This summer has been a whirlwind and it’s not over yet! Dragonfly Books has signed new authors including C.A. Sanders and Virginia Dare. We’ve seen new releases from Starla Hartless, Adam C. Mitchell, and Elizabeth Horton-Newton. Neil Douglas Newton is re-releasing The Railroad with a new awesome cover by our favorite cover designer, Rachel Bostwick. New books are coming from Elizabeth Horton-Newton and Adam C. Mitchell. There is an amazing contest running right now and anyone can enter a manuscript that has not been previously published and the winners will receive a one year contract for that book, including editing, formatting, promos, etc. The full package. Of course authors always retain the rights to their books, Dragonfly Books never assumes ownership of any author’s work.
Then there’s the book festivals and signings! August 1 to 4 we were in Orlando FL at the
Indie Book Fest where Elizabeth Horton-Newton appeared on a couple of panels,
attended a Fandom event and an afternoon book signing. She brought along a couple of friends,
Ophelia Ostrich and Sadie Sloth who were frequently requested for photo ops. Elizabeth appeared on a Youtube show called
Hanging with the Web and acquired many new fans.
Sept. 3rd our Crazy Writer Couple – Elizabeth Horton-Newton and Neil Douglas Newton will be signing books at the Knoxville TN location of McKay’s Books.
The following Saturday, Sept. 7, they will be at Next Chapter Con in Ringgold GA where Elizabeth will again be on discussion panels. This event is from 10 AM to 4 PM. $5 admission. Children under 12 are free with a paid adult.
From there we will travel to Pumpkin Palooza at Greenway Park and Pavillion in Cleveland TN. Dragonfly Books will have a table where we will be selling all our books and some Dragonfly jewelry. Both Elizabeth Horton-Newton and Neil Douglas Newton will be on hand to sign their books. Pumpkin Palooza Sept 28 from 10 AM to 5 PM
We’re not done yet, then its onto Cumming
GA for Sweet As A Peach GA Indie Author Event from 1 PM to 5 PM on Saturday,
Oct 5th at Forsyth Conference
Center at Lanier Technical College. Elizabeth Horton-Newton will again be there
signing her books.
Neil Douglas Newton is one of the authors with Dragonfly Books. His first novel, “The Railroad“, was inspired by his experiences in New York City during the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The following is his blog about how that day and child abuse came together to create an emotional and suspenseful work of fiction. Dragonfly Books
“Two years ago I was lucky enough to have a book published, “The Railroad”. While it is fiction, I have a more personal connection to the story than might be apparent to anyone who reads it.
The story was inspired by 9/11 or, more specifically, my experiences on September 11, 2001. I am a New Yorker and was working a few blocks south of the Twin Towers back then. I found myself in the subway only a block and a half from the World Trade Center as the towers went down. I emerged into a false night as the dust-covered lower Manhattan. Eventually I was fortunate enough to walk north to my home in Chelsea, cheating the death that had met so many that day.
The memory of 9/11 is fading, something that is disturbing but
something I consider to be part of the healing process. There are things left
to remind us of what happened; positive things like the new World Trade
Center and negative things like first responders who have succumbed to
respiratory illnesses that our government is just beginning to admit are a
result of breathing in the toxic soup that came out of 9/11. If there are true
heroes of 9/11, the police, fire, and medical rescue workers are certainly the
It’s hard to explain the sense of loss that followed that day; an oppressive hopelessness on a surreal stage. In the months that followed I thought about loss and pain and transformation. Out of that came the book,“The Railroad”. The book incorporates child abuse as a theme, something that fit, in my mind, with the experience of watching the world fall apart. I have found that, as time has passed, I have spent less time trying to sell the book and have used it more as a platform for making people aware of child abuse and domestic abuse. I am still working in that direction and have not marketed the book in the traditional way.
One of the realities of writing is that you often don’t know why you’ve added certain elements to a story. In “The Railroad” I touch both on 9/11 and, more substantially, on the issue of child abuse. I had to ask myself why both these topics became part of the book, almost as if they were connected. There is nothing necessarily profound about writing. An author has incidents and issues jumbled up in his or her head and often connections appear between things that may not seem obvious on the surface.
