Wednesday, October 18, 2006

An Introduction

My name is Steven Torres and I will be one of the regular contributors to this blog. I am a writer of short crime stories (as well as long ones) and have published stories in Crimespree , Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and SHOTS among other places. I am also a reader of crime short stories - I will admit to not reading short stories online much unless I know the author and the story is brought to my attention. When I read crime stories, it is often going to be in print form - Crimespree, AHMM, Ellery Queen or one of the many anthologies that have come out recently like Har-boiled Brooklyn from Bleak House or one of the Noir titles from Akashic. I also just got the first issue of Murdaland and it looks good.

Besides the fact that I prefer my stories in print rather than online, I have other prejudices to confess.

I prefer my stories to be about voice, character, and atmosphere and not so much about the puzzle. Nothing against puzzle stories - some of then are quite inventive and most of them stump me. Many puzzle stories are very fine stories and I enjoy them. However, the ones I enjoy the most will have more than a puzzle...voice, character and atmosphere. Oh, and emotional impact. Whatever else the story may or may not do, it must have some emotional impact if I'm going to think highly of it. This reflects something of the way that I put together my stories as well.

Now for a general statement on the state of crime short fiction today: I think it is thriving. The lament has been that there are no markets. With the rise of several online markets (several of them quite fine) that lament has quieted some (I think). Now the lament is that there are not enough paying markets. Between the anthologies, the sister publications (EQMM and AHMM) and the advent of Murdaland I think that lament must also lose strength soon. Of course, the anthologies may dry up, Murdaland may fold and the hue and cry may rise again, but for now there are plenty of places for a writer to place a short story and there are plenty of places for readers to find quality whether they define it as I do or in terms of puzzles or if they have any other definition.

And quality there is. I've argued elsewhere that there are more great short story writers working in the genre now than in any previous imagined Golden Age of crime short fiction. I'm willing to be challenged on that and willing to concede that I'm wrong, but whoever takes up that task has their work cut out for them. I'll just list a few practioners whose work I actively seek out: Steve Hockensmith, IJ Parker, Martin Limon, John Dirkxx, Doug Allyn, Terence Faherty. With a little time, I can come up with as many more truly great authors of short crime fiction. I'll be talking about them as the weeks go by.

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