Writing in Shorts– Linda Gordon Hengerer


This is interview 13 of 14 celebrating the authors in the Happy Homicide 6: Cooking Up Crime short story anthology. 

I’m excited to have Linda Gordon Hengerer visiting Cozy in Miami. She is a New Jersey transplant to Florida, a member of Mystery Writers of America, and a guru of all things nosh. Really, you must check out her recipes! But the reason I am so pleased to have her on my blog this week is because Linda is the co-editor of the Happy Homicides series. She has had a hand in or rather a critical eye on the series from volume one.

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When and why did you begin writing “in shorts”? Is it harder or easier than full-length novels?

I had drafts of several novels in my files. Joanna Campbell Slan approached me about editing a series of cozy mystery anthologies, with different authors contributing short stories. My problem writing novels was not being focused enough on the core story, and throwing too many sub-plots into the mix. Writing short stories, both novella length and true short stories, was eye-opening. The focus in a shorter length story is all about knowing what the story is, and not having the space to go off on story tangents. It’s easier to write “short” because the story is the focus. It’s harder to write short because you have fewer words to develop characters you care about. Truly, in a short story every word counts.

What is your favorite short story anthology beside the Happy Homicide series?

I like the anthologies that Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers put out each year. I’ve been writing mystery fiction and I like reading other mystery/thriller authors. Knowing where the bar is keeps me upping my writing game.

As an author, what has been your most embarrassing moment, typo, or gaffe?

Thank goodness for sharp-eyed readers! I received an email from a reader who pointed out a mistake in one of my anthology stories – the reference to the dead body was made with a still-living character’s name. I appreciated her telling me so I could correct it.

What is your favorite vacation spot to be in shorts? (I want you to say Miami, but no pressure. wink)

Two of my nieces went to the University of Miami. I haven’t set a story there (yet), but in “Dying for Spice Tea: A Beach Tea Shop Short Story” I mention Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream, which is a few miles from the UM campus and a family favorite! My fictional town, Citrus Beach, is my take on Vero Beach, Florida, where I live. Vero Beach is a vacation destination for many, and as a resident for over twenty years I appreciate what makes it so appealing. We don’t have theme parks, but we do have local sites with national pedigree: Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge was established through Executive Order by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, and was the first National wildlife refuge to be created. Another site is for the Old Vero Ice Age Site, where a human skull dating back to at least 10,000 years was found. McKee Botanical Garden, formerly McKee Jungle Garden, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it has received other national honors, including and endorsement by The Garden Conservancy as a project of national significance.

Since this edition of Happy Homicides is food themed, I have to ask—What is your favorite comfort food?

Ice cream! There’s always room for ice cream, and it’s my go-to when I want comfort and decadence. I love it with something mixed in, like Toasted Coconut Ice Cream from Kilwins. Chocolate is drizzled over the toasted coconut before mixing it into ice cream, and the combination of flavor and texture is to die for.
You can read Linda’s Dying for Spiced Tea -A Beach Tea Shop Short in Happy Homicides 6: Cooking Up Crime. And pick up a free pdf packed with recipes from the contributing authors. Directions as to how to claim the freebie are in the e-book. 

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