Welcome Author Christine Bagley and a #giveaway

I was a co-editor/co-publisher of the Best New England Crime stories series for six years. The anthology, with stories by authors from each of the six New England states, comes out every year in November, timed for release with the New England Crime Bake mystery writers conference. Editing the anthology was one of the major, formative experiences for me as a writer.

When I was a co-editor, we were thrilled to publish Christine Bagley’s debut story in Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold. Now the wheel had turned and Christine is the newest co-editor of the series.

Christine is here today to talk about how her stories are inspired by setting. She’s giving away a copy of the latest anthology, Best New England Crime Stories: Deadly Nightshade, to one lucky commenter below. (Note: Wicked Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day has a story in the collection.)

Take it away, Christine!

Inspired by Setting

For decades, Daphne du Maurier’s name has been synonymous with suspense, aura, and setting. At fourteen, after reading Rebecca, I became a lifelong fan of mystery and suspense inspired by du Maurier’s novels. Years later, I went to Fowey, Cornwall, based solely on her vivid descriptions of the landscape. I walked in her footsteps down a muddy road to Pridmouth Beach, and stared wide-eyed at the hundreds of flapping birds surrounding me, the same images that ignited her short story, The Birds. As I wandered the grounds of Menabilly (the real name of Manderley), I wanted to live her perfect writer’s life; mistress of her own vast estate, a cottage on the ocean in which to write, and wealthy enough to write full time with the help of nannies, nursemaids, cooks, and caretakers. She loved the outdoors and I imagined a solitary figure, walking with stick in hand, interior monologues filling her head as she inhaled the scent of nature. It was then I truly understood why Cornwall had often been her muse.

Because of Daphne du Maurier, landscape is still one of the most important elements of my short stories. While studying at Lesley University my thesis seminar was entitled, “Landscape as Character,” and du Maurier was a prime example. Like many of her settings, my stories often include the ocean and stately manors.

On a frigid January day at Marblehead lighthouse, overlooking a deep plunge to the harbor, the idea came to me for On a Winter’s Night. On West Beach in Beverly Farms, walking in front of the enormous mansions that border the shoreline, I imagined someone living in the basement of one of those mansions during the pandemic, and the idea for Valhalla materialized. During a thrilling whale watch in Gloucester, I wrote The Beauport Incident, where Hammond Castle played a pivotal role. In Ireland, the isolation of a rocky moor dating back to the Bronze Age, compelled me to write The Burren. And, after a fascination with the empty stone house across the street, The Madness of Ida Mae was born and became a finalist for the Al Blanchard Short Crime Fiction Award. All of these stories appeared in Best New England Crime Stories’ anthologies.

Recently, at a time when I was unsure what path to take in my writing, I was invited to be a co-editor/co-publisher at Crime Spell Books, publishers of Best New England Crime Stories. I was flattered by the invitation and realized this was a path where I could learn something new in a field that I loved. Best New England Crime Stories holds a special place in my heart and published my very first crime story, The Elevator. Now, I’m on the other side of submissions, reading and editing other writers’ manuscripts. While trying to choose which stories to select for Deadly Nightshade, I was overwhelmed by the talent, cleverness, and originality of the authors who submitted. They were so good it became very difficult to narrow down the final list. I was sorry to tell authors they hadn’t been selected, and thrilled to tell others that they were.

It’s been a real treat to be the new co-editor/co-publisher for Crime Spell Books. I’m especially proud of Deadly Nightshade, a varied and skilled compilation of thought-provoking tales, where each story has something different to engage mystery and crime lovers.  Of course, there’s always that one story you find yourself thinking about long after you finish. Well maybe two, no three, okay four, certainly five, wait – six…oh heck they’re all criminally delicious.

Readers: Tell me what your favorite crime story or novel is – and why it’s your favorite, or just say, “hi!” to be entered to win a copy of Deadly Nightshade.

About the book

After seven years clean a man finds himself once again in a police cell; a man commits suicide for no apparent reason; the muscle for a mobster reviews his mentor’s life lessons; a longtime widow takes up a life of crime; a librarian proves formidable if occasionally oblivious; a young man escapes the nightmare of a future; a librarian outwits the police; and a killer is trapped—these and other tales of murder, deception, trickery, and rough justice fill the pages of the eagerly awaited anthology, Deadly Nightshade: Best New England Crime Stories 2022 . Now available at Amazon.

About Christine

Christine Bagley has published a number of stories in both crime anthologies and literary journals. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, and taught writing and presentation skills to foreign national scientists and physicians at the Schepens Eye Research Institute, affiliate of Harvard Medical School. She was also awarded a seat at the 2016 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Currently, Bagley is working on her own collection of short stories entitled, Unleashed.

