CRIME UNDER THE SUN: A Sisters in Crime Anthology
Edited by Matt Coyle, Naomi Hirahara, and Tammy Kaehler
By Terri Nolan
There is one undisputable truth about anthologies. They represent the proverbial melting pot. When a group of people initiate the construct, there are two decisions to begin: setting and genre. In the case of CRIME UNDER THE SUN, it is Southern California and mystery.
Pick a way to describe SoCal: sunshine, mild weather, movies, palm trees, balmy breezes, beaches, celebrity, crime, hot seasonal winds, fire, traffic, road rage, murder, cops, politicians, earthquakes. With so many tropes to choose from—this isn’t nearly a complete list—and assuming all of them are true—how is one to know SoCal’s true self? How does a mystery writer decide which face of SoCal to present when creating the setting?
The stories of the 15 contributing authors featured in this anthology have sharply nailed it with polished treasures of SoCal. Story, voice, and style are diverse. The writing is even. These short crime dramas are full of characters, and full of character. They amuse, make us jump, and keep us turning the page. There is something for everyone. Ghost story? Check. Historical? Check. Cold-blooded murder? Hollywood dreams? Procedural? Who done it? Something for everyone? Check and check. These 15 stories are dynamite.
One perk of anthologies is that the stories are short. Don’t have time to read the entire book? No problem. One story can be read in a complete sitting. No coming back to a full-length novel and rereading a few paragraphs of the previous chapter to become reacquainted with the story. Another perk is the stories can be read out of order. Fan the pages and see what appears, then enjoy the surprise.
There are three talented editors of CRIME UNDER THE SUN. The award-winning author, Matt Coyle, writes the bestselling Rick Cahill crime series. His tenth in the series, Odyssey’s End, will be released in December; Naomi Hirahara is an Edgar Award-winning author of multiple traditional mystery series and noir short stories. Her next novel, Evergreen, will be released in August; Tammy Kaehler is the award-winning author of the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery series. She’s turning her love of all things feline into a new cozy mystery series.
We were pleased to connect with one of the editors of CRIME UNDER THE SUN. Thank you, Matt Coyle, for answering a few questions.
What are the most satisfying aspects of being an editor?
One is discovering new talented writers who are often in the beginning stages of their writing careers. The other is the collaborative process of working with writers to produce the best possible story. And the collaboration with other editors in choosing what we think are the best stories.
We assume the process is like any competition. In this instance, you, Naomi, and Tammy receive 60-ish stories. You read them. Narrow your choices. Compare and take a vote?
That about covers it. An important aspect is that all the stories are blind submissions. We don’t learn who the authors of the stories are until the ones that will be included in the anthology are chosen. At that point, we decide which editor will work with which author. Very little blood was shed in the process. Kathy Krevat and Barry Summy need to be recognized for all the heavy lifting they did behind the scenes. Without them, there would be no CRIME UNDER THE SUN.
As author and editor, you’ve been on both sides of an anthology. How do they compare? What did you learn?
I think it odd that I’m even connected to anthologies because I don’t write short stories. They are too difficult to write. I’ve written one in the forty years since I graduated from college. It was published in Paul D. Marks’s—too soon gone, but never forgotten [Paul passed away on February 28, 2021]—anthology, Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea. Selfishly, I prefer the editing process. I think any time you edit other people’s work, it makes you a better writer.