9/11 and child abuse? It was the horrific shootings in Colorado
that made me understand why these two things seemed connected to me. The issue
We are all given so many resources: so many years of life in an
unknown quantity, so many opportunities to make our dreams a reality, so many
chances to form relationships that are important in our lives. In the weeks
after 9/11, I had to grapple with what I’d lost. Fortunately it wasn’t the loss
of any loved ones or even acquaintances. In the end it was the loss of my home
town.Of course, New York didn’t disappear that day; the area affected by 9/11
was geographically small.
It might be hard for all of you to believe a New Yorker would
see his or her city as the same safe haven that someone in a small town would.
Certainly there is more danger in day to day life in New York. But I never
would have thought that my city, large and imposing as it is, could be as
vulnerable as it was on 9/11.
I remember telling someone only days after 9/11 that I thought
that someone had stolen my city. In the wake of the destruction, the predatory
news crews from all over the world, the disconcerting break in our routines, I
felt more like a freak in a sideshow than I did a New Yorker.
Child abuse, physical and sexual, is a theft of another kind.
For victims of child abuse, there is often no safe haven to lose in the
first place and the assumptions of trust that act as a foundation of being
human are ripped away. The aftermath of child abuse can be even bleaker
than the original theft of trust at the hands of abusers. The issue here is the
slow, insidious way that the dysfunction of child abuse leeches the sense of
purpose out of life. It separates us from our fellow men and shrinks our view
of the world until we can only see a few feet in front of us. Every person I’ve
known or people I’ve seen interviewed who were victims of abuse always talk
about the parts of themselves they have lost. While some people have taken the
awful lemons of abuse and made lemonade by helping other victims and telling
their own stories, there are many more who suffer in silence, who may never
learn to be dancers, musicians, teachers. Whatever dreams they might have
normally pursued are barred to them in ways that even they can’t understand. This
is theft in its most basic form; it’s a theft that is built into the fabric of
someone’s life and it can make loss and failure seem inevitable. For many abuse
victims, their problems become a moving target that often defies both
understanding and healing.
Is it so hard to understand why some people are so zealous about
removing the blight of child abuse from our society? All of us carry fears from
our childhood that make us less than we could be. For a victim of child abuse
those fears and constraints become constant companions limiting the scope of
what they can do. Our prisons are filled with victims of child abuse and
medicating the beasts that live within us has become a thriving industry.
The loss to our society is incalculable and it’s one that I believe
we have been willing to bear because a solution seems so far out of reach. It
shouldn’t be surprising that there are dozens of agencies and organizations
dedicated to attacking the issues surrounding child abuse, domestic violence,
bullying, and countless other social problems. I have come to believe that
avoiding these issues will cripple our society in ways that we can’t imagine.
People have expressed these ideas far more eloquently than I can. This quote comes from a poem, “Maud Muller”, by John Greenleaf Whittier:
“For of all sad words of tongue or
pen, The saddest are these: “It might have been”.
If we take these words to heart the awful consequences of child abuse of any kind become all the more tragic.” Neil Douglas Newton
We have two books for your reading pleasure with another long-awaited book coming at the end of August.
Already in pre-order on
Amazon Kindle and available in paperback, the latest romance from Starla
Hartless is the first in a series of cougar love stories. Book one, “Dear
Libby…”, will be released on Kindle on July 4th. Order
before then and you can get it for the introductory price of $.99! This is a
HOT Summer Read!
“Sparks fly when older advice columnist, Sadie
Broward, meets the grandson of a publishing magnate from New York City. Jake Stark
is sent by his grandfather Richard to the small town of Sweetwater, Tennessee
to interview one of the candidates for a position in the family’s national
publications. Sadie feels Jake is looking down his nose at her and her town.
