Crime-fiction anthology delivers with 20 stories by authors of color - Albuquerque Journal

Crime-fiction anthology delivers with 20 stories by authors of color

 

“Midnight Hour” edited by Abby L. Vandiver

The word “chilling” in the subtitle aptly describes “Midnight Hour,” the thematic title of a crime-fiction anthology and its 20 distinctive short stories. Some are noir, several dip into horror and many carry a stealthy punch.

What sets this collection apart from many other short story anthologies is that each story in “Midnight Hour” is authored by a different, talented writer of color.

Abby L. Vandiver is one of the contributors and is the anthology’s editor.

And more.

Vandiver held key behind-the-scenes roles in bringing “Midnight Hour” to life. She did the first edit of the anthology. She said she managed the book; that is, she organized the copy and turned it in on time.

Abby L. Vandiver

“It was my idea to do the anthology and I reached out to the (fellow) members of Crime Writers of Color. The book is not an offshoot of (the organization), but I think it is a good collecting pool,” she said in a phone interview from her home in Cleveland.

Vandiver worked in another significant role – as literary agent for the book’s authors. “As the agent, I did the submissions to publishers to sell our anthology. It was bought by Crooked Lane Books,” Vandiver said.

She believes that being included in the anthology boosts the exposure for contributors who are unknown and previously unpublished.

For “Midnight Hour,” Vandiver wrote the noir story “The Bridge.” It’s about a woman who agrees to kill a friend’s husband. Readers must wait until the end to see a twist in the murder-for-hire scheme and the surprise revelation of the killer’s identity.

“I wrote it because I was trying to teach myself to write short stories,” Vandiver explained. “My first (effort) was 20,000 words. I got the next story down to 14,000. ‘The Bridge’ was the first one that was under 5,000 words. Most short stories are between 5,000 and 7,000 words.”

Vandiver herself is widely known for her cozy mysteries featuring protagonist Romaine Wilder. This coming August, her novel “Where Wild Peaches Grow,” is to be released under the pen name Cade Bentley. It’s not a mystery.

David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s contribution “Skin” won the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award for Best Short Story. It’s about an attempt to steal a prized rare book from a religious school in Rapid City, South Dakota. The cover of the late 18th century book is said to have been made – get ready for this – from the skin of a Native American. He had been killed in battle by a white man, a character states, who “flayed and tanned the flesh from the corpse and used it for the book’s binding.” The theft has an honorable purpose: A medicine man should follow proper spiritual steps and give the book a decent burial.

Weiden, an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, is a professor of Native American Studies and Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Three stories in “Midnight Hour” have been nominated for awards. Richie Narvaez’s “Doc’s at Midnight” was nominated for the Malice Domestic Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Tracy Clark’s “Lucky Thirteen” and V.M. Burns’ “The Vermeer Conspiracy” were nominated for an Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award in the Best Short Story category.

The trade magazine Publishers Weekly gave “Midnight Hour” a starred review, stating, “Each contributor offers a surprising and original take on the mystery genre. Full of varied voices, this volume is must reading for mystery aficionados.”

One contributor, Gigi Pandian,has New Mexico family ties. She said her mother was raised in Albuquerque and an aunt lives in Santa Fe. Her father is from India.

Vandiver said the anthology makes the statement that people of color “write books and we read books.”

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Crime Writers of Color is described on its website as an ad hoc,informal association of authors “seeking to present a strong and united voice for members who self-identify as crime/mystery writers from traditionally under-represented racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.” Visit crimewritersofcolor.com for more information.

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