Hi All. Barb here. Every year I write a blog post about the Maine writers whose stories appear in the lastest release in the Best New England Crime Stories series from Level Best Books. Sadly, this will be my last year to do so. My era as a co-editor of this delightful series has ended. Happily, this is not the end of the anthology. A new group of editors has stepped in. They expect to open submissions, as usual, in January.
Maine authors are always over-represented in Level Best submissions. Partially, I think this is because Level Best has had a Maine connection going back to one of the founding editors, Kate Flora. Another reason is that Maine has great organizations like the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance to get the word out about submissions. But mostly, I think it is because much of the best crime writing in New England is happening in Maine. This year we have an unusual bumper crop of nine Maine authors, whose stories range from classic mysteries to woo-woo to noir and everything in between.
This year’s authors, as always, include familiar faces and new.
We all know Dorothy Cannell, who is a true force of nature. Despite her long and glorious publishing history, her story, “Singed” represents her Level Best debut. Dorothy is one of those rare people who can somehow squeeze a classic whodunnit into 5000 words. Born in Nottingham, England, Dorothy came to the U.S. in 1963. She married Julian Cannell, and lived in Peoria, Illinois, from 1965 to 2004. They now reside on the Maine coast with their dog Teddy and a cat named Killer.
Bruce Robert Coffin makes his fiction debut in Red Dawn with his story, “Foolproof,” which gives new meaning to the expression, “the bottom of the barrel.” An award-winning artist and retired police detective sergeant, Bruce Robert Coffin has penned a number of short stories along with his first novel, The Reaping. He resides in Maine with his wife.
Another Maine debut author is Sanford Emerson, whose story, “Devious Doings in Dallas,” impressed the editors with its strong voice and point of view. After retiring from a thirty-five year career in law enforcement and corrections in Franklin County, Maine, Sandy operates a Christmas tree farm and a woodworking business in Wilton, Maine. If this sounds a little familiar–it should. Sandy is the husband of Maine Crime Writer, Kathy Lynn Emerson.
Another familiar name is Kate Flora, whose story, “Nice Guy,” shows us why they always finish last. Kate is the author of fourteen books. Death Dealer was an Agatha and Anthony nominee. And Grant You Peace won the 2015 Maine Literary Award. She’s a former assistant attorney general, a founder of Level Best Books, and was international president of Sisters in Crime.
Judith Green continues her streak as the only author to be published in every anthology by Level Best–lucky thirteen this year. Her story, “Dear Manuel,” continues her chronicle of the life of Margery Easton with a modern take on an epistolary story. As a former Adult Education Director for an eleven-town school district in rural western Maine, Judy has written twenty-five high-interest/low-level books for adult students. Her mystery stories have been chosen for each of the anthologies of New England Crime published by Level Best Books. “A Good, Safe Place,” published in 2010 in Thin Ice, was nominated for an Edgar®.
In Gin Mackey‘s story, “The Demise of My Wives,” an author finds a cure for writer’s block that’s both grisly and surprising. Gin spent years writing for Fortune 500 corporations before finding her passion: writing fiction. Her short story “Swimming Lessons” appeared in the anthology Fish or Cut Bait. Gin lives on the coast of Maine, where she’s hard at work on her novel Disappear Our Dead, featuring Abby Tiernan, a grieving widow turned home funeral guide.
Dale T. Phillips serves up a classic “Lady or the Tiger,” story with “Hope It Fits,” in Red Dawn. Dale is the author of four novels, over 50 short stories, story collections, poetry, and a non-fiction career book. He’s appeared on stage, television, and in an independent feature film, Throg. He co-wrote and acted in a short political satire film. He competed on Jeopardy and Think Twice, and lost in spectacular fashion on both.
Barbara Ross (yes, that’s me!) also serves up an epistolary story with “The Perfect Woman.” This one takes place in 1947-48 and took me back to my maternal grandmother’s family summers in the Jersey Highlands. I am the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries, Clammed Up, Boiled Over and Musseled Out. Fogged Inn will be published in February, 2016. My husband and I own the former Seafarer Inn at the head of the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
Level Best’s third Maine debut author is Annelisa Johnson Wagner, whose story is “No Aura.” Annelisa grew up in northern New Hampshire but now lives in southern Maine. She misses the White Mountains but appreciates the rocky coast. She is a middle school teacher and a member of Writers on Words, a writing group. This is her first fiction publication but she has also completed a novel and continues to hone her writing.
Maine writers, we hope you’ll continue submitting to Level Best. And readers, we hope you continue to enjoy the stories!