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One Writer's World

Wolfsbane: Best New England Crime Stories 2023

Wolfsbane is the third anthology from Crime Spell Books, and once again we the editors are delighted with the number of stories we received. It's always hard to say no to a story you like but is not quite as good as others, or just as good but for which there isn't enough room. Anyone who has judged stories for a contest or collection or anthology knows the wrenching feeling of having to say no.


After that the challenge is to bring into a compatible uniformity stories whose authors are as different as any writers can be. Added is the goal of keeping each individual voice and, if appropriate, quirky sense of humor. 


Editing these anthologies has also stretched me as a reader. Although I greatly admire Ray Bradbury, I rarely seek out fiction beyond standard crime and mystery writing. But reading whatever comes over the transom requires openness to the new, the different, the peculiar, anything beyond what I'm used to as a reader. I love the experience of exploring other genres, meeting other writers on the page, and finding new ways to handle fictional situations. In 21 stories, just about everything is covered.


Wolfsbane is available here

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Three New Mystery Writers

Crime fiction has a certain magnetism that draws writers of varied experiences and interests, who introduce readers to unexpected and perhaps unexplored corners of the world. Three writers new to the genre have done just that in Wolfsbane: Best New England Crime Stories 2023.
Two of the three writers are social workers, so they bring to their work an overabundance of experience with human beings at their most intense, perhaps not at their worst but possibly at their most extreme.


In Michael Ditchfield's "Undercover in Alcatraz," a young man soon after his marriage is approached by two federal agents who persuade him to undertake a short stint as a criminal in Alcatraz. The job is simple enough—just gather certain information—and the pay is good. But like all things in life, there's a lot more to the proposal than going undercover in a prison.


In "The Snitch" by Sean Harding, we remain on the outside but life isn't much better. An ever-patient informant waits for his handler to pay him, and to show up on time. He has little status in his life, no prospects for anything better, and a meager network through which to earn his pay. But he makes friends easily with a young girl, and we learn what kind of character is hidden within a man who is held in contempt by most people on both sides of the line.

Christine H. Chen brings a different perspective from her multicultural background. After numerous short stories in diverse publications, Chen turned her skills to mysteries, and managed to serve up a gem. In her story "Lost and Found" the generations cross history and cultures before they can meet. Only then can an act against the victim be understood.

These are only three of the twenty-one stories in the forthcoming Wolfsbane, the third anthology from Crime Spell Books in the ongoing series to highlight New England writers. We are proud to publish the first short stories by Michael Ditchfield and Sean Harding, and the first crime story by Christine H. Chen.

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