write a sequel to launch a series. I just don't know quite yet.

About the author:  Ed Lynskey is a crime fiction writer and lives with his family near Washington, D.C. His five mysteries featuring his P.I. Frank Johnson are The Dirt-Brown Derby (Mundania Press, 2006), The Blue Cheer (Point Blank/Wildside Press, 2007), Pelham Fell Here (Mundania Press, 2008), Troglodytes (Mundania Press, 2010), and The Zinc Zoo (Mundania Press, 2011). Lake Charles (Wildside Press), a stand alone, is due out in 2011. His work has been anthologized by St. Martin's Press and University of Virginia Press while his poetry has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly. His reviews have appeared in the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post. His mystery fiction has been praised by James Crumley, Linda Fairstein, Ken Bruen, Bill Pronzini, John Lutz, Barbara D'Amato and Megan Abbott.

Thank you Ed for contributing this great guest post


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