Thursday, July 14, 2011


Lost and Found

For an author, short stories are a wonderful experiment in new ideas, voices, themes and settings. Because they are about a 20th of the length of a novel and take about a month to write rather than a year, the author feels free to try on new personae and venture into new storytelling techniques and characterization that would be too risky in a 300-page novel. My novels tends towards the dark and complex, but in short stories I have tried out humour, lived inside the head of a comatose patient and a small child, and traveled to unfamiliar, exciting locales. Short stories are rejuvenating and invigorating, like the palette cleansers between heavy courses in the literary life of a writer.

My very first published short story, the poignant, disturbing “Secrets of the Night”, appeared in 1995 in the inaugural anthology of The Ladies’ Killing Circle,
itself entitled THE LADIES’ KILLING CIRCLE. And what an exciting moment it was! I remember when Linda Wiken, then the owner of Prime Crime Mystery Bookstore in Ottawa and herself a member of the Ladies Killing Circle, phoned to say the first shipment of books had been delivered to the store from the publisher. It was a blustery, wet day in November, but I leaped into my car and drove down right away. The thrill of opening that book to see my name in print for the very first time is a feeling I will never forget. Since then, I have had the privilege of having eight short stories published in the seven Ladies Killing Circle anthologies, and have become a member of that deadly circle myself, but the thrill never fades.

One of the frustrating things about short stories, however, is that they are often published in magazines and newspapers that disappear with the passage of time. Since that first publication sixteen years ago, I have had almost thirty short stories published, but only a handful are still accessible to readers. Most are buried in magazine archives somewhere, hidden from even the most thorough Google search. And so it is with that very first story in the inaugural anthology. THE LADIES’ KILLING CIRCLE has been out of print for years, and until now a persistent reader had to scour the used book stores to get their hands on it. Lost in the passage of time was the award-winning story by Mary Jane Maffini entitled “Cotton Armour” and the wickedly funny twist on killing your husband in Vicki Cameron’s “Birdbrain”. Gone are stories by the unforgettable Audrey Jessup, founding member of the Ladies Killing Circle, as well as LKC members Joan Boswell, Linda Wiken and Sue Pike.

But no longer. The arrival of ebook technology has made lost stories accessible again, and we six members of the Ladies Killing Circle have decided to venture into this brave new but exciting world. We have spent the last couple of months packaging our original six stories, plus the story entitled “The Little Treasures” by Audrey Jessup, who died in 2003 but remains our mentor still. In her honour, we have named the mini ebook LITTLE TREASURES, and for most of us, it contains the first stories we have ever published. Truly milestones to be marked. The ebook will be out in all formats soon, and we are justifiably thrilled. Because apart from the joy of seeing our firstborns back in print, they are all damn good stories. So stay tuned!

Barbara Fradkin is a child psychologist with a fascination for how we turn bad. In addition to her darkly haunting short stories in the Ladies Killing Circle anthologies, she writes the gritty, Ottawa-based Inspector Green novels which have
won back to back Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Novel from Crime Writers of Canada. The eighth in the series, Beautiful Lie the Dead, explores love in all its complications. And, her new Rapid Read from Orca, The Fall Guy, was launched in May.

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