Dialing for murder

I starred in a mystery long before I ever thought of writing one. Back in the 1970s, I was one of the community actors in the Fort Riley Post Theater in Kansas . . . and the director cast me in the lead role of the group’s production of “Dial M for Murder.” British playwright [...]


Ira Levin wrote the comedy/thriller “Deathtrap” back in 1978 . . . and it did well, today holding the record for the longest running comedy/thriller on Broadway. The show ran for four years, totaling out at 1,809 performances. Marian Seldes played the female lead, Myra Bruhl. She appeared in every one of those 1,799 performances, [...]

Where am I?

Not here blogging. This is Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy your day off. I will, with family around the table. And maybe afterward I’ll take down my copy of Nancy Fairbanks’ foodie mystery, Turkey Flambe, and have a fun read. Flaming turkeys falling out New York office windows and clonking publishers below, I love the idea. Tomorrow: [...]

“Cliffhanger”, the play

“Cliffhanger”, a murder mystery play James Yaffe wrote 25 years ago, got tepid reviews back then. Just wasn’t much of a cliff hanger. We see the old college prof and his wife witness the accidental death of his vindictive department head who was trying to push the prof into retirement. They are convinced that no [...]

Meet the real Inspector Hound

English playwright Tom Stoppard, his plays performed more than the plays of any other dramatist of his generation – and Stoppard’s still writing – is a fascinating guy. He was a newspaperman and a drama critic before he sat down to write his first play in 1960. I became aware of him when I saw [...]

Crime treads the boards

Your community theater may be betting, as two near me are this season, that crime pays, that you and I will buy tickets and park ourselves in soft seats to see crimes committed on stage and solved. But can we solve the crime before the detective does . . . or the amateur sleuth does? [...]

Meet the master of short-short fiction

The six-word memoir, the 25-word hint fiction, these are devices – gimmicks if you will. It’s hard to tell a compelling story in so few words. Hard, but not impossible. Some years ago, I met Bruce Holland Rogers at a writers’ conference. He makes his living writing short-short stories, as he calls them. They are [...]

The Hint Fiction book is short

I have a few anthologies in my library. Several are bricks, doorstops, tomes – like John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century [the last century], published by Houghton Mifflin in 1999 . . . 775 pages. Most are much shorter, coming in between 300 and 400 pages. And then there is Robert [...]

Oates and Dybek write short for a book of super-short stories

Publishers of anthologies have a rule: If you want us to publish this book, get some big-name writers to contribute stories. You need star power to sell copies. Robert Smartwood did that. He recruited Joyce Carol Oates, Stuart Dybek, and a handful of other bestselling writers to write mini-novels for him – stories of no [...]

The contest that hauled in a boatload of super-short fiction

Norton book editor Amy Cherry emailed Robert Smartwood and said his idea for an anthology of stories told in 25 words or less was a good one, that there might be a market for such a book. That was a year and a half ago, and Smartwood was ready. He had the Ernest Hemingway six-word [...]