I've only recently begun to explore crime fiction short stories in earnest, so when the offer came around to participate in the blog tour for the newest CWA Anthology of Short Stories, I knew I had to jump at the chance! This fantastic short story collection is published by Orenda Books, and has a “Mystery Tour” theme, which means it highlights crime writers from around the world, writing stories set in countries from across the globe. I love to travel and I (clearly!) love crime fiction, so I couldn’t imagine a better theme for an anthology. I'm delighted to share my stop on the CWA Anthology of Short Stories blog tour today!
I’m thrilled to welcome crime writer Cath Staincliffe to Crime by the Book for a Q&A about her CWA Anthology contribution, a chilling yet beautifully atmospheric short story titled THE WHITE GODDESS. In this blog post, you will find both my Q&A with Cath and a short review of this short story! Many thanks to Cath for answering my questions, and to Orenda Books for bringing me on board with this blog tour.
About the CWA and its Mystery Tour Anthology of Short Stories:
The newest CWA Anthology of Short Stories takes readers around the world in a “Mystery Tour” of crime fiction short stories, written by a selection of the finest crime fiction writers from around the world. This anthology includes contributions from authors including Ragnar Jonasson, Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Cath Staincliffe, William Ryan, Susi Holliday, and many more.
The CWA, or Crime Writers Association, is a UK-based organization that has been supporting, promoting, and celebrating crime fiction for over 60 years. The CWA runs the prestigious Dagger Awards, and publishes a monthly magazine (Red Herrings). You can find the CWA on Twitter at @the_cwa, or on their website: https://thecwa.co.uk/.
Author Q&A: Cath Staincliffe
Crime by the Book: First things first - it’s great to meet you, Cath! For readers who might be new to your work, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Cath Staincliffe: Hello – and thanks for having me! Well, I’ve written three different crime series: the Sal Kilkenny mysteries, the Blue Murder books which are based on the scripts from the TV show I created, and the Scott & Bailey novels which are tie-ins to the TV series created by Sally Wainwright and Di Taylor. More recently I’ve been writing stand-alone titles from the perspective of victims of crime. And I also write radio drama.
CBTB: You have written a number of psychological suspense and crime novels, including THE GIRL IN THE GREEN DRESS, THE SILENCE BETWEEN BREATHS, and more. Are there certain topics or themes that your books tend to explore?
CS: I’m particularly interested in looking at situations that could happen to any of us and exploring how crime affects ordinary people. The books tend to ask what might it be like, and what would you do, how would you cope? Stories spring from contemporary issues – assisted dying, witness intimidation, restorative justice, home-grown terrorism, hate crime – all told from the point of view of people like you and me.
CBTB: You have also contributed to the fantastic CWA Anthology of Short Stories, which releases November 1 from Orenda Books. Your short story THE WHITE GODDESS is chilling and atmospheric - I loved it! Where did you get the idea for this story?
CS: Thank you. The idea came some time ago, thinking about how an eagerly anticipated holiday might turn into a real nightmare, but on the page it wasn’t really working so I filed it away for a while.
CBTB: The unnerving story in THE WHITE GODDESS plays out against a stunning backdrop; your short story is filled with beautiful descriptions of the land and ocean of Greece. Why did you decide to set your story here? Is this a part of the world you particularly love?
CS: Yes, I do. The Greek Islands have been a favourite holiday destination for years. I was in Crete this summer and that’s when I decided to re-write the story and set it on an unnamed Greek Island. Choosing that location gave me fresh ideas for how to tell the story, it really came alive then and I could solve the problems I’d had.
CBTB: Do you find the process of writing short stories very different from the process of novel writing? If so, how?
CS: Oh, yes – short stories give a wonderful freedom, a chance to experiment and take risks that I can’t do when I’m writing a novel. It’s really liberating.
CBTB: I love that the CWA Anthology of Short Stories takes readers around the world via short stories! Who are some of your favorite international crime writers?
CS: Tana French (Ireland), Andrea Camilleri and Gianrico Carofiglio (Italy), Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, and Johan Theorin (Scandinavia), Lauren Beukes (South Africa) and Peter Temple and Jane Harper (Australia).
CBTB: For readers who enjoy THE WHITE GODDESS and wish to pick up one of your full-length novels for the first time, where would you recommend that they start?
CS: That’s such a hard question, it’s a very personal thing choosing a book. If you like series try starting with Looking For Trouble, otherwise I’d suggest browsing my website and see what takes your fancy. And if you want to read the latest that’s The Girl in the Green Dress.
Mini-Review: THE WHITE GODDESS by Cath Staincliffe
Appears in: The CWA Anthology of Short Stories
I’m not sure quite why it’s taken me so long to begin exploring short stories, but I’m so glad to have had my eyes opened to what a fantastic form of storytelling this can be. On sale November 1st from superb crime publisher Orenda Books, the newest CWA Anthology of Short Stories delivers a fantastic collection of crime fiction shorts from around the world. Psychological suspense author Cath Staincliffe has contributed a suspenseful and chilling story to this collection: THE WHITE GODDESS is vividly atmospheric and chilling in the unexpected turns it takes. It might be short, but this story packs in the atmosphere and tension that so often draw me to full-length crime books, and even manages to establish a genuinely shocking twist at its finale—an accomplishment that illustrates just how deftly the author weaves together this brief suspense story.
As a relative newcomer to this form of crime fiction storytelling, I’m simply in awe of authors’ abilities to craft such impactful and rich stories in such a limited word count. Staincliffe’s contribution to the CWA Anthology illustrates perfectly how engaging and genuinely surprising a short crime fiction story can be—plot twists aren't just for full-length novels, I've come to discover! THE WHITE GODDESS transports readers to the beauty of the Greek Islands, and contrasts that stunning backdrop with an alarming emergency: a woman is desperately seeking help after a boating accident has left her stranded, with no idea where her husband could be. Is he still alive? Can she track down help in time to save his life? There's an undercurrent of urgency to this story that contrasts beautifully with the soothing, idyllic backdrop against which it takes place. Above all else, I was most struck by just how vivid an atmosphere Staincliffe crafts; her personal love for the Greek Islands is evident in this story, and I felt completely transported to a part of the world I’ve never visited myself. I so enjoyed reading Staincliffe’s contribution to the CWA Anthology, and am truly so glad to have increased my exposure to crime fiction short stories through this superb collection.
Hardcover: 276 pages
Publisher: Orenda Books (February 1, 2018)
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