Posts Tagged ‘Art Taylor’


New Fiction: “A Drowning at Snow’s Cut” in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine

February 14, 2011

My story “A Drowning at Snow’s Cut” appears in the May 2011 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. In it, a father and son join one another for a boat trip down the North Carolina coast. Both men are struggling with grief after the death of their wife/mother, and the younger man, a journalist, is also coming to terms with having lost his job at the paper — and then they cross paths with other boaters and the whole weekend takes a deadly turn. The story was inspired by a cruise my own father and I took a couple of years back. Fortunately, my mom is very much still with us, and our own trip featured none of the father-son conflicts found in the story. Oh, and no corpse either. — Art Taylor


“A Voice From the Past” Appears In Ellery Queen: The Story Behind The Story

June 23, 2009

The August 2009 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine hits newsstands today, and with it — I’m proud to say — my story “A Voice From The Past.”

EQM 809 FINAL OUTLINE .aiWhile this story largely recounts a fictional encounter between two former high school classmates, two major aspects of the tale have their roots in real life. As a teenager myself, I attended boarding school at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA, and during those years (1983-1986), the tradition of a “rat system” still prevailed. First-year students — generally freshmen, but often sophomores like myself — were called “rats” and had to show respect for older students (the “old boys,” since Episcopal was all-male at that time) and for the school’s faculty, administrators, and their families. Respect meant, for example, that rats held the door for old boys anywhere within 15 feet or so of passing through it and that rats sat in the middle of the long dining hall tables, were served last from the platters of food, and stacked the dishes at the end of the meal. And respect for the school itself was a part of this as well. For instance, Episcopal’s fight songs had to be learned (and learned quickly) and then shouted with great enthusiasm at each football game. Too little enthusiasm was frowned upon, ad flubbing the lines was a terrible error. I knew one student who failed to spell Episcopal correctly and was ever-after ridiculed mercilessly.

The foundation for the system was, I continue to think, a good one. These incoming students — frequently children of some privilege — were taught fundamental lessons in manners and humility, and not only did the group experiences of each new rat class serve to form some form of brotherhood but, because all students before and after went through the same process, it also connected each incoming class with a sense of lasting tradition and shared history.

But as you might expect (especially given the echoes of fraternity life in the above description), the rat system also had its share of hazing. Rats who didn’t show proper respect could expect some form of derision (again, misspelling Episcopal?) and even small brands of punishment. And respect for an old boy was occasionally a fuzzy concept. Did it mean that a rat had to walk out in the snow to Blackford Hall to fetch a can of coke for an upperclassman who didn’t feel like trekking out himself? Well, sure. I did that myself. And as rats, we also did the soap races that I discuss in the story — racing to the shouts and laughter of the old boys who gathered to watch us. It still gives me a surprising and oddly shameful pride to remember that I won those races. 

The head of the hierarchy were the hall monitors — all seniors — and at the top stood four senior monitors and a head monitor. The worst of the punishments that this group could dole out was “send up,” in which an errant rat was summoned from his room in the dark of night to be yelled at for his transgressions or forced to run laps around the football field or worse. The cruel episode that forms the central flashback to “A Voice From The Past” is a true one, at least to the best of my knowledge; my first-year roommate claimed it happened to him. And rumors suggested that worse happened. During my own years at Episcopal, one upstart student supposedly found double-edged razors waiting in his bed. Race was apparently a factor in that instance as well. The rat system was abolished soon after.

On a lighter note, the second true aspect of “A Voice From The Past” is the dream that prompts the reunion of the two central characters and that ultimately determines each twist of the plot. One night I had that dream myself — almost exactly as it’s recounted in the story — about one of the senior monitors from my own first year at Episcopal, a student to whom I’d hardly given even a passing thought in nearly two decades. Why did he appear in my dream? What did the dream mean? I had no idea, but it stuck with me and — a small lesson in craft, I guess — ultimately prompted me to put pen to paper, beginning the story here and then trying to figure out for myself the puzzle of “What next?”

“A Voice From The Past” provides that “what next,” and I hope that anyone who searches it out and picks it up will enjoy reading it.

