Moonlight & Misadventure, Judy Penz Sheluk’s third crime fiction collection in three consecutive years, will be released on June 18.
Its stunning cover, above, says it all. Twenty stories by 20 authors, some of them established names in the short crime fiction world: K.L. Abrahamson, Sharon Hart Addy, C.W. Blackwell, Clark Boyd, M.H. Callway, Michael A. Clark, Susan Daly, Buzz Dixon, Jeanne DuBois, Elizabeth Elwood, Tracy Falenwolfe, Kate Fellowes, John. M. Floyd, Billy Houston, Bethany Maines, Judy Penz Sheluk, KM Rockwood, Joseph S. Walker, Robert Weibezahl, Susan Jane Wright.
And three glowing endorsements on the back cover, one of them from me.
Since 1998, the Short Mystery Fiction Society has awarded the annual Derringer Awards–named after the pocket-sized pistol–to outstanding short crime fiction published the previous year, and to writers who have greatly advanced the form.
Here are the 2021 Derringer Award winners!
FLASH (up to 1,000 words): TIE. C.W Blackwell, “Memories of Fire,” Pulp Modern Flash. And Travis Richardson, “War Words,” Punk Noir Magazine.
SHORT (from 1,001 to 4,000 words): TIE. Eleanor Cawood Jones, “The Great Bedbug Incident and the Invitation of Doom,” Chesapeake Crimes: Invitation to Murder. And Stacy Woodson, “River,” The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell.
LONG (from 4,001 to 8,000 words): Sarah M. Chen, “Hotelin’,” Shotgun Honey, Volume #4: Recoil.
NOVELETTE (from 8,001 to 20,000 words): Art Taylor, “The Boy Detective and the Summer of ’74,” Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, January/February 2020.
The Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer (Lifetime Achievement award): Brendan DuBois.
How to warm up for Oscar night? Ed and I spent four consecutive evenings this week watching a 55-year-old foreign film.
Sergei Bondarchuk’s War and Peace was the Soviet film industry’s attempt to outdo Hollywood. Adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel, his eight-hour masterpiece released in four installments in 1966 and 1967 is epic in every way—with its thundering battle scenes, glittering grand balls, 300 speaking parts, thousands of costumed extras, and stunningly innovative camera techniques.
The 1956 American production of War and Peace, starring Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn, had been a hit with Soviet audiences, but Soviet officials thought an American adaptation should not be the definitive version of their national epic. The government opened 58 state museums and archives to serve Bondarchuk’s production, contributing priceless paintings, chandeliers and furniture to the movie sets. The Red Army supplied hundreds of horses and more than 10,000 soldiers as extras, and the Ministry of Defense supplied scent hounds for the hunting scenes. The film’s official cost of $29 million (in 1960s’ U.S. dollars) didn’t include all these free contributions.
War and Peace succeeded in Hollywood, winning an Academy Award in 1968 for best foreign-language film. It also won the Golden Globe Award for best foreign-language film, and the Grand Prix in the Moscow International Film Festival.
The film took nearly six years to make, and the young actress Ludmilla Savelyeva visibly grows up before our eyes in the role of Natasha Rostova. Much of the filming was on location, so outdoor scenes had to wait for the right weather conditions. And director Bondarchuk, who was passionate about adapting Tolstoy’s novel, pushed himself so hard that he suffered a heart attack and had to spend two months recuperating.
Bondarchuk also took the film’s lead role, the part of the awkward, good-hearted Count Pierre Bezukhov, whose story is the film’s central thread. Bondarchuk was in his 40s at the time of filming, a good 15 years older than Pierre, certainly old enough to be the father of his teenage love interest. But he was a fine actor, and after feeling an initial jolt at how old this Pierre was, I felt he was completely right for the role.
Despite its length, War and Peace is not too long. I expected to be bored, but I was entranced by the story and the glorious spectacle.
The shortlist for Crime Writers of Canada’s annual Awards of Excellence was released last night, putting Carrick Publishing once again in the spotlight. The five short stories named as finalists for the CWC’s Best Short Story Award include “Days Without Name” by Sylvia Maultash Warsh. Warsh’s tale was one of 35 stories of murder and malaise in Carrick Publishing’s 2020 collection, A Grave Diagnosis.
It’s the second time that Carrick Publishing has featured prominently in the CWC awards. In 2018, four works in Carrick’s 13 Claws collection were award finalists,, and Catherine Astolfo’s “The Outlier” won the prestigious Best Short Story Award.
Let’s hope Carrick Publishing and Sylvia Warsh score big when this year’s winners are announced on Thursday, May 27!
Another well-deserved award was conferred last night. Marian Misters, co-owner of Toronto’s Sleuth of Baker Street bookshop, was awarded the CWC’s Derrick Murdoch Award for her contribution to Canadian crime writing. She has served as jury chair for the annual awards for several years, and she has supported authors in numerous ways since the bookstore opened.