Meta-Fiction in Mysteries

What a nice surprise this week to find my story “English 398: Fiction Workshop” mentioned in an essay on meta-fiction in mystery stories and novels—an essay by Janet Hutchings, editor of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, at EQMM‘s blog.

Here’s an excerpt from Hutchings’ essay:

…meta-fictional elements are nothing new in fiction generally, and in crime fiction, the gamelike relationship between the reader, who is trying to figure out the mystery, and the author and fictional detective who may be withholding or selectively revealing information, is in itself a meta-fictional one. The reader becomes, in a sense, a participant in the endeavor. But this, it seems to me, is something different from full-blown meta-fiction, in which the literary techniques and conventions themselves become part of the narrative. One of the finest examples of this that I can think of at short story length is the currently Agatha- and Edgar-nominated “English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor, in which rules for constructing a work of fiction become the road map not only for the fictional offerings of the students in the story but for the real-life drama (and mystery) unfolding between the central characters—a professor and his student lover.

In addition to writing about my story, Hutchings also talked about Nancy Novick’s “How Does He Die This Time?” the winner of this year’s Robert L. Fish Memorial Award, and she called out several more stories that were recently published in EQMM or are soon forthcoming, including works by Thomas Kastura, Luciano Sívori, John Lantigua, Martin Edwards, and Chris Holm—the latter two fine friends in addition to being extraordinary writers.

I’m pleased to be listed in their company and honored to have my work discussed in the essay in such glowing terms. Read the full essay here.