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“Here For You” at Fiction Weekly

April 13, 2009

I’m very pleased that one of my stories, “Here for You,” was accepted for publication by Fiction Weekly and has just been posted as this week’s showcased story on that site (along with the cool cat photo reproduced here). Fiction Weekly — based at McNeese State University  in Lake Charles, LA — was first recommended to me by Laura Ellen Scott (with whom I chatted about 0nline short fiction not long ago, in a post that quickly became one of the most popular on my site), and I received great encouragement from Fiction Weekly editor Jason Reynolds on my first two submissions before finally earning some real attention for my third. His suggestions for revising my manuscript — restructuring it, really — were both thoughtful and detailed, and I was grateful for all the consideration he showed my work. (A note to short story writers: We should all be lucky enough to have an editor so attuned to questions of craft.) For information on Reynolds and his work, check out both the site, which speaks for itself, and this October 2008 profile of his work, at

In Other News

Michael Sims, interviewed here a couple of weeks back, is the guest blogger this week at in conjunction with his new book, The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime. Additionally, check out a nice radio interview with Sims for the program Viewpoints

And two good friends, Nancy Pearson and Sheri Sorvillo, are among the featured readers this month for the Cheryl’s Gone reading series. They’ll be part of “an evening of poetry and burlesque” on Thursday, April 16, at Big Bear Cafe in D.C.

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Jeffery Deaver & Marita Golden Headline Day-Long Fiction Seminar at George Mason University

February 11, 2009
Jeffrey Deaver

Jeffery Deaver

Bestselling crime novelist Jeffery Deaver will kick-off a day-long fiction writing seminar at George Mason University on Saturday, February 28. The event also features a keynote address by novelist Marita Golden, and the entire day’s events are co-presented by the MFA program at Mason and by American Independent Writers.

It’s a real pleasure to see a mystery angle to the program and also great to see a number of friends and colleagues on the various panels. An early morning session on “Literary Fiction Versus Genre Fiction” features John Gilstrap, James Grady, Donna Andrews, and fellow Mason professor Alan Cheuse, and a second session on “Novelists Who Write Reviews and Criticism” is headlined by Louis Bayard and also features Preservation magazine editor Sudip Bose. (I’m pleased to be serving on that panel myself, though admittedly my own novel can still be read only by someone snooping around the large sheaf of papers on my desk right now).

Marita Golden

Marita Golden

After Golden’s keynote address, afternoon sessions feature more friendly faces, including Mark Athitakis, who writes one of the best blogs in the business, and Laura Ellen Scott, who is currently tearing up the online short story market with her eclectic and highly enjoyable fiction; both authors, as well as Reb Livingston and Bernadette Geyer appear on the panel “New Media and Publishing Creative Writing.” Dallas Hudgens, interviewed recently on my site here, joins Alex MacLennan for the final session, on writing and publishing “Second Novels.”

The complete schedule and registration information is below.

Fiction Writing Seminar

Saturday, February 28, 2009
George Mason University, Johnson Center, Campus Cinema

Sponsored jointly by George Mason University
Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program
and American Independent Writers

8:00 a.m. Registration opens and continental breakfast available

8:45 a.m. Opening Remarks: William Miller, GMU and John Curry, AIW

John Curry is the co-author of the manuscript: WALKING WITH GIRAFFES: THE MAKING OF A LEADER, a memoir about Dr. Hubert Glover former CEO at PricewaterhouseCoopers and chair of the accounting department at Howard University. Curry’s job history includes writing and producing print and documentary projects at the US Information Agency, Voice of America, US News and World Report Books, CBS and CNN. He lectures at the University of Maryland and for more than a decade has taught literature and writing courses at USC, Occidental College, and Santa Monica College. Curry is the author of the novella THE MEDINA WALL, awarded honorable mention in Paris Belletric’s “The Archer Prize,” a Los Angeles literary competition. The writer of op-eds and essays, his short fiction has appeared in Paperplates, Short Stories Bimonthly and Entre Nous, and other publications. John has studied with authors John Rechy (recipient of PEN USA West’s Lifetime Achievement Award), Gay Talese, Mary Yukari Waters and James Regan.

9:00-9:15 a.m. Plenary speech

A former journalist, folksinger and attorney, Jeffery Deaver is an international number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on a number of bestseller lists around the world, including The New York Times, The Times of London, Italy’s Corriere della Serra, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Los Angeles Times. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into 25 languages. The author of 25 novels, two collections of short stories and a nonfiction law book, he’s been awarded the Steel Dagger and Short Story Dagger from the British Crime Writers’ Association, is a three-time recipient of the Ellery Queen Reader’s Award for Best Short Story of the Year and is a winner of the British Thumping Good Read Award. THE COLD MOON was recently named the Book of the Year by the Mystery Writers Association of Japan, as well as by Kono Mystery Wa Sugoi magazine. In addition, the Japanese Adventure Fiction Association awarded the book their annual Grand Prix award. He’s been nominated for six Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, an Anthony Award and a Gumshoe Award. He was recently shortlisted for the ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for Best International Author. His book A MAIDEN’S GRAVE was made into an HBO movie starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin, and his novel THE BONE COLLECTOR was a feature release from Universal Pictures, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. His most recent books are THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND, THE BROKEN WINDOW, THE SLEEPING DOLL and MORE TWISTED: COLLECTED STORIES, VOLUME II. And, yes, the rumors are true, he did appear as a corrupt reporter on his favorite soap opera, As the World Turns. Deaver is presently alternating his series featuring Kathryn Dance, who will make her appearances in odd number years, with that starring Lincoln Rhyme, who will appear in even. He was born outside of Chicago and has a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from Fordham University. Readers can visit his website at

