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| Dear Readers
Happy New Year! And welcome to another 12 months of stories, from your favorite Bywater authors, as well as some new ones we're looking forward to publish. Watch this space!
This month, we're turning the spotlight on Stella Duffy, an author we publish under our Bloody Brits imprint. For more about both, see Author Profile and Bloody Brits below!
In our last newsletter, we teamed up with Cynn Chadwick to invite you to enter the first Micro-Fiction Mystery. We're now delighted to publish the winner and the runner-up. See News from Bywater below!
Now for some advance notice: we've been busy redesigning our website. Won't be long now before we have a whole new look …
As always, we at Bywater strive to bring you the finest in
lesbian romance, mystery, and literary fiction.
Till next time!
Marianne K. Martin
|Mouths of Babes
by Stella Duffy
Private investigation and motherhood
don't mix. That's why Saz Martin has happily traded the mean streets for the mother and baby club. Happily, that is, until her past comes calling in the shape of high school friend Will Gallagher, now a famous TV presenter.
Saz thought the dark secrets of her past were dead and buried. But Will brings news that draws them slithering from the shadows, threatening the perfect family life she has built on those grave foundations.
For Saz, the first question is how much of her history she can hide from her partner, Molly. Then, what she's prepared to risk to keep it hidden. But secrets have a nasty habit of worming their way to the surface.
Mouths of Babes is a gripping psychological thriller that examines what happens when we discover our heroes are only human. And sometimes a little less than that …
Stella Duffy was born in London, grew up in Tokoroa, New Zealand, and has lived back in London since 1986.
Praise for Mouths of Babes:
"A promising writer has matured into a classic" —Guardian (UK)
"Saz Martin is one of the best fictional investigators around … A shocking, intelligent and sympathetic thriller which shows why modern crime fiction can be trusted to handle serious issues" —Daily Telegraph (UK)
"Duffy has proved herself to be one of the very best of the younger generation of crime writers" —The Times (UK)
"Duffy represents a new trend in crime fiction: one that challenges previous fictional stereotypes … in order to create a vital, exuberant heroine fit to engage every reader's sympathies"
—Independent on Sunday (UK)
"Stella Duffy's writing gets better with each book. Her grasp of complex narrative techniques leaves the reader wondering what's coming next … I defy anyone to read this without squirming" –Val McDermid
Lesbian Fiction 224pp ISBN 978-1-932859-53-9
At fine bookstores everywhere
or order directly from Bywater Books.
When she was younger, Stella Duffy kept her options open. She was going to be a trapeze artist. An actor. Emma Peel. Or she was going to write.
Fast forward to today, and her options are still open. Stella is a writer who won't be pinned down. She has eight stage plays to her name; she's written twelve books. Some of them are "crime" novels, some of them are "literary." What's the difference? "Ask the publishers," she says.
The way she figures it, she's a writer, she tells stories. So she's
invented characters as diverse as Saz Martin, a lesbian private eye (Mouths of Babes–see SPOTLIGHT above); Princess Cushla, straight out of a fairy tales and determined to break up couples in love (Singling Out the Couples); and Robert and Akeel, dry-cleaners, one white and working class, the other a British-Pakistani Muslim (The Room of Lost Things).
As for the snobbery that values literary fiction above crime fiction–the suggestion that literary is "proper" and crime is not–she leaves that to the critics. And in 2002, they awarded her the Crime Writer's Association (CWA) Short Story Dagger Award for "Martha Grace" (in the Tart Noir anthology); and in 2008, Stonewall Writer of the Year for The Room of Lost Things.
But writing isn't all Stella Duffy does. The girl who wanted to be an actor or a trapeze artist can often be found on stage. Which must take some nerve: Her specialty is improv, "a way of working that means being prepared to create work by the seat of your pants and the skin of your teeth." At least, that's the philosophy of Improbable, the company where she's associate artist. She has also guested with the Comedy Store Players. Oh, and she directs and teaches writing too.
Stella lives with her playwright wife, Shelley, "the person who really makes me laugh". (Who cares about Emma Peel?)
| Here's to the Brits. And their crimes. And their detectives: Sherlock Holmes; Miss Marple; Inspector Morse; Rebus–and Charlie Resnick.
Resnick? Right now, I guess you might be wondering who he is. The answer is, he's just one of many reasons we set up Bloody Brits. Val McDermid, our editorial director, knows from experience that the big US publishing houses don't always take a chance on British authors. And she says, "That means a lot of excellent books don't make it across the Atlantic."
Well, we don't think you should be missing out. Particularly because the authors we publish are award winners. Take, for example, Ann Cleeves. Just a few months after we'd signed a contract to publish The Sleeping and the Dead, the Crime Writer's Association (CWA) awarded her the Gold Dagger for Raven Black, which is now available from St Martin's Press.
We publish Liza Cody too. Winner of a CWA Silver Dagger and The Marlowe (Germany) and twice nominated for a Mystery Writers of America (MWA) Edgar Award, she is one of Britain's most inventive writers. Check out Gimme More.
Bill Kirton's short stories have been included in the CWA's annual anthologies (1999, 2005, and 2007). While Joyce Holms is a comic writer with a flair that's won her praise from her fellow authors, including Ian Rankin.
We also publish the Kate Brannigan series created by Val McDermid. Kate's a character that means a lot to Val: She represents creative daring, which led in its turn to creative freedom. Before Kate, Val had relied on herself and her own experiences to write the Lindsay Gordon series (available from Bywater). Now Kate was a challenge: "Could I push myself further now? Did I have the skill set to create a protagonist who was so different from me?" Turns out the answer was yes: Kate Brannigan won Val a nomination for both the CWA Gold Dagger and the Anthony Award. "Pushing myself to create Kate indirectly opened up a door that has since admitted a wide range of diverse and demanding protagonists, each of whom has taught me new lessons in my craft."
