R. Barri Flowers, Michigan State criminology grad who has written both true crime stories and fiction, has co-edited a new anthology of short stories from the American Crime Writers’ League, entitled “Murder Here, Murder There.” Flowers is an award-winning best-selling author of mystery/thriller fiction, with titles including “Murder in Honolulu,”” Murder in Maui,” ” Dark Streets of Whitechapel” and “The Sex Slave Murders.”
Flowers edited two American Crime Writers’ League anthologies, as well as a true crime anthology, “Masters of True Crime,” and has been interviewed on the Biography Channel, Investigation Discovery, and ABC television.
Co-editor of “Murder Here, Murder There” is Jan Grape, also the author of numerous novels such as “Austin City Blue” and “Dark Blue Death,” featuring Austin policewoman Zoe Barrow. Her most recent non-series novel is “What Doesn’t Kill You.” A finalist for the Edgar, Agatha and Shamus awards, she won a McCavity for co-editing the nonfiction book Deadly Women. (“Murder Here, Murder There” is published by Twilight Times Books and available from them and from Barnes & Noble.)
I asked R. Barri Flowers to respond to 10 questions about his work, his life, and the new anthology “Murder Here, Murder There” (Twilight Times books). Here are his responses:
Q1) What author or books have greatly influenced your own writing?
A1) “Many great authors come to mind, including Robert Ludlum, Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, Daphne du Maurier, Thomas Hardy, Sidney Sheldon, Barbara Taylor Bradford. With respect to books in particular: ‘Celebrity’ by Thomas Thompson; ’84 Charing Cross Road’ by Helen Hanff; ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier; ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ by Thomas Hardy; and ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ by John Steinbeck.”
Q2) You have several recent murder mystery titles set in Hawaii. Do you ever feel that Hawaii, as a general rule, has far fewer murders that are less heinous than, say, the state of Michigan where you went to college? I could phrase this as: “Detroit vs. Honolulu. Compare.”
A2) “There are far fewer murders in Hawaii than in Michigan. For example, in 2010, there were 24 murders in Hawaii compared to 558 murders in Michigan. In Detroit alone there were 308 homicides in 2010. Because murders are not an everyday occurrence in Hawaii, it makes the setting that much more intriguing for murder mystery and thriller novels.”
Q3) What do you most want readers to know about “Murder Here, Murder There”?
A3) “Good question! What I want readers to know most is that the ACWL’s ‘Murder Here, Murder There’ mystery anthology has 19 really good tales of murder, mystery, suspense and thrills that are every bit as captivating as the ITW and MWA anthologies on the market. An excellent introduction is provided by John Lutz, an Edgar winning, bestselling mystery novelist who has seen some of his material, such as the erotic thriller ‘Single White Female,’ adapted for the screen. John contributed a wonderful story to the collection and other excellent contributors include Edgar nominee Bill Crider, Jay Brandon, Noreen Ayres, Agatha and Anthony-nominated Kris Neri, Shamus nominated (and co-founder of ACWL) Robert Randisi, and fellow ITW members Twist Phelan, Taffy Cannon and Dakota Banks.”
Q4) What has replaced “Prison Break,” which you said was one of your favorite TV shows, in your television watching? Recent favorite series ?
A4) “Another great question. These days, I am enjoying ‘Criminal Minds,’ ‘Once Upon A time,’ ‘The Killing,’ ‘Missing,’ ‘Army Wives,’ ‘Awake’ and ‘Hell on Wheels.’ Other recent favorites include ‘Luther,’ ‘McLeod’s Daughters,’ ‘Bad Girls,’ ‘CSI,’ ‘Ringer,’ and ‘Cold Case.'”
Q5) What is the most heinous crime you’ve personally written about?
A5) “The most heinous true crime I have written about is the horrific tale of serial killers Gerald and Charlene Gallego in my international bestseller, ‘The Sex Slave Murders.’ The husband-wife couple murdered 11 people, including an unborn child, as part of sex slave fantasies. It was difficult to write about, but as a professional, I had to distance myself from as much of it as possible and focus on telling a story that needed to be told.”
Q6) What is your next solo writing project?
A6) “My next published solo work comes out in August, 2012, as the aforementioned true crime anthology, ‘Masters of True Crime: Chilling Stories of Murder and the Macabre,’ which features 17 chilling true stories by some fantastic true crime writers such as Harold Schechter, Carol Ann Davis, Katherine Ramsland, Robert Scott, Michele McPhee and Burl Barer.
Q7) What recent movies or TV series have impressed you with their accuracy in detailing crime scenes, if any?
A7) “Most movies and television series stretch credibility in their accuracy with respect to crime scenes and investigations, given the confines of Hollywood and the fact that the crime and its resolution usually is wrapped up in less than 2 hours, where in real life it can take weeks, months, or even years to solve a crime. Movies that have impressed me include: ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ ‘Kiss the Girls,’ and ‘In Cold Blood.’ Television series that have done a pretty good job with crime scenes and investigating murders include ‘The Killing,’ ‘Midsomer Murders,’ ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,’ ‘Prime Suspect,’ and ‘Criminal Minds.'”
Q8) Tell me about your educational background?
A8) “I graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. and M.S. in Criminal Justice. My thesis was ‘Criminal Jurisdiction Allocation in Indian Country.’ It explored the types of crimes on Native American land and who has jurisdiction over criminal matters: federal, state, local or tribal law enforcement. I am a recipient of the University of Michigan’s prestigious Wall of Fame Award from MSU’s renowned School of Criminal Justice.”
Q9) What writers are represented in the new anthology?
A9) “The authors represented include Bill Crider, Margaret Coel, Edward Marston, Twist Phelan, Jay Brandon, Dakota Banks, Robert Randisi, R. Barri Flowers, Joanne Rochester, Meg Chittenden, John Lutz, Kris Neri, Claire Carmichael, Taffy Cannon, Lauren Haney, Valerie Malmont, Jim Ingraham, Marlys Millhiser, Noreen Ayres and co-editor (and ACWL officer) Jan Grape.”
Q 10 ) Last words? Anything you’d like to contribute or add?
A 10) “I enjoyed the interview, and I thought you gave me some great questions to ponder.”