9:15-10:30 a.m. Literary Fiction versus Genre Fiction

Literary Snobs and Commercial Sellouts—We’ve all seen it happen: Literary writers bemoan the “trash” that makes the bestseller lists, while writers of popular fiction complain that they don’t get the proper respect from critics and the literary establishment. Our panel of supremely talented authors from both camps–literary and genre–will put faces on the abstractions and openly discuss the truths, truisms and falsehoods that underlie these age old accusations. Audience members will be invited to join in as the fifth panelist.

Moderator John Gilstrap is the New York Times bestselling author of six thrillers, the latest of which, NO MERCY will be released on June 27. His previous books include SIX MINUTES TO FREEDOM, SCOTT FREE, EVEN STEVEN, AT ALL COSTS, and NATHAN’S RUN, four of which were selections of the Literary Guild. His novels have been translated into more than 20 languages. John has also adapted four bestselling novels for the big screen: RED DRAGON (uncredited) from the Thomas Harris novel, for Dino DeLaurentiis Productions, WORD OF HONOR (from the Nelson DeMille novel, for Dino DeLaurentiis Productions); YOUNG MEN AND FIRE (from the Norman Maclean book, for Baltimore/Spring Creek Pictures/Warner Brothers); and NATHAN’S RUN (from his own novel, also for Warner Brothers). Last month, he signed on to write the screenplay for SIX MINUTES TO FREEDOM for Sesso Entertainment. A former firefighter and EMT, John holds a master’s degree in safety engineering from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in history from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Please visit

Donna Andrews is the author of 14 mystery books, including the New York Times bestselling SIX GEESE A-SLAYING. Ten of her books, from St. Martins/Minotaur, are humorous mysteries featuring Virginia ornamental blacksmith Meg Langslow, and four, from Berkley Prime Crime, feature Turing Hopper, an artificial intelligence who lives in a corporate computer system. Andrews’s first book, MURDER WITH PEACOCKS, won the Agatha, Anthony, Barry, and Romantic Times awards for best first mystery as well as the Lefty Award for the funniest mystery of 1999. She also won the Agatha award for best novel with YOU’VE GOT MURDER, a second Lefty award in 2006 for WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARROTS, and the Agatha award for best short story in 2008 with “A Rat’s Tail,” from Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. An alumna of the University of Virginia, Andrews worked for many years in corporate communications before leaving her day job to write full time in 2001. She is the current treasurer of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, a past president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, a member of the board of directors of Malice Domestic (an annual Washington area conference honoring the traditional mystery), and a member of the Private Investigators and Security Association. She lives in Reston, Virginia.

Alan Cheuse is the author of the novels THE BOHEMIANS (1982), THE GRANDMOTHER’S CLUB (1986), THE LIGHT POSSESSED (1990), and TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING (2008) plus three collections of short fiction, CANDACE AND OTHER STORIES (1980), THE TENNESSEE WALTZ (1991), and LOST AND OLD RIVERS (1998), and a pair of novellas THE FIRES (2007), as well as the nonfiction work FALL OUT OF HEAVEN: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL JOURNEY (1987). As a book commentator, Cheuse is a regular contributor to National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” He has edited with Caroline Marshall a volume of short stories, LISTENING TO OURSELVES (1994), and with Nicholas Delbanco, TALKING HORSE: BERNARD MALAMUD ON LIFE AND WORK (1997). He is also the editor of SEEING OURSELVES, GREAT AMERICAN SHORT FICTION (2007) and co-editor, with Lisa Alvarez, of WRITERS WORKSHOP IN A BOOK: THE SQUAW VALLEY COMMUNITY OF WRITERS ON THE ART OF FICTION (2007). His short fiction has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Another Chicago Magazine, and elsewhere. A TRANCE AFTER BREAKFAST, his collected travel essays, will appear this summer.