There was a second, more subversive reason for creating Kate: "I wanted to quit my day job and write full-time and I was never going to be able to do that on the sort of money I could earn writing lesbian crime fiction twenty years ago. With a heterosexual central character, maybe I could manage to earn my living from my fiction. … As an avid reader of crime fiction, I know how it is when you find a new author you like. You have to read everything they've ever written. I figured that writing a successful mainstream series would bring readers to my Lindsay Gordon novels who would never otherwise have considered a lesbian novel."
In case you're wondering, you're right: It's a similar logic that explains why Bloody Brits is an imprint of Bywater Books.
As for Charlie Resnick, he's a Detective Inspector created by John Harvey. Winner of the CWA Diamond Dagger for a Lifetime's Contribution, Harvey has written 11 books about Resnick. The first in the series, Lonely Hearts, was named by The Times as one of the 100 Greatest Crime Novels of the Century.
So, these are our Bloody Brits. Isn't it time to get acquainted?
|Every month Bywater holds a prize draw. To enter, just answer a simple question–it's always about our authors or our books.
All of the correct answers are thrown into a hat. The first one to be picked out wins!
This month's question is:
Who is Saz Martin's best friend in Mouths of Babes?
The winner will receive the Bloody Brits title of their choice!
Send answers to us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to the address in the righthand column — see To Order Books.
Congratulations to our most recent winner: Coleen from Albany, who wins the Bywater Books title of her choice.
and Cynn ChadwickBywater Books
are delighted to publish the winner of our first annual story contest, Micro-Fiction Mystery
The winner is Alexander Williamson of Asheville, NC, with his story What We're Meant to Know:
I'm looking for the woman who killed me.
I was walking on the deserted edge of Tinker Town and heard footsteps, felt a hand over my mouth and something cold at my throat and a muffled, girly Southern drawl said, "You move and you die." I felt a hand reach in my back pocket for my wallet. I sneezed. She slit my throat and I blindly gargled and writhed and bled into the soft snow.
I never knew how many ghosts there were in my town of Little Bliss. They had all watched me die. Death calls out to the dead, and they came to welcome me. I ask a skinny, bald man (must have been cancer), "Did you see her?"
"Yeah, but I can't tell you what you want to know."
"We're not meant to know."
The ghosts nod and hover off.
I see footprints in the powder leading away from my blood and body that is being covered, even as I watch, in a delicate white shroud. I follow the footprints to their end. I see a wallet on a drift and I see green bills being shuffled quickly, like a clerk counting change, in mid-air with nothing supporting them. I hear a girly Southern drawl counting, "Twenty, sixty, eighty." Snow is collecting on a form resembling a skinny human frame, but the features of the person are nonexistent. There is only air and a spruce tree behind that air. I nod and hover off.
Here's what judge Val McDermid had to say about it:
What I liked about What We're Meant To Know–as well as the title, which I liked a lot–was the quirkiness of the idea and the visual immediacy of the writing. It's tough to produce something that is both coherent and interesting in so confined a space. This starts well, and does a good job.
Our runner-up was Cheryl Stonestreet of Indianapolis, IN, with her story Little Bliss:
"Shut that thing up." The surly stranger snorted at the hooker. The baby cried constantly since he was snatched from his fathers at the Christmas tree lot. "Where's my money?" A dank smell wafted out from under the filthy cape when the stranger pushed out a hand waiting for payment.
"It's my child now," the hooker slapped an envelope full of cash onto the large glove. "Never mind about his noise. Take your money and go."
The envelope fell to the floor. The stack of cash spread out like a deck of cards. From behind the shadowed hood, the portentous visitor counted the loot. "I'll leave when I am satisfied to do so."
As the total was calculated, the hooker held her breath pulling the baby tight to her exposed cleavage. "It's all there." The hooker made her voice hard trying to oust the dark figure from her room. Its very presence further sullied even this tacky atmosphere of cheap furniture and unmatching decor. Function, not frills, it was clearly a room used for sex with errant men who needed something beyond a good drunk to make them feel powerful and complete.
In one swift movement the bills were snapped together and sucked into a slit of the oily cape. Twirling toward the door the cape flared, knocking over a three-legged table that held the intercom. The stranger smirked as she quickly descended back stairway. Hookers always raise the best hockey players, she thought to herself.
We were really excited by the entries. And hope that our two winners will inspire you to give it a go yourself next year!
· will be reading and signing in the Distinguished Author Series
at the Stonewall Library & Archives
, on Thursday, January 7
at 7 p.m.
The venue is wheelchair accessible.
1300 East Sunrise Boulevard,
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
For more information: 954 763-8565
· will be reading and signing as part of Sappho's Salon at Women and Children First on Saturday, March 20 at 7.30 p.m.
5233 N. Clark Street,
Chicago, IL 60640
For more information: 773 769-9299, email@example.com
Red Audrey and the Roping by Jill Malone
will be under discussion in the Lesbian Book Group at Village Books, Fairhaven on Sunday, January 3 at 2 p.m.
1200 Eleventh Street,
Bellingham, WA 98225
For more information: 360 671-2626 / 800 392-BOOK
We're thrilled to say that Jill Malone
just got a rave review for her new novel, A Field Guide to Deception
, on afterellen.com
. See for yourself what Heather Aimee O'Neill
, the Across the Pages
columnist, had to say.
O'Neill also chose her Top 10 Books of 2009, and placed A Field Guide to Deception at No. 6.
| Win! Win! Win!
With every newsletter, you have a chance
This month we're giving away an i-Tunes gift certficate — to the
value of $10.
Everyone who orders books from us during January — whether online, by mail order, or by phone — will be entered into a
| To Order Books
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