Strong Women and We’re Not Talking Body Odor

This is Mandy Broughton. [taps mic] Is this thing working? [feedback noise] Mandy Broughton here with another victim, er, guest for my hot seat.

Several weeks ago, Patricia Flaherty Pagan had asked me to read an advanced review copy of her upcoming anthology, Eve’s Requiem: Tales of Women, Mystery, and Horror. Once I finished it, I knew I needed to add Ms. Pagan to my collection of torturees interviewees.

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These thirteen short stories are about real women in extraordinary situations. Okay, it has horror so it’s not all fun and bonbons. But they are all powerful women who take an active role in their fate. And they pack quite a punch without any of the benefits of spandex costumes.

MB: The upcoming anthology, Eve’s Requiem, co-edited by you and Fern Brady, will be released in October. The collection features strong female characters, good and bad, in dangerous situations. But I noticed Ms. Brady’s name is listed first. To keep with the theme of strong females, is it true you two arm wrestled to see whose name would be on top?

PFP: Alas there was no arm wrestling or WWF (wild writing females) style smackdowns. It is the publishing industry’s custom to list the editors alphabetically, so that it how we did it. We were blessed to worth with excellent writers and fun stories, but compiling an anthology is a lot of work, so it was helpful to share the process.

MB: Doing a collection of short stories with female leads can be risky. And none of the characters, to my recollection, were six feet tall, weighed 100 pounds and could bench press 315 twenty times without breaking a sweat. Are you afraid that you might have alienated the spandex-karate-Jiu-Jitsu-superhero-big-breasted reading demographic?

PFP: The Jiu-Jitsu loving crowd shouldn’t underestimate the characters in Eve’s Requiem. The shotgun- wielding, elderly aunt in Wendy Leeds’ story “Bloodline” could take out an action movie heroine any day!
But seriously, stories celebrating characters who look more like the average reader are slowly but surely being published in America. Not that we don’t have further to go. My own mission-oriented small press has set the goal of publishing more fiction about women from diverse backgrounds. America isn’t full of tall, skinny, white chicks, so American bookshelves shouldn’t be either.

MB: I see you have several events celebrating the release of Eve’s Requiem: Tales of Women, Mystery, and Horror. My book events tend to include coercion, duct-tape, and lots of dragging of bound bodies. I’ve come to realize this might not be the most productive way to approach book signings. What do you see as the recipe for success at book events?

PFP: So far the secret ingredients seem to be:
1. Cupcakes
2. Organized friends
3. Accessibility
4. More cupcakes
At the reading and launch to celebrate the publishing of Up, Do Spider Road Press’ collection of flash fiction by women, we served gourmet cupcakes from a well-known Heights cupcake bakery. It’s amazing how much more interesting writers sound while you’re devouring just the right amount of chocolate ganache! We will therefore continue the tradition and serve gourmet cupcakes at our Eve’s Requiem launch party at Writespace Houston on Friday, October 10 at 8 pm. Stop in to hear good stories and or to eat cupcakes. Either way, it works for me.

Thankfully, I have also lucked into meeting some organized and motivated author friends since moving to Houston. Tireless author-preneur Pamela Fagan Hutchins and enthusiastic novelist Gay Yellen have graciously invited me to join in on some of the Women of Mystery readings this fall. I will not be involved in the catering, but I am honored to be invited to read with such a talented group. These group readings will feature several power-house authors, including best-selling novelist Stephanie Jaye Evans and this wacky author named Mandy Broughton. Houstonians can stop into the Barnes and Noble in River Oaks on Saturday, October 18 at 2 p.m. to investigate.

Accessibility is everyone’s problem, so I am also trying to set up events that all readers can enjoy. I am happy that we are able to hold out upcoming launch at Writespace, a great writers’ organization that also happens to be located in a handicapped accessible building. In addition, I was able to book an ASL interpreter for the event. I hope that Spider Road Press will have the resources to hire ASL interpreters for future events as well. Because all readers like fiction and cupcakes.

MB: Finally, I enjoyed your story, “Bitter Sweets,” also found in this collection. Of all the tales, I think it had the most realistic feel, as if it could have occurred. Readers demand to know, did you sneak into Doc Brown’s laboratory and borrow his DeLorean to go to 1919 Boston to do research?

PFP: I would love to see the look on people’s faces if I did roll into 1919 Boston in a DeLorean. The streetcar drivers and ice delivery men would be seriously spooked!

While I couldn’t count on Doc Brown, my AP history teacher and community college lecturer dad pointed me towards the historical facts. In fact, his joy in telling the story of the real life, surreal molasses flood in Boston’s North End in January, 1919 planted the seed for the story. For more details, I borrowed his copy of historian Stephen Puleo’s great book about the disaster, Dark Tide. Nonfiction sometimes bores me, but Puelo writes well about a truth that was just as strange as fiction. I highly recommend his book.

If readers are interested in checking out my story and the twelve other suspenseful tales of peril and survival in Eve’s Requiem, they can save money by preordering it for a discounted rate between now and 10/5/14. See Spider Road Press’ online store for more information.

Spider Road Press

MB: Thanks so much for the interview and good luck with the launch. I look forward to cupcakes buying a sighed copy.

PFP: Thanks for the chat!

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Read it! You’ll never look at flower gardens, haunted houses, dark roads, walking home from work, and 1919 Boston the same way again.

 

And, dear readers, in the great capitalistic tradition, I have a word from my sponsor.

[begin commercial] My book, The Cat’s Last Meow, is being featured on Monday September 29th 2014 at eBookSoda, a new readers’ site where they’ll send you ebook recommendations tailored to your taste. www.ebooksoda.com. I’ve found some good deals there. It’s kind of fun browsing. [end commercial]

 

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About mandybroughton

I write mysteries and sci-fi for kids and adults. Give me a character and I'll find the best way to put her in a mystery. Or kill her off. Depends on my mood.

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