James Grady, author of SIX DAYS OF THE CONDOR that was adapted into a Robert Redford film, received Italy’s 2004 Raymond Chandler Medal and France’s 2001 Grand Prix Du Roman Noir for his work that spans more than a dozen novels. One of his short stories received an Edgar nomination from the Mystery Writers of America and was bought by FX television. He’s sold feature scripts, created a police drama for CBS TV and worked on-staff for TV icon Stephen Cannell. Grady’s latest novel MAD DOGS has been optioned for a Hollywood feature film and won Japan’s 2008 World Baka-Misu award. In 2008, London’s Daily Telegraph named Grady as one of “50 crime writers to read before you die.” He’s lived in the D.C. area since Nixon, and is married to writer Bonnie Goldstein (who has also been an ABC producer, a U.S. Senate aide, and a private investigator), and is the father of two children, including Academy Award nominated documentary maker Rachel Grady.

10:30-10:45 p.m. Break

10:45-12:00 p.m. Novelists who write Reviews and Criticism

Moderator Nandini Lal is currently working on short stories, poems and a novel set in India. She is a book critic with 20 years’ experience. Her review was cited in the Washington Post Book World’s top books for the year 2008. Her poem was selected for a 600-foot wide DC Peace Mural (2008-2009) by artists and activists. She has been on the board of World Bank’s family publication (WBFN), editorial consultant, copywriter with TSA McCann Ericson, columnist, and film critic. She is a regular contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites of the Indian subcontinent. She moved to the U.S. in 2006.

With the 2008 release of THE BLACK TOWER (Morrow), the critically acclaimed author Louis Bayard now occupies, in the words of one reviewer, “the upper reaches of the historical-thriller league.” Bayard’s previous books were THE PALE BLUE EYE (HarperCollins), a national bestseller nominated for both the Edgar and Dagger awards, and MR. TIMOTHY (HarperCollins), a New York Times Notable Book and one of People magazine’s 10 best books of 2003. Louis’ novels have been translated into 10 languages, including Spanish, French, Portuguese, German and Russian, and he was recently selected as one of Out magazine’s top 100 cultural figures. In addition to working as a staff writer and book reviewer for Salon magazine, Louis has published articles and reviews in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Ms., and Preservation. His other novels include FOOL’S ERRAND and ENDANGERED SPECIES (Alyson). He is also a contributor to the anthologies THE WORST NOEL and MAYBE BABY (HarperCollins) and 101 DAMNATIONS (St. Martin’s).

Sudip Bose is senior editor of Preservation magazine, where he has edited the work of such writers as J.M. Coetzee, Ann Beattie, Tim Gautreaux, Phillip Lopate, Anita Desai, Frederick Busch, Madison Smartt Bell, and numerous others. He was born in Carbondale, Illinois, in 1973, attended Cornell University, and has lived in the Washington, D.C., area since 1996. His essays and book reviews have appeared in The American Scholar, the Washington Post Book World, Smithsonian, the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, The New Criterion, and Salon, among other places. He lives in Silver Spring, Md., with his wife and son.

Art Taylor is an assistant professor of English at George Mason University and one of the organizers of Mason’s annual Fall for the Book Festival. Since 2001, he has been a contributing editor at Metro Magazine in Raleigh, N.C., writing a monthly literary column. Since 2005, he has been a semi-regular reviewer for the Washington Post Book World, with a focus on mysteries and thrillers. Other literary essays/reviews have appeared in publications including The Armchair Detective, Mississippi Quarterly, Mystery Scene, North Carolina Literary Review, and The Oxford American, among other publications. His short stories have been published in several national magazines, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, North American Review, and The Rambler, and in various regional journals/newspapers — among them Cities and Roads, Lifeboat, The Lone Wolf Review, Wellspring, and the Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer’s “Sunday Reader” section (the latter twice). He is currently completing his first novel, FIRST LOVES, SECOND THOUGHTS.

12:00-1:00 p.m. Lunch—brown bag, nearby restaurants, or local fast food.

1:00-1:30 p.m. Keynote speech

Marita Golden has distinguished herself as a novelist, nonfiction writer, teacher of writing and literary institution. Her books, many of which have been used widely in African American, Women’s Studies and Literature Courses include the memoirs MIGRATIONS OF THE HEART, SAVING OUR SONS, and DON’T PLAY IN THE SUN: ONE WOMAN’S JOURNEY THROUGH THE COLOR COMPLEX as well as the novels LONG DISTANCE LIFE, THE EDGE OF HEAVEN, and most recently AFTER, which won the Fiction Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She is the editor of the anthology IT’S ALL LOVE “BLACK WRITERS ON SOUL MATES FAMILY AND FRIENDS”. As a literary institution builder she co-founded both the African American Writers Guild and the Hurston/Wright Foundation. She serves as President Emeritus of the Hurston/Wright Foundation. As a teacher of writing she has held positions at George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University and currently serves as Writer in Residence at the University of the District of Columbia. Among the awards Golden has received in recognition of her writing career and her work as a literary activist are the Distinguished Service Award from the Authors Guild and the Writers for Writers Award presented by Barnes and Noble. She has spoken at colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad and has been a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show as well as ABC’s Primetime Live. Marita Golden lives with her husband in Mitchellville, Maryland.

