This week sees the publication of the new CWA short story anthology, Music of the Night. It is edited by Martin Edwards and contains twenty-five stories, some by doyens of the crime-writing world, such as Peter Lovesey, Andrew Taylor, Kate Ellis, including four Diamond Dagger winners, and others by writers who haven’t had a story in a CWA anthology before. I am working my way through them and – though I may be biased – I haven’t come across a single dud and there are some real crackers.
I had a lot of fun with my own story, ‘Some Other Dracula.’ Like many people, I found it hard to write during lockdown, and at first, as I cast around for a subject for a story to submit for the anthology, the well seemed to be dry. But then I thought of Cassandra, the academic and accidental sleuth who featured in my first three novels, Dead Letters, Stage Fright and Footfall. Over the years readers have asked if there could be another Cassandra novel – the last one came out, unbelievably, in 2006.
Well, perhaps not another novel, but why not a short story? I already knew so much about Cassandra and was so much at home with her voice. She was in truth a modified and better version of myself. What had happened to her in all those years? How had her career developed? Was she still with Stephen? How was she managing life with a teenage daughter?
Once I knew that the story would be from her point of view, I decided to draw on my love of Golden Age crime and have an impossible crime and the setting of a fancy dress party in a country house An image came into my mind. A man dressed as Dracula lies dead in the snow at the heart of a maze. But how is it that there are no footprints? It would take me a while to figure that out, but once I had my protagonist and my setting, I was on my way.
I loved getting together with Cassandra again and perhaps that won’t be the last time …