Jake inserts himself uninvited into her life. When she travels to New York City
to meet the Board of Directors of Stark Publications she is unprepared for the
adventures that follow. She meets Pepper Vandenberg, Jake’s purported fiancee
to be. Is Jake using Sadie to make Pepper jealous or is there more to their
passion than what happens in the bedroom? This is a story about chance
encounters leading to unexpected liaisons. When Fate steps in, common sense
flies out the window. A steamy romance from one of the author’s of “Carved
“This book gives hope to all cougars, there is a
special someone out there. 5-stars!” Michelle Martin
“A 5-star book that kept me reading all night even
when my glasses steamed up!” Elizabeth Horton-Newton, Co-Author “Carved Wooden
“Song of Simon” by author C.A. Sanders is being re-released with a new cover by designer Rachel Bostwick through Dragonfly Books! A fantasy to be enjoyed by adults young and old, it will be available to pre-order for $.99 July 8th through July 14th. The price will go up July 21st so grab it now! Treat yourself to an exciting adventure this summer!
“Life was never sweet for Simon. He lived in suburban New York, dodging high school bullies and strumming his guitar. Things were about to get much worse. Simon is drawn into the land of Algavar, where High Priestess Teretha has imprisoned their god in amber. He falls into a holy war led by Ilyana, a renegade priestess who claims to be the Messiah. Simon agrees to accompany Ilyana on a quest to kill Teretha, and he sinks hip-deep into the violence and despair that permeate Algavar. Will Simon become the hero Ilyana believes he is, or will he lose his soul in a bloody world so different from his own?”
“Beer, Women, and the Written Word” by Adam Mitchell
A raunchy semi-autobiographical tale that is sometimes funny, sometimes painful, and a great read beginning to end. Harry Block is a writer who struggles to write a number one best seller while drinking, working in a grocery market, having sex with women, and getting into crazy situations at every turn. A rollicking tale of mishaps and mayhem in Britain.Think James Joyce meets Tom Jones in the 21st century.
Author Elizabeth Horton-Newton has released three of her most popular Electric Eclectic Novelettes in paperback format through Dragonfly Books! “Old Habits”, “April Showers”, and “Chattanooga Choo Choo” can be found on Amazon, sized perfectly to fit in your purse, backpack, or carry-on.
Don’t forget August 1-4 author Elizabeth Horton-Newton will be at The Indie Bookfest in Orlando, Florida. Get your tickets here!
Elizabeth will be on two panels.
Look for her in Room 2
10-10:45: What Makes Romance Sweet? What’s the difference between romance that smolders and romance that flames?
11-11:45: Is Hot Romance Still on Fire?
Have we cooled our love affair with super sexy love stories?
Elizabeth Horton-Newton and Neil Douglas Newton better known as the Crazy Writer Couple will be at McKay’s Bookstore 230 Papermill Place Way, Knoxville, TN 37919 on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 from noon to 3 PM. Come by and see them! You can also find them on YouTube!
If you do miss her at this event you can catch her at the
Georgia Indie Author Event – Sweet As a Georgis Peach on October 5th, 2019.
Have you entered the Dragonfly Books Big Publishing Contest yet?
I have actually read this book several times. I yearn for a sequel! This is a tender story about a retired school teacher and her late husband’s best friend on a quest to find out the true story of the JFK assassination as the 50th anniversary of the day approaches. Olivia has always accepted the facts as presented and never questioned any of it until an encounter with a strange man in the grocery store who asks if she thought Oswald did it.
Having never thought about it much she decides to do a little research. She reads several books, watches documentaries on tv and finds she has more questions than answers and so decides she wants to go to Dallas. When she tells her friend and neighbor Bill about her plans he does everything he can to talk her out of it but Olivia is determined and so Bill makes plans to join her on the journey that will change their lives.
I too, always accepted the facts as presented about the assassination until I read this book. I began to look at things differently too!
Elizabeth Horton-Newton is an awesome story teller. Her characters come alive and you feel as if you know them. Olivia’s growth is something I particularly enjoyed watching. I was also thrilled to read a love story that didn’t involve twenty somethings but was a mature relationship that grew from a good friendship.
