Guest Post: David Hansard on “The Lonely Star”

Our final author to contribute an essay for MysteryPeople’s celebration of Texas Mystery Writers Month is David Hansard, writer of One Minute Gone, one of our best selling thrillers in MysteryPeople. David questions who he is as a Texan and reflects on the power of writing to provide him with the best answers.

“About the only thing common to the various Texan prototypes is that they have almost nothing in common, and really don’t like each other much. Although they do all like being Texan.”

“The Lonely Star” by David Hansard

Texas is romance, myth, legend, and stereotype. A bunch of them, and they’re all different and to a significant degree, contradictory and incompatible. Just like Texans. About the only thing common to the various Texan prototypes is that they have almost nothing in common, and really don’t like each other much. Although they do all like being Texan. I’m not talking only about rural vs. urban or farmers vs. ranchers vs. oilmen, let alone any political denigrations. Among animal people, sheep raisers and cow raisers don’t like each other, and among urbanites, Dallasites and Houstonians like each other as much Longhorns and Aggies. Ft. Worth is next door to Dallas, and those tribes really don’t like each other. Wealthy Ft. Worth native and philanthropist, Amon Carter, was known for taking a bag lunch when he had to go to The Bid D for a business meeting so he didn’t have to spend a nickel in that town.

Read More »

George Wier Joins Us in Person At Hard Word Book Club

One of our favorite Austin authors is George Wier. He always puts a good dose of pulp fun and Texas flavor to his books. To help celebrate Texas Mystery Writers Month, he’ll be joining us for our Hard Word Book Club discussion of Cold Rains.

Cold Rains is a throwback to those Gold Medal paperbacks of the Fifties and Sixties, featuring Texas bounty hunter John Rains. His latest skip is Melissa Sossville, a pretty lady who proves more of a match for him than her ninety-five pound frame would suggest. Filled with sexual tension, reversals, and a few dead bodies, it makes for an entertaining read.

George is just as fun as his books. Meet him at our discussion at 7 PM, Wednesday, May 25th on BookPeople’s 3rd floor. The book is 10% off in-store to those who attend.

Coming Up on May 21st: Our Annual Free Crime Fiction Workshop!

 

Presented by Sisters in Crime and MysteryPeople

Our annual free workshop to celebrate Texas Mystery Writers Month with Sisters In Crime will start at 9:15, Saturday May 21st. Throughout the morning and afternoon Texas writers will share their knowledge. It is great for aspiring authors in any genre and for readers curious about the author’s process. This year we have a broad range of criminal wordsmiths. Our schedule is below:

9:15 AM

Orientation

Meet the authors and get a brief overview of the creative day to come!

9:30 – 10:30 AM

George Wier On Action Writing

George Wier, author of the successful Bill Travis series, puts you through the paces of a fine tuned action sequence and shows you how to ratchet up the tension.

11:00 AM- Noon

Terry Shames On Character And Setting Interaction

Terry Shames’ Samuel Craddock novels have been praised for their depictions of small town life. The award winning author shows how to make setting another character with whom your protagonist has a relationship.

Noon – 1:30 PM

Lunch Break

Don’t just use this time to eat. Ask a fellow attendee you don’t know to join you and start networking.

1:30 – 2:30 PM

Brent Douglass & James Dennis On Collaboration

Brent and James make up 2/3rds of the pen name of Mile Arceneux with their friend John Davis. They will show you how to write about murder without killing your partner.

3:00-4:00 PM

Panel Discussion With Authors

Is there something the authors didn’t cover or was there a subject we didn’t hit upon? Here’s your chance. After a quick Q&A with the authors by MysteryPeople’s Crime Fiction Coordinator, Scott Montgomery, the authors take questions from you.

Attend which topics you’d like or stay all day. It is completely free. Books by the authors will be on sale. Bring, paper, pen, and your criminal mind.

Guest Post: Miles Arceneaux on Writing the Gulf Coast

With May being Texas Mystery Writers Month we will have several guest blogs during May from crime fiction writers in our home state writing about the Lone Star Life. We start with John Davis, Brent Douglass, and James Davis who together write under the name “Miles Arceneaux.” Here, Miles describes the setting for their books, The Texas Gulf Coast.

Miles Arceneaux will be speaking and signing their latest collaborative effort, North Beachon Wednesday, May 4th, at 7 PM. Miles will be joined by Irish crime writer Paul Charles, touring with his new Inspector Starrett mystery, St. Ernan’s Blues. 

Guest post by Miles Arceneaux

 

Though the issues in my books, including the clash of cultures, the erosion of time, the nature of friendship and loyalty, might (I hope) seem nuanced, the characters at the heart of the story are pretty simple. I write about men and women you can root for and enjoy hanging out with, bad guys who are low-down sons of bitches who get what’s coming to them and supporting characters who make you laugh, shake your head or maybe both.

