This week marks the publication of Coast to Coast: Private Eyes From Sea to Shining Sea, edited by Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Mark and published by Down & Out Books. I’m thrilled to have a story in the collection—”A Necessary Ingredient”—and thrilled to be sharing space with a terrific group of writers, including J.L. Abramo, Eric Beetner, Michael Bracken, Meredith Cole, Matt Coyle, Tom Donahue, John Floyd, Gay Kinman, Terrill Lee Lankford, Janice Law, Paul D. Marks, Andrew McAleer, O’Neil De Noux, and Robert J. Randisi.
“A Necessary Ingredient” centers on a private eye who’s definitely more interesting in reading about fictional detectives than in being one himself—but when the right client comes along, he’s willing to play the part in real-life as best he can.
The setting of my story is small-town North Carolina—my contribution to the coast-to-coast coverage—and some specific aspects of the setting are inspired by my own time in both Richlands, NC, and in Goldsboro, NC. But as with my protagonist, the mythology of the fictional PI has perhaps a more significant impact on how setting, characters, and story are perceived, and Chandler’s “Red Wind” specifically—one of my own favorite short stories—offers as least some small inspiration for the tale, explicitly so, as you’ll see.
Another potential inspiration—and one I’m a little hesitant to admit? LEGO.
As I was originally working on this story, I was also putting together the LEGO detective agency—and had an eye on the LEGO Parisian restaurant too, which I’ve more recently gotten. While I’m not certain I was envisioning the story here unraveling in that universe, it’s too easy to see in retrospect how easily this tale might transpire in those small sets. Don’t believe me? Read the story, and then take a look at the images below from the buildings my son and I constructed.
In any case, hope you’ll pick up the anthology—and enjoy “A Necessary Ingredient” as well as the stories by these other fine writers!