Thursday, February 17, 2011


Don't know how long it will be around, but warm weather has returned to the South, where, in my opinion, it's not supposed to leave. At all. Ever.
I played golf with friends yesterday and I felt like a daisy opening my face to the sun after being under a florist blanket for two months.
Does this mean a romp in the surf is imminent? Probably not. While the air temps are in the '70s, the water is still a frigid 50 degrees. The surfer boys don't seem to mind, but I'll stay close to shore. There's sharks and rays in them thar waters, too.
While I whiled away the winter editing my second in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake series titled The Last Temptation, and doing online promotion and writing another in the series, I also read several novels.
I just finished John Connolly's Every Dead Thing, published in 2000.
I like to start a series with the first, and this was his debut. I'd read about him and his gory thrillers, but had not begun one because they're long and I don't have days to finish a book. Writers must writer. I learned the hard way with Tana French's In the Woods that these complicated plots take up your undivided attention, at least my undivided attention. Go a day, and you have to retreat into past pages to figure out the characters again. In Connolly's book, there are many. At one point it seemed everyone except Bird Parker, the hero, had been killed.
I liked the beginning. I've seen so many CSIs, Criminal Minds, etc. that really icky murder scenes like the one that begins this story, don't bother me.
Yep, he's a master of piling gore on gore: one serial killer tortures children and another steals victims' faces after mutilating their bodies. If you're squeamish, if sicko depictions give you nightmares or threatens your meal, skip it.
With exceptions, long thrillers get bogged down and become tedious. Also, I figured out the serial killers before Parker, not a good thing.
I finished the book, and, maybe will read another Connolly, but I'll wait for a long, cold and rainy spell, or when a ten-hour trip occurs.

Gerrie Ferris Finger
THE END GAME (not a long thriller, no dead children and no missing faces)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Sara-Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later. It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream. Her first novel, SUFFER THE CHILDREN, was published as an e-book by Lyrical Press, Inc. in 2010 (link to book:

Her next book, DEATH SCENE, is the first in a series about amateur sleuth and Canadian actress Shara Summers, and will be released as an e-book by Lyrical Press, Inc. later this year.

You can learn more about Sara and her writing at her website at and her blog at

My interest in crime fiction started a long time ago – in childhood, in fact. My introduction to Mystery Stories began with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, which I devoured as a child. One of the things I loved about those books was that there was always a mystery to solve – usually suspicious goings-on involving smugglers or some generic unsavoury member of the working-class. I loved following the actions of the story’s young heroes as they followed the clues and worked out who the villain was. As an adolescent, I moved on to Agatha Christie. Whatever else is said about Mrs Christie, there’s no doubt she was mistress of the classic “whodunit.” It was all about setting up the cast of characters, and planting the clues. The observant reader could pick up the clues and work out who the villain was before the detective.

And for me, the fun in crime fiction is the thrill of the chase. The genre has evolved somewhat since Mrs Christie’s day. Nowadays, there are many sub-divisions – crime thriller; police procedural; historical crime; romantic crime; ‘cozy’ crime; ‘hard-boiled’ crime – to name just a few. Sometimes novels are not so much “whodunits” as “howcatchems” – where we know from the start who the murderer is, and the plot involves how they will be caught. To me, it’s still all about the chase, whether it be following the clues to discover the identity of the villain, or casting out the net until the bad guy is reeled in.

I am fondest of novels featuring strong female protagonists. Sara Paretsky, Kathy Reichs, Sue Grafton and Linda Fairstein are among my favourite crime writers. Historical fiction was always less appealing for me because there used to be a lack of strong female characters. This isn’t the case nowadays, however – there are some excellent female protagonists in historical crime. One of my favourite series is “The Mistress of the Art of Death” by Ariana Franklin – who is sadly no longer with us.

Ultimately, through all the sub-genres of crime, a common thread holds them together. There is a victim, and a killer. The exciting part is following the chase, through to the end of the novel when the killer must be a) revealed and b) caught.

I always say the common thread between crime and horror – the other genre I write in – is that someone has to die horribly. I will read other genres, but ultimately if there’s no gruesome death, a book is unlikely to hold my attention. I dip into other genres here and there – science fiction; urban fantasy; classics. But crime is the genre I always get drawn back to. Picking up the latest novel by one of my favourite crime novelists is like visiting an old friend I’ve not seen for a while. It’s always a pleasure to go back there, and I know I’ll be made welcome, no matter how long I’ve been away.


More grim news from the world of books.

Powell's Books canned thirty-one staffers at its stores in Burnside and Beaverton and two industrial warehouses, a move they cite because of an "unprecedented, rapidly changing nature of the book industry... (and) changing consumer behavior". Which means that consumers are buying ebooks. They are cheaper for the most part than trade, pocket or hardbacks.

What does this mean for hard cover writers? I had five events in a four-day period at Barnes & Noble after THE END GAME came out. It was my first hard cover. The cost at B&N is $24.99. At Amazon it fluctuates from $18.00 to $11.00 (when the supplies get low). In a weak economy, consumers are not plunking down the big prices, instead are going for the trades (large paperbacks) or ebooks. More and more book buyers are opting for the ereader and the cheap books that Amazon prices lower than other online ebook sellers.

A Powell spokesman said they are losing sales to electronic books and expect to continue to do so for the next couple of years.

When I was signing at Barnes & Noble, many people went away with signed bookmarks, saying they were going to buy the ebook online. B&N sells ebooks through its Nook ereader.

Even though I have four ebooks available, I don't own an ereader. (I know how the story ends.) Probably will one day, but I'm old-fashioned and hope Powell's gets a clue and can hire back its staff.

Nothing like a bent binding and tattered jacket cover.

Gerrie Ferris Finger

Monday, February 7, 2011

Local Mystery Festivals

I like mystery festivals and conventions that are close to my home on the east coast. I've become a regular at the Malice Domestic Fan Convention in Crystal City, near D. C. This year it's in Bethesda, Md.
I don't like to fly, particularly now that seats are getting smaller and overhangs nearly touch my head. I'm claustrophobic that way, and passengers and flight attendants do not need to deal with the possibility of me running down the aisle screaming in panic. Used to be, you could drink your way to your destination and feel no fear. Not so today.
That means I didn't to San Francisco, a city I love, for Bouchercon in September. It's the grandest mystery writer/reader convention, but I'm sticking to the eastern part of the U. S.
So, I signed up to attend, and be part of, the Cape Fear Crime Festival as a panelist.
the Cape Fear Crime Festival returned to Wilmington, North Carolina. Murder and mayhem came to Northeast Branch of the New Hanover County Library, 1241 Military Cutoff Road, Wilmington, NC 28405. I got to meet new writers, librarians and readers.
I plan to attend another local event, but not sure which one. Maybe Nashville. Also, will go to Bouchercon in St. Louis in September.


Sunday, February 6, 2011


I met Kaye Barley on DorothyL, a writer, reader, librarian listserv several years ago. When I learned that she worked in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, I knew where the intelligent, generous and happy threads of her DNA were strengthened.

She is a writer's best friend, and she hosts a fabulous blog where her guest list is one of the most extensive in the writing community. It is my privilege to appear today, but while you're at Meanderings and Muses, meander on through her blog and check out her retirement party and other interesting guest posters.

Kaye said:
"My latest guest at Meanderings and Muses is our own Gerrie Ferris Finger. Gerrie wrote THE END GAME, which was on my "Best Of" list this past year (and Ihope she's busy working on the next in the series!). Drop by, please, for a fun look at tattoos and what they mean."

Thanks, Kaye, for honoring me and my debut novel on your "Best Of" list.