This is one of my very favorite books and I highly recommend it! I give it 5 0ut of 5 stars!
Dragonfly Books is delighted to announce we are now a companion site with Stab In the Dark Books! To celebrate this collaboration we are putting together an anthology of short stories.
“Summer Heat, Cold Crimes” will contain short stories of stories no less than 2500 words, no more than 5,000 words. The stories should center around crimes committed during the summer; vacation crimes, summer romance crimes, beach crimes, resort crimes, school holidays, etc. Stories should be rated “R” or lower: no graphic sex, no pedophilia. Submissions must be received by May 15th, 2019, and at least moderately edited. (Run it through Grammarly.) We will read them through for any last minute corrections.
Authors may submit up to two stories, but it’s possible only one will be chosen depending on the number of entries and number of pages.
The collection will be offered FREE on online bookseller sites and is an excellent way to introduce readers to your writing. You should attach a brief bio (100 words or less) and links to your website, Facebook Page, and any other social media sites you choose up to four. If you have an Amazon Author Page add that link as well. (If you don’t have an author page we suggest you build one or add one on Amazon.)
Sign ups for the anthology will begin on this page on April 15th so be sure to keep checking. We look forward to promoting this book as both a Dragonfly Books and Stab In the Dark Books collaboration. These promotions will reach a large number of readers.
Submissions should be mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please put Anthology Submission in the subject line!
Carved Wooden Heartby Elizabeth Horton-Newton, the Seductress of Suspense, and Starla Hartless will be on sale on Kindle for $.99 February 12 through February 14th!
“A sexy encounter with a talented native artist, a broken heart, and a knight in shining armor are just the beginning in this passionate romance. Dani Stone never expected to fall in love with carver Jesse Wolf Carver. She certainly didn’t foresee the results of her intense one-night stand with the sexy hunk. From the wealth of New York City to the southern city of Knoxville, Tennessee, follow Dani as she journeys the winding path fate has laid out for her. Will she ever forget Jesse and the passion she felt in his arms? Can any man replace him in her heart? And most importantly, will her secret be revealed? This is a story of passion, love, loss, and courage.”
Daniella is a young woman just beginning to find her way in life. Jesse is an artist haunted by personal demons. When Dani’s work brings them together, a brief interval of passion leads to feelings deep enough to last a lifetime. But fate is a fickle thing, and a series of chance events soon forces them apart. But, sometimes, seemingly harmless actions can have lasting consequences, and life doesn’t always lead us along the road we thought it would.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and how they grew and changed from beginning to end. I read it in one sitting! I had to know what happened to Dani and Jessie! Their journey took them down many roads. It is a steamy romance that had me rooting for them from the day they met. I would highly recommend this book.
Carved Wooden Heart is a mixture of high octane romance and a twisty adventure that will keep you up at night wondering how the characters will all evolve. Having already read Riddle and View From The Sixth Floor, I knew Horton-Newton’s work very well. In collaboration with Starla Hartless, an author I wasn’t familiar with, I was glad to find the voice kept up with the traditional clipped pace I was used to.
Starla Hartless lives in Sweetwater TN, a town which features heavily in her books. Starla is a very private person, who refuses to make public appearances or have her photo displayed on her books. Starla loves romance and by her own description, her books are romantic and naughty.
Starla co-authored “Carved Wooden Heart” with Elizabeth Horton-Newton before beginning her Cougar Love Series. The first book in the series is the very popular “Dear Libby”
Starla is currently working on a holiday Cougar book which we hope to publish by December 1, 2019. She is also working on the next in the series “Cherokee Kisses” a historical romance about the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears depicting the love between an Irish immigrant and a young Cherokee man. Descended from Irish and Cherokee parents she is fascinated by the history of both cultures.
When she isn’t writing Starla enjoys spending time with her dog, Lincoln and playing the Dulcimer.
We are very proud that Starla has chosen to let Dragonfly Books publish her work.
