Top Suspense Group:Bill Crider Blood Dreams; Val McDermid
Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Blood Dreams by Jack MacLane
I'm Bill Crider. Jack MacLane is my evil twin. He's usually chained up down in the basement, but back in the late 1980s he somehow got loose, got hold of a computer, and wrote some horror novels for Zebra Books. The family never thought much of Jack, even when he became a writer, but the funny thing is, he coulda been a contender.
At least his editor at Zebra Books thought so. After Jack's first couple of novels, she was going to give Blood Dreams a big push. It's the story of a man named Hubert, who runs a used-book store in a small town. His hobby is killing people. He's very clever, so he's never been caught or even suspected. Not until a boy who has strange dreams, nightmares, really, and all of them about Hubert, comes along. Bad things ensue. And there are alligators!
But I digress. I was going to tell you about how Jack almost became a contender. The editor at Zebra really liked his work, and she had big plans for Blood Dreams. A die-cut foldout cover. A dump full of the books to put at the front of the big chain bookstores. Stuff like that. Jack still has a couple of proof copies of that cover among his little treasures.
But that's all he has because the editor left before the book was published. It became an orphan, and while it did have a cool cover, it didn't get the big push. The new editor shoved Jack's next two books way to the back of the catalog, and Jack, in a black depression went out and, . . . Never mind. We still don't talk about that. He's been down in the basement since then, fondling the tattered paperback editions of his work, talking to spiders, and staring at those cover proofs, now growing moldy with age.
Not even the news that his books are now available in e-book format seems to cheer Jack up, but I have a feeling you could help. Here's how. Buy Jack's books! Especially Blood Dreams. Help him remember the glory days, when he was an up-and-comer. If he cheers up, maybe we'll even let him out of the basement for a while.
--------------------------------------by Val McDermid
Agatha Christie's neat plots emerged from chaos – just like mine
It turns out that I have more in common with Miss Marple's creator than I thought
I hold Agatha Christie entirely responsible for how I've ended up. The Murder at the Vicarage was the only book my grandparents possessed (apart from the Bible) so it was the only port of call for me after I'd finished whatever library books I'd brought with me when I came to stay. I got hooked on the detective novel thanks to Christie but I never considered myself to have much in common with her as a writer.
It turns out we're more alike than I thought. Thanks to the revelations in John Curran's new book, Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making, I've discovered some quite worrying congruences.
Seventy-three of Christie's notebooks survive. They're not a collection of identical, leather-bound, hand-tooled books with Florentine endpapers and heavyweight paper. They're a miscellaneous jumble of school jotters, pocket-sized pads and shorthand notebooks. A bit like my own diverse selection, currently comprising: spiral bound, plastic covered with a snap fastener from Dynamic Earth; a small black pocket-sized pad with an elastic band to keep it closed; an A4 Pukka Pad; a leather-bound notebook bought in a tiny shop in Siena. One lives on my desk, one by my bed, one in my backpack and the other floats around, turning up where and when I least expect it.
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