Learn more about Christine Bagley at www.christinebagley.com

48 Thoughts

  1. Welcome to the blog, Christine! I was thrilled to have my story, “The Management of Secrets,” selected for Deadly Nightshade, and I can’t wait to read yours.

    I also love atmospheric settings and try to evoke that in my own writing.

  2. I enjoy the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly. I like the series on Prime too. Thank you so much for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

  3. I enjoy the “In Death” series by J.D. Robb. It grabbed me with the first book and I like seeing the growth of the main protagonist, Eve Dallas.

  4. It’s my favorite season for short stories — fewer daylight hours mean less reading time, but short stories give me a sense of accomplishment/satisfaction. I can finish a story without having to negotiate with myself for ‘just one more chapter.’

  5. Good morning from my foggy little patch of the Ozark Mountain of Arkansas where we are still trying to adjust to the time change.

    “Deadly Nightshade” sounds amazing and with the list of author’s I know it’s going to be a fabulous read. I would love to be able to read and review this wonderful book. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. Rebecca is one of my favorite books. It definitely made me a fan of Mysteries. It’s time to read it again.

    1. I know what you mean. I’ve read it several times and watched many television adaptions of the novel. Always like to see who plays Maxim – Charles Dance was my fave.

  7. That is so tough! I enjoy so many crime and mystery books. For authors I enjoy Allen Eskens, William Kent Krueger, Charlie Donlea, Kevin O’Brien, Chris Norbury. And so many more in the cozy mystery genre. Don’t make me pick any further! 😄

    1. Thanks Sherry. I know it’s tough to pick just one, but Rebecca always stood out for me.

  8. I always have a problem picking a favorite book or story, there are too many to choose from! I love the suspense and oppressive atmosphere of Rebecca, detective stories of Michael Connolly or David Baldacci and cozies equally! An early influence was Josephine Tey’s Daughter of time, I love the way it uses a police detective’s instincts and skills along with academic research to solve a historical crime!

    1. Yes it’s hard to pick just one but I too am a fan of Connelly and Baldacci. Thank you for your comments.

  9. Congratulations, Christine!! Your research to find the perfect setting for your books is thrilling! Of the many mystery books that I have been privileged to read, one sticks to my mind: Agatha Christie’s “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”. This book keeps me thinking, and keeps popping up in my mind as I read my cozies. When you think that a character has been eliminated from being the culprit, read till the end, and you might be surprised…how simple the plot, yet so very intricately woven with so many fun clues that get explained at the end. I look forward to reding the stories in DEADLY NIGHTSHADE…just the title seems so intriguing. Luis at Ole dot travel

    1. Thanks for your comments, Luis. Have not read The Mysterious Affair at Styles but I’ll keep it in my queue.

  10. Daphne duMaurier hooked me on mysteries, thrillers, and historicals in one fell swoop. She was amazing. From Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, and the like, I segued to Shirley Jackson and then to Tom Tryon. All of these authors featured setting as a character and all of them still have the ability to keep me on the edge of my seat!

  11. Excellent post, Christine! Didn’t know you were such a fan of Daphne du Maurier, as I am also. See what you mean by “Great Minds . . .” Also, like you, setting is all-important for me. Thanks for sharing!

  12. So happy to hear you’re a fan of du Maurier! Have you read The King’s General? Thanks for your comments, Kait.

  13. Thanks for coming by, Christine! Choosing a single mystery is hard, but I do love the golden age whodunnits!

  14. How fun to be on the other side of the writing “business” in selecting stories. The ability to really bring out the setting is so important.

  15. Welcome to the blog, Christine! Love the excerpt, sounds very interesting 🙂

  16. Hi, Christine! So glad to see you here! No need to enter me in the drawing (I — well, my “good friend” Nikki Knight — am beyond thrilled to have a story in the anthology.) All-time favorite: Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. Worth it just for the turn-of-the century archaeology setting — and then there are the wonderful characters, twisty plots…

    1. Thank you Kathleen – Tell Nikki I said hi. Thanks for your comments – I used to read Elizabeth Peters a lot and have added more favorites but Daphne started it all for me!

  17. Hi. I am not remembering the name of the man. It is a story that occurred in New Jersey, I believe. He was an insurance agent. He murdered had his wife murdered when he pulled into a road side stop. He had her killed for the insurance money to cover his gambling debt. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

    1. You make me smile – Is it The Watcher? I give you a lot of credit for trying to explain it!!! So much so that I looked it up. Thanks, Debbie!

  18. Rebecca is one of my favorite books ever along with any by Dashiell Hammett.

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