WITCHES NIGHT OUT
OLD TOWNE INN, OAK RIDGE TN
Elizabeth Horton-Newton had a great time meeting new fans and signing books.
Sophie Sloth and Ophelia Ostrich were a bit worried about sitting so close to a witch, but they got through it and are home safe and sound.
Since then, our two favorite stowaways joined The Crazy Writer Couple on their European Cruise! We’ll have more photos in our next Newsletter!
Dragonfly Books is proud to announce the release of our newest author’s first book. Virginia Dare has been working on a series called “The Loving Bitsy”series and the first book is now available on Amazon.com.
You can also order an autographed copy through our website.
For a limited time, we will email a pdf copy of this book in exchange for a review. If interested, please email us at email@example.com.
Bitsy Russo is trapped in an abusive marriage. Lawyer Simon Levine is trapped in an abusive marriage of his own. Living in the same apartment building in the borough of Queens, New York they pass like ships in the night, until Simon takes a second look at the shy young woman. Little does he know she’s taken a second look of her own. Recognizing the signs of abuse, Simon wants to rescue Bitsy. But, does Bitsy need to be rescued or will she be strong enough to save herself? Tensions build, tempers flare, and passion erupts in this contemporary tale of domestic violence, hidden romance, and unexpected courage. The first in the Loving Bitsy series.
We read the first seven chapters
of Starla Hartless’ “cougar romance” holiday story.
It’s sexy, funny, and we can’t wait to hear what readers think!
Coming in December just in time to heat up YOUR
Want an ARC copy?
Email Kathy @ firstname.lastname@example.org
EVENTS IN 2020
FEBRUARY 7-9 Knoxville Women’s Expo
APRIL 16-19 WEEKEND WITH THE AUTHORS – NASHVILLE TN
JULY 11 – ALL ABOUT THE INDIES
AUGUST 27 – 30 ORLANDO LOVES TO READ – ORLANDO, FL
SEPTEMBER 19 – NEXT CHAPTER CON
MORE TO COME!
IF YOU WILL BE AT A SIGNING EVENT PLEASE LET US KNOW SO WE CAN PROMOTE IT!
Thank you to all those who entered our author contest.
Our judges are already at work reading all the entries.
“On Sept. 11, 2001, Mike Dobbs’ life was forever changed. Reeling from his nightmare experience in New York’s subway as the twin towers collapsed, he retreats from his high-power Wall Street life to his run-down country house. Coping with PTSD he resorts to single malt Scotch to dull the memories of death and destruction. Soon he is embroiled in the life of Eileen Benoit and her 7-year old daughter Megan as they flee Eileen’s abusive ex-husband. Suddenly Mike is thrown into a world he knows nothing about, and he is forced to answer the question, how far would you go for someone you love?”
Author Neil Douglas Newton was trapped in the subway beneath the streets of New York City when the World Trade Center towers collapsed. He’d been evacuated with others from his office in lower Manhattan and was persuaded by a nervous co-worker to board the northbound subway. In retrospect, this was a life-changing decision. Had he opted to follow his instincts and walk uptown to his apartment he might have been on the streets when that ominous cloud of dust ad debris spread across the landscape, joining the other New Yorkers who tried to flee what appeared as a storm of death.
Whether his experience in that subway car with terrified commuters who prayed and cried was more nightmarish than what he might have seen above ground is debatable. It is unlikely he could even answer that question.
Taking that experience and incorporating it into a thriller that chastises the legal system for its lack of responsibility in returning children to abusive parents, Newton has penned a book that examines such touchy subjects as PTSD, alcoholism, and of course, child sexual abuse.
On the anniversary of the attacks, Newton recalls the day it happened. It is not a day he will ever forget. His health was negatively impacted by the debris he inhaled that day as he hurried through darkened streets in a cloud of death. But more damaging was the memory imprinted in his mind.
When you read his book, “The Railroad”, keep in mind that the descriptions of Mike Dobbs’ experience in the subway are based on Newton’s reality. It has been re-released with a new cover by designer Rachel Bostwick who has captured the soul of the tale.