The dilemma of writing mysteries set on the Texas Gulf Coast isn’t an absence of compelling characters to drive the plot and flesh out the scenery. On the contrary, there’s too damn many of ‘em to ever winnow down, even over the course of four (so far) novels.

It’s an embarrassment of riches, folks. What the Texas coast lacks in terms of sun-kissed white sand beaches, beautiful people and tony resorts (instead of Donald Trump’s sumptuous Mar-A-Lago, we’ve got the No Esta Aquí Lounge, featuring u-peel-‘em shrimp and cockfights on Sundays), we make up for in local color.

Read More »

Guest Post: Mark Pryor Talks Texas Writing for Texas Mystery Writers Month


English-born Mark Pryor is a prosecutor for the City of Austin and, in his spare time, writer of the popular Hugo Marston series., The books follow Marston, head of security for the US Embassy in Paris and proud Texan, as he solves crimes and encounters danger in the narrow Parisian side-streets. Pryor’s fifth book in the series, The Reluctant Matadorcomes out June 2nd, and takes Marston to Barcelona to solve the mystery of a young woman’s disappearance. Mark Pryor is also the most Texan Brit in Austin since Robert Plant left town. You can find copies of all of Mark Pryor’s novels to date on our shelves and via bookpeople.com


– Guest post by Mark Pryor

You know what Texas represents to many English people? The entirety of the United States. It’s true, if absurdly reductionist, that for many people of my generation (born and raised before the Internet) America was a place of cowboys and wide-open spaces, a place where gun-toting good guys rode across the plains and cooked over campfires at night. It was a place where desperate entrepreneurs struck gold, or oil, and where a man could be who he wanted to be, no limits, no restrictions. It’s an old-fashioned portrait of a much more complex place, I know, but even today Texas has that special aura surrounding it, to me and my English friends who come out to visit.

The creation of my series hero, Hugo Marston, didn’t consciously tap into that vein of thinking but as I’ve gotten to know and develop him, and as I look at the way he conducts himself in each story, I think it’s clear that he’s very much a throwback. Sure, he wears a hat and cowboy boots as he walks the streets of Paris, but it’s more than that. He’s a handsome man but he describes himself as a watcher, not a player. And that brings to mind the steely-eyed gunslingers of my childhood, the men who saw right and wrong and acted accordingly, no matter the risk.

And so I wonder if I would’ve written Hugo the same way if I still lived in England, or even in my home of ten years, North Carolina. I think not. It may not have occurred to me to make him a Texan. And what a shame that would have been because there’s something special about the hat and the boots, about the sartorial swagger belonging to a quiet, kind, but strong man from Texas, a crime fighter who carries a badge and a gun, but who fights crime in a foreign city.

I’m often asked about that apparent disconnect, the fact that an Englishman writes a series about a Texan living in Paris, France. To me, it’s not a disconnect at all. It’s just the way things are, and perhaps the way things should be. After all, every book in the series has been written right here in Austin, a place known for being a little weird and a place that’s still Texan enough that a man, even an author, can do his job the way he sees fit, no limits and no restrictions. The old-fashioned way.


And this brings an end to May as Texas Mystery Writers Month. Up next, June is International Crime Fiction Month! Look out for reviews and top lists of international crime fiction, recent and classic, and an interview or two. We’ve also got plenty of events coming up, so keep an eye on the now-entirely-up-to-date events page on the MysteryPeople blog. 

Guest Post: Minerva Koenig Weighs In on Texas Mystery Writers Month

May is Texas Mystery Writers Month, and we’re celebrating with guest posts from Texas authors all month long. Up next, we bring you some thoughts from Minerva Koenig, whose debut novel, Nine Dayswowed us last year. As strong as her characters, Koenig writes plucky heroines well able to take care of themselves – in fact, if you called them plucky, they might throw a drink in your face. Look out for her second novel, coming out in the next year. 


Guest Post by Minerva Koenig

You’re sitting somewhere vast, alone. It’s so quiet you can hear the blood rushing in your ears. You don’t know what to do with your brain. It keeps trying to have a conversation — because you’re human, and that’s what human brains do — but there’s nothing there to answer, not even your own consciousness. It’s busy trying to grok the emptiness around you.

There’s a quiet twitch of awareness that you could die out here with no one the wiser, food for the buzzards. You start to feel the bottoms of your feet, the insides of your thumbs.

“Get a grip,” you tell yourself, and nearly jump out of your skin when you realize you’re talking out loud. A sudden, disturbing affinity for the weirdos you used to see shuffling down Newton Street in mid-soliloquy gets you on your feet.

