Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mysteries and Morals

by guest blogger Kaye George

I had a conversation with a bookstore manager on Thursday about, well, books. But mostly about stocking mine. Her store is mainly a religious book store, with rosaries, wall plaques, jewelry, and lots of spiritual books, which I hadn't initially realized. (Viva Bookstore in San Antonio--if you're anywhere near there, it's a fascinating place with a tea shop and art gallery)

She's interested in marketing a new anthology I have a story in, FISH TALES: THE GUPPY ANTHOLOGY, because the authors are mostly women (all but 2 of the 22), and because our group, the Guppies, is a women's group. Guppies, if you don't know, is an online Sisters in Crime chapter that is for unpublished writers supporting each other.

Her shop, Viva, tries to be of service to the community by fostering empowerment groups, mostly for women. Two such groups at her shop are a book club for readers, and a writing group!

She's pleased that our bunch of women has achieved success in the field of writing, especially when I pointed out that 8 (or 9? I forget) of the writers in that anthology have never had any fiction published before. The good news for the antho writers is that she wants to carry the book and even to sponsor a reading and signing in the fall.

BUT, she asked me to think about what tie ins the book has to spirituality. That's a tough one.

The stories vary widely. Some are gritty and noir. Some are cozy. Some in between, just good mystery stories. One quotes the hymn, Amazing Grace, and two of the writers are pastors in their own religions. But that doesn't tie all the stories to her theme.

Here's what I'm thinking: Morality. Mysteries are moral. We create a world where justice is done. Bad behavior is found out and punished and good behavior is rewarded. At the end of a mystery story, the reader should be satisfied that evil was overcome and the world (in the story) will now be a better, safer place.

Since evil doesn't always get punished, or even caught, on the real planet, this better world is a nice place to visit. Oh sure, you can find mysteries where the bad guy gets away with it, but in general, justice prevails. Maybe providing a glimpse of the way things ought to be is almost spiritual. Maybe.

Kaye George, an Agatha nominated short story writer, is the author of CHOKE: An Imogene Duckworthy Mystery (Mainly Murder Press), as well as A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, a collection of her previously published stories, and THE BAVARIAN KRISP CAPER, available at Untreed Reads. FISH TALES: The Guppy Anthology contains her story, "The Truck Contest". She reviews for "Suspense Magazine", and writes for several newsletters and blogs. She, her husband, and a rescued feral cat named Agamemnon live together in Texas, near Austin.


Ramona said...

Kaye, how about reading Fish Tales will lift your spirits, because the stories are fun?!

I agree about justice and the sense of order mysteries allow a reader that doesn't cross over into reality.

Annette said...

Welcome to Working Stiffs, Kaye. It's been a huge honor for me to be part of this project with you.

But I have to admit, when I read your post, I started sweating and wondering if I'd used any swear words in my story. Yikes. ;-)

C.L. Phillips said...


Way to go on positioning mysteries as a modern day morality play or story. Works for me!

Can I get the book at Book People? And welcome to Working Stiffs.

(remember me from the critque group at Book People? Scratch your head. Think hard. :))

PatRemick said...

Welcome Kaye!! I very much enjoyed your conclusion about morality, and agree totally. Thanks for the reminder!

Kaye George said...

Ramona, good point!
Annette, I warned the woman that the stories are widely varied, some gritty, some not. She'll take her chances. :) (I think there's a bad word in MINE.)
Of course I remember you, C.L., and YES, Fish Tales is at Book People! I posted 2 pictures of the shelf on Facebook yesterday.
Thank you, Pat, wonderful to be here!

Patg said...

Welcome fellow, Fish Taler, Guppy and all around Sister In Crime.
Great post, but can't offer a thing to tell that woman.
We have two pastors in the anthology? No kidding! Who?

Kaye George said...

KB Inglee and Warren Bull both conduct services, Pat. I'm not sure they're called pastors, exactly, but they preach and bury and, I think, marry.

Ellis Vidler said...

I like your thoughts, Kaye. Mysteries as morality plays of a sort. I only read one book where the bad guy won (as opposed to a series where the bad guy/gal eventually get his just deserts) and I really disliked it. I think we all want to see justice served. That's a spiritual need as I see it.