Ask yourself, what would you do if were in Mike Dobbs’ place in that subway car? How do you think your life would be changed? And lastly, how was your life changed on that clear and beautiful September day in New York City?
Two author contestants will be chosen as winners. The PRIZE?
A full year, 12 MONTHS, of complete publishing services: editing, formatting, cover art and promotion for winning entry.
We will promote on all social media. Hashtags on all posts.
Our mission is to give new indie writers exposure in the market.
We are writers ourselves and want to promote the world of indie writers.
Book can be any genre
Book does not have to be professionally edited
Book cannot be under contract to another publisher
One entry per author All entries must be submitted by Sept. 15, 2019, at 11:59 PM Eastern time
Formats: MOBI, EPUB, Word, PDF either digital or hard copy
Books can be submitted via email (DragonflyBooks@outlook.com) Remember to put contest entry in the subject line.
Or Mail to:
Dragonfly Books, P.O. Box 26283, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37912
Winners to be announced Jan. 1, 2020
The manuscript submissions will be read by three judges who will choose the winners.
THE CRAZY WRITER COUPLE WILL ALSO BE IN ATTENDANCE
AT THE PUMPKIN PALOOZA
Pumpkin Palooza Family Festival
September 28, 2019
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Greenway Park & Pavilion, Cleveland, TN 37932
Saturday, October 5, 2019, at 1 PM – 5 PM EDT
Forsyth Conference Center at Lanier Technical College
3410 Ronald Reagan Boulevard
Cumming, GA 30041
EVENT JUST ADDED!
AUTHORS GUILD OF TENNESSEE
LENOIR CITY HARVEST FESTIVAL
OCT. 19 FROM 10 AM – 2 PM
DOWNTOWN LENOIR CITY TN
WILL BE THERE SIGNING BOOKS
ADAM MITCHELL’S NEW BOOK
“BEER, WOMEN AND THE WRITTEN WORD”
IS OUR FEATURED BOOK FOR SEPTEMBER
WE SEE A FUTURE BEST SELLER HERE!
This book follows the path of Mitchell’s semi-autobiographical alter ego, Harry Block.
Through the highs and lows of a job he hates, impending parenthood, the trials, and misadventures of redemption, and a rather long and successful in alcoholism.
All the while dealing with the struggles of the written word and writer’s block (no pun intended)
“Beer, Women, and the Written Word is a slice of life with all its grit and grime, hope for a better future, and the determination to overcome the unexpected obstacles fate loves to throw in our way, and a denouement so twisted I wanted to scream.”
“Put aside your inhibitions and sensitivity and dive into a book whose writing has been compared to James Joyce and Henry Fielding.” Between the Beats
Cover Design: Rachel Bostwick
On Sept. 11, 2001, Mike Dobbs’ life was forever changed. Reeling from his nightmare experience in New York’s subway as the twin towers collapsed, he retreats from his high-power Wall Street life to his run-down country house. Coping with PTSD he resorts to single malt Scotch to dull the memories of death and destruction. Soon he is embroiled in the life of Eileen Benoit and her 7-year old daughter Megan as they flee Eileen’s abusive ex-husband. Suddenly Mike is thrown into a world he knows nothing about, and he is forced to answer the question, how far would you go for someone you love?
Re-released with a new cover, signed copies available now at:
WHEN YOU READ AN INDIE BOOK PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO WRITE A REVIEW AND POST IT ON AMAZON, GOODREADS OR ANY OTHER FORUM. HELP GET OUR INDIE AUTHORS THE NOTICE THEY DESERVE!
PLEASE SEND US PHOTOS OF YOUR FANS WITH YOUR BOOKS FOR FUTURE NEWSLETTERS AND TO BE POSTED TO OUR WEBSITE AND FACEBOOK PAGE.
LET US KNOW IF YOU HAVE ANY BOOK SIGNINGS OR EVENTS YOU WOULD LIKE US TO MENTION!
