You Are What You Read – Ellery Queen

The mystery writing magazine Ellery Queen asked me to contribute a blog post about writing the short story. Here is an excerpt:

ellery_queen“More and more the short story has become an important part of my writing life.

The other day I was thinking about the old Alfred Hitchcock TV show, one in particular where the housewife kills her husband with a frozen leg of lamb then serves it to the police who come to investigate, and another about a restaurant where human flesh was the specialty of the house, and The Twilight Zone and Mr. & Mrs. North and Dragnet and Hawaiian Eye and Surfside Six and The Mod Squad, all of them running together in my brain, commingling with the detective and mystery stories I read as a boy, the Hardy Boys my favorite series, along with horror comics like Tales From the Crypt, and Classic Comics like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which I had no idea came from an actual book until a wise teacher pointed it out and suggested I might also like Edgar Allan Poe, and that was it, I was hooked.

Poe taught me to love short stories: The Fall of the House of Usher, which I must have read under the covers a dozen times and again recently and liked it just as much with a deeper understanding of familial love gone very wrong—or the terror/torture of The Pit and the Pendulum—and possibly the first detective story I ever read, The Murders in the Rue Morgue —and the opium-drenched ghost story, Ligeia—and, of course, the unparalleled crime and guilt story, The Tell-Tale Heart, which I still have my writing students read for its structure and pitch-perfect voice. Read more at Ellery Queen…