1:30-2:45 p.m. New Media and Publishing Creative Writing

Literary publishing and marketing are currently going through a rapid transformation with rise of New Media and the reduction/evaporation of traditional media outlets. How do writers find their ways among these changes? Panelists will discuss new models for publishing, book reviewing and promotion (including social networking), as well how short fiction is evolving in response to a new generation of readers on the screen. This panel will probe assumptions of fiction being a commodity and the conventions associated with that.

Moderator Reb Livingston is the editor of the online poetry magazine No Tell Motel ( and publisher of No Tell Books ( ). She’s the author of YOUR TEN FAVORITE WORDS (Coconut Books) and co-editor of THE BEDSIDE GUIDE TO NO TELL MOTEL anthology series. Her poems have appeared in THE BEST AMERICAN POETRY 2006, The American Poetry Review, Coconut and other publications. During the ’90’s she worked as a programming manager and producer for America Online. She blogs at

Mark Athitakis is a D.C.-based writer and editor who has spent more than a dozen years contributing news, features, and reviews to daily newspapers, alternative weeklies, and magazines. His book reviews and author interviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, the Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, among other publications. He maintains a blog, American Fiction Notes (, that features regular commentary on books and trends in the publishing world, as well as a schedule of upcoming literary events in the greater Washington, D.C. area. He can be reached via e-mail at or via Twitter (

Bernadette Geyer is a freelance writer and poet in the DC area. She has founded and manages five web sites and three blogs. Her articles, book reviews and poems have appeared in Go World Travel Magazine, Freelance Writer’s Report, Sustainable Development International, 32 Poems, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and elsewhere. She publishes a monthly electronic newsletter on energy issues and tracks energy funding opportunities for one of her blogs.

Laura Ellen Scott teaches fiction writing in the undergraduate program at George Mason University. Her fiction can be found in print and online in Ploughshares, Mississippi Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Identity Theory, Hobart, Plots with Guns, Ink Pot Special Edition Short Story & Flash Fiction, Eclectica’s Best Fiction, Storyglossia, elimae, Behind the Wainscot, and Juked. Stories are forthcoming in Barrelhouse and the Paycock Press anthology GRAVITE DANCERS: MORE FICTION BY WASHINGTON AREA WOMEN. Her writing blog is

2:45-3:00 p.m. Break

3:00-4:15 p.m. Second Novels

Dallas Hudgens is the author of the novels DRIVE LIKE HELL (Scribner, 2005) and SEASON OF GENE (Scribner, 2007). He holds an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University.

Alex MacLennan’s debut novel, THE ZOOKEEPER, was published by Alyson Books in May 2006, and was a finalist for a number of Debut Fiction awards. A short story, “Touching the Pole,” was featured in STRESS CITY: A BIG BOOK OF FICTION BY 51 D.C. GUYS in 2008. Alex holds an MFA in Creative Writing from American University, and received a Larry Neal Writer’s Award in 2004. He was named a Writer to Watch by Washingtonian magazine in 2006, and currently writes for Conservation International, a global environmental group.

Moderator and other panelists to be announced


Register online at, by telephone to (202) 775-5150 or by FAX to (202) 775-5810.

AIW Members $119, Non-members $189, and Students $69.

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The Rambler Publishes “Shrimp and Grits”

December 28, 2008

ramblerI’m honored that The Rambler, a fine, fine magazine based in North Carolina, has published my short story “Shrimp and Grits” in their January/February 2009 issue. The story is a personal favorite among the ones I’ve written — a rare story that gave me real pleasure while I was writing it — and I’m excited that it’s now in print. And I’m particularly pleased that it’s found a home at The Rambler, given the high quality of the fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and photography that regularly appears there. If you haven’t checked out the magazine before, definitely give it a look. The cover image here is by Lisa Whiteman; the feature interview this month focusses on actor and author Evan Handler; and an excerpt from one of the nonfiction pieces — “Dusty’s Two-Story Bus” by Nashville-based writer Jamie Givens — is available online.

And while we’re on the subject, I’ll also encourage you to look up the March/April 2008 issue for Tara Laskowski’s poignant essay “The Jukebox”; I’m biased where Tara’s work is concerned, of course, but that piece still stands in my mind as a model of short memoir.

Continued happy holidays to all!

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