Welcome Adam C. Mitchell, one of Dragonfly’s most prolific writers. Enjoy this repost from his blog, “Noir Writer, Adam C. Mitchell.” You can find this and other blogs by this author there.
As a Noir Crime Fiction writer, I read a lot of noir, both modern and golden age, this writer’s preference being those set in the ’30s and ’40s, and the kingpin of the noir crime caper were my literary idols Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, these two creative masters both set the foundations and gold standard in my opinion, on what good crime fiction should be! This can especially be said for Raymond Chandler, most notably through the eyes of his most beloved creation, his character Philip Marlowe later played on the small screen by Powers Boothe, a Tv show I can’t recommend enough to those wanting to not just read but see the glory of chandler.
The script lifts a lot
straight from his books (a character I heavily based my own private
eye Jack Malone on – check out my book The Lost Angel to read about Malone). Marlowe
showed a side of Los Angeles back in the 1940s that most crime novels and films
of the day refused to show, mainly the everyday people with everyday problems
and how they suffered through the greed of others and the city leaning on and
over them, pushing them into acts, they would later regret.
Chandler throughout the
tradition of crime novels of his time, the so-called ‘Locked Room Mystery’ made
famous by authors like Agatha Christie. Instead, Chandler created outward-looking
stories and plots that showed the world with its lose ever-changing morals.
This genre, the genre of noir crime fiction, (some would also say the golden
age of crime fiction –I tend to stand by both labels) was his life’s work and
even after his death would go on to influence and inspire future generations of
noir and crime writers and authors, this author, in particular, being one of
those touched and inspired by this god of the genre. So it’s not a stretch to
find out the man who gave his life to a genre, had some very strong often
controversial opinions on crime fiction.
Below are what he called The
Ten Commandments of Writing a Detective Novel.
*These are taken from a
book by him Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler published in 1981 – note this
book has been republished countless times and the commandants have been added
to and expanded upon but this is the original ten.
1) It must be credibly
motivated, both as to the original situation and the dénouement.
2) It must be technically sound
as to the methods of murder and detection.
3) It must be realistic in
character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real
4) It must have a sound story
value apart from the mystery element: i.e., the investigation itself must be an
adventure worth reading.
5) It must have enough
essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes.
6) It must baffle a reasonably
7) The solution must seem
inevitable once revealed.
8) It must not try to do
everything at once. If it is a puzzle story operating in a rather cool,
reasonable atmosphere, it cannot also be a violent adventure or a passionate
9) It must punish the criminal
in one way or another, not necessarily by operation of the law…. If the
detective fails to resolve the consequences of the crime, the story is an
unresolved chord and leaves irritation behind it.
10) It must be honest with the
These ten commandments are heavy-hitting left and right hooks to
the locked room mystery that was popular in the 1920s-1940s. Chandler delivers
a heavy volley of creative punches two of these works in his seminal essay
about crime fiction, The Simple Art of Murder (a must-read for any crime author)
In that essay after thoroughly taking apart the murder mystery The Red House by A. A. Milne (yes, the writer of Winnie the Pooh), Chandler fights back against detective
stories where the whole point of the plot makes no sense when compared to what
would happen in real life in that exact situation. On the matter Chandler says
this, “If the situation is false, you cannot even accept it as a light
novel, for there is no story for the light novel to be about.”
He goes on to trash other British mystery writers like Agatha Christie who Chandler paints not only as a hypocritical snob but also as boring. “The English may not always be the best writers in the world, but they are incomparably the best dull writers,” he quips. (being a fellow Brit crime writer I have to say if I could go back in time I would happily punch the yank, with a choice quip or two of my own.)
Chandler then offers praise to his hard-boiled partner in
literary crime Dashiell Hammett who infuses his stories with a sense of realism. “Hammett gave murder back to
the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse;
and with the means at hand, not with hand-wrought dueling pistols, curare, and
tropical fish….He was spare, frugal, hard-boiled, but he did over and over
again what only the best writers can ever do at all. He wrote scenes that
seemed never to have been written before.” Chandler says.
It’s funny that this
quote about Hammet also sums up Chandler.