Blog of crime and supernatural writer Tony Richards, author of more than a dozen novels and creator of the fictional town of Raine's Landing, Massachusetts, where the real witches of Salem fled.
Tuesday, 28 April 2015
NEAR-FUTURE DETECTIVE FICTION
Short stories don't always sell immediately. Far from it.
Many years ago -- for instance -- back when it was still safe to do so, Louise and I visited Zimbabwe. She was in a conference for most of the first week. I spent my first few days wandering the streets of the capital, Harare, and having a good but slightly edgy time ... I narrowly avoided getting robbed by a street gang on one occasion. Then I hired a Land Rover one-ton pickup truck, and drove about a lot, visiting nearby nature reserves and the amazing Chinhoyi Caves, or simply stopping in the middle of plain nowhere for a while to drink in the near limitless views. Once Louise's conference was over we moved on, first to the ancient walled city of Great Zimbabwe, then to the Victoria Falls, and finally to the vast Hwange National Park on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. It was a spectacular trip, one I'll never forget.
Arriving home, I wanted to write something about the place, and wound up finishing a novelette set in the near-future and featuring an African homicide lieutenant. I spent the next couple of years sending it around to all the science fiction magazines and regular anthologies, with absolutely no result. And so I put the MS away in a drawer and forgot about it for a good long while.
Until one day I thought, It's a mystery story too, isn't it? So why not at least try it on a couple of mystery magazines?
I was slightly dubious that this would work, but got the story out again, polished it up, and submitted it to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, which I had sold a couple of much shorter stories to about a decade back. And blow me down ... editor Linda Landrigan snatched that novelette up straight away. And so I wrote three more, each with the same central character and each story interlinked and following on from the next to form a continuous narrative. 'The Very Edge of New Harare' first appeared in AHMM in January 2012, 'The Hunting Party' in October 2013, and 'The Clan' and 'The Danua Boy' in March and April of 2014. And then I wrote a final long tale featuring not only my detective and his new family, but also bringing back a very devious criminal from one of the earlier tales. And now the whole sequence of stories is out as one book on Amazon Kindle.
In the not too distant future, the Dark Continent has changed. It’s become Federal Africa, with all of the old countries now united into one great nation. The separate tribes are gone, technology has boomed … it is a very modern place. But if you think that it’s completely changed, meet Lieutenant Abel Enetame of the Zimbabwe State Police Force, a single father with a great deal on his plate. He doesn’t only have the usual crimes to deal with, murders, assassinations, kidnappings. There are violent Black Supremacists. There are fanatics like the Tribalists, who want to take the whole place back to the old days. And there are egotistic billionaires and power-crazy politicians. And when those kinds of people start getting their hands on brand-new devices that can do startling things, like change the past, for instance … well, that’s when the sparks really start to fly. Because the future of the whole of modern Africa might well rely on one police detective.
You can find out more about THE ELECTRIC SHAMAN here.