There’s a roadhouse in the hot distance, a wreck of faded boards and grimy windows that you skipped on your way out, ruling it too sketchy to enter. Now it looks like the Taj Mahal.

“You ever read Dostoyevsky?” the bartender, a fresh-faced tomboy with a tiny diamond in one freckled nostril, asks you as she sets down your cold Lone Star.

You give her a look, and she says, “I never been to Russia, but it almost feels like it, after that dude’s stuff. You know?”

You do know. You felt that way about Texas, reading Goodbye to a River back home in Massachusetts.

God, you love that word: Massachusetts. It makes you remember the ancestors, their warm feet on the cool soil, the sound of that old silence, the way the air must have smelled then. Your sentences used to be like the landscape there; closed and hilly, winding around and turning in on themselves, enchanted and spooky like those girls they burned at the stake.

The conversation your head is trying to have with itself down here sounds different. It’s wider, more relaxed. The words spread out and need more syllables, and the spaces in between keep filling up with these minuscule, unspeakable epiphanies about things that have baffled you in the past. You try to corral them on paper, circle them with words and compress them down into edible parts, but they’re like wild hogs, slipping the noose at the last moment. You start to yearn for the relative simplicity of the things you used to think about before you came down here.

F**king Texas. Between the rattlesnakes, the weather, the long stretches of barren highway, and the freaks who like all of that stuff, the state itself feels lethal. You think about all the ways you could die again, and need half the beer to keep yourself from starting some unholy Socratic dialog with the bartender.

You drop a couple of bucks on the scarred wood serving top and step back out into the blinding heat, grimly optimistic. Somehow, you’ll get it all down on paper. It’s that or lose your mind under this endlessly arching, neon-bright sky.


You can find Minerva Koenig’s debut novel on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.  Look out for more great guest posts for Texas Mystery Writers Month, including a post from Austin-based prosecutor and novelist Mark Pryor. 

Texas Characters – What More Could a Writer Want? Guest Post from Janice Hamrick for Texas Mystery Writers Month

May is Texas Mystery Writers Month, and we’re celebrating with guest posts from Texas authors all month long. Up next, we have one of our favorite Austin mystery writers, Janice Hamrick, whose novels, like her personality, sparkle with dry wit and charming details. We couldn’t celebrate Texas Mystery Writers Month without her.


Texas Characters – What More Could a Writer Want?


Guest Post from Janice Hamrick

Texas is a goldmine of inspiration for writers. Need a setting? Take your pick – coastal fishing village, desert ghost town, hill country honky tonk, or sophisticated metropolis. Need some background? Try crooked politics, ranching dynasties, wild west outlawry, heroic revolution, or high tech scandal. Need characters?  Ah, now that’s where Texas really excels. No people anywhere else on the face of the planet are quite like Texans.

Now don’t get me wrong. Other places have their characters. I’m currently living in Edinburgh, and trust me, you can’t swing a cat on the Royal Mile without taking out someone playing the bagpipes or telling the chilling story of one of the many ghosts who linger in the dark narrow closes of Old Town. But it’s a different kind of character.

“Need characters?  Ah, now that’s where Texas really excels. No people anywhere else on the face of the planet are quite like Texans…”

Texans are as varied as the state itself. Heroes, villains, sneaks, nerds, even ordinary teachers forced to confront a stone cold killer – they are all there, and all just a little extraordinary simply because they are Texan. Something about the grandeur of Texas permeates the atmosphere, makes everyone stand up just a little straighter, live just a little larger, be just a little bit more than they would be in any other location. Spend five minutes talking to the woman serving pie at the Texas Pie Company in Kyle or a minute and a half with the ranch hand holding your horse at Rancho Cortez in Bandera and you have enough inspiration to spark a dozen novels. The very best Texans are open, friendly, and direct – boy, are they direct. But at least they never leave you wondering how they feel about a topic, and if they’ve been Texan for longer than six months, they are proud both of their past and their present (and the more different that is from anything ‘up north,’ the better).

There aren’t many places that inspire such fervent devotion, not many states that people so proudly claim as part of their identity. “I’m a Texan,” is a statement that always draws nods of understanding, even as far away as Europe. I recently met a student from Norway, and in response to my accent, he ventured, “You are from one of the two countries in North America, are you not? I don’t dare guess which.”

I smiled and said, “Yes, I’m from Texas.”

His face lit up, and he said, “Ah, I should have said one of the three countries in North America.”

Damn straight.


You can find Janice Hamrick’s novels on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Look out for more great guest posts for Texas Mystery Writers Month. MysteryPeople is also holding a workshop with three Texas authors, including George Wier, Les Edgerton, and Reavis Wortham, this Saturday, May 23rd, from 10 AM to 5 PM. Come for part or all of the day! The workshop is free and open to the public.